Best-Loved Cookies and Bars
Cookies, brownies, and bars are always crowd-pleasers—and great handmade gifts for friends and family during the holidays or for other special occasions. We love cookie recipes with a special Southern twist: Red Velvet Thumbprints, Cornmeal Thumbprints with Tomato Jam, Tea Cakes, and Swoon Pies (our take on Moon Pies). But, we crave classics like chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, or white chocolate chip cookies just as much. Get really creative—not to mention decadent—with brownie and bar recipes like Pecan Pie Bars, Bayou Brownies, Mudslide Brownies, Death by Caramel Bars, and Kitchen Sink Brownies (which have a little of everything but the sink in them). During the holidays, try our cookie, bar, and brownie spins on favorite holiday flavors: Glazed Fruitcake Bars, Layered Eggnog Blondies, Coconut Snowballs, Chocolate Peppermint Crackle, and Pecan Pralines. With so many recipes to choose from, you can fill your cookie jar year-round. Keep ice cream in the freezer, and you’ll always have an easy answer when somebody asks, “What’s for dessert?”
Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies
Recipe: Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate brownies missing something? We thought so. This recipe calls for bourbon and espresso for extra decadent brownies.
Deep-Dish Skillet Cookies
Recipe: Deep-Dish Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
Recipe: Pecan Praline Deep-Dish Skillet Cookie
Recipe: Strawbeyy Shortcake Deep-Dish Skillet Cookie
Recipe: Grasshopper Deep-Dish Skillet Cookie
Recipe: Hummingbird Deep-Dish Skillet Cookie
Recipe: Mississippi Mud Deep-Dish Skillet Cookie
You will want to make sure you save room for this decadent skillet dessert. Start with our classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, and then get creative with fun, flavorful mix-ins. There's something for everyone here; from a gooey, chewy classic chocolate chip to a surprising hummingbird cake-inspired treat. We reccomend serving with vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate Peanut Butter-Fudge Bars
Ginger Shortbread Cookies with Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe: Ginger Shortbread Cookies with Lemon-Cream Cheese Frosting
These simple and delicious cookies only have six ingredients, so they are easy to bake. The cream cheese frosting adds a dollop of rich deliciousness to every mouthful. Making the frosting is easy too—just mix together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. It will have just the right amount of sweet and bite. Be sure to let the cookies cool before you cover them with frosting. To dress these cookies up a little more, and to add extra flavor to these lemony shortbread treats, top them with some crystallized ginger and lemon zest.
Lemon-Coconut Chess Bars
Recipe: Lemon-Coconut Chess Bars
These tangy bars get a hint of tropical flavor with the addition of coconut milk. Top them with toasted shaved coconut for an extra dose of the tropics.
Chewy Peanut Bars
Recipe: Chewy Peanut Bars
We weren't exactly excited to test our old microwave column recipes again, but these chocolate-peanut blondies truly surprised us. You'll like their combination of sticky-sweet peanut butter and rich, gooey chocolate. But what you'll love is the crunch of peanuts, first from the salty sensations on top, then from the surprise in the center. Once this has cooled, and been cut into squares, your guests won't know whether you've whipped it up in the microwave or baked it up in the oven, so take advantage of that often-overlooked kitchen appliance and make this tasty treat. When it comes out perfectly, you can surprise everyone too.
Recipe: Raspberry "Rhubars"
Tangy rhubarb and sweet raspberries mingle in a portable, make-ahead dessert. This recipe may not be the easiest, but it is worth the effort. From the moment that you first taste how all the ingredients come together: the crust, full of toasted almonds; the filling, a scrumptious blend of rhubarb and raspberries—including one container of raspberries that get boiled down and another of whole raspberries that you stir in; and a cream cheese batter. These bake to an incredible bar that chills to a grab-and-go sensation. These are a "chill before eating" dessert, though we know it may be difficult to wait.
Spiced Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe: Spiced Pecan Pie Bars
Not in the mood for a whole pie? These Spiced Pecan Bars are a delicious alternative.
Chewy Ginger Cookies
Recipe: Chewy Ginger Cookies
Peeled and finely grated fresh ginger—and black pepper—give this classic cookie a kick. Prep tip: Swirl a liquid measuring cup with a thin coat of vegetable oil before measuring molasses for the most accurate (and least sticky) result. These cookies are also as beautiful as they are tasty: cover them with some gold sanding sugar and you'll feel like you are devouring delicious edible jewels. One reviewer loved this so much it may replace their favorite gingersnap cookie. They said, "I wanted to try something different. I am glad I did. These are delicious." We know you'll find them delicious too.
