22 Traditional Christmas Cookie Recipes to Make and Share All Season Long

Speculaas cookies
Photo: Mike Krautter

In this collection of Christmas cookie recipes, we're sticking with beloved favorites, like spicy gingerbread, buttery shortbread, classic sugar cookies, and jam-filled linzer stars. If these treats aren't your favorites, consider whipping up a batch of our thumbprint cookies with brightly colored centers, or something a little unexpected, like Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps. And if you haven't gotten your seasonal fix of eggnog just yet, then you'll be pleased to know that we're also sharing a cookie version of the classic drink you're guaranteed to love.

Pick any of these time-honored cookie recipes to make and give over the holiday season. They're perfect for sharing, and a wonderful way to bring cheer to the ones we love. Happy baking!

01 of 22

Classic Sugar Cookies

basic sugar cookies stars
Minh + Wass

Nothing says "Christmas" quite like a classic sugar cookie. This tried-and-true recipe can be rolled into any shape you like and decorated with colorful frosting.

02 of 22

Noel Nut Balls

holiday handbook 2011 noel nut
Joseph De Leo

Similar to Mexican Wedding Cakes and Russian Tea Cakes, these diminutive treats look like sweet snowballs and are made with nuts. For our Noel Nut Balls, we use Martha's family recipe which calls for pecans and contains a touch of bourbon or fresh orange juice. Which will you use?

03 of 22

Gingerbread Cookies

Sang An

Cutout gingerbread cookies made with honey-spice dough or traditional boiled gingerbread dough are spectacular when dusted with sanding sugar on top of freshly piped icing. It gives the impression of new-fallen snow. We added some Dark-Chocolate Cutout Cookies here too for their contrasting shade—and because chocolate works so well with ginger.

04 of 22

Peppermint Spritz Cookies

peppermint spritz cookies
Louise Hagger

For some, it's just not Christmas without spritz cookies. If you're in that camp, we've got you covered with these peppermint glazed cookies made using your trusty cookie press.

05 of 22

Anise Pizzelle

anise pizzelle cookies
Mike Krautter

These thin, waffle-like cookies hail from the Italian region of Abruzzo. They get their intricate shape from a special pizzelle iron. Originally the plates of these irons had family crests embossed on them, but nowadays you'll find them with geometric, floral, or even snowflake patterns.

06 of 22

Chocolate-Espresso Snowcaps


Chewy mocha cookies that look like little snow-covered mountains are a Christmas classic.

07 of 22

Shortbread Three Ways

Linda Pugliese

A trio of sweet, simple embellishments—chocolate chunks, boozy dried fruit, and coconut with pecans—sends a classic cookie over the top. Stick with the Classic Shortbread recipe or turn it into Chocolate-Chunk Shortbread, Fruitcake Shortbread, or Coconut-Pecan Shortbread.

08 of 22

Meyer-Lemon Shortbread Wreath Cookies

meyer-lemon shortbread wreath cookies
Mikkel Vang

They tick all the necessary traditional boxes but the flavors have of these pretty wreath cookies been updated. Meyer lemons add their sweet, citrus perfume and rosemary brings a woodsy note.

09 of 22

Finnish Star Cookies

finnish cream cheese stars cookies
Mike Krautter

These favorite Finnish cookies, joulutorttu, are made with a rich, pliable dough that uses cream cheese. It's folded to make a simple star shape. Use your favorite jam in the center, bright colors are best.

10 of 22

Thumbprints and Ball Cookies

thumbprint christmas cookies

One versatile dough and so many cookies! Start with our easy vanilla cookie dough and make five different kinds of thumbprint cookies as well as three different ball cookies. It's all about adding citrus zest, cinnamon, or cocoa powder to plain vanilla dough, and decorating with a variety of toppings from ganache to peppermints, to make a marvelous array of treats.

11 of 22

Lucinda's Molasses Drops


Some of the best family heirlooms are edible, like these cookies, a tweaked version of Lucinda Scala Quinn's great-grandmother's recipe.

12 of 22

Cinnamon Star Cookies (Zimsterne)

Johnny Miller

A favorite in Germany, these angelic star cookies are light and chewy. To ensure their soft, almond dough doesn't harden, be sure not to over bake.

13 of 22


pfeffernusse cookies
Mike Krautter

The snowy sugar surface of these pfeffernussen contrasts with the peppery flavor that defines this traditional German cookie.

14 of 22

Martha's Speculaas Cookies

speculaas cookies
Mike Krautter

You'll need specially designed springerle molds to shape the fragrant spiced dough for these traditional Dutch cookies.

15 of 22


Sang An

The German town of Nuremberg has been famous for its lebkuchen since the late 1300s; the soft, cakey cookies are traditionally made with several spices, candied citrus peel, hazelnuts, and almonds.

16 of 22

Rum Balls


Break a batch of brownies into bits, mix with dark rum, and roll into balls, then coat them with sparkling sugar to make this delicious holiday treat.

17 of 22



The festive duo of Cranberry-Pistachio Cornmeal Biscotti and Cherry-Almond Biscotti make an excellent gift—along with a pound of your favorite coffee for dunking.

18 of 22

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

chocolate gingerbread cookies
Joseph De Leo

A combination of fresh and ground ginger, molasses, and chunks of semisweet chocolate makes these egg-free cookies just irresistible. They're sophisticated enough for adults yet still chocolaty enough for children.

19 of 22

Brandied-Fruit Tartlets


Our take on the traditional English mince pies, these dried-fruit tartlets have decorative toppers made by using different cookie cutters or aspic cutters. Another option is to cut decorative vents with a sharp knife.

20 of 22

Chrusciki Leaves


The recipe for these traditional Polish fried cookies, also known as angel wings, comes from Martha's mother, Mrs. Kostyra.

21 of 22

Brandy Nutmeg Crescents

Aaron Dyer

Sure, cinnamon is a popular spice, but we prefer nutmeg when it comes to Christmas cookies. Here's a moon-shaped take on the snow-dusted, buttery cookies that everyone loves.

22 of 22

Linzer Stars

Star cookie with jam in the center
Emily Kate Roemer

Based on the famous linzer torte, these classic cookies combine the classic nutty and fruity elements but in a smaller package.

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