20 Easy Cookie Recipes for Simple (Yet Show-Stopping!) Bakes

Shortbread, gingerbread, matcha-flavored, and everything in between.

November  5, 2021
Photo by James Ransom

Christmas time is here! Whether you’ve already finished your Christmas shopping, or you're running around buying gift cards on Christmas Eve (no judgement here!), the one thing everyone wants to get a head start on is baking and eating cookies. Even people who deny having a sweet tooth can’t resist a slice of shortbread or an adorable gingerbread man served alongside a cup of hot cocoa. Ahead, we’re sharing 20 easy Christmas cookies that you can bake in a flash, no experience required.

1. No-Bake Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

No-bake anything is always a win in my book, especially when it comes to the holiday season. In the midst of shopping for and wrapping gifts, attending holiday parties, and navigating holiday travel, it’s always nice to have a low effort dessert to rely on. And this festive four-ingredient Christmas cookie recipe is one I’ll bookmark and come back to on December 24th.

2. Stress-Free Vegan Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

You can’t have a platter of Christmas cookies without gingerbread men. You just can’t! The beauty of this easy recipe is that you can make the dough in advance (it comes together in five minutes flat) and then a day or two later, roll it and shape it into cute gingerbread boys and girls.

3. Chewy Sugar Cookies #2

What makes these soft sugar cookies so easy is that you can make the dough and then immediately form the dough into individual balls and bake them. No need to chill for hours and hours in the fridge, and no pesky rolling or cutting either.

4. Royal Icing for Cookie Decorating

Did you think we’d forgotten about the royal icing for the aforementioned sugar cookies and gingerbread men? Royal icing sounds fussy (like Kelly, what’s wrong with just “regular people icing”?) but I promise it’s neither fussy nor expensive to make. The hardest part is securing meringue powder, which is to say not hard, so long as you live near a craft store or have access to a big box retailer.

5. Proper Shortbread

The beauty of baking shortbread during the holiday season is that it requires minimal ingredients (only three in this recipe!) and hardly any baking skills. Plus, you’ll be nibbling on a fresh slice within the hour.

6. Cream Cheese Cookies

“The cookies couldn't be easier to make, which makes them ideal for last-minute bake sales or houseguests. The cream cheese gives the cookies a nearly unidentifiable tang that keeps you reaching for just one more,” writes Food52 co-founder Merrill Stubbs.

7. Holiday Crinkle Cookies

Crinkle cookies come in many different forms and flavors during the holiday season, but you can’t go wrong with this old-school cocoa-based version.

8. Peanut Butter Peppermint Chip Cookies

Hear us out. While peanut butter and peppermint may seem like a strange combination, they’re also two essential ingredients for holiday baking, so it kind of just makes sense. You get all the festive flavors of the season rolled up (and then flattened) into one adorable cookie.

9. No-Bake Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Bon Bons

When you want to bake for the holidays on a whim, turn to this recipe, which only requires basic pantry ingredients (almond butter! Chocolate chips! Powdered sugar! Butter! Graham crackers!). Plus it’s great for anyone with minimal kitchen equipment as you can get away with making the dough entirely in the microwave.

10. Mexican Wedding Cakes II

Whether you know them as Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cookies, there’s no denying that nutty treats covered in powdered sugar are a staple during the holiday season.

11. Pretzel Shortbread Cookies

Give your beloved shortbread cookie a little bit of salt and crunch with Molly Yeh’s recipe, which calls for homemade pretzel flour (it’s so much easier to make than you’d think!). Drizzle each cookie with a little bit of melted chocolate, because why not?

12. Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies With Rainbow Fennel Seeds

“I love the malted nuttiness that candied fennel seeds give to cookies, not to mention their bitter aniseed flavor,” writes Eric Kim.

13. Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

There’s nothing specifically holiday focused about these chocolate cookies, other than that they are so fudgy and so delicious. Two tablespoons of instant espresso powder brings out the intense chocolate flavor.

14. Cornmeal Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are no ordinary chocolate chip cookies and that’s a good thing. “These cookies offer just enough of a riff on a classic chocolate chip cookie: cornmeal for crunch, toffee bits for flavor, and sea salt to offset the sweetness,” writes Posie (Harwood) Brian.

15. Meyer Lemon Pizzelle

Pizzelle cookies are a staple in Italian culture and their delicate texture and intricate pattern is a work of beauty. This recipe calls for the zest of aromatic Meyer lemons and pure orange extract, which brings lovely citrus flavor to every bite.

16. Pistachio Cookies (Pastine di Pistacchi)

Pistachios are far underrated when it comes to baking, but they’re really worth their while come the holidays. They have a subtle nuttiness and pale green color that nods towards the season without asserting themselves too much, like the unwanted guest who shows up unexpectedly to your house on Christmas Day.

17. Jeweled Butter Cookies

Think of this recipe as fruitcake in the form of butter cookies. But you know how no one actually likes fruitcake? Everyone will LOVE these chocolate-covered cookies.

18. Ginger Spiced Dark Molasses Sugar Cookies

These gingery, spicy, molasses cookies are the ultimate Christmas cookie because it’s a 2 for 1 deal; you get the texture and chewiness of a classic sugar cookie with the flavor of your favorite gingerbread men.

19. Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies

“This cookie dough would yield exceptional cookies on its own: fudgy and brownie-like inside but still cakey and chewy enough to qualify as a cookie. But rolling each ball of dough in sprinkles takes it over the top, in looks and texture and taste,” writes recipe developer Posie (Harwood) Brian.

20. Matcha Butter Cookies

Matcha not only gives these classic Christmas butter cookies a natural vibrant green hue, but it also adds a deep, bitter tea flavor that is a staple in many Japanese desserts.

How early do you start your holiday baking? Let us know in the comments below!

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Former Food52 Staff Editor

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