The Only Christmas Cookies List You’ll Ever Need

With Thanksgiving feasting almost behind us, it’s time to start thinking about all things Christmas! We’re watching Elf on repeat in my house and getting our favorite recipes together for holiday baking. And of course, that all begins with Christmas cookies. Today I’ve gathered 25 easy Christmas cookie recipes for you to try and are also delving into some fun Christmas cookie history!

Overhead view of a gingerbread cookie on a white plate
Gingerbread Men Cookies from Renee Nicole’s Kitchen

Where Did the Tradition of Christmas Cookies Come From?

Baking cookies at Christmas time is a tradition that pre-dates Christmas as a holiday. It began with winter solstice festivals when people would celebrate the changing seasons and also indulge in a feast before the lean times of deep winter began. The pint-sized desserts they made during this period were not the same as the cookies we enjoy today since the same ingredients were not available, but the concept of wrapping up a feast with a bite of something sweet was the same!

By the Middle Ages, this tradition had become part of Christmas. Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon were beginning to become more common, while ingredients like sugar and butter were expensive delicacies saved for special occasions. Medieval cooks would save these ingredients for holidays like Christmas, then go all out making cookies for feasting and also gift-giving. This is where our tradition of giving cookies to our friends, family, and neighbors comes from. Because Medieval cooks were using expensive and rare ingredients, the cookies they baked were truly a gift in every sense of the word.

What is the Most Popular Christmas Cookie?

In the United States, the winner for the best Christmas cookie ever varies by state. According to a YouGov survey, chocolate chip cookies are the most popular nationwide at 78% of people saying they are their favorite Christmas cookie. It varies by region though with Peanut Butter Balls similar to these cookies from Cookies & Cups being 12% more popular in the Midwest. In California, the most popular cookies are Peanut Butter Blossoms, while New York gives that honor to Black & White Cookies.

Top 10 Favorite Christmas Cookies in the US

  1. Chocolate chip cookies – 78% say it’s their favorite cookie
  2. Sugar Cookies – 64%
  3. Double Chocolate Cookies – 61%
  4. Shortbread Cookies – 61%
  5. Brookies – 61%
  6. M&M Cookies – 61%
  7. Butter Cookies – 60%
  8. Peanut Butter Cookies – 60%
  9. Peanut Butter Blossoms – 60%
  10. Butter Pecan Cookies – 60%

See the entire list!

When putting together the list of Christmas cookies below I tried to cover favorites from every state!

Chocolate chip cookies on a plate for santa with a glass of milk

Why Do We Leave Cookies for Santa?

Many children love leaving cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve as part of their holiday celebration. But did you ever wonder where this ritual comes from? Although people have been leaving treats for St. Nick for ages, the formal tradition of leaving cookies for Santa began in 1930’s America during the Great Depression. During that time of great hardship, parents wanted to teach their children that even during times of great need it was important to give to others and show gratitude for whatever Santa was able to bring them. Talk about a pure-hearted holiday tradition that helps children remember the spirit of Christmas.

Children also leave treats for Santa in other countries, but not always cookies & milk. In Britain and Australia, children leave out Sherry and mince pies for Santa, while in Ireland St. Nick can expect a pint of Guinness along with his cookies. In France, kids leave a glass of wine for Père Noël and fill their shoes with hay and carrots for his reindeer.

27 of The Best Christmas Cookie Recipes

Now that we’ve explored some of the fun history of Christmas cookies, let’s get to the recipes, shall we? Here are 27 easy recipes – one for every day in December leading up to the holiday, plus more for good luck! Be sure to check out our roundup of the best sugar cookie recipes for even more ideas.

Tray of Christmas M&M cookies.

Red and Green M&M Christmas Cookies

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Festive and colorful, these easy red & green Christmas cookies are perfect for dunking in milk. They’re soft and chewy with perfectly crisp, totally satisfying edges.

Overhead view of a gingerbread cookie on a white plate

Easy Gingerbread Cookies

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If you want to conjure old fashioned Christmas vibes look no further than these classic gingerbread cookies. These cookies are crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and perfectly flavored with molasses and holiday spices.

cookies on parchment

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Chocolate chip cookies are one of those Christmas treats that pretty much everyone loves! These simple cookies are ready in less than 30 minutes – no chilling required.

A small pink dish with gold polka dots is filled with Mexican Wedding Cookies

Snowball Cookies

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Sometimes called Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes, these simple cookies look like little snowballs! Buttery shortbread cookies are combined with nuts and then rolled in powdered sugar for an easy winter themed treat.

Close up of a sugar cookie with sprinkles

Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

This foolproof sugar cookie recipe makes a simple dough that’s easy to cut and holds its shape while baking. Want to make Santa cookies or Christmas tree sugar cookies? All you need are some cookie cutters and frosting to turn these soft and chewy sugar cookies into your desired shape.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

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Peanut butter blossom cookies look so fancy, but these beautiful bites are incredibly easy to make! Soft and chewy cookies with a crackly sugar crust are baked in the oven, then topped with a Hershey’s chocolate kiss while the cookies are still soft. Like the sugar cookies above, these Christmas treats are so simple kids can definitely help make them!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Soft and chewy oatmeal raisin cookies are a classic homemade treat! Eat them warm with a cold glass of milk and definitely leave a few of these out for Santa.

