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At Chowhound, we love this indulgently festive time of year. Cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Sign us up. Our threshold for sugar is infinite. And what better excuse to eat cookies at noon on a weekday then to hold our first annual Chowhound Cookie Bake-off. We tasked our editorial team with making their favorite holiday cookie recipes—from the tried-and-true chocolate chip cookie to original recipes invented by our food-loving experts, read below to see which cookie takes the cake.

VOTED BEST OVERALL COOKIE

Chowhound

Joey Skladany, Managing Editor

Recipe: “She’s So Salty” Chocolate Chip Cookies c/o My Sister, Sami Skladany

One chocolate chip cookie is never enough, unless it weighs half a pound, of course. So if you’re looking for the big mama of the cookie world, this will be your new go-to. There are a few now-not-so-secret secrets that separate this from any other dozen, including the use of cornstarch, substituting butter for shortening, and sprinkling pink Himalayan sea salt directly into the batter. Other than that, they’re best served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream for a dessert that will have you emailing your trainer to say, “Cookies are life! I’m done with you!” You’re welcome, I think.

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RUNNER-UP (TIE)

Chowhound

Nathan Carpenter, Video Producer

Recipe: Mamaw’s Famous Gingerbread Squares c/o My Mamaw

Who makes better baked goods than grandmas? No one, that’s who. And my wonderful Mamaw from Kentucky is better at everything than any other grandma in the world. So while these gingerbread squares aren’t exactly cookies, I’m bending the rules a bit just so I can share her famous dessert with the team. But there’s a twist. While her gingerbread squares are well-known among my family in their own right, there was one fateful day when my Mamaw mistakenly used too much molasses. She was lamenting the fact that she had ruined the batch and would have to start all over again, until I tried one of the gooey morsels. It was a revelation. I hadn’t even particularly liked gingerbread previously, but these chewy, dense squares completely changed my worldview. Since then, whenever she makes them knowing I’ll be around, she adds extra molasses just for me! I love her.

RUNNER-UP (TIE)

Chowhound

Kristin Cassidy, Director of Special Projects

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies c/o New York Times Cooking

This is the holy grail chocolate chip cookie recipe and we have a deep history together. I courted my boyfriend with these cookies. We used to be long distance between Chicago and New York, and each visit I would make him these cookies. He kept coming back. As our relationship progressed I found myself on a plane to Montreal to meet his parents – cookies in tow of course. They approved. I’ve even frozen the dough, brought on a plane to our summer share house, and baked fresh for new and old friends. I was invited back. Basically, if you want to be successful in life, make these cookies. You won’t regret it. Pro tip – don’t skimp on the chocolate, gotta splurge on the good stuff. I usually use Guittard semisweet chocolate chips mixed with Madecasse bittersweet chocolate discs.

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VOTED MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE COOKIE

Chowhound

Lauren Zaser, Social Media Strategist

Recipe: Snickerdoodle Party Cookies c/o Bon Appetit

I like parties, I like glitter, and I like discos, so this new Bon Appetit recipe stood out to me as one I wanted to try out this holiday season. Browning the butter gives it a great nutty flavor and adding the cardamon upped the spice level beyond just cinnamon. The dough was insanely good; I licked the whole bowl. The Skor bars (I actually used Heath bars ‘cause that’s all I could find) and cornflakes gave them a great crunch and an interesting mix of textures. The best part? You top them with lots of sparkly edible glitter. Party on!

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RUNNER-UP (TIE)

Kristin Cassidy, Director of Special Projects

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies c/o New York Times Cooking

*See above for more!

VOTED MOST CREATIVE/UNIQUE RECIPE (TIE)

Chowhound

Owen Stretch, Head of Video

Recipe: All That and a Bag o’ Chips Cookies

I love an old-fashioned chocolate chip cookie and I love snacks, so I thought, why not combine the two? I took the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe and infused it with chips, pretzels, and walnuts for salt and texture to put a spin on the tried and true classic. The original recipe came out of a cookbook that belongs to my roommate and it isn’t available online, but to recreate just tweak your go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe with the above listed ingredients.

