18 Traditional Holiday Cookies You'll Want to Bake Every Year

From sugar cookies to gingerbread cut-outs, these are the classic treats every cookie plate needs.

November 29, 2022

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All the Classics

If you ask us, holiday baking season is the most wonderful time of the year. That’s when we get to break out the royal icing, sprinkles and colorful candy pieces — and give all our favorite holiday cookies an extra special touch. And, while we always make sure to include a unique Christmas cookie or two in our roundup, there’s nothing better than a freshly baked batch of the classics. We’re talking buttery shortbreads, all different types of sugar cookies and, of course, plenty of gingerbread. If looking for a handful of recipes that rely on classic flavors and tried-and-true techniques, these are the ones to add to your repertoire. You’ll find snowballs, thumbprints, biscotti and more. No matter which cookies you decide to bake, spritz are a holiday must. The green and white tie-dye effect gives these classic cookies a modern-retro look, and the red sprinkles add a bit more holiday cheer.

Get the Recipe: Tie-Dye Wreath Spritz Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are a cookie plate classic during the holidays. Trisha’s recipe makes them easy – even with the addition of a homemade royal icing for decorating.

Get the Recipe: Gingerbread Cookies

Coconut-Apricot Macaroons

The perfect way to dress up basic coconut macaroons for the holidays? Stir in bits of sweet, chewy, dried apricot.

Get the Recipe: Coconut-Apricot Macaroons

Toasted Coconut and Orange Icebox Cookies

These classic cookies are the gift that keeps on giving. You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for several weeks, which makes it easy to mix up a big batch and then bake a dozen cookies whenever you need them — all holiday season long.

Get the Recipe: Toasted Coconut and Orange Icebox Cookies

Brown Butter Thumbprints

The beauty of these pretty, little cookies is that you can fill them with whatever jam you like or have on hand. Raspberry and strawberry give them a Christmas-y red color but apricot jam and orange marmalade are delicious too.

Get the Recipe: Brown Butter Thumbprints

Ginger Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Crackle cookies are one of our favorite treats to include on a holiday cookie plate. The simple act of rolling them in powdered sugar before baking produces the prettiest finish. In this recipe, we give them an extra dose of holiday cheer by flavoring them cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.

Get the Recipe: Ginger Chocolate Crackle Cookies

Classic Shortbread

This satisfying shortbread is as easy as it gets. It's simultaneously crisp, crumbly and tender because we've added a little cornstarch to the flour. And granulated sugar gives the cookies their gorgeous golden color.

Get the Recipe: Classic Shortbread

Almond Snowball Cookies

These simple, sugar-dusted butter cookies will add a touch of wintry wonder to any holiday dessert plate.

Get the Recipe: Almond Snowball Cookies

Peppermint Candy Double-Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite year-round — so we’ve updated them for the holidays. We use cocoa powder to give them a rich, chocolate base and press crushed peppermint candies into the tops of the cookies before baking.

Get the Recipe: Peppermint Candy Double-Chocolate Cookies


Kransekake is a show-stopping Scandinavian celebration dessert that literally means 'wreath cake.' This tower of iced cookies is traditional for a handful of different occasions throughout the year, Christmas included.

Get the Recipe: Kransekake

Sugar Cookies

You only need a handful of basic ingredients like butter, sugar, flour and eggs to make these traditional cookies. We keep the icing simple too – mixing just confectioners’ sugar, milk and food coloring.

Get the Recipe: Sugar Cookies

Raspberry-Fig Pull-Apart Cookies

Rugelach fans, this festive wreath is perfect for your crowd — it's filled with sweetened cream cheese and jam and features a traditional holiday ingredient: fig.

Get the Recipe: Raspberry-Fig Pull-Apart Cookies

Holiday Biscotti

We love how Giada gives these fruitcake-inspired biscotti an extra-festive touch: a simple dip in white chocolate and a sprinkle of red and green sugar crystals.

Get the Recipe: Holiday Biscotti

Peppermint Pinwheels

A little peppermint extract gives these red-and-green, swirled cookies their classic holiday flavor. They taste just like a candy cane — in cookie form!

Get the Recipe: Peppermint Pinwheels

Meringue Snowmen

Pillowy Swiss meringue is perfect for making these old-fashioned cookies. It's very stable, the texture is smooth and it bakes up crisp, light and snowy white. We give the classic meringue cookie and update though — and pipe them into the shape of cheery snowmen.

Get the Recipe: Meringue Snowmen

Fruitcake Cookies

These easy-to-make, 5-star cookies are packed with nostalgia. One reviewer writes that they’re almost exactly like the ones her great aunt used to make.

Get the Recipe: Fruitcake Cookies

Glazed Gingersnaps

Dress your gingersnaps for the holidays with a dip in a simple, confectioners’ sugar glaze — and a sprinkle of festive sanding sugar.

Get the Recipe: Glazed Gingersnaps

Chewy Chocolate-Ginger Cookies

Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of these chocolate cookies; they’re packed with warm baking spices and taste just like the holidays.

Get the Recipe: Chewy Chocolate-Ginger Cookies