22 Christmas Cookies to Spread the Holiday Cheer

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Christmas is cookie season, and the fact that cookies are inexpensive, easy to make in bulk, and downright delicious makes them the perfect food for giving as gifts. They're also undeniable crowd-pleasers. Who would turn down a tray of freshly baked cookies? Sugar cookies are the most traditional choice at Christmas, and we've got recipes for rolled cutout, soft and chewy, and Lofthouse-style versions. But if you'd rather try something else check out the rest of our 22 favorite Christmas cookie recipes, from holiday classics like chewy lebkuchen and spicy gingersnaps to homemade no-bake Star Crunch and the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.

Rolled Sugar Cookie Cutouts

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Nothing says Christmas like sugar cookies. There are all different kinds, but rolled ones hold the most sentimental value to me. As a child, my mom would make them by the dozen for us to decorate and give to friends and family. Most recipes use a 1:2:3 ratio of sugar, fat, and flour, but we up the amount of sugar to keep the cookies from tasting too floury.

Get the recipe for Rolled Sugar Cookie Cutouts »

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

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[Photograph: Sarah Jane Sanders]

If you're more into soft and chewy sugar cookies, here are a couple of tricks to keep in mind: Use a cold egg to make the dough easier to handle, and add a generous amount of salt to bring out the cookies' richness and tame their sweetness. You probably already have a favorite way to decorate Christmas cookies, but if you're up for something new, try using aromatic, vanilla-infused sugar.

Get the recipe for Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies »

Lofthouse-Style Frosted Sugar Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

One of my favorite guilty pleasures are the cakey, shockingly sweet Lofthouse Cookies that come in clamshell packs at the supermarket. The most important thing to know when recreating these cookies at home is that you have to use bleached cake flour—using unbleached flour will make your cookies too chewy and less sweet.

Get the recipe for Lofthouse-Style Frosted Sugar Cookies »

Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies

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[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Most sugar cookies are made with white sugar, but brown sugar gets great results, too. The molasses-rich sugar gives the cookies a mellow caramel flavor, which is a little more interesting than what you get with white sugar. If you prefer chewy cookies then this recipe is a great choice—the cookies come out softer than ones made with white sugar.

Get the recipe for Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies »

PB&J Sandwich Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

There's nothing wrong with thumbprint-style peanut butter and jelly cookies, but we thought it'd be fun to recreate the classic sandwich more literally. To that end, we made peanut butter cutout cookies to sandwich around a filling of—you guessed it—peanut butter and jelly. You can use whatever jelly you like, but be careful to only put about a teaspoon in each cookie so it doesn't make too much of a mess.

Get the recipe for PB&J Sandwich Cookies »

Homemade Star Crunch

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Star Crunch are a Little Debbie treat made with gooey caramel, creamy milk chocolate, crunchy rice, and tons of artificial flavorings and stabilizers. Our homemade version keeps it to the delicious basics with just homemade caramel, chocolate, and Rice Krispies. (Also, before the "batter" cools, it's an incredible topping for vanilla ice cream.)

Get the recipe for Homemade Star Crunch »

Alfajores Con Cajeta (Vanilla Shortbread With Goat's Milk Toffee)

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

You're probably already familiar with dulce de leche, but have you tried its even more flavorful goat's milk cousin, cajeta? The caramel-like sauce can be used in the same way as dulce de leche—for instance, as a filling for buttery shortbread cookies called alfajores. These light, tender cookies are equally good paired with a mug of black coffee or a glass of Madeira.

Get the recipe for Alfajores Con Cajeta (Vanilla Shortbread With Goat's Milk Toffee) »

Lemon Meltaways

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Proper lemon meltaways are almost impossibly delicate—a cross between lemon shortbread and cotton candy that disintegrates the moment it touches your tongue. The cookies are traditionally made with cornstarch, which can make them unpleasantly chalky. Our solution is to use tapioca starch instead, which makes cookies that are just as delicate but with no starchy aftertaste.

Get the recipe for Lemon Meltaways »

Hazelnut-Raspberry Linzer Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

A cookie-sized version of the Austrian Linzer torte, Linzer cookies are made with a nut-based dough and sweet jam. This version uses hazelnuts—you might have trouble finding hazelnut flour in stores, but it's easy to make yourself. The cookies are traditionally formed with a special cutter, but standard ring cutters in multiple sizes will work.

Get the recipe for Hazelnut-Raspberry Linzer Cookies »

Snowball Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

These meltingly tender almond-flavored cookies are all about the sugar coating that gives them their name. The secret is to double-dip the cookies in powdered sugar after they come out of the oven. The residual heat of the cookies will melt the first coating into an even glaze, to which the second coating will then adhere.

