Best Christmas Cookies
Rich and buttery, these colorful Christmas Cookies are dressed for the holidays with festive sprinkles and plenty of red & green M&Ms. Perfection in every bite, and the BEST Christmas cookies! They taste amazing with a slightly crisp exterior and a soft & chewy center. An easy and impressive cookie recipe that will have everyone coming back for seconds!
Favorite Christmas Cookies Recipe
It’s officially that time of the year – the time when cookies become their own food group, and it’s perfectly okay to indulge in them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! And these Christmas Cookies are absolutely worth indulging in!
One of our all-time favorite holiday traditions is to set aside one day and bake a ton of different Christmas cookies! I’m getting super excited for my holiday bake day this year! My daughter and I have already made a list of the cookies we plan to make and what ingredients need to be purchased. Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Shortbread Cookies and Kris Kringles are always at the top of the list, and I can’t forget my oldest daughter’s favorite cookies, Gingerbread Cookies. My husband loves Spritz Cookies and my son’s only request is that I make these soft and chewy cookies that are filled with M&M’s and sprinkles and I’m also looking forward to enjoying them again! You are going to love this Christmas cookie recipe too!
The base of this cookie dough is the same one that I’ve used for other cookie recipes and it never fails. These cookies bake up perfect every time and stay soft and chewy for days. They also taste delicious, and they look so pretty too. The pop of color from the M&M’s and sprinkles make them the perfect dessert to add to your holiday cookie tray!
Not only am I sharing these M&M Christmas cookies, but I’m also highlighting some of our other favorite cookies to bake this time of year. Whether you’re baking up several types for a fun holiday party or only baking one batch for a cozy night at home, I’ve listed several Christmas cookie recipes that I know you’ll love, along with some tips and packaging ideas.
Ingredients for Christmas cookies
The ingredient list is very simple and includes all of the basics that you’d expect to find in most cookie recipes. It’s the ratio of ingredients that’s important to yield cookies that are soft and chewy with the perfect buttery flavor. The trick? A little extra flour, more brown sugar than granulated sugar, a good amount of vanilla extract and just enough salt to balance the sweetness. Here’s the lineup:
- All-purpose flour. The most commonly used flour for baking because of its mild flavor and versatility. Flour gives the cookies structure and depending on its ratio to the other ingredients, will make the cookies chewy, fluffy, cake-y, crisp, or crumbly. The ratio of ingredients in this Christmas cookie recipe makes a chewy cookie.
- Baking powder and baking soda. The combination of these two leavening agents gives the best “lift” to the cookies while maintaining a pleasant flavor. Too much baking powder and you’ll end up with bitter cookies.
- Salt. A must for any sweet treat! Salt enhances other flavors in the cookies while also balancing out the sweetness from the sugars and M&M candies.
- Unsalted butter. Use room temperature butter. Set the butter out 1-2 hours before you begin making the cookies. However, if you forget, like I often do, you can soften butter quickly with this trick.
- Brown sugar and granulated sugar. Both add sweetness. Granulated sugar promotes nice browning while the molasses content in brown sugar makes the cookies chewy and moist.
- Eggs. Two eggs give the cookies shape and structure. The eggs also provide fat and additional moisture to keep the cookies tender.
- Pure vanilla extract. Adds flavor depth and a touch of sweetness.
- Sprinkles. Use whatever varieties and colors you like best or a mixture. Your local grocery store should have a great variety to choose from, but I’m obsessed with these from Amazon (affiliate).
- M&Ms. For these fun and festive cookies we’re using red and green regular milk chocolate M&Ms. Feel free to experiment with different flavors. You can also change it up and use any colors depending on the season or holiday!
How to make Christmas cookies
This chewy Christmas cookie recipe is simple, straightforward and will be your new go-to! Just follow these easy steps:
Please see the recipe card for the full, printable recipe with all of the details.
- Prep. About an hour before starting this recipe remove the egg and butter from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven and line your baking pans with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- Dry ingredients. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Butter + sugar. Beat the butter and both sugars for about 2 minutes and until it’s light in color and creamy.
- Egg + vanilla. Next, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until combined. With the last egg, add the vanilla.
- Add dry ingredients. On low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in the M&Ms and sprinkles without over-mixing the dough, which can lead to toughness.
- Scoop dough balls. Use a large spoon or cookie scoop to make dough balls (mine were about 2 tablespoons). The dough doesn’t have to be perfectly formed into balls. Drop the cookie dough balls onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Bake. Place in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Do NOT overbake! Remove from the oven right when edges start looking set and golden. The centers may look slightly underbaked, but they will continue to cook even after they are removed from the oven.
- Cool cookies. While the cookies are still warm, press a few extra M&Ms into the tops. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Then, transfer them to a wire cooling rack to continue to cool.
Christmas Cookie Variations
This cookie recipe so easy to change, depending on any fun add-in ingredients that you would like to use. I love using this base recipe to make a variety of different Christmas cookies for holiday parties and/or cookie exchanges! You could even gift a cute cookie jar filled with an assortment of these holiday cookies!
- White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies. Make the cookies, but instead of adding M&Ms and sprinkles to the batter, add 3/4 cup white chocolate chips and 3/4 cup dried cranberries, plus a bit more of each for topping the cookies (while still warm) for presentation.
