32 Classic Christmas Cookies You'll See at Every Southern Swap
There’s no better way to ring in the holiday season than with a classic cookie exchange. The Christmas cookie swap has risen to fame for a few reasons—first off, it’s shockingly easy to host, especially during the busy holiday season. Volunteer your home as a venue and worry no more: Each guest will bring a tin of homemade cookies to create a stellar potluck dessert display. It’s the perfect occasion to show off Grandma’s well-loved cookie recipes—and get a taste of your friends’ own family traditions!
Southerners know that bringing store-bought cookies to a holiday swap is not an option. Luckily, we have classic cookie options (and easy shortcuts) for even the busiest holiday hostess. From slice-‘n’-bakes to snickerdoodles, these all-star cookie recipes will be ready in no time. This year, think outside the box and try out a new cookie recipe that’s guaranteed to become a family favorite. So scrub off that old cookie sheet and get to work. You’ll want to make an extra batch of these festive cookies to keep for yourself.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
The classic chocolate chipper, with a twist. Brown butter lends a savory depth of flavor to this American staple.
Recipe: Spritz Cookies
These vintage cookie press beauties have been around for as long as we can remember. This season, try your hand at homemade.
Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies
Recipe: Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies
With a deep red hue and studs of white chocolate, these cookies are dressed for the holidays. They’re easy to make (hint: they start with a box of cake mix) and they’re an ultra-festive addition to any party.
Chocolate Cutout Cookies
Recipe: Chocolate Cutout Cookies
Who said cutout cookies have to be boring? This chocolate dough seriously livens things up—plus, there are endless possibilities for decorations.
Kitchen Sink Cookies
Recipe: Kitchen Sink Cookies
The perfect recipe for the friend who’s ready for a holiday pantry cleanout. With a few staple ingredients (chocolate chunks, rolled oats) and a few wild-card additions (corn chips, anyone?) you can throw just about anything into this catch-all cookie.
Cream Cheese Christmas Cookie
Recipe: Cream Cheese Christmas Cookie
This cookie is simply ready for the holidays. Coat the rolls in red and green sugar crystals for a festive display.
Recipe: Cheesecake Cookies
These fluffy vintage cookies—topped with a glossy maraschino cherry—will certainly catch eyes on the buffet table.
Recipe: Pinwheel Cookies
Grandma’s favorite cookie never fails to please at our holiday soirées. Two different doughs are twisted together to create the signature pinwheel swirl.
Barbara Bush's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you’re looking for a classic cookie recipe with a twist, Barbara Bush’s famous treats are guaranteed to impress.
Pecan Snowball Cookies
Recipe: Pecan Snowball Cookies
Coated in powdered sugar, these shortbread “snowballs” are studded with buttery pecans for extra crunch.
Copycat Berger Cookies
Recipe: Copycat Berger Cookies
A Baltimore classic, reinvented. Try your hand at making a copycat of this traditional commercial cookie in your own kitchen this holiday season.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
Recipe: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
A torched marshmallow topping completes the fun effect of these chocolatey cookies. A dash of cayenne pepper livens up these cookies with a bit of spice to put the “hot” in hot chocolate.
Recipe: Pecan Tassies
Pecan Tassies are a well-loved cookie with deep Southern roots. They're best described as a cross between miniature pecan pies and shortbread cookies. If you haven’t tried this classic cookie, whip up a batch for this year’s holiday swap.
Toasted Oatmeal Cookies
Oatmeal cookies may get a bad reputation, but we all know Grandma’s secret recipe can easily beat out any boring chocolate chip cookie.
Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe: Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
If you’re short on time (or supplies), this classic four-ingredient cookie will be your new go-to.
5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
Recipe: 5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
Running late to the cookie swap? These pretty treats are as easy as can be. Best of all, they’ll be ready in under an hour.
Red Velvet Thumbprints
Recipe: Red Velvet Thumbprints
Imprinted with a picturesque drop of white chocolate-cream cheese frosting, these cake-like, holiday-hued cookies are ready for any winter occasion.
Apricot-Almond Thumbprint Cookies
These cookies are rolled in chopped almonds and topped with a dollop of apricot jam for a treat that’s nutty, sweet, fruity, and irresistible.
Spiced Molasses Drops
Recipe: Spiced Molasses Drops
If you got caught up in last-minute holiday shopping and completely forgot about the evening cookie swap you RSVPed for, call this cookie recipe your saving grace. It’s fast, it’s easy, and most importantly, it’s still homemade.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Recipe: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies pair rich dark chocolate with light powdered sugar to create a snow-dusted appearance and crackling texture.
Fudgy Flourless Chocolate-Pecan Cookies
There are two types of people in the world: those that like their cookies crispy, and those that like them cakey. For all those in the cakey camp, these brownie-like cookies will have you bookmarking the recipe.
Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls
Recipe: Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls
You’ll want to make an extra batch of these bite-sized treats to keep at home. Your family will thank you later.
Recipe: Pecan-Cranberry Shortbread
These substantial shortbread triangles are packed with the flavors of the season—cranberry and pecan—to create a surefire holiday charmer.
Dark Chocolate Sablés
Recipe: Dark Chocolate Sablés
These cookies are just as elegant as their name. The chocolate cookies are dipped halfway in—you guessed it—more melted chocolate for an extra-indulgent touch.
Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
Recipe: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
Cinnamon and sugar just burst with holiday cheer, and so do these snickerdoodles. No holiday cookie swap is complete without a plate of these family favorites.
Make-Ahead Cane Syrup Slice 'n' Bakes
When the holidays roll around, we’re all about make-ahead entertaining solutions. This simple cookie dough can be stored for up to one month before baking.
Recipe: Pecan Sandies
This crumbly pecan shortbread will have you singing its praises at the next holiady party.
Recipe: Butterscotch Cookies
Remember those butterscotch candies that Grandma always kept stocked in her purse? Imagine that nostalgia, distilled into a cookie.
Peanut Butter-and-Jelly Linzer Cookies
Linzer cookies were always a staple in Grandma’s dessert spread, and they’re still one of our favorite holiday treats. This PB&J version is oh-so-nostalgic.
Caramel-Stuffed Ginger Cookies
Recipe: Caramel-Stuffed Ginger Cookies
These cookies really pack a punch of flavor. The caramel inside is perfectly melty, complementing the slight spice of the ginger dough.
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Recipe: Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
We grew up making big batches of these cookies in Grandma’s kitchen. Now, it’s time to pass on the tradition to the next generation.