‘Tis the Season: 5 Holiday Cookie Recipes You Haven’t Tried Yet

It’s the holiday season! There’s so much to love about these few months. It’s the time for family reunions and gift-giving, snow-capped trees and quiet evenings in front of a crackling fireplace. One of my absolute favorite things about this time of year, though, has got to be the food.

There’s not a holiday flavor out there I’m not obsessed with. Peppermint, cranberry and orange zest, warm spices, earthy nuts, and savory herbs, I love it all. And, the best part is, they all make their way into fantastic holiday cookies. So, in honor of the season, here are five of my favorite holiday cookie recipes! Wrap them up and gift them, bring them to holiday parties or just keep them all for yourself — I won’t tell.

Holiday cookie recipes
linzer cookies

Rosemary Hazelnut Linzer Cookies with Salted Caramel Filling

Yields about 24 cookies, with more little cookie sandwiches from the “holes.”  Salted caramel filling adapted from Top with Cinnamon.

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup hazelnut meal (or nut meal of your choice)
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/4 tsp dried
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

For the caramel filling:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp creme fraiche or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


1. Sift together the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and table salt in a medium bowl.

2. Place butter and both sugars in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg and chopped rosemary and beat again until incorporated. Fold in the flour mixture until just combined, then divide dough in half and wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

4. Heat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. On a well-floured surface, roll out the first dough ball to about 1/8- or 1/4-inch thick. Use a round 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Use a smaller, 3/4-inch cookie cutter to remove the centers of half of the cookies to form the “lids.”

You can either save the smaller centers to make miniature cookie sandwiches, or re-roll them to make more cookies — and you can gather up, re-chill and re-roll the cookie scraps as many times as needed. If the dough becomes too soft to handle, replace in the freezer for a few minutes to let it firm up.

5. Place the cookie rounds, evenly spaced, on the parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet.  You don’t need to leave much space in between the cookies, as they won’t spread too much while baking.  When you’ve cut out enough to fill the baking sheet, bake cookies until golden at edges. For me, this took about 10-11 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Repeat with remaining dough.  Once the cookies are cool, you can powder them with confectioners’ sugar — arrange the cookies with holes (or all of the cookies) on a baking sheet lined with parchment and sift powdered sugar over them as desired.

5. Next, make the caramel filling.  First, prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside within easy reach.  Combine the sugar and water in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and stir just until dissolved.  Let bubble, without stirring, until the syrup turns just golden.

Immediately remove from  heat.  Add butter (take care as it may splatter) and swirl the pan until dissolved, then add creme fraiche or heavy cream and swirl again until dissolved.

6. Finally, add the vanilla and salt and stir to combine.  At this point, drop a small spoonful of the caramel into the ice water.

If it turns solid, pliable, and able to formed into a ball, then you’re done and the caramel is ready to be used as filling.  If it stays liquid or dissolves, return the caramel to low heat and let it simmer for 1 or 2 more minutes, testing in the ice water again every 20-30 seconds, until it solidifies.  (For an excellent step-by-step tutorial with GIFs, see Top with Cinnamon.)

7. Working quickly so that the caramel is still soft, form the cookie sandwiches.  Drop a spoonful of caramel onto the center of the cookies without holes, then place a “lid” on top and press gently to seal.  Let cool and enjoy!


If you’re used to making caramel with a candy thermometer, feel free to substitute your favorite caramel recipe in place of this one.

chocolate cookie

Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies with Candied Mint

Yields about 24-32 cookies, depending on the size.

