No need to check this list twice: we’ve rounded up a batch of holiday cookie recipes that absolutely must make an appearance on your holiday table (and will end up on your Instagram). These are 23 of the best holiday cookie recipes to mail, bake, and swap all season long.
What Makes A Great Holiday Cookie Recipe?
A great holiday cookie is one that’s beautiful, flavorful, stands up to shipping, and not too difficult to make (since they need to be made in bulk). This selection of recipes hit all the requisite holiday cookie flavors — molasses, ginger, sugar, and spice.
And also, these holiday cookie recipes are doable for anything from a cookie swap to a mega-baking session. In other words, all the doughs can be made in advance, frozen (except the meringues), and all are easy to gift.
How To Mail Holiday Cookies
You’ll want to master how to mail holiday cookies so they don’t break in transport and the key is good packing. All of these holiday cookie recipes are sturdy enough to hold up in the mail except the lace cookie and the meringues, which are best within a few days of being baked.
However, wrapping them right helps too! We recommend wrapping them in a paper in a cookie box and then placing the bubble wrapped cookie box in a shipping container.
More Than 20 Of The Best Holiday Cookie Recipes
From tried-and-true crowd-pleasers to creative twists, gluten-free and vegan to classics remade, here are more than twenty holiday cookie recipes worth the effort!
What’s not to love about classic linzers? Choose a festive cookie-cutter shape, and give this old favorite an update with the irresistible combination of chocolate and hazelnuts.
One recipe, two delicious cookies! Peppermint extract and finely crushed candy canes flavor one, fresh vanilla beans the other. So cute, and gluten-free, too.
Like your favorite chocolate chip cookie, just met up with a bunch of sweet dried cherries and got doused with vanilla extract—so good!
Here’s a simple drop cookie that bakes up in minutes and makes your kitchen smell like cinnamon. A quick glaze and you’re done!
Perfect for our gluten-free friends, these pillowy meringue cookies add something different—not to mention elegant—to the Christmas tins.
The intricate patterns make these cookies look complicated. Still, they’re as easy as can be—you can make patterns with an embossing mat, a lace doily, an embossed glass, or a decorative rolling pin. Simply roll over or press to imprint the dough, and voila!
These cookies seem to have multiple personalities as there are numerous names for this cookie — Russian Tea Cake, Polvorones, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Snowballs — are any indication.
But no matter what you call them, we can agree that a great Mexican wedding cookie is crumbly, buttery, and nutty. Here they’re made with the non-traditional choice of hazelnuts but make them with almonds or pecans or walnuts for something more standard. Just make sure these make it on your holiday cookie platter.
By the way, there’s another twist to the Mexican Wedding Cookies story in that not only are they known as polvorones, but also these classic vanilla-laced sugar cookies also go by that name. Here Kate shows you four ways to make these cookies including covered in sprinkles, vanilla spice, cocoa sugar, and thumbprint!
Got a jam-packed holiday schedule? These chocolate confections are the epitome of quick and easy, with just three ingredients and less than 30 minutes of kitchen time required.
Bedeck your cookie selection with these jewel-toned beauties. Different jam flavors are the perfect way to add color and variety with minimal effort.
Cinnamon, coconut, and chocolate—could a cookie ask for anything more? How about being perfectly crisp, delicate, and oh-so-pretty?
It’s hard to have the holidays without gingerbread cookies or sugar cookies, but, to us, ’tis, not quite the season until these chewy, soft, rather ginger-y Ginger Spice Molasses cookies get involved!
Speaking of sugar cookies, we’re fans of these buttery, sugary cookies from Eden of Sugar And Charm. She not only shares the recipe but also her tips for cookie-creating success from rolling with powdered sugar to piping the icing for this gorgeous textured look!
Becky Sue’s spiced coconut cookies should be in contention if you want to level up the classic sugar cookie. Made with orange zest and cardamom and topped with a coconut frosting, these have some of our favorites — if lesser appreciated — holiday flavors.
If your holiday prep plan is all about minimizing stress and the path of least resistance, you will want to bake these cookies.
Because they’re icebox cookies, you can make them up to one month ahead, freeze the dough, and then slice them off at a whim. Oh, and though the chocolate drizzle isn’t mandatory, it does make the cookie!
Crisp and chewy peppermint perfection, with a generous dusting of snowy powdered sugar.
If your cookies aren’t complete without some frosting, you’ll likely want to bake these chocolatey cookies with an easy-to-make peppermint buttercream frosting!
Raise your hand if you’re only here for the chocolate! If that’s the case, this chocolate on chocolate cookie is for you. Oh, and did we mention they’re gluten-free?
Regarding holiday traditions, this cookie is a big one for our Editor-In-Chief, Aida. Her great-grandmother first made these for the holidays, which have been made annually for four generations! They can be made well ahead and shipped without issues, so they’re perfect if you’re looking to mail cookies!
We love Italian cookies because they’re simple to make, not too sweet, and always super interesting. These Venetian cookies, known as Zaletti with currants, cornmeal, and almond liqueur, are just that!
Another traditional Italian cookie that is a must-have for your Christmas cookie spread? This crunchy, nutty, buttery, Northern Italian take on shortbread is made with almonds, cornmeal, and lots of butter!
When in doubt, go super classic. And there’s nothing more classic than Madeleine cookies (ask Proust)! This recipe will make it a cinch even if you’ve never made these cookies.
More Entertaining Ideas
Now that you have your holiday cookie recipes covered, check out our pick of essential cocktails for holiday entertaining!
More Holiday Stories
As a food-first travel company, we’re always curious how food plays a part in major holidays. Read about traditional Mexican Christmas foods or traditional Italian Christmas foods to make this season or try on your next trip!
Opening photo by Pavel Gramatikov