25 Fancy Christmas Cookies That Are Gifts All by Themselves
There are cookies, and then there are Christmas cookies — decked out for the holidays with bright colors and festive embellishments. No wonder Christmas cookies like these make such popular food gifts and tempting edible displays for holiday gatherings. But eye-catching Christmas cookies don't necessarily have to be hard to make, as you'll discover when you explore this gallery of fancy Christmas cookies. It can be as simple as filling the indentation of a buttery shortbread cookie with ruby-red raspberry jam, or dipping a cutout sugar cookie star into melted chocolate and finishing with festive candy sprinkles. You'll also find Christmas cookies embossed with decorative patterns using special grills, irons, and molds; and Christmas cookie cutouts made merry with icing and imagination. Scroll through and find some of our best fancy Christmas cookies to make and share with loved ones this holiday.
Pizzelle, which translates as "small, round, and flat" are thin and crispy Italian waffle cookies made with a special pizzelle iron to give them their intricate designs, and are popular treats for holidays like Christmas and Easter. To give this recipe an authentic Italian flavor, replace the vanilla extract with anise extract. You can brighten them up before serving with a dusting confectioners' sugar.
Speculaas Cookies or Spicy Sinterklass Cakes
"This traditional Dutch cookie recipe came with a mold I got 20 years ago. Speculaas is a corruption of the Latin speculum (mirror). The dough is pressed into carved molds that can be used for wall decorations. When turned out onto the cookie sheet, the picture appears as its mirror image, hence the name. In the Sinterklass season they are available in ⅔ cookie size to huge thick men and women up to 1 pound known as lovers. If molds are not available, roll dough to desired thickness and use gingerbread man cutter or other cutter shapes. They are great to make ahead around Christmas because they last a long time." — Harriet A. Schipper
Caramel Shortbread Squares
What makes these cookies fancy are the three delicious layers of buttery shortbread, creamy caramel, and rich chocolate. Kristen made them and offers these helpful tips: "Double recipe, line 9x13 pan with parchment paper to easily lift out finished product. Make caramel exactly as written, but low heat with constant stirring. I have never had a problem. Shortbread should be slightly cooled; mine usually goes from the oven to the freezer and sits for about ten minutes before I pour on the caramel. It will not ruin the shortbread, I promise. I use dark chocolate instead of milk to level off the sweetness of the caramel a bit."
Cream Cheese Kolacky
These holiday cookies are irresistibly bright and cheerful. Recipe contributor MBMCD says, "The dough for these cookies is what makes them exceptional. I always quadruple this recipe for the holidays. Most popular fillings are peach, apricot, raspberry and date. Use your imagination! This year I'm trying Michigan cherry preserves and cranberry marmalade. You better hide a few for Christmas day — these are the ones that go first!
Grandma's Lace Cookies
Ultra-thin cookies with crispy edges and chewy centers, these lacy cookies look delicate but they're actually very easy to make. Reviewers suggest baking them on parchment paper instead of foil to prevent sticking. Be sure to space them out more than you would ordinary cookies because the batter spreads quite a bit in the oven — which is why they're so thin and lacy.
These traditional cookies are cooked on a krumkake iron to get their decorative pattern baked right in, then rolled into a cone around a special wooden mold. "I was thrilled to find this online as it as close to my own Gram's as I could hope for," says JULIE NMS. "Ditto on the adding almond extract and cardamom — made it exactly right. No complaints about texture at all — just right! We have an ancient well-seasoned cast-iron krumkaker iron which no doubt contributed to the success."
Put a out a plate of these crispy, flaky cookies and watch them disappear. Frozen puff pastry is spread with buttery cinnamon sugar, rolled up, and thinly sliced before baking. "Tried these last night," says Jeri. "Four people devoured them all in 5 minutes! DELICIOUS!! So simple and they look like you picked them up at the bakery. I found that if I lightly sprayed the parchment paper with Pam, they did not stick. Also, did not use cardamom. I will buy several boxes of frozen puff pastry and keep it on hand to make this simple dessert anytime I am in a pinch or just feel like giving my family a scrumptious treat!"
If these delectable, lighter-than-air meringues weren't sprinkled with crushed peppermints to weigh them down a bit, they'd probably float off the plate. If you've never made meringues before, it's actually a lot easier than you might think. Get tips to make the best meringues.
You might call these whimsical instead of fancy, but that's okay. These adorable sugar cookies are shaped and decorated to look like miniature hedgehogs, and will add a playful touch to your holiday cookie arrays.
Raspberry and Almond Shortbread Thumbprints
Buttery shortbread cookies are filled with bright red seedless raspberry jam and finished with a drizzle of confectioners' sugar glaze to make festive cookies that are as delightful to look at as they are to eat. To prevent spreading, chill the filled cookies in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes before baking.
Cranberry Nut Tarts
Tender homemade pastry shells baked in mini muffin pans are filled with chopped nuts and cranberries in a buttery brown sugar mixture and baked into bite-size tarts. "This was awesome," says Canon_Lily. "I had to give my family the recipe it was so good. I also increased the cranberries to ½ cup and the walnuts to 4 tablespoons. It is also good with pecans."
Candy Cane Cookies III
"A Christmas cookie tray is incomplete without these! I always double the recipe. I make one recipe of plain dough and refrigerate it. Using the mixing bowl 'as is' (without washing) I then mix up a full recipe of red dough. I just set the hot baked cookies up-side-down in sugar. Added some extra peppermint flavoring to make up for the missing crushed candy canes. Not worth the hassle. No one even noticed! I make these every year!" — BONBONGIRL
My Mom's Spritz Cookies
Dawn's Easy Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
Recipe contributor DAWNV4 says, "As a Southern girl, I love baking from scratch and red velvet cakes are a must for the holidays. I usually make one every Christmas, especially one for my brother-in-law David. This year was so busy, I just didn't have time to make him one, but I am always making cake mix cookies for my girls as a quick snack in the afternoons after school, so I whipped up a batch of these gems for him for Christmas. They are out of this world! You don't just have to make them for holidays they are wonderful anytime, see for yourself."
Viennese Crescent Holiday Cookies
Little logs of nutty cookie dough are gently shaped into crescents and baked for these vintage Christmas cookies. We recommend you let the cookies cool completely before rolling them in confectioners' sugar. Some home bakers like to dip the end in melted chocolate, too. "Just like my Oma, I used walnuts instead of the hazelnuts. Always a wonderful Christmas tradition and incredibly delicious," says reviewer LINDA MCLEAN
Cream Cheese Christmas Cookies
Here's an example of an easy-to-make cookie elevated to holiday status simply by adding color: The cookie dough logs are rolled in tinted sugar before slicing into rounds and baking. "These cookies are my holiday favorites," says reviewer Gloria. "I have been baking them at Christmas every year for about ten years now. They have a great flavor and look festive on the cookie tray. Be careful not to overbake them — very lightly browned is perfect for a slightly chewy cheesecake taste."
Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies II
"What a decadent delight! I loved these cookies and I will certainly make them again. The cookies were delicious and attractive. I took them to a bake sale and many people asked for the recipe. I followed the advice of other reviewers and made a few changes: 1) doubled the batter but not the chocolate sauce 2) used a half cup of white sugar and a half cup of brown sugar 3) placed the cherry in the center of the cookie immediately after I took them out of the oven and 4) drizzled the chocolate on after the cookie cooled. I also cut the cherries in half before inserting them into the center just to stretch the jar of cherries." — CookingCutie
Sinful Chocolate Biscotti
Double-baked Italian biscotti rank high among favorite Christmas cookies, and these chocolate versions are especially desirable. To give them an extra-special visual appeal, drizzle the cooled cookies with chocolate icing and embellish with red, green, and white candy sprinkles, as shown.
"This is a delicious cookie, and it looks so pretty as a Christmas dessert! I made mine in 1" balls, and they were perfectly set at 10 minutes. To me, 3 tablespoons of milk made the glaze a little too runny, so next time I would cut back a tiny bit. I got several compliments on them, and I will be making these again!" — rachelel
The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
Shortbread Cookies II
It takes only four ingredients to make these melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies, and after that, you can decorate them to your heart's content. For a simple but elegant effect, dip each cookie halfway into melted white or dark chocolate and sprinkle with candies or edible glitter stars.
Eileen's Spicy Gingerbread Men
Gingerbread cut-outs can be as fancy as you want them to be with just a little royal icing and your imagination. Embarck says, "This is a very good gingerbread recipe. However, one must watch the men carefully when you open the oven, lest they jump out and run out the door yelling, "Run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me; I'm the gingerbread man!"
Cranberry Cornmeal Linzer Cookies
Ruby red cranberry filling peeks through decorative cutouts in these eye-catching sandwich cookies. Allrecipes home cook SHORECOOK raves, "This is A CRANBERRY LOVER'S DREAM! I had never used cornmeal in a cookie recipe before so I was curious as to how it would taste. The cookie was so delicate and with the burst of cranberry filling it was just divine! My only change was to sprinkle the finished cookie with confectioner's sugar."