Christmas Cookie Recipes to Treasure
Sugar cookies, chocolate cookies, butter cookies and more will add a little sparkle, a little dazzle and lots of memories to your holiday season.
Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Watercolor Icing
These crisp, airy cookies taste like old-fashioned bakery cookies—but they're decorated in a totally modern way that's fun and so kid-friendly. The "canvas" is royal icing, and the "paint" is just food coloring!
Related: How to Decorate Dazzling Cookies
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."
Related: Favorite Family Holiday Recipes
Vanilla Bean Sables
Simple. Elegant. Buttery. These vanilla bean cookies are the perfect slice-and-bake treat, and you can make them four ways.
Related: 5 Sweet Holiday Gifts
Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
These easy, nostalgic-tasting cookies are a favorite of Stephanie Simmons, the Wisconsin blogger behind Blue Bowl Recipes and author of the cookbook, The One-Bowl Baker. Use your favorite preserves--Stephanie likes raspberry.
Related: The Midwest's Best Cookie Recipes
Oaxacan Mexican Chocolate Cookies
The recipe for these ultra-rich, cinnamon-laced cookies comes from the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago, which hosted a cookie swap.
Related: Decadent Chocolate Dessert Recipes
Sugar Cookies Like You Remember
Nutmeg lends unmistakable holiday flavor to these puffy, old-fashioned cut-out cookies. They do spread a bit, so don't use this recipe for delicate shapes. It's best-suited for circles, bells and the like.
Graham crackers form the base for this bar cookie with layers of marshmallows, brown sugar, almonds and coconut. "I've made these cookies since 1984," says Georgine Simmonds of Genesee, Michigan. "They're one of my family's favorites."
Related: Best Holiday Desserts
Mindy Segal's Chocolate Chip Cookies
These to-die-for cookies use special chocolate and two kinds of salt, and they call for an overnight chill—and you can absolutely taste the difference. Because of the expense and time involved, we don't recommend them for any old weekend, but they are incredible for a gift or other special occasion. The recipe comes from Chicago chef Mindy Segal's cookbook Cookie Love.
Peanut Butter Temptations
Calling all peanut butter fans! These cookies offer double-the-PB compared to the classic peanut blossom cookie with a chocolate kiss on top. And they couldn't be easier.
Kim Van Patten says these Swedish spice cookies are popular at Christmas. Heart shapes are traditional to encourage kindness and sweetness. It certainly is nice that her Iowa State Fair blue-ribbon winners are mixed up in one saucepan!
This festively spiced recipe (with a hint of orange zest) makes thin, crunchy cookies that work well for gingerbread houses, edible place cards and ornaments.
Related: Gingerbread Recipes for the Holidays
Sandbakkels means "sand tarts" because the cookies (which, flipped over, can double as tiny shells to hold cream and fruit) have such a fine, crisp texture. Find them in Shauna Sever's book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland.
Peppermint Sugar Cookies
Peppermint extract infuses these crisp, buttery cookies with holiday flavor. Choose between slice-and-bake swirls or candy-cane shape cookies.
Related: Holiday Peppermint Recipes
Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels
These cookies are easier than they look. Make one batch of dough, divide it in half, and blend cocoa into one portion and crushed candy canes and peppermint extract into the other.
Fanciful Raspberry Ribbons
These festive "bake-and-slice" cookies look stunning on a tray of holiday desserts.
Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies
These cookies from the Inn at Cedar Falls in Logan, Ohio, make a colorful treat anytime of year.
Butter Dream Cookies
A festive red maraschino cherry tops each cookie in this recipe, contributed by one of our Midwest Living editors.
These cookies are extremely rich, so cut them into small bars. We love the indulgent flourish of the caramel sauce, but the cookies are delicious without it.
Related: 11 Scandinavian Cookie Recipes
Fat Molasses Cookies
Packed with flavor from molasses, ginger, cinnamon and brown sugar, these cookies look especially nice when cut with a scalloped or round cutter and sprinkled with coarse sugar or crystallized ginger.
Eggnog Sugar Cookies
The eggnog flavor in these buttery cutouts comes from nutmeg and rum extract; it's subtle enough to be a pleasant twist on classic holiday sugar cookies without being overpowering.
Triple Peanut Butter Streusel Bars
Dry-roasted peanuts, peanut butter-flavored pieces and peanut butter bring triple flavor to this make-ahead bar cookie.
Related: Our Best Bar Cookies
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.
The secret to perfect lebkuchen is in the resting phase after glazing. An apple wedge in the storage container provides moisture that softens the cookies. This German classic is from Shauna Sever's book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland.
Orange-Ginger Cookie Sandwiches
A round cookie cutter with scalloped edges makes a nice shape for these cookies, but bell, tree or star cutters would also be good choices for the holidays.
Holiday Seven-Layer Bars
Chocolate, nuts, coconut and more fill our easy-to-make bar cookies. Mixed dried fruit bits and candy-coated milk chocolate pieces are among the layers that make this bar cookie distinctive.
Polvorones are Mexico's crispy, airy answer to shortbread (you may know them as Mexican wedding cookies). Food writer Shauna Sever coats them in cinnamon sugar for a churro-like effect.
A "window" on the top of these cookies shows off the jam inside, but if you're feeling lazy, just sandwich the preserves between two solid cookies. They'll taste just as good.
Lemon Sugar Cookies
The light lemon flavor gives these sparkling sugar cookies a little special twist. Judy Kiburz Harrison's recipe won best-in-class at the Iowa State Fair.
Apricot and Orange Blossom Kolacky
This tender pastry cookie, a cousin to Jewish rugelach, has Polish origins. In her book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, Shauna Sever's apricot filling nods to Hungary.
Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroon Cookies
You can make these chewy cookies up to three months ahead of the holidays. Just freeze undipped cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. When you're ready to serve them, thaw and then dip bottoms in melted chocolate.
"Anisettes feel so Italian because it's about abundance," says Chicago food writer Shauna Sever, of these deliciously soft, cakey cookies with a licorice flavor. "Small bites, but a huge yield."
Candy cane-flavor candies make these thumbprint cookies look festive for the holidays.
Gramma's Sugar Cookies
Shauna Sever grew up thinking this beloved recipe was special to her family with its unique additions of vegetable oil, confectioners' sugar and cream of tartar. So you can imagine her bewilderment when she found this exact recipe in a vintage Illinois state cookbook. This recipe is in her book Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland .
Date Pinwheel Cookies
Minneapolis blogger Alyssa Ruesch says it's not Christmas without these slice-and-bake cookies. It's her grandma's recipe.
Super-Duper Chocolate Kisses
Create these rich, chocolatey cookies from refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough—just add cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles and a candy center. Use colored sprinkles instead of chocolate if you'd like a more festive presentation.
Half chocolate and half mint, these cookies offer a great flavor combo and a pretty look.
White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
Dip these cherry-studded cookies in melted white chocolate, then roll in nonpareils and edible glitter for extra color.
Vienna Almond Cutouts
These cookies taste great on their own, but if you like, decorate them with royal icing.
Cranberry Date Puffs
These addictive, puff pastry-wrapped cookies have a sweet, nutty filling and are delicious when they're still slightly warm. If you have a food processor, they're a cinch to make.