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.
Graham crackers form the base for this bar cookie with layers of marshmallows, brown sugar, almonds and coconut. "They're one of my family's favorites," says Georgine Simmonds of Genesee, Michigan.
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!"
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.
Goat Cheese, Artichoke and Smoked Ham Strata
This brunch recipe comes from Carol Mortensen of Flossmoor, Illinois. "This goat cheese, artichoke and smoked ham strata is our favorite brunch dish," she says. "The best part is preparing it the night before to bake in the morning."
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."
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."
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.
Sugary cinnamon meets salty pretzels in this super-easy, gift-worthy snack mix. "I first tried these pretzels at a holiday cookie exchange," says recipe contributor Monica Bowers of Great Bend, Kansas. "What's better than the taste of cinnamon sugar?"
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."
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."
Kathy's Meat Pie
Pie for dinner? Yes, please! Kathy Maanika of Escanaba, Michigan, shares her family recipe.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Date-nut desserts can be cloyingly sweet, but orange juice brightens these simple bars.
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. (Recipe at link above.)
You can choose from two fillings when you bake the tiny, turnover-like Nutjammers.