Favorite Family Holiday Recipes | Midwest Living

Favorite Family Holiday Recipes

Stir up warm new traditions in your home with these 21 holiday favorites—desserts, breakfast breads, main dishes, appetizers and more—from our readers.
  • Caramel Heavenlies

    Graham crackers form the base for this bar cookie with layers of marshmallows, brown sugar, almonds and coconut. "I've made these cookies each Christmas since 1984," says Georgine Simmonds of Genesee, Michigan. "They're one of my family's favorites."

    Caramel Heavenlies

  • Maple Butter Twists

    These breakfast rolls are a family tradition with Jean Haviland of Carroll, Iowa. "My mom made these rolls with a maple-cream filling every Christmas -- and still does!" she says. "Mom always makes extra and freezes them for later. They're great for breakfast or any time of day!"

    Maple Butter Twists

  • Applesauce Spice Cake

    No granulated sugar is added to this recipe; the sweetness comes from cider, fruit and applesauce. "My grandmother, who always baked pies for the holidays, inspired me to create this cake," says Sandra Schifferle of Lansing, Kansas.

    Applesauce Spice Cake

  • Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Smoked Ham Strata

    This brunch recipe comes from Carol Mortensen of Flossmoor, Illinois. "My husband and I began hosting brunches in 1986. This goat cheese, artichoke and smoked ham strata became our favorite brunch dish," she says. "The best part is preparing it the night before to bake in the morning."

    Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Smoked Ham Strata

  • Chili Pecans

    A coating of spicy and sweet turns toasted pecans into a holiday party snack. "My sister Rose sent me this recipe years ago when she was living in New Mexico," says Linda Zabel of Corydon, Indiana. "I've used it every year since. I order Chimayo chile online because it's hard to find in the Midwest."

    Chili Pecans

  • Gadettes

    Dust off your waffle iron to bake these Belgian-style cookies. The recipe comes from Connie Shaw of Bettendorf, Iowa, who learned it from her grandmother. "As she taught me to make them, she explained that when she lived in Belgium, families served them when neighbors called," Connie says. "I sent them to my son the two Christmases he was deployed in Iraq. They are part of his Christmas memories, too."


  • Christmas Mice

    Christmas Mice

    These treats are so adorable, it's obvious why this is Judeen Brown's favorite Christmas recipe. "All the children, old and young, expect to see them at family gatherings," says Judeen, who lives in Dundas, Minnesota.

    Christmas Mice

    See our how-to video on making Christmas Mice

  • Cinnamon pretzels

    Sugary cinnamon meets salty pretzels in this super-easy, gift-worthy snack mix. "I first tried these pretzels last year at our 17th annual Cookie Push, the holiday cookie exchange friends and I hold each year," says recipe contributor Monica Bowers of Great Bend, Kansas. "What's better than the taste of cinnamon sugar? It's my new food tradition."

    Cinnamon pretzels

  • Valencia Delights

    Orange and chocolate: a holiday cookie match that tempt every Santa to take seconds. This recipe comes from Jill Drury in Milwaukee, who loved to bake cookies with her grandmother. "For the longest time I couldn't decide which cookie I liked best, until one day Grandma had me mix my favorite flavors: chocolate and orange," she says. "We came up with this cookie that I now call my holiday favorite."

    Valencia Delights

  • Holiday Christmas Bread

    There's no butter or shortening in this braided sweet bread. You won't miss it in this large loaf.

    "We're the sixth generation to bake this holiday bread," says Margaret Kassing of Beatrice, Nebraska. "The 12 strips of dough represent 12 months in a year. The four layers of braided dough stand for the four seasons. Nuts and raisins indicate the type of year -- mostly nuts represents a good year for farmers and mostly raisins a poor year. Before it's served, the youngest boy takes last year's crust outside to feed the birds, God's lesser creatures. Finally, a crust is saved for the next year to show there will always be bread in this home."

    Holiday Christmas Bread

  • Kathy's Meat Pie

    Kathy's Meat Pie

    Pie for dinner? Yes, please! Kathy Maanika of Escanaba, Michigan, shares her family recipe.

    Kathy's Meat Pie

  • Sweet Potato Rolls

    Small bits of sweet potato fleck these moist dinner rolls from Sandra Schifferle of Lansing, Kansas. She puts Kansas wheat to good use in this recipe. For a quick prep, microwave your sweet potato, then cool and mash the veggie for the rolls.

    Sweet Potato Rolls

  • Holiday Cranberry-Orange Slices

    This slice-and-bake cookie recipe brings several favorite holiday flavors to the cookie tray. Beverly Olson of Marshfield, Wisconsin, added cranberries and orange peel to her butter cookies along with pecans. Finely chop these additions so they won't get in the way when you slice the dough.

    Holiday Cranberry-Orange Slices

  • Bing Candy

    Bing Candy

    People in Pukwana, South Dakota, come to bake sales just to buy Gwen Swanson's signature chocolate-cherry treat. Cherry-flavor chips create a red center between the chocolate layers. You can substitute peanut butter-flavor pieces if you prefer a peanut butter-chocolate combo.

    Bing Candy

  • Snowflake Mix

    Salty meets sweet as cereal, pretzels and peanuts get a coating of melted white baking pieces. Ann Midkiff from Jackson, Michigan, recommends using mint-flavor milk chocolate pieces in this recipe for a hint of the holidays. Make this a gift from the kitchen by packaging it in boxes that resemble takeout containers.

    Snowflake Mix

  • Bet You Can't Eat Just One Sugar Cookies

    Bet You Can't Eat Just One Sugar Cookies

    These melt-in-your-mouth cookies come from the recipe file of Georgia Morehouse of Columbia, Missouri. Her family insists she bake at least one batch for New Year's Eve. Sprinkle them with colored sugar right before they bake to give them quick-and-easy sparkle.

    Bet You Can't Eat Just One Sugar Cookies

  • Date-Orange Bars

    Date-Orange Bars

    Date-nut desserts can be cloyingly sweet, but orange juice brightens these simple bars.

    Date-Orange Bars

  • Kolackys

    Kolackys (also spelled kolaches or kolaces) are a central European pastry with a sweet center. "These cookies are time-consuming, but so worth it," says the Ohio reader who contributed the recipe.


  • Snowballs and Nutjammers

    The Cole family of Wadsworth, Ohio, bakes these each year for friends and family. The tradition started more than 50 years ago when Phrania (Fran) Cole and her sister, Ann, began making cookies as affordable gifts. The Coles like the Snowballs' tang of black walnut and the snowy, powdered sugar coating. You can choose from two fillings when you bake the tiny, turnover-like Nutjammers.



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