Holiday Cookie Recipes For Your Next Cookie Exchange

by Jessica Pigza

Cookies are synonymous with the holiday season. Whether you stick to your favorites or try something different every year, it’s never a bad idea to add a new cookie recipe to your arsenal. Sometimes, though, it can feel overwhelming looking for new recipes with all the choices available. That’s why I always love asking my friends for their favorites. I know if they like them, so will I. That’s why I decided to ask our fabulous GYPO team for their favorites and they did not disappoint! I can’t wait to try these this holiday season.


My favorite Christmas cookies are these Rasberry Almond Thumbprint Shortbread Cookies because they remind me of my childhood. It’s impossible for me to smell almond extract without thinking of my Grandma Bussard’s house. Her neighbor Mrs. Miller made the most amazing Christmas cookies in every variety imaginable! Some of my favorites were her pinwheels and of course, her raspberry almond thumbprints. These cookies are so buttery, they melt in your mouth. I love the tart raspberry spread with the sweet shortbread cookie.

Anne – Sugar Cookies

I brought sugar cookies to my in-laws two years ago to decorate, and the evening got away from us, so we never did decorate them. Last year, same plan but this time I left the cookies at home – again, no cookie-decorating. It’s now become a family joke about “Right… Anne’s bringing cookies to decorate; wink-wink”. Since we moved, my plan is to ship plain sugar cookies with a note letting them know, “remembered the sugar cookies, forgot the icing,” wink-wink. Enjoy!

These are the BEST sugar cookies I’ve ever had:
1/2 lb salted butter (not margarine)
1.5 C granulated sugar
2 lg eggs
1/2 Tbsp vanilla (Mexican vanilla preferred)
2 drops flavored oil (lemon, almond, amaretto, etc) optional
3 1/5 C all-purpose flour (King Arthur preferred)

Cream butter and sugar (until mixture turns white, 10-15 minutes or more – this is essential to the batter). Add eggs one at a time, and flavorings, mixing well. Stir in flour one cup at a time, until well incorporated. Chill before using. Roll the dough about 1″ thick, then cut the shapes and place them on a baking sheet. I prefer to return the baking sheet to the freezer for 5 minutes before placing it in the oven. This keeps the cookies from spreading as they bake, and retain their shape. Bake cookies on parchment or silicone pad at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes

I’d share with you the royal icing recipe but see above.


When I was a kid, my dad and I would bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends (I blame him for my sweets addiction!). It was a classic recipe from the Joy of Cooking Cookbook, but it was easy to memorize. I still know the recipe by heart and now it’s my daughter’s favorite thing to do on the weekends! We sometimes like to add other ingredients, like: walnuts, coconut, toffee chips, and milk or white chocolate chunks. Yum!

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Joy of Cooking – Makes about 36 cookies

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.

Whisk together:
1 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat in a large bowl until well-blended:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Add and beat until well combined:
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir in the flour mixture until well-blended and smooth. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips (I added an extra 1/2 cup).

Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are just slightly colored on top and the edges are brown, about 8 – 10 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

Courtney – Raisin Vanilla Cookies

My great-grandma used to bake these all the time well before I was even born. But she didn’t reserve these for just the holidays so we got to enjoy them all year long. They were my grandpa’s favorite cookies and a family favorite too. The raisins are cooked first so they are soft which makes the cookies absolutely delicious! I’ll continue the tradition and make these cookies for my family. Let’s hope they taste just as good as when my grandma made them!

1 1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup margarine
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Simmer rosins in water until water is absorbed, about 30 minutes
  3. Cream margarine, sugar, and eggs together
  4. Blend in raisins
  5. Add vanilla, flour soda salt and baking powder, mix until well combined
  6. Drop dough from teaspoon into sugar dish and roll balls until coated in sugar
  7. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake 8-11 minutes until golden brown


Kaitlyn – Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

My mom has made these cookies every Christmas for as long as I can remember. I can typically resist sweets, but for these I always cave. You just can’t beat a good peanut butter and chocolate duo. I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do!

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
8 oz. stick butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
2 pkgs. 20 oz. Hershey kisses
¼ cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream both sugars, room temperature butter, and peanut butter together. Add eggs one at a time, then add milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into egg mixture. Make balls about the size of a quarter and cook 10-12 minutes. Don’t overcook. Take them out before they turn brown. Unwrap and then press down Hershey kisses on top of the cookie immediately when removed from the oven. Let cool and enjoy!

