Our Best Cookies for Holiday Decorating
There's only one thing more fun that eating cookies during the holiday season, and that's decorating cookies for the holiday season. We’ve rounded up our best sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, and shortbread cookies—and a few more, like pie crust cookies and iced cookies—for holiday decorating, so gather your sprinkles, icing, and cookie cutters and let the creativity commence.
Gingerbread Reindeer Cookies
These sweet little cookies make an adorable topper for our Best White Cake recipe along with a few rosemary trees. While you’ll only need a few for the top of the cake, the recipe leaves you with plenty more for Christmas cookie exchanges or Santa. We picked a few of our favorite cookie cutters: doe, cabin, and a car, but you can pick any shape you want. Decorate them simply with a few dots of royal icing, or get creative with sprinkles and frosting.
Picky eater? No problem. Even if you don't love eggnog, you'll love this easy cookie. Whether you make it for Santa or for yourself (no judgment here), this festive recipe is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday season. Though they're delicious without any bells and whistles, the boozy, four-ingredient Eggnog-Bourbon Buttercream is what truly makes these cookies shine. Want something with a bit more spice? Try these Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies next.
Salted Chocolate-Topped Shortbread
These whole-wheat cookies have the expected “short” texture of classic shortbread, plus an irresistible buttery flavor. Cultured butter is worth seeking out here; the richer flavor really comes through in a cookie like this where the butter is front and center. You can also use regular unsalted butter for a still delicious but slightly less complex flavor.
Ginger Shortbread Cookies with Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
Leap for Spring with 6-ingredient, Ginger Shortbread Cookies. Look for minced crystallized ginger at your local grocery on the bottled spice aisle.
Sparkling Snowflake Sugar Cookies
Adults will love these elegant cookies, made with a touch of brandy. And they're great for a Hanukkah party.
Pumpkin Pie Cutout Cookies
Bake the cookies up to five days ahead, and store in an airtight container. To make our wind cookies and leaf cookies, we used round cutters and swirly piping to represent the wind, and various sizes of leaf-shaped cutters for fluttering foliage. For more on decorating cookies, visit southernliving.com/cookietips.
Candy Cane Cookies
Prep and Cook Time: about 1 1/2 hours, plus 5 hours to chill. Notes: Freeze the two-toned dough at the end of step 5 for up to two weeks or store baked cookies airtight for up to 2 days.
Crunchy Frostbite Cookies
Dip one side of these crispy oatmeal cookies into melted white chocolate for a “frosted” effect.
Classic Sugar Cookies
Cut this dough into a variety of your favorite shapes. The dippable glaze will transform the cookies into works of art almost too pretty to eat.
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
We think 1/8 inch is the perfect thickness for a crisp, buttery cookie, but this dough can be rolled to 1/4 inch thick if you prefer a soft texture.
Sparkling Ornament Cookies
These richly colored vanilla and almond-flavored cookies are perfect for little hands--the more sprinkles, the better!
Look for five-spice powder on the spice aisle or with the Asian foods in your grocery store. We love the sparkle of sanding sugar used to coat the outside of the cookies; you’ll find it in craft stores. Supermarket turbinado works well, too.
For a whimsical presentation, arrange these cookies in a lunch box lined with colorful packing paper. Use a variety of cookie cutter sizes to create "families." If you don't want to cut the dough into shapes, roll it into two logs, cover, chill, and slice into 1/8-inch rounds. Refrigerate the dough up to three days, or freeze up to one month.
Chocolate Cutout Cookies
Cut-out cookies don't have to be vanilla. This year, try a deep, dark chocolate version. Dust your cutting board with cocoa powder to preserve the color and flavor.
Lemon-Frosted Sugar Cookies
You may want to start this recipe early in the day because the dough requires at least 4 hours to chill.
Classic Gingerbread Cookies
These gingerbread cookies are sweet and not too gingery- perfect for the kids and just how you remember them. This recipe is also great for gingerbread houses. Roll the dough 1/4" thick, cut out house, and bake at 325 until firm (about 20 minutes). Rotate the pan after 10 minutes and use bold molasses for even baking and optimal flavor.
Chocolate Sugar Cookie Bars
Take your favorite cookie and turn it into a big slice bar. This dough is perfect for baking in an 8-inch pan. These bars are still perfect for bake sales or cookie swaps. We topped these chocolate sugar cookie bars with a creamy frosting and a few sprinkles for a festive touch. Simply switch out the sprinkle color to make them work all year round. What makes this recipe so perfect? You can prepare the dough up to 2 days in advance and bake the bars when you’re ready. What else can you make with this Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe? Try these creamy Chocolate Cookie Cups with Caramel Filling or these Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies topped with roasted marshmallows.
