Just updated for Christmas 2023!
All the Christmas cookie recipes you could ever want (over 80 in all!) are right here plus tips for everything from baking and shipping to hosting a holiday cookie exchange.
Be sure to check out my Gingerbread House Party instructions, too! We've been doing this for 25 years!
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Expert Tip: Mailing things to my sons when they were in Korea and Japan took 11 to 14 days during normal times. At the holidays it took a minimum of 3 weeks. Plan to send your packages around the first of December if you are sending to military friends and family overseas.
You're bound to find lots of your favorite Christmas cookies recipes; the ones you remember growing up, plus a new favorite or two in this list.
I've separated them by type to make it easier for you to find what you're looking for.
They're one of the best things about the holidays whether you are baking them, giving them, or eating them!
There's no denying that holiday cookies are a big part of our culture during November and December. Even people who don't normally make them page through cookbooks and Pinterest to find a couple of varieties to leave out for Santa Claus.
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to find the baking tips, tips for the best way to pack holiday cookies, fun tips, and great ideas for this holiday season.
After all, homemade cookies are always the perfect size!
Shaped and rolled cookies
When you think about Christmas cookies you probably get all nostalgic over decorated cutouts - I sure do! Here are some pretty rolled and shaped cookies.
Most of these will do you proud at your next Christmas cookie exchange party! By the way - don't miss the extra tips about cookie exchanges at the bottom.
- Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER (shown in image above)
- Spritz Butter
- Snow Globes
- Candy Canes
- Buttery Shortbread
- Marble Sugar Cookies
- Maple Pecan Sandies
- Brown Sugar Pecan
- Peppermint Sugar Cookies
- Old Fashioned Molasses Crinkles
- Cheesecake Cookies
- Cherry Almond Shortbread
- Italian Anisette Cookies
- Double Chocolate Snowballs
- Red Velvet Sugar Cookies
- Italian Chocolate "Totos"
- Mexican Wedding Cookies
- Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
- Gingerbread Snowballs (nut free!)
- Chocolate Butter Cookies
Expert Tip: Aerating the butter with the sugar is key! It will take about 2 to 3 minutes in a stand mixer with the paddle attachments. Don't hurry it! Beat until the sugar crystals are completely dissolved.
I think refrigerator cookies are some of my favorites because you can make up several kinds and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer until it's time to slice and bake!
- Cranberry Orange Shortbread
- Christmas Swirls
- One Dough Five Kinds (shown in image above)
- Toffee Butter Ice Box Cookies
- Cherry Christmas Slices
- Santa's Whiskers
Thumbprint and filled cookies
So easy to make! These are most often rolled into balls, rolled in sugar then baked. The thumbprint is made and filled when the cookie comes out of the oven.
- Red Velvet Cream Cheese Thumbprints
- Snowman Thumbprint Cookies
- Christmas Tree Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Chocolate Cherry Blossoms
- Red Velvet Sandwich
- Peppermint Blossoms
- Pill Bottle Cookies
- Chocolate Cherry BonBons
- Chocolate Powder Puffs
- Peanut Butter Rolo
- Peanut Butter Cup
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
- Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites
- Red Velvet Peppermint Kisses (shown in image above)
- Homemade Buckeyes Cookies
Expert Tip: I like to make drop cookies and freeze them before baking. Once they are frozen hard I scoop them into freezer bags. That way I can put them on a cookie sheet and bake last minute.
Drop cookies are the easiest type of baked cookie! Simply mix up the dough and then drop by spoonfuls on a baking sheet.
- Lemon Snowdrops
- Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
- Eggnog Cookies
- Melting Moments
- Grandma's Gumdrop Cookies
- M&M Cookies (image above)
- Pecan Cranberry Cookies
I wanted to add some gluten free Christmas cookies to the list. So many people these days have to watch the gluten for various reasons but that's no reason to skip the treat table when you have these on hand!
- Christmas Tree Meringues
- Low Carb Christmas Cookies
- 12 Gluten Free Christmas Cookies
- Chocolate Dipped Molasses Cookies
Bar cookies are great because they are done all at once and then ready to go. These recipes are perfect for last minute holiday gifts and galas - and that's why they're in this list of the best Christmas cookie recipes!
Expert Tip: For perfect cookie bottoms use a heavy cookie sheet covered with parchment.
Cookies kids can make
Let kids in on the fun with easy Christmas cookies that are perfect projects for the kiddos.
