Bring On the Christmas Cookies


Did you know that modern Christmas cookies in the United States can be traced back to recipes from Medieval European biscuits?  

The earliest Christmas cookies in the U.S. were introduced by the Dutch in the early 17th century. Cookie cutters became available in American markets from Germany between 1871 and 1906. They were initially shaped as Christmas trees and were to be used as ornaments. 

Since the 1930s, children in the U.S. and Canada started leaving Christmas cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

I love Christmas cookies so I put out a call to friends and family and asked them to send me their favorite recipes for Christmas cookies.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies — Cheri

8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

1 Cup packed dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp kosher salt

1 large egg

1 ½ cups thick-rolled oats or substitute regular rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Melt the butter and sugar: Place the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Warm, stirring frequently, until the butter and brown sugar melt into a thick brown paste. It’s fine if you see some streaks or puddles of separated butter; the butter and sugar don’t need to fully combine.

Mix in the flour: Remove the pan from heat and stir in the flour, vanilla, and salt. The batter will be very thin. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

Mix in the eggs and oats: Once the liquid has cooled (its OK if it is still warm, just not piping hot), add the egg and mix with a fork until incorporated. Add the oats and stir until well distributed. 

Divide and shape the cookies: Spoon 1 tbsp of the batter onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches or more of space between each one. Use the back of a spoon to spread each cookie into a very thin circle so the oats are in a single layer. If you don’t have enough room on one baking sheet, bake the cookies in batches.

Bake the cookies: Bake in the oven for 8 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to turn dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the parchment papers. The cookies should peel easily from the parchment, but use a spatula if any are sticking.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days between sheets of parchment paper.


Scotch Shortbread — Loretta

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup butter, unsalted

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

⅓ cup white rice flour

Preheat Oven To 350°F

In a large bowl: combine all-purpose flour, white rice flour, and confectioner’s sugar. Cut in butter until completely incorporated. Knead dough on a floured surface until soft, about 2 minutes. Return dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Knead dough to soften a little bit. On a surface dusted lightly with flour, use a rolling pin to roll dough 1/4 inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Suggestion: Mix it in a food processor and dip in melted chocolate.


Giant Ginger Sugar Cookies — Gale

4 ½ cups flour                                

4 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda                            

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves                          

1/4 tsp salt

1 ½ cups Crisco shortening               

2 cups sugar

2 eggs                                             

½ cup molasses

3/4 cup coarse or regular sugar

Preheat over to 350F.

Mix all ingredients together. 

Shape dough into 2″ balls. Roll in sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 ½ inches apart. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until light brown and puffed. Cool for 2 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack. Makes 25 4-inch cookies.


Magic Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                  1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder             1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar    1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs                                       2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips         1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup flaked coconut                            1 cup chopped pecans

Garnish: Flaked sea salt coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pecans

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together for about 1 minute. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients.

Stir in the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and pecans. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes, you can chill the dough for up to 72 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.

Form the cookie dough into balls,  using about 2 tablespoons of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies for 10-14 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown but centers are still a little soft. Remove from oven and sprinkle each cookie with flaked sea salt.

Sprinkle the cookies with coconut and gently press a few chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pecans onto the tops of the cookies to make them extra pretty.

Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Russian Tea Cookies — Gale

1 cup butter                         

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 Tbsp powdered sugar         

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped walnuts         

Powdered sugar for dipping

Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Combine the 6 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar and flour; stir into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. When cool, roll in the remaining confectioners’ sugar.   Roll in the sugar a second time.


Meringue Cookies — Belinda

2 large room temp egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp vanilla or peppermint

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar


I fold crushed peppermint discs into the mixture.

In a stand mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt to soft peaks. Turn up the speed to high. Slowly add sugar (1 tbsp at a time).

Beat until sugar is dissolved, check by rubbing a bit between two fingers. You should not feel any grit. Add flavoring.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Fit a large disposable piping bag with a large tip (I used Ateco 846, but any large star tip will work, or you can just snip the edge of the piping bag for a “kiss” formation) and transfer the meringue to the prepared piping bag and pipe onto prepared cookie sheet. They don’t spread much, so a lot can go on a sheet.