Get the recipe for Snowball Cookies »

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Claiming to have "the best" recipe for something as ubiquitous as chocolate chip cookies might sound presumptuous, but we think we've earned it after over 100 tests and 1,500 cookies. We settled on a a technique that uses brown butter and an overnight rest to make cookies with the perfect balance of crisp edges and chewy center, lots of gooey chocolate, and a pleasant toffee-like flavor.

Get the recipe for The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies »

The Best Gingersnaps

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[Photograph: Sarah Jane Sanders]

We wanted our gingersnaps to really taste like ginger, so we used the spice in two forms: ground and freshly grated. The combination gives the cookies a deeply aromatic ginger flavor. We don't want them to be too intense, though, so we use molasses and whole-wheat flour to mellow them out just a little. The gingersnaps will look amazing straight from the oven, but give them a couple hours at room temperature to let them crisp up.

Get the recipe for The Best Gingersnaps »

Easy One-Bowl Oatmeal Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

When we were testing oatmeal cookie recipes, we always thought that the second batch we cooked came out better than the first. It turns out that was no coincidence—resting your cookies for 45 to 75 minutes gives the oats time to soak up moisture, which in turn makes the cookies extra thick and chewy. We found that raisins just add unnecessary sweetness, so we prefer to use tart dried cherries or cranberries instead.

Get the recipe for Easy One-Bowl Oatmeal Cookies »

New-Fashioned Snickerdoodles

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Old snickerdoodle recipes use what seems like a crazy amount of cinnamon—up to equal parts cinnamon and sugar. Using that much ground cinnamon will give your cookies an astringent taste, but you can keep the cinnamon content pretty high by replacing some of the ground stuff with freshly grated cinnamon.

Get the recipe for New-Fashioned Snickerdoodles »

Gluten-Free Snickerdoodles

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[Photograph: Aki Kamozawa]

We stick with ground cinnamon to make these simple snickerdoodles. There's no need to cream the butter first or add eggs individually—just mix everything together at once in a single bowl. We make the cookies 100% gluten-free by replacing all-purpose flour with our gluten-free flour blend.

Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Snickerdoodles »

Moist and Chewy Lebkuchen (German Spiced Christmas Cookies)

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Lebkuchen are a German Christmas classic—soft, chewy gingerbread cookies coated with a sweet glaze. They're intensely spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cardamom, and also flavored with toasted nuts and dried fruit. To make our Lebkuchen extra moist we replace the white sugar with a combination of molasses and brown sugar and use more baking powder than baking soda.

Get the recipe for Moist and Chewy Lebkuchen (German Spiced Christmas Cookies) »

Waffled Almond Sandwich Cookies

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[Photograph: Daniel Shumski]

Long-time readers know that we're big believers in using waffle irons for more than just waffles. Case in point: A standard-type waffle iron is perfect for making crisp, lightly sweet almond cookies. The beautifully shaped cookies are delicious on their own, but to make them even better, sandwich them around filling like ganache or dulce de leche.

Get the recipe for Waffled Almond Sandwich Cookies »

Chocolate Peppermint Snowflake Cookies

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

Christmas is a time for festively decorated cookies, and these fit the bill thanks to crushed candy canes. We use good unsweetened cocoa powder and add a half teaspoon of salt to bring out the chocolate flavor. The recipe is timed for a 4-inch snowflake cookie cutter—it's fine if your cookies are smaller, but check them for doneness earlier.

Get the recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Snowflake Cookies »

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Looking at these cookies you might expect gingersnap-levels of crunch. Don't let the cracked shells deceive you, though—underneath, the cookies are delightfully fudgy. We flavor them with cocoa powder and instant espresso powder, which give a nice chocolate flavor without excessive sweetness.

Get the recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies »

Spritz Cookies

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[Photograph: Lauren Weisenthal]

These crisp, buttery spritz cookies require a dough press and some practice, but once you try the vanilla- and cardamom-scented finished product you'll be totally satisfied with your investment. Chill your baking sheet before pressing so that the cookies keep their shape better.

Get the recipe for Spritz Cookies »

Chocolate-Covered Caramel-Filled Shortbread Cookies (a.k.a. Homemade Twix)

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

I love Twix bars, but I'd love them even more if they were made with natural, high-quality ingredients. That's where this recipe comes in, with homemade shortbread cookies, buttery homemade caramel, and melted bittersweet chocolate. A sprinkling of coarse sea salt intensifies the flavor of both the chocolate and the caramel.

Get the recipe for Chocolate-Covered Caramel-Filled Shortbread Cookies (a.k.a. Homemade Twix) »

Soft and Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

You read that right—these cookies manage to be soft and crunchy at the same time. We pull it off by starting with a moist, cake-like batter and adding both crunchy peanut butter and whole peanuts. The result are cookies with great textural contrast and an intense peanut flavor.

Get the recipe for Soft and Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies »