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Everything You Need to Make Holiday Cookie Magic This Season

Ice Sugar Cookies

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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It's December. Christmas is coming. Hanukkah is happening. It's time for cookies. You know it; we know it. This season is all about the butter, the sugar, the spices, the smells wafting around your kitchen. The flour mess on your counters. Your kids, giggling while they spread way too much icing on their cookies. You, remembering how you did the same thing when you were small. We want this. We want it every December.

Because holiday cookies aren't just a food. They are so much more than that. They are an experience. They are the best aspects of nostalgia. They are bonding and memory and togetherness. They are joy and unapologetic pleasure and generosity. They are, as the late art critic Dave Hickey would put it, The House of Permission.

Welcome to the Cookiedome. We present you with some of our favorite holiday cookies. Come explore, try a few, share a few, and enjoy the deliciousness of the season with us.

Holiday Cookies From Everywhere

Traditional Alfajores - Caramel Sandwich Cookies

The Spruce / Abby Mercer

Are cookies the universal language of love? One thing we know is that nearly every culture around the globe creates some sort of sweet, crunchy little hand-held morsel. We don't all call them cookies, but we do call them scrumptious.

Yakgwa: From Korea, a sesame-flavored fried cookie dipped in honey-ginger syrup.

Alfajores: An Argentine sandwich cookie composed of delicate shortbread rounds and gooey dulce de leche filling.

Chocolate Roughs: These chocolate, walnut, and corn flake clusters hail from New Zealand.

Vanocni Cukrovi: That's the Czech name for these jam-filled cookies, which are quite similar to Austrian Linzer Tarts.

Speculoos: Create the windmills of Northern Europe with these spiced, almond-topped cookies. Speculoos is the Belgian name; they're called speculaas in The Netherlands.

Zimtsterne: These cinnamon-kissed almond and egg white cookies are mainstays of Christmas in Germany.

Cookies of Visual Splendor

Christmas Stained Glass Cookies

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

You want a cookie platter for the Instagram ages? Want to pack a cookie tin that will elicit gasps of delight? We got you. Here's a full spectrum of color and texture, a collection that will taste as fantastic as it looks.

Stained Glass Cookies: Let's start with these sugar cookies with brightly-hued, candy-filled centers. You could use them for decoration ... if they weren't so delicious.

Suspiros: Excuse me, but these meringue cookies demand your attention. We love them in pink, but you can tint yours any colors you want.

Pinwheel Cookies: Swirls of chocolate and vanilla hypnotize—we'll show you how easy they are to bake.

Rosettes: These Scandinavian fried confections may be a stretch for the cookie category, but you know what? The holiday cookie tent is big enough to welcome them.

Pierniczki: Your holiday cookie tin needs gingerbread and snowflakes, and these Polish gingerbread cookies deliver on both counts.

Did we tell you that we have the ultimate guide to hosting a cookie swap? Because we do. Now go show off.

Just Plain Yummy Cookies

Cocadas - Coconut Macaroons With Dulce de Leche and Chocolate

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

What's yummy? Chocolate—with peppermint, with candied orange, with caramel and chocolate. The taste of butter and sugar melting on your tongue. The sweet-tart tang of jam surrounded by a crunchy biscuit. These are a few of our favorite things.

Cocadas: Imagine macaroons mixed with dulce de leche and dipped in chocolate; Now go make some.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies: We declare this the official flavor profile of the holidays. Well, aside from all the other wonderful holiday flavor profiles...

Florentines: She's so fancy, with her candied orange, slivers of almond, and chocolate-toffee lace.

Italian Butter Cookies: Whether filled with jam or dipped in chocolate and sprinkles (better yet, both) a bite into this crisp, buttery goodness is a joy every time.

Kolache Cookies: Eastern Europe by way of Texas—that's these cream cheese and jam-filled mini pastries.

A Sugar Cookie Moment

Squeeze bottle with orange icing creating edge on cookie

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

If you make only one cookie this season, it's bound to be a sugar cookie. We want to show you everything you need to create sugar cookie magic. Ready your cookie cutters and sprinkles: Here we go!

First of all: Thee original Vanilla Sugar Cookie

You want easy? Try these Sugar Cookie Bars.

Let us show you how to ice sugar cookies, step by step. Here are even more holiday cookie decorating tips.

Baking Equipment Checklist

Do you have what it takes to bake? Of course you do, on the inside. But we're talking about kitchen equipment. If you're looking to replace your battered cookie sheets or want to try hour hand at pressed cookies, we've got recommendations for you.


Extra Help With Your Cookies

When it comes to baking, some of us need a little hand-holding. And some of us could use a little brushing up on our skills. Is that you? Check out our recommendations for the best online baking classes and online cookie decorating classes.

Not baking this year? (Or ever?) This is a judgment-free zone. Here are our favorite cookie delivery services. And because we know some of us are obsessed with macarons, yes, Virginia, there are multiple macaron delivery services waiting to make your dreams come true.