Bake at 225° for approximately an hour.

Turn off the oven and leave closed until completely cooled. Meringues should be crisp. Keep in an airtight container. Heat and moisture will soften meringues.


Chocolate Kiss Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour            1/2 cup Dutch process or unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt                    1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar           

1 egg yolk at room temperature

2 tablespoons milk                    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup nonpareil sprinkles        25 Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract, and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined.
Pour the sprinkles into a small bowl. Roll the balls of dough, about 3 teaspoons of dough per cookie, then roll each ball into the sprinkles to coat. Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes. Check early to be safe. You want to take them out when they are still soft in the center.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Press the chocolate kisses into the center of each cookie. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Note—cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.


Candy Cane Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup sugar           

1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract                     

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder                                   

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg                                                         

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring

To finish

1 egg white                                                       

2 tablespoons sparkling sugar

Place the butter, sugar, peppermint, vanilla, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until a paste forms and clings to the side of the bowl.

Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the egg until it is absorbed. Add the flour and beat until just combined and no more dry streaks of flour remain.

Divide and remove half the dough from the bowl. Carefully add the red food coloring to the remaining dough. Mix on low until the color is evenly distributed.

Pat each piece of dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

The chilled dough should be firm but still easy to shape straight from the fridge. If not, let it warm for just a few minutes until malleable. Don’t let it warm too much, or it will be too soft to work with again.

Pinch off a 1-inch round piece of the white dough and roll it out to a 5-inch rope. Do the same with a piece of the red dough (make sure the ropes are the same length).

Place the ropes next to each other and twist them together. Transfer to the baking sheet and curve the top of the dough into a candy cane shape.

Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart.

Make the egg white wash by beating the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water until foamy. Brush the top of each cookie with the egg white wash and then sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just barely brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

Persimmon Cookies — Hettie

1 cup persimmon

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup shortening

1 egg

1 cup nuts

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp clove

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp pumpkin spice

2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

Place the persimmon pulp in a small bowl. Stir in the baking soda.

Sift the flour, spices, and salt in a separate bowl.

In another bowl, beat the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg and persimmon mixture.

Stir in flour until just combined. Fold in the mix-ins.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a prepared baking sheet.

Bake until the edges are golden. Cool on a wire rack.


Christmas Tree Cookies — Sally

1 cup shortening

2 1/4 sifted all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp almond extract

Green food coloring

Cream shortening and sugar well.

Beat in egg and almond extract.

Gradually blend in dry ingredients which have been sifted together and tint the dough with a few drops of green food coloring. Mix well.

Fill a MIRRO cookie press. Form cookies on ungreased MIRRO cookie sheets using tree plate No. 21.

Decorate with tiny candies. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375F.

Remove at once to cooling racks.

Eggnog Snickerdoodle Cookies — Tiffany

Dry Ingredients

3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour      1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder                            1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg                        1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

Wet Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature   

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple juice or cider                             

3/4 cup light brown sugar packed

3/4 cup granulated sugar                             

1 large egg, room temperature preferred

1/3 cup eggnog, room temperature preferred

Sugar Topping

3/4 cup granulated sugar                      tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon                           

Eggnog Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar                          1/4 cup eggnog

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg                        1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine sugar topping ingredients in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
Line a large plate, platter, or cookie sheet with wax paper. Set aside for now. This will be used for chilling the balls of dough.
Line another baking sheet with parchment paper (for baking) and set aside for now.
Mix together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and cream of tartar). Set aside.
Start mixing “wet” ingredients: In a separate bowl, cream room temperature butter, vanilla extract, and rum extract together. Add sugars (brown and granulated) and mix until fluffy.
Add egg and eggnog and mix well.
Stir in combined dry ingredients, half of the mixture at a time, stirring until JUST mixed each time.
Use a small cookie scoop or spoon to scoop out approximately 1-inch balls, and use your hands to gently roll them into a ball. Place onto the prepared plate (with the wax paper).
Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.
When done chilling, preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
Roll each ball into the sugar topping mixture and place back onto wax paper-lined plate.
Place cookie dough balls onto a prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches in between for optimal baking, slightly flatten each ball, and bake 8-10 minutes.
Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-7 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
You will have to bake the cookies in batches, so be sure to put the cookie dough balls back into the refrigerator while the other ones are baking.
Mix together glaze ingredients (powdered sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and eggnog) until smooth.
Drizzle over completely cooled cookies.