Sugar Cookie Mittens
Cozy up with these fun and festive Sugar Cookie Mittens for the holiday season. Pour a glass of milk, pull up a seat by the fire, and prepare to indulge in a fabulous sweet treat.
Orange Sugar Cookies With Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting
Orange zest lends a delicate floral, citrus flavor to this delightfully crisp and light shortbread cookies. Finished with a vibrant orange and cream cheese frosting, they’re the perfect treat to deliver a taste of sunshine on a chilly winter day.
Glazed Condensed Milk Cookies
Need to throw together a last minute treat? Make a batch of fluffy and buttery, cream cheese-glazed cookies using 1 whole (14-ounce) can of sweetened and just a handful of other staple ingredients you probably already have in the fridge and pantry. You will use 2/3 cup of the condensed milk in these melt-in-your-mouth cookies (which eliminates the need for additional sugar or eggs), then simply combine the rest of the can with softened cream cheese to create a tangy-sweet glaze. After you glaze the cookies and add sprinkles (if desired), leave them on the wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes so that the glaze can set so that you don't end up with a mess.
Iced Shortbread Cookies
These are perfect for the holidays because they are so versatile and make for a fun project with kids.
Tired of traditional Christmas cookies like sugar cookies and gingerbread? This super simple Scottish shortbread is the perfect cookie to enjoy with family or give as as a gift.
Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
This fabulous cookie requires only four ingredients, making these quite possibly the easiest peanut butter cookies ever! Most of these ingredients you probably already have on hand in your own kitchen, which makes whipping up a batch of these beauties a snap. The classic recipe requires no flour, which makes these cookies perfect for those looking for a gluten free dessert option. Be sure to press the tops of the cookies with a fork for that "classic peanut butter cookie" look!
Iced Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies
Whole-wheat flour adds a layer of complexity to these cookies that all-purpose flour can't achieve; the wheat in the whole grain actually enhances the flavors of butter and vanilla. Unlike classic royal icing, which starts with a pound of powdered sugar, we use just 1/2 cup and thicken it with Greek yogurt. Looking for festive colors without the chemicals? Try naturally colored sparkling sugars (such as those from India Tree), which use colorants derived from plants.
Oak Leaf Cookies
A cookie cutter and some food coloring are all it takes to turn sugar cookie dough into oak leaves. Wear disposable gloves if you like to keep the food coloring from staining your hands.
Soft Sugar Cookie Trees
These tender cookies are even better when topped with cream cheese icing. Make the dough up to 2 days ahead. It will be easier to roll when it's very cold.
Light Bulb Sugar Cookies
These treats are as cute as can be, and their taste is just as memorable. Because they're made with sorghum syrup, ginger, vanilla, and cardamom, their flavor is a change of pace from the usual sugar cookies. Serve the light bulbs separately, or thread several of them on a decorative ribbon or string as a party favor or gift.
Snowy Tree Cookies
To make these adorable 3-D trees, you’ll need star-shaped cookie cutters in six different sizes. (They are often sold in sets.) Be sure the cutouts are thoroughly chilled before going in the oven so they don’t spread too much while baking.
Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
This dough will work for slice-and-bake cookies or as a rolled dough for your favorite cookie cutters.
The rich butter flavor and crumbly texture of this cookie makes it a staple of holiday baking. Plus, it's very easy to make.
Christmas Cutout Cookies
This is the perfect sugar cookie recipe for holiday baking; it's easy to make and a great way to get kids involved in the fun.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
What’s tastier than a regular sugar cookie? A Chocolate Sugar Cookie. We love the versatility of this recipe. Simply pick your favorite cookie cutter or turn it into a cookie cup that can hold a tasty filling. The cookie dough can be made ahead and chilled a day or two before baking. We’ve included our recipe for frosting, so you can decorate your cookies. We chose various dog cookie cutters and gave each one a festive holiday sweater. This Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe will be a hit with your cookie swap friends and Santa.
Vanilla Bean Shortbread
Pie-Crust Leaf Cookies
These delicate little cookies crumble easily over fruit as part of our Deconstructed Pie recipe, but they're nice on their own, too. You'll need leaf-shaped cookie cutters (we used a 3-in. size).
This recipe goes with: Deconstructed Pie