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.
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.
Chocolate Crinkle CookiesMost chocolate crinkle cookies are neither chocolaty nor crinkly. We solved the problem.
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.
Molasses Spice Cookies with Dark Rum GlazeDry, tasteless molasses cookies belong on a Christmas tree, not in a cookie jar. We made more than 50 batches to find the best recipe for an uncommonly soft, chewy cookie with warm, tingling spices.
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.
Perfect Chocolate Chip CookiesWe set out to achieve a cookie that was crisp at the edges, chewy in the middle, and full of rich toffee flavor. The result? One of our most popular recipes of all time.
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.
Thin, Crisp Gingerbread CookiesMost recipes turn out dough that is best used for building material. Is there a way to make gingerbread cookies that actually taste as good as they look?
Thick and Chewy Gingerbread CookiesMost recipes turn out dough that is best used for building material. Is there a way to make gingerbread cookies that actually taste as good as they look?
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.
Pecan or Walnut Crescent CookiesSuperfine sugar and a combination of finely chopped and ground nuts yield tender, delicate, nutty 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.
Spritz CookiesThat golden-swirled kiss of a holiday cookie often ends up bland, gummy, and tasteless. Why can't spritz cookies taste as good as they look?
Spritz Cookies with Lemon EssenceThat golden-swirled kiss of a holiday cookie often ends up bland, gummy, and tasteless. Why can't spritz cookies taste as good as they look?
Almond Spritz CookiesThat golden-swirled kiss of a holiday cookie often ends up bland, gummy, and tasteless. Why can't spritz cookies taste as good as they look?
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.
Belgian Spice Cookies (Speculoos)Passengers can’t get enough of Delta Air Lines’ in-flight snack of Biscoff, the commercial version of this Belgian confection. We took it to even greater heights.
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.
Easy Holiday Sugar CookiesMost roll-and-cut cookies force you to battle rock-hard dough and then rarely even taste good. We wanted it all: ease, good looks, and a crisp, buttery crumb.
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.
Millionaire's ShortbreadBritain’s triple-decker combo of buttery cookie, sweet caramel, and dark chocolate makes a perfect holiday gift. But only if every layer is flawless.
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.