Pretty snow, cups of hot cider and cocoa, and the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Christmastime is officially here, and while we're all scrambling to buy presents for our nearest and dearest and finishing up big work projects, we know that we really only care about one thing: the cookies.
While cookies are obviously delicious at any time of year, they really shine from mid-November until the beginning of January. Christmas cookies are something truly special. They're a bit out of the ordinary because they're more interesting than chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies (no offense to those amazing treats), and we only make them once a year. Like cranberry sauce and stuffing, we expect them to be a part of our Christmas table.
With so many cookie ideas and recipes out there, it's time to get serious and choose the best ones. Of course, no cookie connoisseur can just get baking without knowing which cookies aren't worth the flour, butter, and sugar. Here are 12 epic Christmas cookie recipes, along with 8 that never should have come out of the oven. Get your apron on and your ingredients out and let's make some Christmas cookie magic (tis the season for sugar sharing, right?!).
20 Epic: Perfect Frosted Sugar Cookies
You knew that we would include these cookies, right?! What's the Christmas season without an epic and magical sugar cookie recipe?
It would be no Christmas season at all. But let's not get caught up thinking about such tragic times. Instead, let's agree to make this recipe for Perfect Frosted Sugar Cookies from Wholefully. The cookies have granulated sugar, eggs, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and unsalted butter. The frosting is made of food coloring, milk, honey, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. The fun part, of course, is shaping these into snowmen or trees or any Christmas-themed cookie cutter that we have.
19 Epic: Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread cookies are a total Christmas classic. They're rich, sugary, and buttery, and for many people, the season just wouldn't be complete without a batch (or five... hey, it's Christmas, it's not the time to count calories or cut back). While some people love sugar cookies (and of course those have this place this time of year), shortbread deserve all of the love that they get.
Thanks to Against All Grain, anyone with a gluten allergy or who follows the Paleo lifestyle can enjoy some shortbread cookies this Christmas season.
Sea salt, palm shortening, maple syrup, arrowroot flour, and almond flour combine to make these awesome cookies.
18 Not: Chocolate Crinkles
What's a Chocolate Crinkle? It's a chocolate cookie... with powdered sugar. Yes, it looks kind of cute. Yes, it's got some snowy vibes going since you could argue that the powdered sugar looks like, you know, snow.
Honestly, this is a strange cookie because it seems odd to drench a cookie in powdered sugar. That sounds gross and it's way too much powdered sugar, which is overly sweet. What's wrong with a good old chocolate cookie? Or, better yet, a chocolate chip cookie? We would bake up a batch of those any time of year, even Christmas. They're always welcome.
17 Epic: Pink Peppermint Bark Macarons
Macarons are basically a cookie... and they totally count when they're made with peppermint. These are totally perfect for the Christmas season and we are so thankful to How Sweet Eats for coming up with this super awesome, creative recipe.
There is peppermint extract in the macaron, along with pink food coloring, and crushed candy canes or peppermint. Plus, let's be real here: we want to make these (and we want to make them ASAP) because they are completely gorgeous. Bring on the pink Christmas cookies. Do we ever see pink cookies this time of year? We can't really recall, which is another reason why this recipe makes us so happy and full of cheer.
16 Epic: Snowflake Sugar Cookies
This recipe for Snowflake Sugar Cookies from Cake & Allie takes your classic and beloved sugar cookie recipe and turns it up a few notches.
The best (and most exciting) part is the frosting. The ingredients in the frosting are water, blue food coloring, powdered sugar, and meringue powder. This gives the cookies a super elegant, sophisticated, and delicate look. These are almost too gorgeous to eat. Hey, we said almost. We're obviously going to eat our fair share... and maybe if we're feeling extra nice (or we want Santa to think that we're extra nice), we'll bake a few extra batches for friends and family.
15 Not: Spicy Chocolate Cookies
Look, we totally get that spicy chocolate is a thing. You can buy it in chocolate bar form, you can make spicy hot chocolate, and around Christmas, you can make spicy chocolate cookies.
