Instead of buying gifts for friends and neighbors this year, why not make up a holiday assortment of cookies instead? Most holiday cookie recipes are surprisingly easy and for a family on a budget, a great low cost alternative to purchasing Christmas gifts. Packaged in a pretty dollar store tin or holiday themed cello bag, a holiday cookie assortment is a gift that everyone will enjoy.
To get you started on some holiday baking, here’s five of my favorite tried & true holiday cookie recipes. This collection is one that my neighbors have enjoyed sampling over the year and are popular favorites at school bake sales.
Spritz are those delicate buttery cookies that you’ll see at the grocery stores around in the holidays, usually packaged up in Belgium tins. A holiday spritz variety is easy to make using food coloring and a cookie press with both star and tree discs.
1 cup butter
2/3 cup of white sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cup white flour
Food coloring, red and green
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Mix butter, sugar, egg yolks and extract thoroughly. Stir in flour.
3. Split the cookie dough in two equal portions. Tint one portion pink and the other portion green
4. Using 1/4 of the dough at a time, force through the cookie press onto an ungreased baking sheet.
5. Cook 10 minutes until set, though not brown. Cool. Makes 6 dozen.
Russian tea cakes are another holiday favorite. Sometimes known as “snow balls”, sandies, or Mexican Wedding Cakes, these popular cookies are amazingly easy to make.
1 cup butter
1/2 sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup white flour
3/4 finely chopped almonds or pecans
1. Mix butter, vanilla, and sugar thoroughly. Add flour and salt, mixing until blend. Stir in nuts, chill dough for one hour.
2. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll the chilled dough into 1-inch sized balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet. Since these cookies do not spread, it’s OK to pack them an inch apart or so on the tray.
3. Bake 10-12 minutes until cooked, but not brown. Roll in powdered sugar while warm. Let cool, then roll them in powdered sugar a second time. Makes 4 dozen.
Thumbprint cookies are a colorful holiday favorite which looks almost as pretty as Christmas ornament. Kids particularly enjoy these pretty cookies, I like how they add sparkle to a desert plate.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup white flour
3/4 cup of crushed walnuts
Jelly assortment (we use a variety pack of mint jelly, orange marmalade, and raspberry jam to create a festive holiday look)
1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix butter, margarine, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla thoroughly
3. Blend together flour and salt, stir into the batter.
4. Roll the dough into 1-inch sized balls, set aside for now.
5. Beat egg white slightly with a whisk; dip the balls in the egg white and then roll in the crushed walnuts.
6. Place about an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, press the center of the ball gently with the thumb to create a depression.
7. Cook 10-12 minutes until set. Let cool.
8. Spoon a half teaspoon of jelly on top of the cookie inside the little depression. Makes 3 dozen.
Scotch shortbread don’t normally make it into the line of holiday cookies, but these can be cut and tinted to look like retro Christmas ornaments. To decorate these delicious and very easy cookies, all that’s needed is a container of silver dragees (tiny silver balls).
1 pound of unsalted butter, softened.
1 cup sugar
5 cups white flour, sifted before measuring
Blue or purple food coloring if desired
1. Blend the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour one cup at a time. Add several drops of food color (optional) until reaching desired color. You can tint the dough all the same color or just part of the dough to create a marbled effect.
2. Chill dough for an hour.
3. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.
4. Rolled chilled dough onto a lightly dusted pastry board. Roll until 1/2 -in thick. While Scottish shortbread traditionally is cut in 1/2-in x 3 inch “fingers” and pierced with a fork, I like to cut them into an elongated kite shape to look like an old fashioned holiday ornament. Punching them out with a star shaped cookie cutter or cutting them into triangles is also a nice alternative.
4. Place on cookie sheet. Gently press silver dragees in the corner of each cookie.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes until delicately browned and firm to the touch.
Chocolate crinkles wrap up my list of easy holiday cookies. These cute little cookies have almost a snowflake like pattern which makes them a nice addition to a holiday cookie gift assortment.
1/2 cup oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate, melted
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1. Cream oil, sugar, chocolate and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
2. Combine dry ingredients in medium size mixing bowl, stir into egg mixture. Let chill overnight.
3. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Shape the dough into one-inch round balls, roll in powdered sugar until well coated.
5. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from tray. Makes 6 dozen.
For related content by this author, be sure to check out the following articles:
Can I make and freeze cookies ahead for Christmas?
How to ship Christmas cookies.
Fun recipe ideas with Pillsbury Create & Bake cookie dough.