The best traditional Christmas cookies – from all over the world – are actually made with some of the very simplest cookie recipes.
Which is wonderful news because it means we can whip up batches of popular Christmas cookies quickly and easily however stressed out we’re feeling by Christmas decorations we still need to get up and Christmas gifts we still need to buy.
It is so easy to feel overwhelmed at Christmas.
And to struggle even more than usual to manage our time!!!
For some of us baking cookies is a chance for much needed time alone but it is also an incredibly easy Christmas activity to do with kids that can help us all calm down as a family when feelings are fraught.
The question though is what are the best and most popular Christmas cookies to bake?
What Are The Most Popular Christmas Cookies?
Well, I have done all the hard work for you here and gathered up very easy recipes for all the most popular Christmas cookies you can make.
You’ll find the best traditional Christmas cookies from around the world including easy Italian Christmas cookies and vintage German Christmas cookies that make wonderful DIY gifts & Christmas ornaments.
You’ll also find easy recipes for the most popular Christmas cookie exchange cookies including :
- the simplest sugar cookies
- spritz cookies
- peanut butter cookies
- crinkle cookies
- & candy cane cookies.
In addition there are gluten free & keto Christmas cookie recipes so even those on a low carb diet needn’t miss out.
And finally there are don’t miss tips on:
- How to freeze Christmas cookies
- And the best Christmas cookie royal icing recipes with & without egg whites.
So grab yourself a cuppa and browse these scrumptious Christmas cookies or if you’re after a specific recipe check out the contents list below. But don’t forget to bookmark or save the cookie guide for later.
Easy Italian Christmas Cookies
There are all sorts of varieties of scrumptiously easy Italian Christmas cookies but these four are super popular.
Although they are all classic Italian Christmas cookie recipes, they are all very different so they will keep the whole family happy from little kids to grandpa.
Italian Iced Cookies
The traditional Italian iced cookie with a soft almost cakey centre is super easy to make and always a big hit with kids. The cookie glaze is also super simple and doesn’t involve egg whites …
Pasta Frolla Christmas Cookies
Simple jam cookies made with pasta frolla – sweet pastry – dough are another traditional Italian Christmas cookie super popular with kids but also I have to say one of my favourites …
Castagnelle Christmas Cookies
Castagnelle are a crunchy almond Italian Christmas cookie more popular with grown ups.
It’s the perfect post Christmas dinner cookie with coffee and brandy – or for a real Italian feel, grappa – and just a tiny piece or two of Christmas fudge …
Italian Christmas Biscotti
Classic Italian biscotti couldn’t be simpler to make and it’s really easy to add your own Christmasy spices and ingredients of choice to give them a unique Christmas flavour as in these chocolate & cranberry Christmas biscotti …
Shortbreads are my go to quick bake cookie made with my mum’s classic Scottish 3-2-1 recipe (flour-sugar-butter) but at Christmas time you can tweak the recipe so that it will keep its Christmas cookie shape better or to add just a hit of Christmas flavour.
Classic Scottish Shortbread
The classic recipe is just cream the butter, beat in the sugar and then slowly work in the flour with a knife. The flour will look like it won’t go in. Keep going, it will.
I usually make in batches of 6 ounces of flour and work it together into two balls.
Then roll out very gently to about 50mm thick, pressing down more than rolling and using sugar rather than flour to stop your rolling pin sticking.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 150c/130c fan.
Christmas Shortbread For Cut Cookies
For an alternative Christmas shortbread that really keep its shape and is great for icing try this recipe which replaces some of the flour with cornflour and the caster sugar with icing / powdered sugar …
Spicy Orange Christmas Shortbread
Or try this Christmas shortbread with just a little bit of Christmas spice and orange zest …
Simple Sugar Christmas Cookies
Shortbread is simple but for an even easier Christmas cookie bake you can’t beat a simple sugar cookie recipe that comes together easily with egg.
These simple Christmas sugar cookies are easy enough for kids to make and the only thing to remember is that the dough is much better if chilled for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
With little kids I actually think it makes it easier as you can have stirring – and bowl licking! – as one Christmas activity in the morning and then rolling & cutting as a separate activity in afternoon with icing left to the next day …
Christmas Gingerbread Cookies
Gingerbreads are another super popular Christmas cookie in my house.
Baking them is one my favourite family Christmas traditions and December wouldn’t be December without the fragrance of Christmas gingerbread wafting through the house.
I reckon the secret to great Christmas gingerbread is molasses. It just gives them a whole new level of flavour and both the gingerbread recipes I have for you here are rich molasses.