VOTED MOST CREATIVE/UNIQUE RECIPE (TIE)

Lauren Zaser, Social Media Strategist

Recipe: Snickerdoodle Party Cookies c/o Bon Appetit

*See above for more!

RUNNER-UP

Chowhound

Guillermo Riveros, Senior Video Producer

Recipe: “Rudolph Got Run Over” cookies

Learn how to make my original recipe below – this makes about 24 cookies (depending how big you like to make them). Also note the dough requires chilling.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups APF
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup crushed green m&ms
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1/2 tsp ground coffee
  • 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

Toppers:

  • Mediterranean sea salt
  • 1 red M&M
  • 1 mini pretzel

Instructions:

  • Get butter to room temperature (don’t use cold butter!)
  • Add to the bowl where you’ll mix the batter (you can use a standing mixer or hand mixer).
  • Add granulated sugar and mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth.
  • Mix in egg, cocoa powder, and coffee, and mix until fully combined.
  • Mix in baking soda and salt, then slowly mix in flour until the batter is smooth and comes together. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl during mixing.
  • Finish by slowly mixing in the crushed pretzels and m&ms, and finally the chocolate chips.
  • Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven at 375º.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Form balls of dough and place them on the cookie sheet.
  • To finish, lightly press sea salt flakes, red m&m (centered), and mini pretzel on top of the cookie, so all elements are integrated without breaking your dough ball.

Baking time will depend on the size of your cookies and desired doneness – for mine, I baked for 8-10 minutes (until edges reached a light gold brown).

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Chowhound

Mary Gail Pezzimenti, VP Content

Recipe: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

The holidays are always a time of overindulgence: so many great things to eat and drink and so little time! I always look for “THE ONE.” If you are going to indulge in just one cookie, this is the one. These cookies are dense chocolate, chewy and not too sweet. I add the confectioner’s sugar to give it that dusting of snow and the heart shape to share the love. Crumbled up they also are delicious over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Insider tip: cook them half the time the recipe calls for and let them thoroughly cool before adding the confectioner’s sugar.

Chowhound

Jessica Gentile, Associate Editor

Recipe: Peppermint Kisses

Over the course of the holiday season, my mother-in-law bakes over a dozen types of cookies. Over the course of my life, I’ve baked zero types of cookies (the perks of living down the block from an Italian bakery!). But I’m always up for a challenge, so naturally after a moment of panic rifling through the internet’s infinite scroll of recipes, I turned to her for advice. After discussing myriad options, I settled on her personal recipe for peppermint kisses, which are easy to make, but difficult to master. Getting the meringue into a stiff, glossy state is probably the trickiest part, as is shaping them on a cookie sheet. While my mother-in-law’s always come out in perfect pointed peaks, mine appeared more like blobby clouds. Whatever, they still taste great!

Chowhound

Kelly Strandberg, Partnership Manager

Recipe: Best Chocolate Chip Cookies c/o All Recipes

I took a recipe and made it my own. I swapped the butter for coconut oil, which led to a cookie more dense in texture and lighter in color. In recent years, coconut oil has became incredibly popular – you can use it in place of other ingredients, and also to condition your hair and skin. I veered from the original recipe, not only with the coconut oil, but also with the measurements – eyeballing makes me feel like a chef and I highly recommend this method. Coming from a family where we never baked, l didn’t own a bag of flour until last year. An Italian coworker of mine introduced me to the joys of baking and testing recipes, which has led to a fun, plump year of stumbling around the kitchen. Take this recipe and put your own twist to it. Enjoy!

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Kristin is Director of Special Projects at Chowhound. A few of the things she's currently daydreaming about include tacos, decorating her new apartment, her next vacation (most recently=Marrakech), and adding to her record collection.
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