Quick Rich Cookie Mix — Donna

1 yellow cake mix

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup butter

1/2 cup white or peanut butter chips

1 tsp water

1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Mix cake mix, butter, eggs, and water to form dough. Stir in chips and nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto a cookie sheet or baking stone. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes; cool slightly, then remove from pan to cooling rack. Yield: 3 dozen


Christmas Chip Cookies — Shannon

8 tbsp salted butter melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup red and green sprinkles

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Add the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat well until well combined.

Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Dump in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined. The dough will be soft.

Stir in the dark and white chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Portion dough into 9 large balls of dough.

Bake for 11 minutes exactly. Do not overbake. Cookies may look a bit underdone, but they will set up as they cool.

Let cookies set on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before eating.


Almond Balls — Anne

2 cups flour

pinch salt

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups ground almonds

1 egg beaten

1 tbsp milk

1 egg white beaten

1 tbsp sliced almond crushed

Sift flour and salt in a bowl. Add sugar and almonds, and mix well. Make a well in the center and pour in the beaten egg. Mix with a fork to make a stiff dough adding milk if necessary. Shape into little balls, brush with egg white, and roll in crushed almonds.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 350F.

When they are done baking, you can sprinkle some powdered sugar on top for a little extra sweetness.


German Spice Cookies (Pfeffernüsse) — Kira

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup molasses

2 tbsp butter

2 eggs room temperature

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup candied lemon peel finely chopped

1/3 cup almonds (finely ground)

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 tsp ground cardamon

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tbsp apple juice or cider

Put honey, molasses, and butter into a small pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until hot, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Add eggs and whisk to combine. Put flour, half the lemon peel, almonds, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamom, and baking powder into a large bowl and stir to combine. Add honey mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined to form a dough. Cover the surface of the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly oil your palms with some of the oil. Form dough into 36 balls, each about 1″ wide (the dough will be very sticky, so keep your hands lightly oiled while working). Divide dough balls between baking sheets, keeping them spaced 1″ apart. Bake until slightly cracked on top and just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk together confectioners’s sugar and 5 tsp. apple juice or cider to make a smooth glaze. While the cookies are still warm, use a pastry brush to coat each one with a layer of glaze. While the surfaces of the cookies are still moist with glaze, garnish each top with pieces of the remaining lemon peel. Set cookies aside to let them cool completely. Eat right away or store in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed paper, for up to one week.

Red Velvet Oreo Cookies — Crandalls

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened

1 large egg

1 Tbsp liquid red food coloring


2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened

1 Tbsp hot water

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cookies:

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with Silpat liners or parchment paper.


In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt to combine. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg and food coloring. With mixer set on low speed add dry ingredients and mix until combined.


Shape the dough into balls, about 1 slightly heaping tablespoon each, and place the dough balls 3-inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using your fingers lying flat (or the bottom of a drinking glass if it’s not too sticky for you), evenly flatten the dough balls slightly. Bake until edges start setting, about 7 – 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


To make the filling:


In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together powdered sugar, shortening, butter, water and vanilla until light and fluffy.


Place the filling in a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch round tip. Turn half of the cookies over with bottoms facing upright and pipe about 1 Tbsp of the filling over cookies. Place remaining 1/2 of cookies over frosted cookies to sandwich cookies together. Store in an airtight container.


Pam is currently the Visual Layout Director for Public Square Magazine and for Third Hour. She loves anything to do with road trips and history. She currently lives in San Antonio, TX.