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Our Favorite Holiday Cookies

Over the last 25 years we've developed a lot of cookie recipes. Here are 10 of the cookies we—and many of our readers—love the most.
By Published Dec. 6, 2018

As the weather gets colder and the holiday season begins, many of us have thoughts of baking cookies swirling through our minds. If you're undecided about which treats to make this year for family or friends, let this list of our most beloved cookie recipes (all foolproof, of course) get you started. 

Growing up, my mom made chocolate crinkles every Christmas, and we devoured them. So, when CI put this recipe out, I had to try it. These are a great improvement on the classic recipe. They are still chewy and look like Christmas with the snow like appearance, but the chocolate flavor is much, much better! Sorry, mom.
Kathryn E., Web Subscriber

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

These chewy, deeply chocolatey cookies became a hit in the test kitchen when we developed them in 2014, and for good reason. During our testing, we discovered the key to creating crinkly cookies (it’s partly about leavening, mostly about the sugar), and we use a combination of unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder (plus a boost from espresso powder) for a deep, rich chocolate flavor.

Tip: Using Dutch-processed cocoa powder will give you the chewiest results.

Molasses Spice Cookies with Dark Rum Glaze

This chewy cookie is full of the warm spices that we yearn for during the holiday season like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. The right kind and the right amount of molasses provides the perfect smoky bittersweet flavor, while dark brown sugar ups the sweetness quotient. Swapping shortening for butter also ensures full, rich flavor. 

Tip: Take the cookies out of the oven when they look underdone to ensure that the cookies are chewy. 

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need a cookie that will be a guaranteed hit with everyone you’re baking for, this is the one. Moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, these cookies have deep notes of toffee and butterscotch to balance their sweetness.

Using melted butter contributed chewiness (and meant we didn't need a stand mixer to make them). Cutting back on the flour and eliminating an egg white also improved texture and brought the brown sugar flavor to the fore. 

Tip: Be patient and let the sugar dissolve. This way, when the cookies are baked at a high temperature, the edges will crisp while the centers stay soft.

Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are perfect for making any shape you’d like and decorating to your heart’s desire. When testing these cookies in the kitchen, we realized that a ratio of anything less than 4 tablespoons of fat to 1 cup of flour produced a very dry cookie. More sugar and molasses came next, adding flavor and a pleasant sweetness. A little bit of milk gave the cookies just the right extra measure of softness and lift.

Tip: If you plan to decorate your gingerbread cookies and make ornaments out of them, follow the recipe for Thin, Crisp Gingerbread Cookies.

Best recipe I’ve found for this traditional cookie! Buttery, perfectly smooth consistency, and held shape in the oven.
Holly S., Web Subscriber

Nut Crescent Cookies

When these cookies are well made, they can be delicious: buttery, nutty, slightly crisp, slightly crumbly, with a melt-in-your mouth quality. As we developed the recipe, we found that pecans, hazelnuts, and walnuts worked equally well.

Tip: While some nut crescent cookie recipes argue in favor of coating the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they're still warm from the oven, we found that this created exactly the pasty coating we wanted to avoid. We recommend letting the cookies cool to room temperature before finishing them off with confectioners' sugar.

Spritz Cookies

Spritz cookies are a simple, elegant addition to the holiday cookie mix. It’s also versatile—you can make several simple flavor variations (see recipes below). Carefully balancing the butter, sugar, flour, egg (yolk only), heavy cream (just a drop), vanilla, and salt is the only path to success—we tested out all the proper proportions in the kitchen to ensure you'll have success making these at home. 

Tip: Creaming the butter and sugar in traditional fashion works well and produces a dough light enough to easily press or pipe the cookies.

Absolutely spot on! If you've ever enjoyed those classic Biscoff cookies on a flight, you will love these. Crisp, perfectly spiced, and totally dunkable.
James M., Web Subscriber

Belgian Spice Cookies (Speculoos)

If you’ve ever been on a Delta Air Lines flight, then you’ve had a taste of these lightly spiced cookies. They come from Belgium, and exhibit a crisp, light, open-crumbed texture and a blend of caramelized sugar and warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. These cookies go perfectly with a cup of tea or hot cocoa on any winter evening.

Tip: To achieve a subtle caramelized taste, we prefer to use turbinado sugar rather than a stronger-tasting molasses-based brown sugar.

Easy Holiday Sugar Cookies

For sugar cookies sturdy enough to decorate yet tender enough to eat, look no further than this heavily tested and perfected recipe. For a crisp and sturdy texture with no hint of graininess, we utilize superfine sugar (grind granulated sugar briefly in the food processor). We skipped creaming softened butter and sugar in favor of whizzing cold butter with sugar in the food processor, which let the dough come together in just minutes. The just-made dough was then cold enough to be rolled out immediately. 

Tip: For the dough to have the proper consistency when rolling, make sure to use cold butter directly from the refrigerator.

Hands down Millionaire's Shortbread was the year's favorite addition to my annual winter solstice cookie tins that I send to my family and friends. Next year I am sending Millionaire's Shortbread exclusively!
Gina D., Web Subscriber

Millionaire’s Shortbread

In the two years since we first published this recipe, it has become a sensation with our readers and everyone in the test kitchen. Millionaire’s shortbread is rich yet refined: it combines a crunchy shortbread base; a chewy, caramel-like filling; and a shiny, snappy chocolate top. Using melted butter to make a quick shorbread means no need for pulling out a mixer or food processor. And adding fresh cream to the caramel along with sweetened condensed milk prevents it from separating. 

Tip: Melt the chocolate very carefully so that it never gets too hot and stir in grated chocolate at the end to create a smooth, firm top layer.

Ultra-Nutty Pecan Bars

Pecan bars usually take the lead from pecan pie and feature more thick, custardy filling than actual pecans. This recipe flips the script and makes nuts the focus. We increased the amount of pecans to a full pound and tossed them in a thick mixture of brown sugar, corn syrup, and melted butter for an easy dump-and-stir filling that spreads itself evenly in the oven. The resulting bars are chewy, crunchy, buttery, and supernutty. They also store well for 5 days, making them perfect to give away as gifts.

Tip: A final sprinkling of flaky sea salt elevates both flavor and appearance.


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16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.