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 15 recipes you should try this holiday season—but no guarantees your mother-in-law will like them.
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Lenox Happy Hollydays Cookie Jar, $35.15 on Amazon
Store your cookies in this festive jar.
These soft, chewy ginger cookies are a great alternative to crunchy gingersnaps. A classic cookie, this 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. Get the Super-Size Soft Ginger Cookie recipe.
Our Linzer Sablés recipe is a new take on the linzer torte 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. Get our Linzer Sablé Cookies recipe.
Flip the script on regular old chocolate chip cookies this year. Make spicy hazelnut flour cookies with roughly chopped dark chocolate, crystallized ginger, and a bit of black pepper for addictive kick instead. Get the Spicy Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies recipe.
Mexican Wedding Cakes are small pillow-like 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. Get our Mexican Wedding Cookies recipe.
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. Get our Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Buttercream Filling recipe.
Italian tricolor cookies (often called rainbow cookies) are both a nod to the Boot and a visual celebration of Christmas colors (red, green, and white). These cookies come together easily with a cake-like cookie, jam, and melted chocolate. Get our recipe for Italian tricolor 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. Get our Icebox Sugar Cookie recipe.
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These festively colored cookies manage to include some healthy ingredients—pistachios and cherries (but feel free to swap in dried 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. Mix it up by substituting other types of chocolate chips, chopped nuts, crushed candies, and/or dried fruit; just keep the ratios the same. Get our White Chocolate Pistachio Cherry Cookie recipe. (Or try a slightly more labor-intensive but lovely White Chocolate, Pistachio, and Cranberry Cookie Wreaths recipe.)
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Classic 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. This version from Yotam Ottolenghi is a bit more sophisticated, with a rich and roasty halvah layer and a faintly bitter, slightly salty tahini caramel topping—another layer of semisweet chocolate would still be great to finish these off. In any case, these cookies are incredibly rich, so try cutting them in one-inch squares or rectangles. Get the Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread recipe.
This recipe for Earl Grey shortbread coins contains actual loose tea leaves that delicately flavor the dough. Regular orange juice, milk, or any other liquid also works for the glaze if you want to focus on the tea flavor (and you can tint it red or green with food coloring if desired), but the hint of citrus is nice. Dipped in hot cocoa, coffee, or even tea, these cookies are an outstanding holiday snack and make a great hostess gift as well. Get the Earl Grey Shortbread with Blood Orange Glaze recipe.
Could these red-and-green-swirled cookies (from the fabulous “Holiday Cookies” book by Elisabet der Nederlanden) be any more cheerful? They look like edible ornaments, and are easier than you think. Get the Red and Green Icebox Pinwheel Cookie recipe.
Another winner from der Nederlanden’s holiday cookbook, these hot cocoa-inspired cookies are topped with broiled marshmallows and an unexpectedly delicious sprinkle of fruity Aleppo pepper. They’re not ideal for shipping but are perfect for polishing off at a holiday party. Get the Hot Chocolate Cookies with Aleppo Pepper recipe.
13. Caramel Rugelach
Hanukkah cookies work just as well in a traditional Christmas cookie mix too, and frankly, rugelach are too delicious to pass up any time, anywhere. This version is filled with caramel and pecans for a chewy, crunchy, buttery bite. Get the Caramel Rugelach recipe.
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Okay, okay, you can’t go wrong with this classic holiday cookie. Trust us, Santa (and your mother-in-law) will thank you. Get our Christmas Sugar Cookie recipe.
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See our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Cookies for more sweet inspiration. And for even more holiday hacks, tips, tricks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Guide to Christmas and Holiday Entertaining Headquarters.
Header image by Chowhound.