Staff Favorites: The Best Holiday Cookie Recipes

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Think you own holiday cookies? You better make sure you have all of these recipes in your back pocket.

With holiday parties and cookie swaps looming in the forecast, it's time to make sure your arsenal of cookie recipes is complete and up-to-date. Check out our staff's favorite cookie recipes to fill any holes in your baking line-up.

Ginger Snaps

Holiday Cookies Ginger Snaps

Ginger snaps are a classic cookie for this time of year. Decorate these with frosting or sprinkles, or just leave them plain.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon sugar

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl.
  3. Beat the shortening until creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Beat in the egg and dark molasses.
  4. Pour 1/3 of the flour mixture into the shortening mixture; blend thoroughly. Pour in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms.
  5. With a teaspoon, scoop out small amounts of dough and roll into 1 inch balls between your hands.
  6. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake about 10 minutes, until the tops are slightly cracked.
  8. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Snickerdoodles

Holiday Cookies Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles are almost like sugar cookies, with cinnamon kick. These soft cookies are fabulous right out of the oven. Leave them for Santa and he'll probable stick an extra gift under the tree

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups sugar (plus an additional ¼ cup for powdering)
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Mix sugar, butter, shortening, and eggs in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine additional sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Shape dough into 1 ¼ inch balls (or stars, or whatever you like) and dip in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  6. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.
  8. Transfer from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.

Lemon Squares

Holiday Cookies Lemon Squares

We get a sugar high just reading this recipe! Lemon squares are so good...and so sweet! The yellow color is a nice break from the usual holiday decor, and they go really well with a strong cup of tea.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar

Filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon Baking Powder
  • Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Confectionary sugar (to dust on top)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Combine crust mixture in an electric mixer, on low speed, until blended. Press into the bottom of a square 9 x 9 pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.
  3. While crust is baking, combine all filling ingredients and beat with electric mixer on medium — medium/high speed until fully combined. Pour over partially baked crust and return to the oven for another 18-20 minutes or until set.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Dust with confectionary sugar and cut into squares. Chill in air tight containers in the refrigerator, using wax paper or plastic wrap between layers.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Holiday Cookies Peanut Butter Blossoms

Someone looked at peanut butter cookies and Hershey kisses and thought it was a good idea to put them together. That person was a genius. Make these cookies, and you'll be the most popular person at the cookie swap.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup shortening
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease cookie sheets.
  2. Cream shortening and peanut butter in mixing bowl. Gradually add sugar and brown sugar, creaming well.
  3. Beat in egg, vanilla, and milk.
  4. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamy mixture.
  5. Shape into small balls — about a teaspoonful each.
  6. Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and press a candy kiss into the center of each cookie, pressing firmly so the cookie cracks around the edges.
  8. Bake for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Holiday Snowballs

Holiday Cookies Snowballs

These cookies are very similar to Mexican wedding cookies. Definitely not as intense as the ginger snaps or lemon squares, we love these for their light, nutty flavor.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup confectioner's sugar (plus an additional ½ cup for powdering)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped or ground nuts (walnuts, pecans, and almonds all work well)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Cream butter in mixing bowl. Gradually add confectioner's sugar and salt; continue creaming until light and fluffy.
  3. Add nuts and vanilla extract.
  4. Blend in flour gradually and mix thoroughly.
  5. Shape into small balls — about a teaspoonful each.
  6. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Do not brown.
  8. Cool slightly, then roll in additional confectioner's sugar.

Butter Cookies

Holiday Cookies Butter Cookies

You know those blue tins of cookies that somehow appear in your house this time of year? Well, they're so much better if you make them yourself. We love this recipe for butter cookies.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb. butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt (pinch)

 

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix thoroughly. Put dough in the refrigerator to chill for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375° before removing dough from refrigerator. Cover work area with waxed paper and sprinkle with flour. Cover rolling pin in flour and roll out dough in batches, working very fast so dough is kept on the hard side. Keep remainder of dough in refrigerator until ready to roll it out.
  3. Use cookie cutters to cut different shapes. Add sprinkles, colored sugar, hearts, etc. to decorate (kids love this part!). Transfer cookies from wax paper to cookie sheet.
  4. Bake until hard, but not brown, about 6-8 minutes. Watch the first batch closely!
  5. Transfer from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.

Whoopie Pies

Holiday Cookies Whoopie Pies

We saved the best for last! While not technically a cookie, whoopie pies are the end-all-be-all of holiday baking. This is next-level holiday fare that will make you stand out among all the ginger-this and sugarplum-that.

Makes about 1 ½ dozen pies

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup marshmallow fluff
  • ½ cup shortening
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. For filling, combine marshmallow fluff, shortening, powdered sugar, 1/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix well and set in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Filling should be slightly stiff, but still spreadable.
  3. For cookies: cream butter, granulated sugar, egg, and cocoa. Gradually add flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Add remaining milk and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 6-7 minutes.
  7. Cool completely.
  8. To assemble, spread filling onto one cookie, then sandwich together with another cookie.

 

Cookies aren't the only holiday treats we have in our back pocket. We've got an amazing jelly doughnut recipe just in time for Hanukkah!