The first classic recipe involves creaming butter and sugar and then working everything else in which is much easier if you have a good mixer.
But the second Christmas gingerbread recipe in which you melt the butter and sugar on the stove with the molasses is super quick and easy without a mixer and is I think even more delicious because all the gingerbready flavours have really oozed into each from the start.
Both these recipes use cloves so it’s a real old fashioned – quite grown up – gingerbread flavour. You can skip the cloves with little kids and slightly up the cinnamon and ginger.
Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Or for something unbelievably scrumptious for kids make these chocolate gingerbread Christmas cookies …
Gingerbread Advent Calendar
Gingerbread houses are obviously a massive Christmas tradition but in my experience too easily end up in a crazy mess and are anything but simple and calming to make!!
As a lovely alternative why not create a gingerbread Advent jar in which children get one little ginger bread every day …
Peanut Butter Christmas Cookies
Peanut butter blossoms are one of the most popular Christmas cookies for a cookie exchange.
They are also one of the best Christmas cookies to make quickly at the last minute as the dough doesn’t need to go in the fridge and they bake in just 8 minutes so you can have them done in half an hour.
Christmas Crinkle Cookies
Delicious Christmas crinkle cookies are one of the most popular Christmas cookies to bake ahead and freeze and their cookie dough arguably freezes the best of any Christmas cookie dough.
Christmas crinkle cookies are also super easy to flavour if you want easy gingerbread or chocolate Christmas cookies and to colour in green & red Christmas colours to add to your Christmas table decorations.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Chocoalte Christmas crinkle cookies look especially lovely dusted in lots of snow like icing sugar and there are some great tips in this recipe on how to dust them so you’re icing sugar doesn’t gloop …
Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies
Gingerbread crinkle cookies are wonderful if you want the warm spicy Christmas flavour of gingerbread in a fatter cookie without all the hassle of rolling and cutting …
Cake Mix Crinkle Cookies
If you are seriously struggling with time management over Christmas you can even make crinkle cookies even more quickly from a cake mix which is super easy to colour …
Spritz Cookies For Christmas
Spritz cookies are incredibly pretty to make for Christmas and can be a lovely simple addition to your Christmas table decorations. They can be frozen easily after baking but before decorating but the dough itself is not the best for freezing.
To make spritz cookies for Christmas you will need a cookie press but before you rush out and buy one, go a bit zero waste and see if you can borrow first.
Coloured Spritz Cookies
Classic buttery spritz cookies are very easy to colour as the dough is soft but not too soft and doesn’t need to go in the fridge …
Gluten Free Spritz Cookies
Spritz cookies are one of the best Christmas cookies to make gluten free, keto & low carb with almond flour, as the cookie cutter allows us to make really pretty cookies without need any sugar-ful icing or sprinkles …
Chocolate Spritz Cookies
Chocolate spritz cookies are just easy to make if you like everything chocolatey at Christmas …
German Christmas Cookies
There are so many amazing traditional German Christmas cookies that truly capture all the fragrances and flavours of Christmas and winter time. Two of the most popular – which are a bit different to the other cookies in this guide – are pfeffernusse and lebkuchen.
Pfeffernusses are a really spicy German Christmas cookie. Their name literally means pepper nuts and they do have pepper in but it actually creates a really warm and not at all bitter Christmas flavour …
Lebkucken are not the simplest of Christmas cookies to make but they are one of the most deliciously traditional German Christmas cookies. The recipes goes back to the 1300s and is full of candied peel and covered in icing!!
So if you have a little bit more time and mental energy do give them a go …
Christmas Kolaczki Cookies
Kolaczki cookies are the most popular traditional Polish Christmas cookie and are fun and easy to make with kids.
They are kind of a cross between a cookie and a jam tart but with cream cheese in their dough …
Christmas Russian Tea Cakes
Traditional Russian tea cakes always score highly in lists of popular Christmas cookies.
They are a buttery cookie full of walnuts and dusted with confectioners sugar that you can whip up quickly as the dough does not need to go in the fridge.
Scandinavian Kringla Cookies
Classic Scandinavian kringla are a wonderfully simple Christmas cookie made especially delicious with the eggnog in the dough. Because of the eggnog, the dough is quite soggy and does need at least 4 hours in the fridge before shaping into cookies so this is again a cookie you could split making over 2 days if that’s easier.
Christmas Candy Cane Cookies
If you adore peppermint recipes at Christmas, then these peppermint flavoured candy cane cookies have to be the best Christmas cookies for you …
Christmas Snickerdoodle Cookies
Snickerdoodles are another absolute classic Christmas recipe and the best Christmas cookies for anyone who likes their cookies soft and chewy rather than crunchy.
