10 Must-Make Christmas Cookies

Christmas cookies are always a welcome addition to any holiday party, but the same old sugar cookies just won’t cut it this time around. Gingerbread men are passé, and there are so many other great options to test out that you could bake a new recipe every day for months and never run out of choices. Here’s a roundup of 10 recipes you should try this holiday season—but no guarantees your mother-in-law will like them.
Header image and recipe for Christmas Sugar Cookies from CHOW

1. Soft Gingersnap Cookies

These soft gingersnap cookies are a great alternative to the crunchy version normally associated with gingersnaps. A classic cookie, the gingersnap is delicious alone and even better dipped in a glass of milk. You can use light or dark molasses to alter the taste; try to use recently purchased ginger powder to guarantee freshness.
Photo and recipe from A Bountiful Kitchen

2. Linzer Sablés

Our Linzer Sablés recipe is a new take on the linzertorte and has a whole cup and a half of finely ground nuts; try almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts to figure out your favorite. These tiny sandwich cookies are delicate and addictive when filled with raspberry or apricot jam, but for a real show-stopper try filling them with a dollop of Nutella.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

3. Mexican Wedding Cakes

Mexican Wedding Cakes are small pillowlike cookies known by many names throughout the world—and in any language, they’re delectable. These cookies are crunchy but light, with an entire cup of toasted pecans in the dough. Covered with confectioners' sugar, they are amazing with a cup of coffee or an after-dinner drink.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

4. Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Buttercream Filling

Chocolate and peppermint are the perfect holiday combination. These chocolate cookies are really simple: You can freeze the cylinder of dough and keep it on hand for a last-minute gift or a weeknight dessert. The peppermint buttercream filling with crushed peppermint candies (or candy canes) is minty and refreshing. If you’re feeling extra festive, try adding some red or green food coloring.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

5. Molasses Cookies

Molasses cookies were your grandmother’s go-to but aren’t often found on the holiday cookie plate these days. With a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar, a stack of these is exactly what Santa is looking forward to finding next to his glass of milk. The soft, chewy center and crisp edges make it hard to eat just one.
Photo and recipe from Our Share of the Harvest

6. Rainbow Cookies

Blogger Deb Perelman’s recipe for rainbow cookies makes a delightful dessert that looks impressive but is actually pretty simple to make. The cookies just take some patience and a whole lot of almond paste. You can change the food coloring to suit your fancy, but be sure to make these ahead of time: The multilayered cookies require at least eight hours to chill.
Photo and recipe from Smitten Kitchen

7. Vanilla Slice-and-Bake Cookies

This recipe is an incredible jumping-off point for a variety of beautiful and tasty holiday cookies. You can roll the logs of cookie dough in chopped nuts, sprinkles, chocolate chips, anything you can think of, and feel free to embellish the tops with frosting or more add-ins. You can also flavor the dough with a multitude of spices or seasonings and get as creative as you want. Start with classic holiday combos (nutmeg, allspice, ginger, etc.) and expand from there.
Photo and recipe from Fine Cooking

8. White Chocolate, Pistachio, and Cranberry Cookie Wreaths

These beautiful wreath cookies manage to include some healthy ingredients—pistachios and cranberries—and kids can easily pitch in and assemble them with little supervision. This is a creatively and deliciously jazzed-up version of a simple holiday sugar cookie. The white chocolate frosting looks just like snow, and you can substitute any number of toppings. Try chocolate chips, other types of chopped nuts, crushed candies, or dried fruit.
Photo and recipe from Butter Hearts Sugar

9. Millionaire's Shortbread

Millionaire’s Shortbread combines all the best dessert elements: a crunchy shortbread crust, a layer of gooey caramel, and a smooth layer of chocolate on top. These cookies are incredibly easy to assemble, and they make great gifts. But be warned: A small serving goes a long way. Try cutting them in one-inch squares or rectangles.
Photo and recipe from Gotta Get Baked

10. Earl Grey Shortbread

This recipe for Earl Grey shortbread coins contains actual loose tea leaves that delicately flavor the dough. Dipped in hot cocoa, coffee, or even tea, these cookies are an outstanding holiday snack and make a great hostess gift as well.
Photo and recipe from the Food Network

Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.

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