Traditional Christmas cookies have to be the easiest way to whip up homemade Christmas treats.
So I have here a collection of the best classic Christmas cookie recipes from around the world including :
PLUS easy to make recipes for :
And both cute and simply stylish ideas for decorating Christmas cookies along with must know tips on the best Christmas cookie icing.
Table of Contents
Italian Christmas Cookies
Traditional Italian Christmas cookies in all sorts of textures and flavours are super popular with the whole family from tiny kids to grandpa.
And these classic Italian cookie are all surprisingly easy to make :
- Italian Iced Cookies
- Lemon Ricotta
- Pasta Frolla
- Pistachio Pignoli
- Brutta Ma Buoni
Italian Iced Cookies
The traditional Italian iced Christmas cookie with a soft cakey centre is very simple and a big hit with kids :
Amaretti Christmas Cookies
Almond-rich amaretti cookies are an Italian classic you can easily customise with Christmas flavours :
Cherry Liqueur Amaretti
These pretty Christmas amaretti are stuffed with a liqueur dosed cherry :
Blueberry Liqueur Amaretti
These amaretti can be made with any liqueur or sherry you have :
This amaretti recipe is perfect for pistachio lovers in your family :
If like me you love orange flavours at Christmas try these amaretti :
Ciambelle Lemon Cookies
Ciambelle are little ring shaped, lemon flavoured, crumbly Italian Christmas cookies with an easy lemon glaze that kids adore …
Lemon Ricotta Cookies
These similar pretty little Italian iced Christmas cookies are super light with the added twist of ricotta …
Canestrelli Italian Cookies
Canestrelli are a traditional Italian Christmas shortbread. This recipe comes with lemon flavouring …
Pasta Frolla Italian Cookies
Simple jam cookies made with pasta frolla – sweet pastry – dough are another traditional Italian Christmas cookie children always love …
Pastra frolla are cut into classic Christmas shapes, sandwiched with jam and dusted with icing sugar …
Cannoli Christmas Cookies
Cannoli are another Italian cookie made with ricotta plus added Christmas flavourings of choice.
This recipe packs a full Christmas punch with cinnamon, orange zest, chocolate chips AND pistachio …
Castagnelle Italian Cookies
Castagnelle are a crunchy almond Italian Christmas cookie more popular with grown ups as the perfect post Christmas dinner cookie with coffee and brandy …
Pistachio Christmas Pignoli
Italian Christmas pignoli cookies are another adult favourite combining almonds and pine nuts but with a soft chewy centre …
Stellato Christmas Cookies
These little Italian star shaped Christmas cookies are deliciously spicy with aniseed and cardamom and have a simple lemon glaze …
(This classic recipe is in Italian but translates clearly in Google translate).
Brutta Ma Buoni
Fregolotta are giant Italian Christmas cookies stuffed with nuts, cranberries and chocolate and topped with cookie crumbs …
Clever Cookie Collection
I am always awed by the cookie collection boxes my Italian aunt produces at Christmas with different shapes, flavours and decorations.
But the super smart secret is that you can produce a cookie collection like this using just ONE ball of cookie dough!!! How clever is that …?
German Christmas Cookies
Traditional German Christmas cookies are full of classic spicy flavours that contrast beautifully with pretty old fashioned icing.
For authentic German cookies this Christmas try these easy recipes :
This classic pfeffernusse recipe includes candied ginger which could be swapped for candied peel if you can’t get hold of the ginger …
If you love marzipan you’ll adore these traditional bethmannchen German Christmas cookies moist with almond paste …
Classic lebkuchen are gingerbready German Christmas cookies with a cakey texture and lemon glaze …
They were traditionally made with honey as in this lebkuchen recipe …
But are also delicious – if not totally authentic – covered in chocolate …
If you do want a totally authentic German Christmas lebkuchen try this old fashioned recipe …
Zimsterne are old fashioned cinnamon and almond German Christmas stars covered in icing …
Haselnussmakronen are a classic, easy to make German hazelnut macaroon style Christmas cookie …
Traditional Spritz Cookies
Spritz cookies are in fact classic German Spritzgebäck cookies.