- Penguin Cookies
- Candy Cane Oreos
- Christmas Cornflake Wreaths
- Reindeer Poop
- No Bake Rolo
- Easy 3 Ingredient Rolo Stuffed Cookies (shown above)
I am not experienced with winter holidays other than Christmas but there are some - and if you'll email me with links to other recipes for other winter holidays I'd love to consider them for inclusion here.
Best recipes for holiday cookie exchanges
- Melted Snowman Cookies
- Rudolph Cookies
- Christmas Shortbread
- Peppermint Bark Cookies
- Gingerbread Men
- Spritz Cookies
- Condensed Milk Cookies
- Chewy Cinnamon Cookies
Tips for great Christmas cookie exchanges
Throwing a successful party is stressful any time of the year but a holiday cookie exchange?
It can be rough!
Here are some tips to help keep it managable!
- Keep the guest list small. 10 to 12 people is perfect. IF for some reason you can't do small then break your big party up into smaller groups with big round tables and have the guests just make cookies for their table. No one wants to make 50 dozen cookies!
- Set up a google doc and have people write down what they're bringing. That way you won't end up with all sugar cookies. Make sure everyone understands that if what they want to bring is already taken they have to choose something else.
- Serve a charcuterie board or some other protein/salty foods to cut the sweets.
- Have your guests share their favorite memories associated with the cookies they made or just their favorite holiday stories in general.
- Make it clear if these are to be homemade or if stopping at the bakery is ok. There's nothing worse that staying up late to work on homemade cookies and then coming home with Oreos because someone decided to shirk.
- A coffee bar is ALWAYS a good idea.
- Make clear rules. How many cookies are people allowed to take home?
- Have containers for people to take cookies home in.
Packing and shipping
If you're sending cookies through the mail you want them to get there whole and unbroken. Here are tips for packing and shipping that will keep them fresh and perfect. Be sure to click through to #2 on this list for a visual step by step of how to package them for shipping.
- Here are some cute ideas for packaging Christmas Cookies.
- Have to ship cookies to loved ones? Check out my post on how to pack cookies for shipping overseas.
- Use packing peanuts or bubble wrap. Years ago people were suggesting real popcorn because it was better for the environment ... the problem is if you are shipping to someone in the military it can take a little time and it may well arrive buggy. Ew.
- When packing bar cookies bake them in a disposable aluminum foil pan and leave them in the pan, uncut. They will stay fresher.
- Choose cookies carefully for shipping - delicate cookies are not a good choice!
- Check out this cute Grinch themed care package!
- Or the Polar Express one I did.
Good ingredients equals good cookies. Great ingredients equals great cookies! Get the best you can find and make sure they are fresh and you'll get the BEST Christmas cookies!!
- Please use real butter - it's the only way to get the best Christmas cookies!
- Use all-purpose flour unless the recipe specifies otherwise.
- Mix the flour up with a spoon to fluff it before measuring.
- Make sure the butter is at room temperature. It does make a difference!
- Always add eggs one at a time beating well between each.
- Using pecans or other nuts? Toast them for 5 minutes or so in a 375F oven to really bring out the flavor. Coconut can be toasted before using as well.
Carefully baking your holiday cookies means they won't be under or over baked but will have the best texture and flavor every time.
- Preheat the oven at least 10 minutes.
- Use the middle rack and only bake one cookie sheet at a time.
- You can reuse parchment paper until it wears out. Don't just throw it away.
- Set the timer for a minute less than specified in the recipe and check for doneness. Sometimes different ovens behave differently and you don't want dry cookies!
This is the fun part! Use throw away decorating bags to keep clean up at a minimum.
- Use royal icing for picture perfect cookies - otherwise use buttercream - it tastes better.
- Use gel or paste coloring for most vivid colors.
- Brushing unbaked cookies with egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon of water will help sugar crystals and festive sprinkles stick.
- You can make an edible paint with egg white, 1 teaspoon water, and food color. Just blend together and paint the cookie with a clean brush.
Properly stored Christmas cookies last longer and taste better! Don't let all that hard work go to waste by storing them haphazardly.
- You can cut out or shape your Christmas cookies, lay them on a cookie sheet, then put them in the freezer. When frozen put them in a freezer container. When you're ready to bake just take them out, put them on silpat covered cookie sheets and bake as directed in the recipe. No mess!
- Baked cookies can be frozen undecorated for up to three months.
- Let cookies cool completely before packaging or storing or else condensation may form and make them soggy.
- Store baked cooking in layers with a sheet of parchment between the layers.
This post has been updated from the original 2015 version. Last updated December 13, 2023 to include more information and more recipes.