Perfect Spritz Cookies

Perfect Spritz Cookies

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These buttery cookies are classic, nostalgic and festive all at the same time! You’ll need a cookie press to create the elegant shapes. You’ll learn how to use a cookie press to make the most beautiful pressed sugar cookies with this recipe.

hand holding an oatmeal cookie

Oatmeal Cookies

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Chewy oatmeal cookies speckled with raisins or chocolate chips are what holiday cookie platter dreams are made of. These soft and chewy cookies come together in a snap and are easy to customize with all sorts of mix-ins!

Four Crinkle Cookies Stacked on a Smooth White Surface

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Take a timeless crinkle cookie recipe, combine it with red velvet, and you’ve got yourself one gorgeous Christmas cookie. They’re almost too pretty to eat… almost!

A stack of chocolate cookies next to glasses of milk

Chocolate Toffee Cookies with Toasted Pecans

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These chewy chocolate cookies are studded with lightly toasted pecans and toffee bits! You’;l love biting into these chocolatey treats, especially if you serve them with a cold glass of milk. Santa would approve!

Easy Snickerdoodle Cookie Image

Perfect Snickerdoodle Cookies

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I can personally vouch for how amazing these snickerdoodle cookies are since I’ve been using Shelly’s recipe since she first shared it 10+ years ago. This is the cookie my kids’ classmates would request anytime there was a school party and parents were baking up some fun treats. With that kind of reputation, you know these cookies are going to be a total winner for Christmas.

Polish Cream Cheese Cookies on a white plate

Polish Cream Cheese Cookies

Tender, buttery cookie dough wrapped around any kind of jam or jelly I want? Yes please! Also known as Kolaczi, these Polish cream cheese cookies are elegant and easy to make. Perfect for holiday baking extravaganzas!

Linzer Cookies Stacked with raspberry preserves

Linzer Cookies

These gorgeous Christmas cookies are made with buttery shortbread cookies sandwiched around your favorite jam and dusted with powdered sugar. These are a holiday classic for a reason!

Red Velvet Milky Way Cake Cookies

Make your baking adventures even easier by using cake mix to make cookies. These colorful cookies are studded with pieces of Milk Way candy bars. Sounds delicious right?

Peanut Butter Keto Cookies Close Up

Keto Peanut Butter Cookies

If you’re following the Keto diet you may think you need to skip the cookie tray – but not so! These easy peanut butter cookies are delicious, healthy and only need 4 ingredients. With zero flour they’re also gluten free treats that are a totally satisfying addition to your Christmas cookie offerings!

A stack of black and white cookies, with a bit missing from the top cookie.

Black and White Cookies

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Black & White Cookies are New York’s favorite Christmas cookie and I can see why! Soft, cake-like vanilla cookies are topped with chocolate icing on one side, then vanilla icing on the other. Beautiful and totally irresistible!

overhead of melted snowman cookies on a plate with a blue napkin

Melted Snowman Cookies

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Ok, does it get any cuter than these melted snowman cookies? No. Not it does not. Pillowy sugar cookies are topped with homemade icing, jumbo marshmallows and melted chocolate for a Christmas cookie that’s as fun to make as it is to eat.

Peanut Butter Cookie Cups: soft homemade peanut butter cookie cups are baked in a mini muffin tin and then stuffed with chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups!

Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

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These simple Christmas cookies are baked in a mini muffin tin! Classic peanut butter cookie dough is pressed into each tin cup, then quickly baked before you press a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup into the soft centers.

S’mores Cookies

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Perfectly baked cookies dotted with gooey marshmallows and melty chocolate chips. Is your mouth watering yet? This easy recipe makes soft and chewy cookies that are just begging to be eaten by the fireplace.

Riscotti Italian Anise Cookies with sprinkles

Italian Anise Cookies (Riscotti Cookies)

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Similar to sugar cookies, these Italian Christmas cookies are flavored with anise and topped with colorful sprinkles. Anise gives these cookies a gorgeous aroma with a licorice-like flavor.

gluten free chocolate cookies sprinkled with peppermint candy in a serving dish

Gluten Free Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

If you’re gluten free or have guests visiting who are, these simple chocolate cookies are just the thing! Soft and chewy cookies are dipped in chocolate and then topped with crushed peppermint candies for a festive Christmas treat.

Five ingredient chocolate chip cookies stacked on each other on a plate in front of a jar of salt

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies (5 Ingredients)

These 5 ingredient chocolate chip cookies are totally vegan and totally satisfying! Made with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, these chewy vegan cookies are made with peanut butter and mashed banana.

Three Candy Cane Cookies on a Speckled Plate

Candy Cane Cookies

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Take some sugar cookie dough, color half of it, then twist it into a candy cane shape. Easy and festive! If you have little bakers wanting to help in the kitchen they’ll love the hands-on fun of putting these Christmas cookies together.

Five stacked gingersnaps

Gluten Free Gingersnap Cookies

Made with molasses, spice and everything nice, gingersnap cookies are another classic Christmas cookie. They have similar flavors to gingerbread cookies but are drop cookies instead of cut outs. This version is so good you won’t even know these no-fuss cookies are gluten free!

Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies | Christmas Cookies Recipe

Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint cookies are usually filled with jam, but these next-level Christmas cookies are filled with salted caramel instead. Drizzled with chocolate and finished with a sprinkle of sea salt, these delightful cookies are a decadent as they are delicious.

chocolate-dipped peanut butter Ritz cookies stacked on a plate

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies

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These no bake cookies take the buttery, salty goodness of Ritz crackers and pair them with peanut butter and melted chocolate. These Christmas cookies are the ultimate salty-sweet combo and the could not be any easier to make!

Want even more Christmas cookie ideas? Be sure to check out our recipe finder, which has literally hundreds of the best cookie recipes for you to try!

Sources: History.com

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