16 Christmas Cookie Recipes From Around the World

Christmas cookies

Cookies play such an integral part in the Christmas and New Year holidays. From traditional cookies that are left out for Santa to more inventive ones baked for cookie swap parties hosted by friends and family, there just seems to be a never-ending supply of recipes. In addition to that, it seems every country has at least one or more traditional cookie recipes which are important to them. To list all of the Christmas cookies made across all continents could fill a book. So instead, we have created a list of some renowned favorites, showcasing just how different each can be. Ultimately, though, they represent one thing—celebrating Christmas. 

So why not jazz up your Christmas this year by trying something new, in addition to baking the traditional ones too, of course. You never know, you may start a whole new tradition!

  • 01 of 16

    Scotland: Traditional Shortbread

    All-Butter Scottish Shortbread Recipe

    The Spruce

    In Britain, there are many biscuits (a.k.a. cookies) baked every year, and which ones are the favorites are hard to say. Scotland has its delightful shortbread, which now is eaten all through the British Isles, especially year round. But the buttery biscuit is at its best around the holidays, and Hogmanay (the Scottish New Year) is not complete without it. 

  • 02 of 16

    Britain: Stained Glass Cookies

    Sutterstock UK

    There is a centuries-old tradition of hanging biscuits on the Christmas tree. The best and most beautiful are reflected with these stained glass cookies. They represent the beautiful windows of churches and abbeys throughout the British Isles. If you think that sounds complicated, don't worry, you'll be surprised just how easy they are to make.

  • 03 of 16

    Czechoslovakia: Pernik na Figurky Cookies

    W. Zwaal/Moment/Getty Images

    The perfect cookie for the tree are these traditional Czech Christmas treats of pernik na figurky. Lovely to give as a gift or to just eat with a cup of tea, these ginger-spiced cookies are an easy recipe which children love to make. 

  • 04 of 16

    Poland: Kolaczki

    The Spruce 

    Not to be forgotten on any list of Eastern European Cookies has to be Polish kolaczki. The recipe uses a cream cheese dough, making it flaky and sweet when cooked. The kołaczki can be different shapes including round, square, or diamond-shaped, which further adds to the appeal of these delicious morsels. 

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  • 05 of 16

    Croatia: Fritule

    Philippe Desnerck / Getty Images

    Serve Croatian fritters, or fritule, for festivities like Christmas. These delightful fried treats may look familiar, as they are similar to beignets. In fact, the fritule may well have been their inspiration when made famous by the Croatian Jurisich family over 100 years ago.

  • 06 of 16

    France: Madeleines

    French Madeleines
    Verdina Anna - Getty Images

    The French have many cookies which they love to bake for Christmas, and as they are renowned for their patisseries, some of them resemble more than a simple cookie. Most famous of these baked treats are madeleines, a lovely, petite cake, rather than a cookie. Serve them alongside a cup of tea, coffee, or even a glass of sweet wine, and enjoy your holidays,

  • 07 of 16

    France: Sablé

    Dorling Kindersley: Charlotte Tolhurst

    Sablé means "sand" in French, and as such a sablé cookie is well described in consideration to its crumbly texture and buttery flavor. This recipe creates a basic biscuit, but the beauty of the sablé is you can add many different fillings. Especially for a Christmas theme, spice up the dough with warming seasonal spices such as cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg.

  • 08 of 16

    France: Almond Macarons

    Philippe Desnerck/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Almond macarons should not be confused with a macaron. The name may be similar, but the two cookies are very different. The almond macarons are more dense and cake-like, with a crisp outside and chewy center. They are such fun for the holidays, as wrapped in a little cellophane they can make great gifts. 

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  • 09 of 16

    France: Cinnamon Palmiers

    Palmiers. James And James

    Cinnamon palmiers—also charmingly referred to as elephant ears—are such a festive treat with their heart-shape and light, flaky pastry. What makes them even more delightful than the taste is they are so quick and easy to make. If you're in a rush, this is the perfect cookie for you!

  • 10 of 16

    Italy: Biscotti

    Biscotti Recipe

     Elaine Lemm

    The Italians have many cookies on their Christmas menus, but the most famous are crisp, crunchy biscotti, which can be made in so many different flavors. Whether dark chocolate, nuts, with fruit or not, these finger-length dessert treats are heavenly. Think that's great? They are even better when dipped into a glass of sweet Vino Santo (Holy Wine).  

  • 11 of 16

    Italy: Amaretti

    The Picture Pantry/Lisovskaya Natalia

    Amaretti is a slightly chewy, almond-flavored cookie known throughout the world. It's so good served alongside an espresso or a hot chocolate, making them a great after-dinner treat! What makes these cookies extra special and useful is that they are also gluten-free.

  • 12 of 16

    Italy: Struffolli

    Getty Images

    No self-respecting list of Italian cookies for Christmas could ever be complete without the lovely fried honey balls are known as struffolli. These tasty morsels are so old that they date back to the Mediterranean basin. The struffoli cookies are sure to make anyone want to create a new tradition. 

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  • 13 of 16

    Norway: Krumkake

    Getty Images

    The Scandinavian countries love Christmas. (Perhaps it is because they are nearer to Santa's home than the rest of us). And with their bountiful celebrations that contain fabulous foods, meats, and fruits, one can understand why they might have lovely Christmas cookies as well!

    Norwegian krumkake cookies are in this spotlight, as they could be considered one of the prettiest of all the cookies. They have a texture more like a cracker or waffle than a cookie. The krumkake are cooked on a circular cookie iron, then rolled into a cigar, or cone shape.

  • 14 of 16

    United States: Fruitcake Cookies

    Christmas Fruitcake Cookies

     The Spruce

    As you would expect, in the U.S. there is a vast range of cookies on offer for the holidays. But to make your Christmas shine, try these utterly charming fruitcake cookies filled with rich, indulgent, dried fruits including candied cherries, dates, pineapple, pecan nuts and a good splash of Bourbon. They are ridiculously easy to make. 

  • 15 of 16

    South America: Alfajores

    Brian Doben/Photodisc/Getty Images

    In South America, traditional alfajores are a must. Each region of South America has its version of these caramel sandwich cookies. The alfajores are flavored with a typical South American brandy called pisco, but you can use any brandy. They will still taste as delicious. 

  • 16 of 16

    Puerto Rico: Besitos de Coco

    Patricia Hamilton/Moment/Getty Images

    There are few celebratory cookies from the island of Puerto Rico, but one which can be called the traditional and most popular are these delightful, coconut besitos de coco. They are the easiest of easy to make and listed in the recipe are the many variations including crushed nuts, drizzling with chocolate.