Lauren – Ginger Molasses Cookies & Caramel Corn

I’ve shared this ginger molasses cookie before and it still holds the #1 cookie spot for me. It’s just as good as the Starbucks version (maybe even better) and they freeze well so you can always have one handy for an afternoon pick me up with your coffee. If you’re looking for an allergen-friendly cookie alternative I also highly recommend this Caramel Corn recipe from Chris Loves Julia. I made it last year around the holidays and it was a huge hit with my entire family. Once you start munching it’s hard to stop!

Maggie – Grandma Skidmore’s Banana Jumbos

My favorite cookie recipe is my Grandma Skidmore’s Banana Jumbos! My Grandma always made sure that whenever her grandkids were coming over for the holidays she had a big jar of Banana Jumbos sitting on the counter when we walked in the door. Most of our meals always had a side of jumbos even at the BBQ in the summer. Sadly we lost my Grandma last year to COVID but we still make sure to have a batch of cookies on hand whenever we get together. No one knows why she calls them Banana Jumbos, maybe it’s from the jumbo chocolate chips she puts in or maybe it’s because of how big the cookies get after they cook. Either way, they are delicious and a treasured family recipe!

1 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 c. ripe mashed bananas
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of chocolate chips

Mix shortening, eggs, and sugar in a mixer. Stir in mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix in flour, salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips. Chill in the mixing bowl for 1 hour. Drop by tablespoon onto parchment paper, making sure they are 2in. apart. Bake for 10 min at 375 degrees.

Michelle – Cornflake Christmas Wreaths

I have great memories of making these yummy (and sometimes messy) cookies with my cousins. When I was very young, I didn’t like Red Hots so I always took mine off and gave them to my brother. He doesn’t eat cookies so it was a win-win. Over time, I decided I liked Red Hots. Now I see that you can make this recipe with mini M&Ms. Yum!


1/2 cup (1 stick) salted (or unsalted) butter
1 (10-ounce) package marshmallows
1 1/4 teaspoons green food coloring
5 cups cornflake cereal
Red Hots or mini red M&Ms


  1. Melt butter in a large pot. Add marshmallows and stir until melted
  2. Stir in food coloring
  3. Stir in cereal
  4. Working quickly, use a greased 1/4 cup measuring cup to dump the cornflake mixture in mounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Use your fingers (grease them well) to form the mounds into wreath shapes
  5. Decorate with Red Hots or red M&Ms before they set
  6. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container

Wanda – Apricot Jam thumbprints

My grandmother and I would bake every Christmas. We would make a variety of cookies but the apricot jam thumbprints were my favorite. I even had a special tin in the kitchen where my cookies would be stored. It was up to me to exercise restraint (not always easy for a kid) and not eat them all at once as that would be it. I carried on the tradition with my kids and we make jam thumbprints every Christmas for Santa – my kids know the recipe by heart. Since my kids are older now we will make them throughout the year. Every time I make them and take a bite it reminds me so much of my grandmother, her kitchen, and my childhood memories growing up with her.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Apricot jam (if you don’t like apricot you can substitute your favorite)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whip the butter and the sugar with a hand-held mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until just combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing just until incorporated.
  4. Scoop the dough into 1-inch balls with a cookie or ice cream scoop and roll in sugar. Place about 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press a thumbprint into the center of each ball, about 1/2-inch deep. Fill each indentation with about 3/4 teaspoon jam.
  5. Bake cookies until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes. (For even color, rotate the pans from top to bottom about halfway through baking.) Cool cookies on the baking sheets. Serve.
  6. Store cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.


Peanut Butter Blossoms are one of my favorite cookies, but in our house, they are more affectionately referred to as Kissing Cookies. A recipe of my mother-in-law’s, these cookies are a staple in our home every holiday season and the kids have been helping me make them since they were tots. My oldest daughter, Sophia, who will be 13 in March started calling them kissing cookies when she was three and now the kids don’t know them as anything else. This year, however, Sophia asked if she could make them all by herself for a school fundraiser and they turned out amazing! Kissing cookies are the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter and the texture is amazing! They pair wonderfully with an ice-cold glass of milk, a cup of coffee, or tea, and even hot chocolate!

Peanut Butter Blossoms – (Kissing Cookies) – Makes about 30 yummy cookies!
Preheat Oven to 375

Cream together

1/2 Cup Oleo (Margarine)
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

Then mix in one at a time,

1 Egg
2 TBSP Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 and 3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour

Roll dough into balls about an inch in diameter then roll through a bowl of sugar until well coated and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges start to slightly brown. Undercooked is better than overcooked. Pull out of the oven, add a Hershey kiss to the middle of the cookie and return to the oven for 10 seconds. Take out and allow to cool on a cooling rack. For a twist on this classic, you can you miniature Reese’s cups instead of the Hershey Kisses.

Team GYPO wishes everyone a very happy holiday season and happy cookie baking!