That doesn't mean that we agree that it's a good idea. In fact, it doesn't seem like the best idea. This isn't a flavor combination that a lot of people would crave. Plain chocolate cookies, sure. Spicy ones? No way. We'll take any other Christmas cookie over this one. It doesn't seem all that festive, and it seems like an acquired taste. Christmas cookies shouldn't be an acquired taste. They should appeal to everyone.
14 Epic: Snickerdoodles
These Snickerdoodles from Oh She Glows are not only epic and a perfect Christmas cookie, but they're also gluten-free and vegan. That's super nice for anyone who will be enjoying the fruits of our Christmas baking labor. And if we just want a healthier option since, you know, we'll be eating our weight in cookies over the next few weeks, then that's a good reason to turn to this recipe as well.
These cookies are made with almond flour, oat flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and many more delicious (and fairly nutritious) ingredients. Tis the season to eat cookies, and we can't wait to whip these up.
13 Epic: Peanut Butter Buckeyes
We all love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate... maybe a little bit too much. (Just kidding. There's no such thing as loving it too much. Sorry, we got lost there for a moment.)
Where were we? Oh right. This recipe for Peanut Butter Buckeyes from Jif Peanut Butter uses that classic combination of flavors that we adore so much, and it's also a classic Christmas cookie in its own right. Many families have been making buckeyes for generations so it's time for us to make them, too. These have vanilla extract, our beloved PB, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and a few other things. Yum.
12 Not: Linzer Cookies
Nothing against Linzer cookies. They're not technically bad. They're still made of flour and butter and sugar, all good things. They're pretty to look at and they have jam in the center.
And yet... they're still not one of the best Christmas cookies to make and eat. Why not? Because they're very similar to a thumbprint cookie since they have the jam in the center, and we think that thumbprint cookies are way superior. Linzer cookies totally pale in comparison. Hey, it's not our fault that the cookie competition during the holidays is stiff. It's tough times out there. While Linzer cookies might stack up the rest of the year, they don't hold a candle (or a cookie) to thumbprints.
11 Epic: Brown Butter Maple Nutmeg Cookies
Oh yes. These are absolutely epic. Brown Butter Maple Nutmeg Cookies... We mean... How did we not know about these?!
Well, let's not dwell on the past and just get into the kitchen so we can bake as many of these as humanly possible until Christmas Day. And maybe even beyond Christmas Day. Because we have a feeling these will be our new favorite Christmas baking tradition. This amazing recipe from My Baking Addiction has a cookie dough made of cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts, flour, and the like, plus a frosting made of vanilla extract, maple extract, powdered sugar, unsalted butter, and milk. Christmas cookie dreams coming true right here.
10 Not: Super Sweet Store-Bought Sugar Cookies
You have sugar cookies... and then you have super sweet store-bought sugar cookies. These are two totally different things.
Sugar cookies that we make in our own kitchens (or that our sweet family members make, which we are so thankful for) are amazing. They're just hard enough, they're just sweet enough, and we have fun decorating them. Store-bought sugar cookies should never, ever come out of the oven because they are so sweet they hurt our teeth. They literally taste like icing sugar and that's about it. We never want to see these and think that the homemade kind is so much more superior.
9 Epic: Gingerbread Men
Of course no Christmas cookie list would be complete without a great and magical recipe for Gingerbread Men. These are some of the best Christmas cookies since you're not only making a delicious sugary treat but you get to decorate it.
This recipe from Rose & Lea will make our gingerbread-baking dreams come true. The ingredients include molasses, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, sugar, butter, and more.
What's even better about this recipe is that it makes around 50 cookies. Oh yes, you read that right. 50 cookies. We can see it now: we're going to bake these up for the whole neighborhood (or maybe eat them all ourselves...).
8 Not: Snowballs
Honestly, the texture of snowballs is super off-putting. Well at first we might like the idea of this cookie because the name is super cute and we like the whole snowy vibe, there is no real reason to eat this cookie, let alone make it.
Snowballs should never come out of the oven because they are overly sweet. They're also covered in way too much powder (or icing sugar, but it literally feels like the same thing). We would never ask for these or suggest making them, and we would rather eat any other kind of Christmas cookie. We hate to turn down cookies, especially during this festive time of year, but we're not into these at all.