I have got for you here a very simple snickerdoodle cookie recipe – full of Christmasy cinnamon – that you can easily make with kids. But snickerdoodles are also great with other Christmas flavours.
Ginger Snickerdoodle Christmas Cookies
If you love ginger try this ginger snickerdoodle recipe that is a cross between a conventional snickerdoodle and a ginger snap and can be easily dipped in chocolate and decorated with sprinkles by kids …
White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Christmas Cookies
For a more luxury take on a simple snickerdoodle then you have to try these white chocolate snickerdoodle Christmas cookies …
Eggnog Snickerdoodle Christmas Cookies
Or for yet more indulgence try these rum and eggnog snickerdoodle Christmas cookies.
For me they are the perfect cookie for anyone after a cosy rustic Christmas style.
More Vintage & Traditional Christmas Cookies
Gingerbread and shortbread may be the best known traditional Christmas cookies but there are some less well known vintage style Christmas cookies from other parts of the world that deserve to be much more popular.
French Christmas Cookies
For even more traditional and vintage Christmas cookies do check out these guides :
- 10 traditional German Christmas cookies
- 8 Traditional Polish Christmas Cookie Recipes
- 21 Traditional Norwegian Christmas Cookies
- 11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookie Recipes
Gluten Free & Keto Christmas Cookies
Plates full of Christmas cookies can be sheer torture for anyone wanting or needing to stick to a gluten free, keto or low carb diet but in the guides below there are lots of delicious cookie recipes made with for example almond flour and sugar alternatives …
The Best Christmas Cookie Icing
There is lots of debate about the best Christmas cookie icing.
To be honest I think it’s horses for courses and different icings will be best for you depending on how much time you have and what type of Christmas style you are after.
I’ll take you through the options and pros and cons below.
These are your main options and their pros and cons:
- Royal icing with egg white : a crisp icing that can be used for perfect decorating and dries very hard if you need to stack cookies on top of each other.
- Royal icing with meringue powder : almost
Royal Icing For Christmas Cookies
Traditional royal icing is made with egg whites. It gives you a beautiful smooth finish that can be used for perfect decorating and it dries very hard so is best if you need to stack cookies on top of each other.
You need to be quite careful to get your egg whites to the right consistency.
If you don’t want to use raw egg white you can make royal icing with royal icing with meringue powder.
Glaze Icing For Christmas Cookies
Glaze icing with milk and corn syrup is easier to make than royal icing. It will give a smooth, shiny finish but won’t stand up quite as well to cookie stacking.
You do need to be a bit careful about which corn syrup to buy as some seems to be even worse for our blood sugar levels than straight forward sugar.
There are super useful tips on here on how to use glaze icing to get a really smooth finish on your Christmas cookies …
Glace Icing For Christmas Cookies
Glace icing is the absolute easiest and quickest icing of all.
It is literally icing / confectioners sugar mixed with tiny amounts of water or milk.
It is very easy to mix into different colours and for under fives to use for lovely messy cookie decorations.
Glace icing won’t set very hard so can get squidged if you are stacking cookies.
How To Freeze Christmas Cookies
The smell of freshly baked Christmas cookies does take some beating however awesome our time management efforts, our lives these days are over busy and most of us won’t be whipping up batches of Christmas cookies every few days for the hungry hoards in our home in December.
But the brilliant news is we can actually freeze Christmas cookies and freeze Christmas cookie dough, so we can do a bulk batch of baking or cookie dough making for eating all the way through December.
I have all the key tips you need here on how to freeze cookies.
How To Freeze Cookie Dough
- Freeze separately wrapped slices of dough so you only have to defrost a little before cutting shapes.
- Cut cookies as soon as soft enough for cutter to go through.
- You can flash freeze individually cut or dropped cookies so they can go straight from the freezer to the oven but this is better for thicker, rougher styled cookies like snickerdoodles and crinkle cookies rather than anything where you want to keep a beautiful shape.
- Cook from frozen adding a few minutes onto the cooking time.
How To Freeze Baked Cookies
- Generally freeze cookies baked but not decorated.
- After cooling put back onto a baking sheet and flash freeze for an hour after which they will be frozen enough to be put into freezer bags without sticking to each other.
There are more tips here on how to freeze Christmas cookies.
And there you go, everything you need at your finger tips to make and enjoy the very best traditional Christmas cookies all the way through the holiday season. Do bookmark or save the guide for later.
And for more lovely but simple Christmas ideas that will help you have a truly joyful Christmas do check out my other guides …