Traditional Christmas Cookie Recipes Perfect for the Holiday Season
Here's a batch of wonderful cookie recipes to make and give over the holiday season. In this collection we're sticking with the seasonal, the classic, and the beloved. There's nothing flashy here, and you'll find nothing trendy in this gallery, either. Most of these recipes speak of tradition, like the spritz cookie shown here that's dressed up with a marbled red-and-white glaze, evoking the classic holiday candy cane. It's a recipe definitely worth dusting off your cookie press for. Then there is the soft and cakey German Lebkuchen with their pretty wrapping; the crisp, classic gingerbread cut-outs; or the Finnish pinwheel cookie called Joulutorttu. We have included some of Martha's own old-world favorites as well as her mother, Mrs. Kostyra's recipe for the feather-light Polish fried pastry leaves called Chrusciki.
Between the crunchy spice cookie, Speculaas, the black pepper gingerbread Pfefernussen, and the Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies, all the warming spices are covered. When it comes to fruit and nuts, there are biscotti studded with jewel-like cranberries and pistachios. If those treats aren't your favorites, consider whipping up a batch of our thumbprint cookies with brightly colored centers, delicious, buttery shortbreads, 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.
When we look toward the winter holidays, we think of ways to bring cheer to the ones we love. Picking any one of these time-honored favorite cookie recipes for your gift-giving, sharing, and festive occasions is the best way to start. Happy baking!
Classic Sugar Cookies
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.
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.
Shortbread Three Ways
Meyer-Lemon Shortbread Wreath Cookies
These pretty wreath cookies tick all the necessary traditional boxes but the flavors have been updated. Meyer lemons add their sweet, citrus perfume and rosemary brings a woodsy note.
Chewy mocha cookies that look like little snow-covered mountains are a Christmas classic.
Finnish Star Cookies
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.
Thumbprints and Ball 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.
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.
Cinnamon Star Cookies (Zimsterne)
These angelic star cookies are light and chewy. To ensure their soft, almond dough doesn't harden, be sure not to over bake.
The snowy sugar surface of these pfeffernussen contrasts with the peppery flavor that defines this traditional German cookie.
Martha's Speculaas Cookies
You'll need specially designed springerle molds to shape the fragrant spiced dough for these traditional Dutch cookies.
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.
Break a batch of brownies into bits, mix with dark rum, and roll into balls coated with sparkling sugar to make this delicious holiday treat.
Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
A combination of fresh and ground ginger, molasses, and chunks of semisweet chocolate makes these egg-free cookies sophisticated enough for adults but chocolaty enough for children.
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.