7 Epic: Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
Thumbprint cookies are totally classic around Christmas time. People seriously go crazy for them and look forward to making them as soon as it starts to snow and the Christmas music is playing nonstop in stores and you can feel the merry and bright vibes all around.
This recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies from Jessica Gavin definitely fits into the epic Christmas cookie category. We mean, come on. You have your classic food combination, PB and jelly, aka the best of pals, and then you're adding sugar, an egg, salt, and vanilla extract. These use strawberry jam and creamy PB. We're sold.
6 Not: Chewy Molasses Cookies
What's the deal with molasses cookies?! These are seriously confusing.
They're not gingerbread cookies, which as we've already established are one of the best Christmas cookies out there. But they're obviously made with molasses, which is one of the key ingredients in gingerbread cookies and what makes them so festive and delicious. So why make molasses cookies? Sure, they're sweet, but that's about all that they have going for them. And since we would venture to say that every Christmas cookie is sweet, that doesn't really mean much. We'd rather go for those cute little gingerbread men instead. Also, we're not big on the chewy texture.
5 Epic: M&M Cookies
Now we're talking. It doesn't get much fun (or more festive) than M&M Cookies. No one would ever complain about putting candy in a cookie. It's honestly the greatest idea ever.
This recipe from Cooking Classy sounds great: it's got your typical cookie ingredients like sugar and butter and flour, plus a bag of the famous colorful chocolate candy (but in mini size).
We can just see it now: a big platter of cookies, including these ones. They honestly just say "Merry Christmas." That's probably because of the red and green M&Ms. We just know that everyone will be asking for seconds (and thirds) of these treats.
4 Not: Coconut Macaroons
Sure, the Pink Peppermint Macaroons listed above are epic and magical. They're amazing. They're pink (which as we've agreed is a great color for Christmas cookies).
Coconut macaroons, on the other hand, are definitely a Christmas cookie that never should have come out of the oven. The main reason: coconut. It's an acquired taste, and many people would agree that it's not as delicious as other ingredients. The problem with a coconut macaron is that it's super strong. It's overpowering. It's too much to handle. No thank you. Even if we were given a plate of coconut macaroons covered or dipped in chocolate, we would still give it two thumbs down.
3 Epic: Cranberry Chai Spice Thumbprint Cookies
Thumbprint cookies are the best and this recipe from The Almond Eater for Cranberry Chai Spice Thumbprint Cookies is pretty magical. We feel merry just looking at the picture. We love the idea of pairing cranberry and chai in a cookie. It's perfect this time of year and makes us feel all warm and cozy. If we could eat these while looking at snow, even better.
The jam filling has a blood orange, cinnamon, frozen cranberries, ginger, and cane sugar. Okay, yum. The filling alone would be enough to make us make these cookies, but then there's the dough itself which has all the delightful chai spices from all-spice to cloves to ground nutmeg. We're definitely adding these to our cookie to-do list this Christmas season.
2 Epic: Sugar Cookie Skillet
Have you ever make a sugar cookie... in a skillet? No? Well, what have you been doing? Let's forget all the boring Christmas cookies that we've been making since childhood and get on board with this awesome recipe from PaleOMG.
You'll use a griddle pan to make this and use some really good ingredients as well, including ghee, almond flour, tapioca flour, coconut flour, maple syrup, and put snowflake sprinkles on top. This is a sugary treat that is actually pretty good for you, too, since it's made from better stuff, and that should be enough to make you full of Christmas cheer.
1 Not: Biscotti
Sorry but biscotti aren't a good cookie. They just aren't. Why not?
Well, first of all, they're super hard. As in rock hard. Something that you literally have to dip in tea or hot chocolate or coffee in order to eat isn't the best cookie ever. And second of all, biscotti don't really scream merry and bright, do they? Sure, you often see them included in a spread of desserts around this time of year, but they're definitely not as good as gingerbread men or sugar cookies. We're going to say no thank you to biscotti and yes please to more sugar cookies. It's Christmas. It's the best time of year to eat.