They are easy to shape into pretty patterns and to colour and the dough is great if you want Christmas recipes to make ahead and freeze.
If you don’t have a cookie press to stamp patterns, you can use anything with an embossed pattern e.g. wine glass or icing press.
Coloured Spritz Cookies
Spritz dough is soft and malleable so easily takes Christmas colours …
Chocolate Spritz Cookies
For chocolate spritz cookies you just need to add cocoa …
Gluten Free Spritz Cookies
Made with almond flour spritz cookies are one of the best gluten free, keto & low carb Christmas cookie recipes as they don’t need icing or sprinkles to look pretty …
Classic Christmas Cookies From Around The World
For more delicious traditional Christmas cookies from around the world try these classic recipes :
- Polish Kolaczki
- Danish Butter Cookies
- Russian Tea Cakes
- Scandinavian Kringla
- Norwegian Serinakaker
- Hungarian Kifli
- Spanish Polvorones
- Portuguese Lavadores
- French Christmas Cookies.
Polish Kolaczki Cookies
Kolaczki are the most popular traditional Polish Christmas cookie and are fun to make with kids.
They are a cross between a cookie and a jam tart but with cream cheese in their dough …
Danish Butter Cookies
You can pipe Danish butter Christmas cookies into pretty swirls with a standard icing bag …
Russian Christmas Tea Cakes
Russian tea cakes are a buttery walnut cookie dusted with confectioners sugar that you can whip up fast as the dough does not need to go in the fridge …
Classic Scandinavian kringla are a wonderfully simple Christmas cookie made especially delicious with the eggnog in the dough …
These super simple shortbread-like Norwegian Christmas cookies are flavoured and topped with almonds:
Pretty Hungarian Christmas kifli are traditionally filled with walnuts but you can add any Christmas filling from chocolate to dried fruit …
Classic Spanish polvorones are a crumbly almond and cinnamon Christmas cookie …
Authentic Portuguese lavadores aren’t just Christmas cookies but their light lemony flavour is a great option if you are not into almonds ..
French Christmas Cookies
For even more traditional Christmas cookies check out these guides :
- 10 German Christmas Cookies
- 8 Polish Christmas Cookie
- 21 Norwegian Christmas Cookies
- 11 Scandinavian Christmas Cookies
Shortbread is the classic super simple Scottish Christmas cookie.
It is basically just flour, butter & sugar combined in a 3-2-1 ratio with a pinch of salt but you can tweak this depending on whether you want :
Or you fancy some added shortbread flavours including :
Classic Scottish Shortbread
Totally authentic traditional Scottish Christmas shortbread has no added flavours or glazing and is cut thick :
The Best Shortbread For Christmas Shapes
This Christmas shortbread recipe which includes cornflour and replaces caster sugar with powdered sugar will keep the shape of Christmas trees, stars etc better …
Alternatively for a clean Christmas cookie cut you can add cream cheese to the ingredients …
Or you can make a simple Christmas sugar cookie by adding an egg to bind them better …
Or try this Christmas shortbread with just a little bit of Christmas spice and orange zest …
These easy Cranberry shortbread cookies are made deliciously Christmasy with almonds and cranberries and look lovely half decorated in white chocolate …
Lemon Christmas Shortbread
These little Christmas shortbread cookies are given an easy extra twist lemon juice and a lemon glaze …
Spicy Christmas Shortbread
These cute little Christmas stars are decorated with a spicy brown sugar sparkly coating …
Christmas Shortbread Decorations
Christmas shortbread is delicious without decoration but tastes even better with and shortbread is a brilliant base for all sorts of Christmas glazing, frosting and icing from seriously simple to super fancy.