- White Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Chip Cookies. Make the cookies, but instead of adding M&Ms and sprinkles to the batter, add 1 1/4 cup dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus a bit more for topping the cookies (while still warm) for presentation. Let cookies cool and set, and then dip in melted white chocolate and sprinkle with holiday sprinkles. See instructions in this recipe for melting the white chocolate.
- Candy Cane Cookies. Make the cookies with semi-sweet chocolate chips and add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract to the batter. Top with crushed candy canes!
- Chocolate Chip Cookies. You can never go wrong with the classic chocolate chip cookies recipe!
All of these cookie variations are perfect for the holidays. And, trust me, Santa LOVES them too!
HOW TO PACKAGE CHRISTMAS COOKIES FOR GIFT GIVING
These festive Christmas cookies are absolutely perfect to gift to friends. There’s nothing better than a homemade holiday present, and who doesn’t love to receive freshly baked cookies?! You can get as creative as you’d like with the packaging, to make your cookie gift extra special. ♥️ Here’s some ideas:
- Holiday cookie tins. Purchase festive tins at your local dollar store, grocery store or Target, then line them with parchment paper, colorful tissue paper or a holiday napkin and add the cookies. Parchment paper or tissue paper will keep the cookies from sticking and will make for easy clean up.
- Christmas plate. Choose a decorative holiday or winter-themed plate, then arrange different types of cookies on the plate.
- Cellophane bags. Pack an assortment of cookies into little clear bags, then tie them at the top with a pretty ribbon or bow.
- Mason jars. Stack the cookies in a glass jar, cover the lid with Christmas fabric or paper, seal the jar, then tie a ribbon around it. You can even add a gift tag!
TIPS FOR BAKING PERFECT Christmas COOKIES
There are tons of tips and tricks for baking the perfect cookies, but follow the suggestions below and you’re sure to have some amazing cookies!
- Measure flour correctly. Using a food scale is the most precise method for measuring ingredients, especially flour. If you don’t have one available, lightly spoon flour (don’t pack) into a measuring cup and without shaking the cup, use the straight side of a butter knife to level the flour across the measuring cup.
- Fresh baking soda and baking powder. Be sure that your baking soda and baking powder are fresh! They lose potency over time. When I open a new can, I always write the date on the lid with a Sharpie. Discard the opened can after 6 months.
- Chill the dough. These cookies bake up fine without taking the time to chill the dough. However, we prefer the texture and heightened flavor of these cookies when the dough has been chilled. See recipe notes in the recipe card.
- Bake on parchment or silicone. Parchment paper or better yet a silicone baking mat makes for the most perfect cookies. Greasing the baking sheet creates an overly greasy foundation, which will cause the cookies to spread too much. Silicone baking mats will grip onto the bottom of your cookies to prevent them from spreading too much. The mats also promote even browning.
- Don’t overbake. I recommend experimenting with a couple of cookies before baking the entire batch. This will help you find that sweet spot when it comes to bake time in your oven and your preferred level of doneness. Remember cookies continue to bake for a short time, even after they’ve been removed from the oven. And, as they cool, they will become more chewy than doughy.
STORING & FREEZING RECOMMENDATIONS
- Freezing cookie dough. This basic cookie dough recipe freezes beautifully. This is especially convenient as December is particularly busy with shopping and other Christmas events. I love to keep a batch or two of the dough in the freezer for a freshly baked treat for any event. Scoop out balls of cookie dough and place them in a freezer-safe baggie. Frozen cookie dough will keep well for up to 3 months. Be sure to label your bag of cookie dough with the date.
- Bake from frozen. Baking from frozen will work just fine. The tops of your cookies may darken a bit more, but they will still be delicious. Follow all of the cooking instructions, but add a minute or two onto the bake time.
- Freezing baked cookies. You can totally freeze already-baked Christmas cookies with great results. Store in a freezer-safe container or baggie and freeze the cookies for up to 3 months.
- Storing baked cookies. Baked cookies will keep in an airtight container or zip-top baggie at room temperature for about 1 week, but I can’t imagine them lasting that long!
We hope you enjoy our classic Christmas Cookies! Hopefully, they will be perfect for all your cookie exchanges and holiday fun this season.
Keep scrolling past the recipe card for even more Christmas cookie recipes!
These cookie recipes are perfect for a cookie exchange, neighbor gifts, or just an excuse to get your “bake on” all season long! No matter the reason, cookies are always a good idea, amirite?
- 3 ¼ cup (390g) all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) (226g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (288g) light or dark brown sugar
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sprinkles
- 1 cup M&Ms + more for tops
- Preheat oven to 365ºF or 185ºC. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Add softened butter and sugars to a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat together on medium speed until combined and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until just combined. With the last egg, add in vanilla extract.
- On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.
- Gently fold in the sprinkles and M&Ms without over-mixing the dough.
- Drop balls (about 2 tablespoons) of cookie dough onto the lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for about 10-12 mins. Remove from the oven right when edges start getting golden. Do not over bake. If desired, while the cookies are still warm, press a few extra M&Ms into the tops. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.
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Favorite Christmas Cookies
Here are some of my family’s favorite cookies to make during the holidays. Most of these cookie recipes were passed down from my Grandma and have been in our family for over 50 years! They’re classics this holiday season and you’re sure to love them!