The 24 Best Cookies for a Holiday Cookie Swap

Nothing says holidays like a cookie swap! From the classic shortbread to the beloved chocolate chip, this holiday cookie roundup includes our all-time favorites.

Holiday Cookie Swap Round Up (from L to R): Raspberry Macarons, Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread, and Thumbprint Cookies

Simply Recipes

My absolute favorite holiday party is a cookie swap. You only have to do the work of making one kind of cookie, and then you get to go home with a whole variety of festive treats. However, it can be hard to know what you should bring. You want to make sure all the essentials are covered, as well as ensure there's a smorgasbord of different cookies.

So, we’ve done the work for you. Here’s a list of cookie classics and festive flavors that are sure to delight holiday swappers. Whether you live to bake or you’re in a last-second rush to get something ready for the exchange, we’ve got the cookie recipe for you.

  • Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread

    Overhead view of holiday chocolate and peppermint shortbread on a platter with crushed peppermint around it.

    Simply Recipes / Karishma Pradhan

    These slice-and-bake chocolate shortbread cookies are flavored with peppermint extract, dipped in more chocolate, and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy. You can also swap the semi-sweet chocolate for white chocolate, use crushed candy canes, or try peppermint sprinkles.

  • Classic Shortbread Cookies

    Classic Shortbread Cookies on a Baking Tray

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    No cookie swap is complete without buttery and crumbly shortbread cookies. Use some holiday-themed cookie cutters, sandwich them with jam, decorate them as you would a sugar cookie, or just make them plain and classic.

  • Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Filling

    Platter of gingerbread cookies filled with lemon frosting with two cups of tea behind the platter.

    Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

    Want your cookies to stand out from the gingerbread crowd? These gingerbread sandwich cookies aren't just your typical deep and spicy, they're also bright and lemony. If you want to get ahead, freeze the unbaked dough and bake them the morning of the swap.

  • Linzer Cookies

    Jam filled sandwich cookies on a plate with additional cookies and small saucer of jam set around the plate.

    Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

    Linzer cookies are a holiday classic and showstopper cookies with a window to the beautiful jam filling. They’re nutty, fruity, and subtly spiced with cinnamon. And with so many make-ahead options, why wouldn’t you bring them to a cookie swap?

    Continue to 5 of 24 below.
  • Black and White Cookies

    Overhead view of black and white cookies on a piece of parchment (two cookies were bitten into) next to a small carafe of milk

    Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

    Black and white cookies are soft cakey cookies with both vanilla and chocolate frosting. There’s no better cookie if your cookie exchange is a black-tie affair. Or use bright frostings and fun sprinkles for an ugly sweater cookie swap.

  • Thumbprint Cookies

    Pile of classic thumbprint cookies on a platter.
    Simply Recipes / Mihaela Kozaric Sebrek

    Thumbprint cookies seem to shimmer like holiday lights. These butter cookies with toasted nuts and fruity jam are a festive favorite. They keep for at least a week, meaning they're perfect for taking home from a swap.

  • Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

    Pile of Holiday Pinwheel Cookies on a Plate and Next to It, a Napkin with More and a Bottle of Milk

    Simply Recipes / Irvin Lin

    These striking holiday cookies feature a festive swirl of red and white, flavored with vanilla and raspberry. If you’re caught in the holiday rush you can prepare them ahead of time and until the day of the swap to slice and bake. The prepared logs of dough also make great gifts!

  • Peanut Butter Blossoms

    Hershey's Peanut Butter Blossoms in a Plate and in the Background, More ona Cooling Rack

    Simply Recipes / Aaron Hutcherson

    Nostalgic peanut butter blossoms are soft peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss pressed into the center right after baking. Kids can help by pressing the chocolate kisses into the centers (and hopefully, most of them end up in the cookies).

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  • Amaretti

    Homemade Amaretti Cookies in a Bowl

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    These amaretti cookies will help you make an elegant entrance to the cookie swap, even if you leave the baking to the last second. They’re airy and delicate with a crisp exterior and chewy interior. Plus, they only take four minutes to prep.

  • Walnut Snowball Cookies

    Overhead view of walnut snowball cookies piled on a parchment lined decorative baking pan with the top one cut in half to show the interior.

    Simply Recipes / Cambrea Bakes

    Snowball cookies are nutty, crumbly, and covered in powdered sugar. You can make them gluten-free or nut-free with some easy swaps. And they freeze or ship well, so you can save some for those who can’t make it to the cookie swap.

  • Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

    Stack pf Peanut Butter Cup Cookies on a Plate

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    An even more peanut-buttery variation on the peanut butter blossoms, these are soft, chewy peanut butter cookies with a peanut butter cup pressed into the center. Try making them with other candy too, like Rolos, Snickers, and more.

  • Pfeffernusse Spice Cookies

    Pile of Pfeffernüsse Spice Cookies in a Bowl on a Red Table Cloth with One Cookie Bitten into Next to the Bowl. Surrounding the Bowl, a Small Bowl of Spice and a Grater.

    Simply Recipes / Irvin Lin

    You can never have too many spiced cookies at a holiday cookie exchange. Pfeffernusse, or “peppernuts” are traditional German spiced cookies with a thin icing glaze. Not only do they keep well, but they actually get better with age.

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  • Gingerbread House

    Side view of the front of a house made of gingerbread and decorated with candies, shredded coconut, and royal icing

    Simply Recipes / Claudia Cash

    A gingerbread house might not exactly be a swappable cookie, but can you think of a better centerpiece for a cookie exchange?

  • Gingerbread Cookies

    Gingerbread cookie recipe decorated gingerbread people cookies

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    Gingerbread cookies are the quintessential holiday cookie and an absolute must for a cookie swap. With rich molasses flavor and warm spices and fun to decorate. And if you’re looking for something more inclusive/vegan: Vegan Gingerbread People

  • Gingersnap Cookies

    Ultra-Thin Gingersnap Cookie

    Simply Recipes / Annika Panikker

    These gingersnaps are ultra-thin and extra snappy. And it’s not just the texture that’s snappy, but a kick of black pepper as well. Cookie swap guests will snatch them up in a snap!

  • Chocolate Cranberry Rugelach

    Chocolate Cranberry Rugelach Topped with Sugar Resting on a Cooling Rack

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

    Meaning “little twists” in Yiddish, rugelach are rich pastries that are rolled up with a fruit, nut, and chocolate filling. Their sharable small size makes them an excellent addition to a cookie exchange.

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  • Molasses Spice Cookies

    Molasses Spice Cookies on a Platter

    Simply Recipes / Elise Bauer

    These thick and chewy molasses cookies spiced with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves have an irresistibly crinkly exterior. Take them over the top by drizzling them with an optional glaze (a perfect catch for holiday sprinkles).

  • Almond Crescent Cookies

    Overhead view of almond crescent cookies on a parchment lined decorative baking pan.

    Simply Recipes / Cambrea Bakes

    These traditional Viennese cookies have a long history of being gifted during the holidays. And keeping the tradition alive shouldn’t be too hard: they’re buttery, nutty, and covered in a whole lot of powdered sugar.

  • Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

    Overhead view of chocolate crinkle cookies on a lined baking pan

    Simply Recipes / Cambrea Bakes

    No cookie swap is a success without chocolate cookies, and these are the ones to bring. They’re easy to adapt too, with options for double chocolate, chocolate mint, black forest, or orange chocolate.

  • Raspberry Macarons

    Overhead view of French macarons with raspberry buttercream filling and whole raspberries next to them.

    Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon

    Delicate French macarons have a crisp shell and a sweet, chewy interior. They’re elegant and beautiful, and cookie swappers will be fighting to take them home.

    Continue to 21 of 24 below.
  • Apricot Hamantaschen

    Horizontal photo of Apricot Hamantaschen set in a circular pattern on a white surface.

    Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

    Traditionally made during Purim, these little pie-like cookies are also great for Hanukkah. These hamantaschen feature an apricot filling, but it can be swapped for a poppy seed filling, apple butter, or even Nutella.

  • Coconut Macaroons

    Two Coconut Macaroons Leaning on Each Other and Around It, More Coconut Macaroons

    Simply Recipes / Eliezer Martinez

    Crunchy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, coconut macaroons are an excellent contender for a cookie exchange. And yes, you can absolutely save some time by baking them ahead of time and freezing them. If you're a chocolate lover (who isn't?) bring some chocolate coconut macaroons instead.

  • Ginger Pennies

    Pile of Ginger pennies on a footed serving platter, surrounded by a plate, a mug, and table napkins

    Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

    Imagine little bowls of these mini slice-and-bake ginger cookies to snack on during the cookie swap. They may be small, but they’re packed with ground ginger, candied ginger, and bright lemon zest.

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies on a Baking Pan

    Simply Recipes / Emma Christensen

    No respectable cookie swap could be called a cookie swap without a big plate of chocolate chip cookies. Want to make sure all guests have something to bring home? Make some vegan chocolate chip cookies or gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.