Our 25 Best Holiday Cookies for Your Dessert Table

It’s cookie season. Are you ready to roll, drop, shape and cut out to your heart’s—and belly’s—content? Here are some of our favorites for the season! 

Cookie season is here! Are you ready to roll, drop, shape and cut out to your heart’s—and belly’s—content? Here are some of our favorites for the holiday cookie tray.

Best Cookies to Make with Kids

Gingerbread Man Cookies

Ok, so you can make men, women, and really, any other shape out of this dough! Whatever shape your cookies take, this recipe is a snappy, gingery classic for the holidays.

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Sugar Cookies

It’s not Christmas until there’s sugar, sprinkles and flour all over the kitchen, right?! Sweet sugar cookies are a classic way to spend a cold afternoon during the holiday season.

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Thumbprint Cookies

Here’s a cookie that's a lot of fun to make with kids—it’s jammy, nutty and buttery.

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stained glass cookies

You can't resist the appeal of a cookie you can hang in the window or on your tree. So pretty! These are a little delicate, though, so not necessarily ones to ship to your friends and family.

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Spritz Cookies

It’s impossible to imagine a cookie tray around the holidays without these buttery pressed cookies, popular in Germany and Scandinavia. They can be decorated any way you like.

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Finished Candy Cane Cookies on Baking Pan

Festive red and white twists with a sweet peppermint flavor! Kids love making them as much as they do eating them.

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Iconic Holiday Cookies

The ultimate in simplicity, these rum balls don’t require baking, they’re highly adaptable and get better with age.

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Nutty, creamy, chewy--how many adjectives can we squeeze in here to describe these decadent treats? This recipe makes a ton, so it's great for sharing!

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Walnut Snowball Cookies

These wintry looking cookies go by several names, but this one gets the point across pretty easily. You may know them by alternate names—Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding cookies.

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies on Plate

Anything sprinkled or coated with powdered sugar automatically looks festive. These cookies are soft and cakey, and look so fun on a cookie platter.

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Pfeffernüsse Spice Cookies

These feel like all the best holiday flavors wrapped up into one cookie—spicy and sweet, with a snowy cap from a powder sugar glaze. Even better, these keep well for a week or two and ship well.

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Fancy Cookies That Are Worth the Effort

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

Some holiday cookies are all about gathering a bunch of people in the kitchen and taking turns mixing, shaping, and baking batch after batch. And then eating the delicious results. This is just such a cookie, and it is a MUST for the holiday dessert table.

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Chocolate Florentine Cookies

These are so delicate and pretty, right? Between the toffee-like taste and a layer of chocolate sandwiched in the middle, they’re also hard to resist.

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Best Cookies to Gift or Mail to a Friend

Christmas Crack

Chocolate, brown sugar and saltines come together in a whole new addictive way. This confection keeps forever, ships well, and can even be frozen. Which is great, because portion control is a real concern with these cookies.

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Slice and Bake Pistachio Butter Cookies

These rich cookies are the ultimate in convenience, with a green jewel-like appearance on the edges. This batter comes together in a flash in the food processor, and keeps in the fridge for last-minute cookie emergencies. Like extra house guests.

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Pralines are a traditional Southern treat: pecans held together with a thick, sugary glaze. Like candied nuts, but better. They're also easy to make, and you need a few recipes like that around the holidays. Pralines make a sweet edible holiday gift.

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Peanut Butter balls or Buckeye balls

This one is for all the chocolate and peanut butter lovers in your life. This cookie keeps well in the fridge, so shipping it during the chilly holiday season should be easy to accomplish. You can also make them ahead of time and freeze them. Cross one cookie off the list!

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Easy English Toffee in Bowl

Gift alert! Gift alert! Pack shards of this toffee in glass jars or cute boxes and ship to friends. It keeps forever, but we bet it won’t last that long.

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Amazing with a cup of tea or a mug of cocoa! They're very sturdy and keep for quite a while, so are great for shipping.

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Classics with a Twist

Chewy, Brownie Peppermint Bark Cookies

If you find yourself trying to decide between minty or chocolatey, you can have both with these indulgent drop cookies.

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Overhead shot of magic cookie bars ready to eat

When you can’t decide what you want, make these bars: butterscotch, nuts, chocolate, coconut, all come together for some make-ahead, ahem, magic.

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Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Chocolate and gingerbread may initially seem like odd bedfellows, but give it one bite and the pairing makes a whole lot of delicious sense.

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Peppermint Meringue Cookies

Light and minty, meringues are great treats for anyone with allergies—there are no nuts or flour. Plus, these look especially festive, mimicking a candy cane swirl.

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Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

There’s no such thing as having too many chocolate chip cookie recipes, and this one is nutty from the browned butter and creamy and from milk, not semi-sweet, chocolate.

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Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate and orange is a very British kind of flavor pairing. The thin texture and flavor combo make for a sophisticated little number that may surprise your guests.

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Carrie Havranek

Carrie Havranek is a former Associate Editor of Simply Recipes and the author of the cookbook Tasting Pennsylvania (2019). She lives in Easton, Pennsylvania and goes out of her way for farmers' markets, new ingredients, yoga, and walks in nature.

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