19 Unique Christmas Cookies from Around Europe

Meet Holiday Treats From All Around the Continent

It seems everyone pulls out the stops for Christmas, the second most important Christian holiday after Easter. And not only is feasting an essential part of the festivities, visiting and entertaining hordes of friends and family are all but mandatory. All across Europe, sweets appear to greet guests and each country has its own unique twist on the offerings. Honey bread and gingerbreads often feature prominently—some artfully adorned—but butter cookies with sprinkles, decorated cookies, and other treats to recognize the holiday all show up on holiday tables. Try a few of them yourself and make a European style cookie platter.

  • 01 of 19

    Bulgarian Maslenki

    Bulgarian Christmas jam filled cookie recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Bulgarian jam-filled cookies known as maslenki are popular for Christmas. Traditionally, they're made with lard, but butter also works. Typically, these get rolled out and cut into fanciful shapes then filled with rosehip, plum, or apricot jam.

  • 02 of 19

    Croatian Licitars

    Croatian honeybread cookies recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    Croatian honey bread cookies, called licitars, are often heart-shaped treats that get ornately decorated with a distinctive red glaze and white icing. They also get made into doll, bird, mushroom, horseshoe, wreath and horse shapes, among others. Traditionally, Croatians hang them on their Christmas trees or give them away as gifts, but they look pretty on a platter, too.

  • 03 of 19

    Czech Vanilla Crescents

    Vanilla crescents recipe

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    These tasty vanilla crescent-shaped cookies, known as anilkove rohlicky, appear in sweets shops all year round, but especially at Christmas. Some people roll them in vanilla sugar or confectioner's sugar while they're still warm so they look like they got dusted by freshly fallen snow.

  • 04 of 19

    Lithuanian Christmas Cookie

    Lithuanian Poppyseed Cookies

    Happy Homebaker / Flickr

    Lithuanian poppyseed cookies or aguonu sausainiukai are popular year round, but poppyseeds are especially symbolic for Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's. Those little seeds symbolize fertility and wealth and they appear in everything from savory dishes to desserts. These lemon cookies make especially good use of them.

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  • 05 of 19

    Romanian Salam de Biscuiti

    Romanian salami cookie recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    In Romania, the no-bake salam de biscuiti look like slices of salami, but taste very different. Cocoa powder, crumbled butter cookies, walnuts, chopped Turkish delight, and sour cherries all come together for a unique and delicious flavor. Because it includes raw eggs, make sure to use pasteurized ones.

  • 06 of 19

    Russian Pryaniki

    Russian spice cookies pryaniki recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    The most popular Russian Christmas cookies are pryaniki. These spiced orbs originated in Tula, not far from Moscow. The elegant ones from Tula get stamped with a wooden press, producing an embossed surface. But at home, many people simply cover them with a white frosting or glaze. Commercially prepared pryaniki are made with sweet centers including condensed milk, chocolate, and strawberries.

  • 07 of 19

    Serbian Kifle

    Balkan Nut Kifle

    The Spruce / Barbara Rolek 

    Serbians have a rich dessert history with tortes, nut rolls, strudels and more but these simple crescent-shaped cookies especially show up at Christmas. With a buttery dough and nutty filling, kifle will add a sweet-savory element to your holiday cookie platter. Some people also fill them with jam, fruit, or other combinations.

  • 08 of 19

    Polish Almond Cookies

    Polish almond amaretti cookies recipe

    ​The Spruce

    These sweet, almond-scented amaretti work great for those who have to avoid gluten. They use ground almonds instead of flour and a pinch of cinnamon adds a slight hint of spice. Anyone will enjoy these light cookies that taste wonderful with a cup of coffee or tea.

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  • 09 of 19

    Polish Kolaczki

    Polish Cream Cheese Cookies (Kołaczki)

    The Spruce Eats

     

    These buttery cookies, called kolaczki in Polish, can get shaped into rounds, crescents, or diamonds and filled with sweet fruits, jam, or even a sweet cheese mixture. The dough needs to chill for at least an hour before shaping and baking, so plan accordingly.

  • 10 of 19

    Scottish Shortbread Cookies

    All-Butter Scottish Shortbread Recipe

    The Spruce

    There's controversy in whether Scotland is part of the U.K. or to Europe at large, but we can all agree to make these buttery shortbread cookies. Handle the dough gently and use chilled dishes and tools for a light and crumbly cookie. If you pound or knead it too much, the texture won't turn out properly.

  • 11 of 19

    British Stained Glass Cookies

    stained glass cookies on a cooling rack
    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    These simple and delicious British cookies get their name from the colored filling that looks like a stained glass window, so they'll add a pretty element to your cookie platter. Kids may enjoy helping crush the candies to make the filling, and they look great hung on your tree, too.

  • 12 of 19

    Italian Biscotti

    Traditional Italian Biscotti

    Elaine Lemm

    You may have purchased biscotti to dip in a cuppa at your favorite coffee shop, but there's nothing like making them at home. This simple almond version is very traditional, but they come in a wide range of flavors. Try dipping them in melted dark chocolate for a fun added element.

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  • 13 of 19

    French Cinnamon Palmiers

    Palmiers

     vasantytf / Getty Images

    It doesn't get much simpler than these cinnamon palmiers from France, made with a sheet of purchased puff pastry. You can leave out the winter spice if you want, or replace it with nutmeg or pumpkin pie seasoning for a different flavor.

  • 14 of 19

    French Vanilla Sable Cookies

    Baked sable biscuits
    Dorling Kindersley: Charlotte Tolhurst / Getty Images

    Make these simple French vanilla sables for serving with coffee, tea, or all by themselves. They make a great base for drizzling with chocolate, filling with a cream cheese mixture, or adding more spice to the batter for a new taste treat.

  • 15 of 19

    Classic French Macarons

    Perfect, Easy Macarons

    The Spruce Eats

    Light and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, macarons make a beautiful treat any time. but especially at Christmas time. They aren't as difficult to make as you might think, especially with this easy recipe.

  • 16 of 19

    British Flapjacks

    Christmas British Flapjacks Recipe

    The Spruce 

    These simple bar cookies taste similar to a granola bar, with oats, dried fruit and nuts, golden syrup, and any spices or additions you like. For an even fancier presentation, try cutting them into small pieces and dip in melted chocolate. Don't confuse British flapjacks with the American version, which are more like pancakes.

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  • 17 of 19

    Czech Gingerbread Cookies

    Gingerbread Cookies and Ornaments
    Christmas Gingerbread Cookies. W Zwaal

    These beautiful gingerbread cookies, called pernik na figurky in Czech, have a lovely warming spice flavor from a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Top them with a gorgeously ornate white icing for a showstopper on a cookie tray.

  • 18 of 19

    Czech Black and White Cookies

    Czech Black-and-White Cookies
    Czech Black-and-White Cookies. © 2009 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.

    These unique black and white Czech Christmas cookies come out with pretty swirled, checkerboard, or layered designs depending on how you arrange the dough. This recipe includes several variations, so you can choose the pattern you like best.

  • 19 of 19

    Lemon Poppyseed Hamantaschen

    Lemon Poppyseed Hamantaschen
    © Miri Rotkovitz

    Try these lemon poppyseed hamantaschen for a lovely twist on a traditional Jewish cookie that also tastes great for the Christmas holidays and originated in Jewish-German communities. Many variations exist, and you can fill yours with any jam you like. Poppyseeds carry extra symbolism for the holiday season, signifying wealth and prosperity to carry into the new year.