For the cookie dough:

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/4 mint leaves, chopped very finely (more for a stronger mint flavor; you can also add a few drops of peppermint extract)

For the candied mint leaves:

  • About 24-32 leaves, depending (less if you’re making larger cookies, more if you’re making smaller)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup superfine white sugar


1. In a large bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter. You can do this in a double boiler, but most of the time I just opt for microwaving the mixture, 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until smooth and liquid. Let cool briefly.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
3. Combine the sugar and eggs and beat vigorously, either by hand or with an electric beater, until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in vanilla extract, the chopped mint leaves, and the chocolate-butter mixture and beat again until combined.
4. Finally, fold in the dry ingredients and the remaining chocolate chips. Set the dough aside and let cool. You can refrigerate it if you like, but I found that these were fine without chilling the dough.
5. Meanwhile, make the candied mint leaves. Lay leaves flat on a paper towel. Whisk the egg white and brush it lightly overtop the leaves, then dust with sugar and let dry.
6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Scoop a tablespoon of dough at a time and roll into small balls, placing them about 3 inches apart on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until edges are set but centers are still soft.
7. Let cool briefly, then press mint leaves into the centers of the cookies. You can brush the center of the cookie with a bit of the extra egg white if you like before pressing the leaf on, but it’s not necessary. Enjoy!
Rosemary cookies

Rosemary, Almond & White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields about 18 cookies. Based on the Jacques Torres / New York Times chocolate chip cookie.

For the rosemary browned butter:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3-4 small sprigs rosemary

For the rest:

  • 1 cup (120 g) cake flour
  • 1 cup minus 2 tbsp (120 g) bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup (about 6 oz) white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, plus more for pressing on top


1. Melt 4 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, add rosemary, and continue to stir until butter bubbles and crackles, then turns a rich medium brown. For a stronger brown butter flavor, let the butter go darker (even burned). Set aside and let cool.
2. Sift together cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, cream together the brown sugar and remaining 6 tbsp of softened butter until smooth. Add the granulated sugar, then set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl and pour the browned butter through, straining out the rosemary sprigs.
Discard sprigs, then beat again vigorously until mixture becomes light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Finally, add the egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract, and beat again until incorporated.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix gently just until incorporated. Finally, fold in the white chocolate and almonds.
5. Chill the dough for at least 4 hours and ideally up to 36 hours.
6. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into balls of about two tablespoons each, and place on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet about 3 inches apart.
If you like, press a few more almonds on top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are set and centers are still soft. Cookies will continue to set once they’ve been removed from the oven.


The original Jacques Torres recipe is intended to use equal parts cake and bread flours by weight.  The cup measurements above are therefore approximations — if you don’t have a kitchen scale, I would use less bread flour (around 3/4 cup) or use a very light hand when scooping the flour.  I’ve found spooning the flour into the cup and leveling with a knife to be the best way to measure flour accurately.

Gingersnaps and Cranberry Orange Shortbread

Classic Gingersnaps

Yields 24 cookies.  Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (140 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger (or more, if you’d like a stronger ginger flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsulphured molasses


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until well-blended and fluffy.
2. Add the molasses and whisk again until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix gently until a dough forms.
3. Turn the dough out onto saran wrap and fully wrap it. I patted the dough into a flat disk so that it would be easier to cut and shape into individual cookies later. I think a square would have worked even better. Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
4.When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place at least two inches apart on parchment paper or greased foil.
The cookies will spread, so give them room. For chewier cookies, bake for 10-12 minutes. For crisper, bake longer, about 13-15. I took mine out at 12 exactly and they had a bit of chew in the middle, with crunchy edges.


Recipe is easily doubled.  If you double the recipe, consider adding an egg — cookies will bake slightly faster, and will stay soft longer.  If you’d like even more of a ginger kick, you can add one or two teaspoons of fresh finely grated ginger or grated candied ginger.

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread

Cranberry-Orange Shortbread

Yields 24 cookies.  Barely adapted from Honey & Jam.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tbsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt


1. Cream the butter vigorously until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar in several batches, beating until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract, orange zest, and dried cranberries, and mix just until combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing gently until the dough comes together in a thick paste.
3. Form dough into 2 logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; wrap in parchment or saran wrap, and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour), or up to 3 days. You can also freeze the dough at this point until you’re ready to bake. If I’m not making these in bulk, I usually freeze one log and chill the other.
4. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. If frozen, let the logs stand at room temp for 10 minutes. Remove parchment. Definitely, eat some dough (no egg!). Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and space about 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment — they will not spread much. Bake until pale golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!

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