The Everything Guide to Holiday Cookies

BLue Ribbon Kitchen

Get the (baked) goods on delicious new recipes, pretty packaging ideas, clever shortcuts, and more. The only thing that's missing is a frosty glass of milk.


Recipes and Food Styling By Emily Nabors Hall
Photos by Burcu Avsar Additional crafting by Sarah Scherf
Above image | Fruitcake Cookies

Red Velvet Snowballs

MAKES | about 2 dozen cookies WORKING TIME | 20 minutes TOTAL TIME | 1 hour, 40 minutes


  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  • Beat butter and 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating just until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar; increase mixer speed to medium, and beat just until dough forms large crumbs, 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Shape dough into balls (about 2 tablespoons each). Place balls, 1 inch apart, on prepared baking sheets; freeze 10 minutes. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until dry around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks 5 minutes.
  • Place remaining 1 ½ cups confectioners' sugar in a bowl. Working one at a time, gently toss warm cookies in sugar to coat. Return cookies to baking sheets to cool completely; reserve remaining sugar. Once cool, toss again, in batches, in remaining sugar.

Triple Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies

MAKES | about 4 dozen cookies WORKING TIME | 20 minutes TOTAL TIME | 1 hour, 45 minutes


  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 teaspoons flaked sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and coffee in a bowl.
  • Beat cocoa, oil, hazelnut spread, and ¾ cup warm water on low speed with an electric mixer until combined, about 30 seconds. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Stir flour mixture into cocoa mixture just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate and hazelnuts.
  • Scoop cookies (about 2 tablespoons each), 3 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until dry around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

White Chocolate-and-Peppermint Blondies

MAKES | 18 blondies WORKING TIME | 25 minutes TOTAL TIME | 3 hours


  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped white chocolate
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • ¾ cup peppermints, crushed

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides.
  • Whisk together butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and peppermint extract in a bowl until combined. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture just until combined. Stir in chocolate. Spread batter in prepared pan.
  • Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
  • Beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy,1 to 2 minutes. Beat in remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spread frosting on blondies; sprinkle with peppermints. Freeze until frosting is set, 30 minutes. Lift blondies from pan using parchment overhangs. Cut into 18 squares.

Biscuit-and-Jam Cookies

MAKES | about 20 sandwich cookies WORKING TIME | 30 minutes TOTAL TIME | 1 hour, 30 minutes


  • 3 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for surface
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut up
  • 1 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • ½ cup strawberry jam

  • Preheat oven to 425°F with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse to combine, 4 to 6 times. Add butter and coconut and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal, 15 to 25 times. Whisk together egg and cream in a bowl; reserve 2 tablespoons. Add remaining egg mixture to butter mixture and pulse just until mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 20 to 30 times.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to bring dough together, 4 to 6 times. Pat dough to ¼-inch thickness and cut out cookies with a 2 ½-inch cookie cutter. Brush one side of cookies with reserved egg mixture and sprinkle with raw sugar. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Cool baking sheets on wire racks. Repeat with remaining cookies.
  • Spread jam on the bottom of half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies.

Fruitcake Cookies

MAKES | about 5 dozen cookies WORKING TIME | 25 minutes TOTAL TIME | 2 hours, 20 minutes


  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour, spooned and leveled, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped Maraschino cherries, well drained
  • ¼ cup finely chopped candied pineapple
  • ½ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ½ tablespoon brandy
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons milk

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together 1 ¼ cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Toss pecans and pistachios with remaining ½ cup flour in a separate bowl.
  • Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, beating until incorporated. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating just until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in nuts (and any flour remaining in bowl), cherries, and pineapple until evenly incorporated. Scoop dough (about ½ tablespoon each), 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around edges, 14 to 16 minutes. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to the racks to cool completely.
  • Whisk together confectioners' sugar, brandy, remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon milk (add an additional teaspoon of milk if glaze is too thick). Drizzle over cooled cookies. Let sit, at room temperature, until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Spiced Shortbread

MAKES | 16 cookies WORKING TIME | 15 minutes TOTAL TIME | 1 hour, 50 minutes


  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut up, plus more for pan
  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour, spooned and leveled
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Butter a 9-inch cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper; butter parchment. Place flour, sugar, salt, ginger, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine, 3 to 5 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture looks like wet sand, 40 to 50 times.
  • Press mixture evenly into prepared pan. Prick dough, leaving a 1-inch border, with the tines of a fork; freeze 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until set and just beginning to brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Place pan on a wire rack and immediately use the handle of a wooden spoon to press a scallop pattern into the edge of shortbread and a sharp knife to score into 16 wedges. Cool 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the shortbread to loosen; invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut along scored lines using a sharp knife.

Shortcut Sugar Cookies

MAKES | about 4 dozen cookies WORKING TIME | 35 minutes TOTAL TIME | 1 hour, 20 minutes

Use the base of a fluted glass to dress up plain old store-bought cookie dough with a pretty patterned imprint.


  • 1 (16.5 ounce) package refrigerated ready-made sugar cookie dough
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for surface and pressing cookies
  • Glass with a 2-inch decorative bottom
  • Decorative sugars and candies

  • On a well-floured surface knead dough until soft. Knead flour into dough until incorporated.
  • On a floured surface, roll dough ⅜-inch thick. Cut cookies using a 2-inch round cutter. Dip the bottom of the glass in flour and firmly press cookies to create a pattern. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Reroll dough as necessary.
  • Bake according to package directions. Press candy into warm cookies. Cool completely on a wire rack.