Whether you want a reprieve from your go-to chocolate chip cookies, or just want something different to leave out for Santa this year, we could all use some new holiday dessert recipes to add into our rotation. By throwing in everything from unexpected fruits to salty snacks into the mix, you can make sure your confections are anything but cookie cutter.

Here are nine unique ingredients to add into your holiday cookies.

Potato Chips

Who doesn’t love the mix of salty and sweet? Adding potato chips ensures there is that winning combo, plus some surprising crunch. Feel free to chow down on some chips as you wait for the oven timer to go off.

Use for: Potato Chip Cookies. Want to upgrade your classic chocolate chip recipe? Then try this version that adds in some ruffled chips for a bit of saltiness. Get the recipe.

Chili

Two Peas & Their Pod

Having a spicy treat as a dessert is probably not for the faint of heart. But for those that want to walk on the wild side, pairing chili with chocolate makes for an unexpected kick in your cookie.

Use for: Dark Chocolate Chili Cookies. In this treat, chili isn’t the only spice that makes an appearance. Cinnamon and cayenne pepper come out to play, too, for a dessert that brings the heat. Get the recipe.

Avocado

Apple of My Eye

Subbing butter with avocado in a chocolatey cookie recipe isn’t just slightly more heart healthy, it adds a creaminess that you wouldn’t get otherwise. If you’re a little weirded out about eating an avocado flavored-dessert, don’t worry. The other ingredients completely mask the flavor, leaving extreme richness as the only clue something is different.

Use for: Fudgy Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies. These ooey, gooey treats are sure to be a crowd pleaser. Bring them along to your office potluck and bask in all the praise for your decadent dessert. Get the recipe.

Cream Cheese

Chowhound

Cream cheese is not just for bagels, ladies and gentlemen. We already know that cream cheese frosting is a staple of so many desserts, but adding it into the cookies themselves gets you a  moist and buttery end result.

Use for: Our Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. The only thing better than one cookie is two. These icing-filled cookie sandwiches feature our favorite fall flavors like cinnamon and pumpkin. 

Sunflower Seeds

Healthy Seasonal Recipes

These tiny seeds pack a surprisingly large nutty flavor. Want a richer cookie? Reach for sunflower seed butter as an alternative to peanut butter.

Use for: Sunflower Seed Protein Balls. You won’t miss packaged cookies at all once you master these protein packed treats. Cranberries add an extra tartness to this no-bake recipe. Get the recipe.

Alcohol

The Seasoned Mom

You’re already cooking with alcohol, why not bake with it, too? There are a slew of cookie recipes out there that include everything from beer to bourbon, which add an unanticipated flavor. Just make sure they don’t make their way to the kiddie table.

Use for: Bourbon Balls. These no bake treats will make you super grateful that you’re over 21. Dust them with powdered sugar for even more sweetness. Get the recipe.

Bacon

Life, Love and Sugar

If you’re a bacon aficionado, then you’ve already been adding it to your breakfast plate, mac and cheese, and pizza for a long time. It’s time for bacon to make its grand debut in your holiday desserts this year for a smoky and savory addition to your baking.

Use for: Bacon, Beer, and Potato Chip Cookie Bars. Three is definitely not a crowd in this recipe, which features a trio of unique additions. These strong flavors somehow all complement each other perfectly in each bite. Get the recipe.

Cereal

Adding some popular cereal to your cookie recipe will instantly make your recipe more kid-friendly. The breakfast food layers in crispiness and, often, an added burst of sugar, which doesn’t hurt.

Use for: Fruity Pebbles Cookies. Your childhood fave gets a major upgrade when it is included in this cookie recipe. The colors and crunch result in an ideal combination of whimsy and flavor. Get the recipe.

Sea Salt

Chowhound

Yes, we know you don’t associate “salty” with dessert, but it’s about time to think outside the box. Even just sprinkling your go-to recipe with some sea salt will take your cookies from meh to gourmet (or at least gourmet-ish).

Use for: Our Salted Peanut Toffee Cookie Recipe. This salty-sweet recipe is so easy to make, yet has a complex blend of flavors. Take a break from milk chocolate by swapping in white chocolate in these nutty treats. 

Kelsey Butler is a reporter and editor based in New Jersey. She has written for a number of health and lifestyle publications, including Women's Health, Brides, and NBC News Better. Hot sauce, black coffee, and bacon make up 50% of her diet.
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