My Top 11 Holiday Cookies*

Hacking the Holidays
My favorite cookie cookbook anywhere, any time of year. I haven't tried making the carrot-shaped cookie yet, though! Image: Betty Crocker
My favorite cookie cookbook anywhere, any time of year. I haven’t tried making the carrot-shaped cookie yet, though! Image: Betty Crocker

One of my family’s holiday traditions is to make seasonal cookies. From my mom’s early days of parenting to my ex-boyfriend’s mother’s marathon creations to our own favorites and traditions, a holiday plethora of cookies (and the like) seem to show up in our house every year. What are our favorite must haves? Here they are, in no particular order.

Many of these cookies are from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, which was the source for most of my mom’s cookie recipies when I was a kid, and I got my hands on a reproduction version for my own kitchen. You can still buy new copies. It came out in 1963, but has recipes that stretch back to earlier days, though the photos are distinctly 1950s-1960s era. There is also a section in the back with top cookies for each decade or partial decade of the 1900s. Through 1963, that is.

Also, I’ve linked to several Betty Crocker recipes for these cookies, but those recipes differ from the ones in the cookbook.

Gingerbread Cookies
I prefer these in a soft variety rather than a crunchy one. I don’t enjoy rolling them out, but after they’re baked, they are heaven, with or without icing. Though a good portion of the dough gets eaten before it even reaches the oven. You can also cut this dough in house shapes to make your own homemade gingerbread house, which is much tastier and fresher than any store-bought one. (From the Cooky Book)

These I have yet to make from scratch (though there is a recipe in The Cooky Book), but Trader Joe’s and Archway make really good versions. Great for those who love anise or licorice. For those who don’t, I’ll eat yours.

I’ve had to learn how to cook fudge at high altitude (5550 ft, here), but once you do the calculations, it’s no more difficult than at sea level. Just figure out at what temperature water boils where you live, and then subtract that number from 212 degrees F. Decrease the “cook to” temp in your favorite fudge recipe by that much, and it should work. Do some trial and error ahead of time, though, and any mistakes you might make are still tasty.

Candy Cane Cookies. Image: Betty Crocker
Candy Cane Cookies. Image: Betty Crocker

Candy Cane Cookies
These light and puffy cookies are delicious and slightly minty, with red and white stripes twisted together and covered in crushed candy canes. They are a little fussy to make, but turn out delicious. (From the Cooky Book)

Peppermint Bark
You definitely don’t need to pay a lot for this delight at the store. Simply melt your favorite chocolate, pour it out, spreading it on a cookie sheet, and then chill. Then do the same with white chocolate with some mint extract, pressing in crushed candy canes before chilling. Then cut into squares. Your friends and family will thank you.

Decorated Sugar Cookies
Step 1: Make sugar cookie dough. Step 2: Roll out. Step 3: Have kids cut out shapes. Step 4: Bake. Step 5: Decorate! Get the whole family involved in this one. This traditional holiday activity will fill your afternoon with fun and your belly with calories. (From the Cooky Book)

Toffee Squares
These are not your well-known hard toffees that are made of mostly sugar. These are a flour-based treat that you spread in a pan and cover with chocolate and chopped nuts. Delicious and chewy, these are a simpler treat than many cookie options. (From the Cooky Book)

Chocolate Crinkles. Image: Betty Crocker
Chocolate Crinkles. Image: Betty Crocker

Chocolate Crinkles
Delectable chocolate cookies rolled in powdered sugar and then baked. I can taste them now. (From the Cooky Book)

Kiss Cookies
Often found at non-holiday times, these cookies are a fun visual addition to any cookie exchange party. Peanut butter cookies, rolled in sugar, with a Hershey’s Kiss pressed in the middle. A staple of my childhood.

Molasses Crinkles. Image: Betty Crocker
Molasses Crinkles. Image: Betty Crocker

Molasses Crinkles
The rich, deep flavor of molasses always comes through in these cookies. I grew up eating the Archway variety, but homemade is even better. (From the Cooky Book)

Russian Teacakes. Image: Betty Crocker
Russian Teacakes. Image: Betty Crocker

Russian Teacakes
These dense, powdered sugary, nutty cookies are ubiquitous, and definitely go well with a hot cup of tea. There are a lot of “roll in powdered sugar” steps to the recipe, but you will be rewarded with a delicious treat. (From the Cooky Book)

Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book is an affordable and fun cookbook to add to your library. Break it out in the fall and start baking! Many cookies freeze very well, so you’ll always have a seasonal treat on hand.

What holiday cookies are your favorites? Check out Betty Crocker’s 24 Days of Cookies for more ideas!

*Yes, I realize that not all of these are cookies in the strict definition, but you eat them in the same way, in single servings, held in your hand.

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