Ever since I was a little girl, the image of my grandmothers in their kitchens has always been vivid in my mind. Hair neatly curled, slippers on their feet, and aprons tied lightly around their hips. Their love of baking, for the holidays in particular, is something I have always appreciated.

And maybe it’s a rite of passage as a grandmother, because now my mom is doing all the baking and she enjoys her granddaughters helping her. As an adult, I find some Christmas magic in watching my mother move about the kitchen, sifting ingredients and stacking baked goods on every open counter space. Even my mother in-law and I share with each other the latest tasty recipes we have tried and chat about the current baking show episodes we are streaming.

Quite frankly, the kitchen has always been a sacred area of our home, especially during the holiday season. The smell of fresh cinnamon lingers through the air as the butter sizzles in the pan. The caramel bubbles to the perfect temperature as the melted chocolate smoothly spreads across the parchment paper. Flour dusts the countertops and the refrigerator consistently houses eggs and milk.

Every holiday cookie tray deserves a variety of cookies for the center of the dessert table. Whether it’s gingerbread cookies for the grandkids to construct their yearly masterpiece, sugar cookies for Santa, or a mix of the latest creation for the neighbors next door, holiday baking spreads endless love and magic, regardless of the recipe.

Here are 10 simple Christmas cookie favorites, from classic to fun, to try this season.

Whether you are baking while wearing your grandmother’s favorite apron, making memories with your grandchildren, or destroying your kitchen with your children, may each holiday cookie you bake this season bring a little extra love to your heart and a sprinkle of sweetness to the world.

little girl baking cookies Peanut Butter Kisses

1 Bag Hershey’s Kisses (foil removed)
½ C shortening
¾ C peanut butter
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/3 C packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ C flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 C additional granulated sugar for rolling

Cream the shortening and peanut butter until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture. Roll 1” peanut butter balls in granulated sugar. Place the cookie dough balls on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. Immediately press an unwrapped Hershey’s chocolate Kiss into center of each cookie. Move from cookie sheet and cool.

Sugar Cookies

1 C butter, softened
½ tsp almond extract (optional)
2½ C flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract; beat until combined. Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just combined. Roll dough into 1″ balls and roll in sugar. Place on baking sheet about 2″ apart. Bake at 350°F for 10-11 minutes.

S’mores cups

1 C graham cracker crumbs
1¼ C flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt (use ½ teaspoon if using unsalted butter)
½ C butter, softened
½  C brown sugar
1/3 C sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 large marshmallows, cut in half
2 Hershey’s chocolate bars

Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir and set aside. In larger bowl, blend the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until creamy and combined. Add in egg and vanilla extract. Mix well. Dump in the bowl of dry ingredients, mix just until combined. The dough will be crumbly. Scoop dough into the mini muffin tins. Fill them full and press down slightly so the dough is even on top. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes. Immediately after baking, place your chocolate and a half of marshmallow into muffin cups. Turn the oven broiler to high. Place muffin tin pan under the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully. This toasts the marshmallows fast!

Sprinkle Cookie Cups

1¼ C unsalted butter, softened
1½ C powdered sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2½ C flour
¼ C red sprinkles
¼ C green sprinkles
1 jar of frosting (or make your own)

Beat butter for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until creamy (2-3 minutes). Beat in the egg and vanilla. Then beat in the flour until just combined. Divide the dough into two portions. Stir in the sprinkles. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Then, press the balls into the prepared mini muffin pan. Press each dough ball with your thumb. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and press the centers with the rounded side of a measuring teaspoon. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Then remove to finish cooling on a wire rack. Use a piping bag to frost the cooled cookies. Top with additional sprinkles.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crackers

Ritz crackers
Peanut butter
Melting chocolate
Additional toppings optional

Spread a teaspoon of peanut butter onto one cracker. Place another cracker on top. Melt the chocolate and coat the peanut butter cracker. Place on parchment paper to set. Optional: after coating with chocolate, sprinkle with various toppings.

Holiday Bark

1/3 C peanut butter
1 C brown sugar
1½ C semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ lb Saltine crackers (salted)
1 C butter
Desired candies for topping

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cover with a single layer of Saltine crackers. Melt butter in a pan, then mix in peanut butter and brown sugar. Bring to boil for three minutes. Carefully pour on crackers. Place in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Carefully remove and cover with chocolate chips. Place back in the oven for 1 minute. Spread mixture evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle with toppings and allow to cool.

Shortcut Gingerbread Cookies

1 large egg
½ C unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 package spiced cake mix box

Mix the butter and egg. Sift the cake mix. Add to wet mixture until combined. Don’t over mix! Chill dough (approx. 1-2 hours). Roll out the dough. Use cutters for desired shape. Bake at 350°F for 6-8 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool then decorate.

Italian Christmas Cookies

2 eggs
2¾ C flour
2 tsp anise extract
2½ tsp baking powder
¾ C granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ C butter
nonpareils
1/3 C milk
1 C powdered sugar

Add all ingredients except the powdered sugar and milk to your mixer and slowly blend until the dough forms. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1tbsp of the dough onto the paper about 2” apart. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes. After cooled, transfer to wire rack. Whisk powdered sugar and milk until smooth and drizzle on top. Sprinkle nonpareils.

Classic Iced Oatmeal Cookies

 2½  sticks butter, softened
¾ C firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1 ½ C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt (optional)
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 C Quaker oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

For the icing:
2 C powdered sugar
1½ Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp water

Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; mix well. Add oats; mix well. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto non-greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Drizzle with icing mixture

Chocolate Snow Cookies

2 sticks of butter
1 C sugar
3/4 C light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 C flour
½ tsp salt
½ C cocoa
1 tsp baking soda

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar for the snow!

Jen Feener

Jen Feener is a wife, mother, public school teacher, travel concierge, and children’s author. Born and raised in Massachusetts, she spends her time playing with her daughters, exploring nature, crafting and making messes in the kitchen. Seeking the adventure in each day, she strives to capture that adventure in her writing.