The absolutely simplest pretty way to decorate Christmas shortbread is with quick wiggly lights in white or a couple of colours …
It only takes a tiny bit more time and skill to turn those wiggly lines into a little Christmas tree with sparkles on top. These cookies have a pretty base colour under the tree but you could just do trees in pretty colours instead …
The next simplest Christmas shortbread decorating technique is adding a little detail to your cookie cutter shapes with white glace or royal icing …
Christmas tree shaped shortbreads can be easily decorated with quick garlands added to a base colour …
And snowflake shaped shortbreads can be transformed with just a few white lines and sparkles …
Or if you really do want to try out some fancy Christmas shortbread decorations check out these ideas from the experts Wilton …
Gingerbread cookies are one of my favourite family Christmas traditions.
They are super easy to make and decorate but you need to make sure you pick the right recipe :
Whichever gingerbread recipe you pick there are all sorts of fabulous ways to decorate gingerbread.
Gingerbread For Grown Ups
Traditional Christmas gingerbread recipes include both molasses and cloves for a deep spicy flavour.
Some children may prefer the best gingerbread recipe for kids instead.
There are 2 easy ways to make gingerbread with molasses :
- Melting everything stove top
- Creaming butter & sugar before mixing in other ingredients which is best done with a mixer.
This gingerbread recipe uses the first and the recipe below method 2 …
Gingerbread For Children
You can make gingerbread for kids with honey rather than molasses and without cloves. It has a milder flavour and a softer texture.
Gingerbread For Ornaments
Gingerbread makes lovely Christmas tree ornaments but are best made with syrup not molasses …
Christmas gingerbread cookies can look amazing with very simple traditional glazing and icing …
It’s very easy to make gingerbread men look incredibly cute with super simple decorations …
Combining delicate lines of icing with fully filled in sections really makes your decorations stand out …
You can create stunning winter-wonderland look decorations with layers of royal icing …
And beautiful old fashioned patterning with icing cutters …
Gingerbread like shortbread makes a great base for super fun Christmas cookie decoration ideas so if you fancy whipping up snowmen, Santas etc then check out these tips …
And for more gingerbread cookie decorating ideas follow this board …
For more delicious Christmas gingerbread recipes check out these :
- Gingerbread Houses
- Gingerbread Cheesecake
- Gingerbread Cupcakes
- Gingerbread Trifle
- Gingerbread Fudge.
Candy Cane Cookies
If you adore candy cane flavours at Christmas you can easily make candy cane cookies in various ways.
Whilst this second recipe is made with smashed candy canes …
Candy cane cookies look super pretty on your Christmas table and can be beautifully coordinated with :
Peanut Butter Christmas Cookies
Peanut butter blossoms are always at hit at Christmas cookie exchanges.
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 crinkle cookies are the most popular Christmas cookie to bake ahead and freeze as their cookie dough freezes so well.
The crinkle cookie dough is also super easy to flavour and colour in any way you like to work with your Christmas decorations :
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Chocolate crinkle cookies look lovely dusted in snow like icing sugar …
Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies
Gingerbread crinkle cookies give you all the warm spicy flavour of gingerbread without the faff of rolling and cutting …
Coloured Crinkle Cookies
It is very quick and easy to add colouring to Christmas crinkle cookies and if you are really short on time you can whip them up with a cake mix …
Snickerdoodles are the ideal Christmas cookie for anyone who likes their cookies soft and chewy.
The classic snickerdoodle cookie recipe is full of cinnamon but they’re great in other flavours :
- Ginger & Orange Snickerdoodles
- White Chocolate Snickerdoodles
- Eggnog Snickerdoodles
The amazing ginger and orange flavouring in this recipe turns these snickerdoodles into a lusciously luxurious Christmas treat …
White Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies
For another luxury take on a simple snickerdoodle you have to try these white chocolate snickerdoodle Christmas cookies …
And for yet more indulgence try these rum and eggnog snickerdoodle Christmas cookies …
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 …