Glazed Fruitcake Bars
Recipe: Glazed Fruitcake Bars
These dense, chewy fruitcake bars are a fresh version of the kind passed around at holiday parties. This recipe will have people you know asking for fruitcake. We love raisins and dried cherries in this recipe, but you can use your favorite combinations of dried fruits. This recipe is also packed full of walnuts for a nutty, toasty flavor. Finally, one of our favorite classic Southern beverages makes an appearance—bourbon mixed with butter makes a delicious glaze that gets drizzled over the top. Cut this into squares and your family and friends will be lining up for seconds.
5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
Recipe: 5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
This recipe really is what it says. It really does have five ingredients, and it makes a classic sugar cookie. You can put this cookie together quickly—it rests for 15 minutes after you roll it out, gets baked for 8 to 10 minutes, and cools for 30 minutes more. In under an hour you're ready to eat these fantastic sweet treats. The hardest part will be waiting while the glaze and decorations dry. But since you want these cookies to be beautiful, take the extra time to make them look as wonderful as they taste. They make gorgeous, homemade holiday gifts. When glazing, use a shallow bowl that will accommodate the entire cookie.
Brown Butter-Caramel Blondies
Recipe: Brown Butter-Caramel Blondies
Chewy, gooey, and oh-so-yummy. These caramel brownies will be a hit at the bake sale.
Layered Eggnog Blondies
Recipe: Layered Eggnog Blondies
These treats have a split personality: think of Layered Eggnog Blondies as 1 part blondie, and 1 part eggnog cheesecake. The sum of the two is delicious. The eggnog cheesecake filling will have you thinking that this cookie can be the perfect holiday treat, so you could plan ahead and make a double batch. You'll love the flavors of ground nutmeg and cinnamon. These are simply delectable with a big dollop of fresh whipped cream right on top. Layered Eggnog Blondies keep well, so you can refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.
Pecan Pie Bars
Recipe: Pecan Pie Bars
You will be amazed by how easy it is to get the taste of pecans in a bite-sized bar with this homemade wonder. Get some ready for school since they work well in a lunchbox. You'll also love the fact that these take just 20 minutes to prepare. Heavy cream and butter make this bar taste great—full and rich. But the pecans are the stars. These bars are packed full of toasted nuts, and everything is held together with dark brown sugar. You'll feel like you're having a slice of pecan pie with every bite—until you remember you're devouring a grab-and-go treat.
Jana's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe: Jana's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Do as Jana Kramer does: Tie on an apron, put on a Patsy Cline record, and whip up some of these chewy cookies. Ground oats and chopped pecans give them great texture, and a grated milk chocolate bar gives the chocolate morsels an extraordinary boost. Readers absolutely love this cookie. One described these as "great cookies," while another enthused, "This recipe is a keeper!" We certainly think so. It really is the grated milk chocolate bar that kicks this up to maximum decadence level because it mixes so well with the semisweet chocolate morsels. Savor every sweet bite.
Raspberry-Almond Crumble Bars
Recipe: Raspberry-Almond Crumble Bars
These layered fruit bars work well with fresh or frozen raspberries.
Recipe: Coconut Snowballs
Everything about this cookie feels like winter, from the flakes of shredded coconut to the melted white chocolate. And they aren't called snowballs for nothing, but the only place you'll want to throw these is into your mouth. You can prepare this dough in advance, and chill it for up to five days. If the melted white chocolate is too firm after it is heated, stir in about 1/4 tsp. coconut oil. Garnish these with some shaved coconut and you will have some gorgeous holiday cookies to share with family and friends.
Caramel-Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Recipe: Caramel-Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
The recipe for these Caramel-Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars is from the kitchen of Jennifer McHenry of bakeorbreak.com. As Jennifer explains, "Growing up in Mississippi, baking was a way of life. If someone you love is a fan of chocolate and caramel, these are a quick, easy way to create a little happiness." And we definitely agree these bars are little grab-and-go bites of happiness. They are packed full of milk chocolate morsels and melted caramel. These bars are filled with sweet and sticky delights. Bite into one and you will want another.
Belgian Spice Cookies
Recipe: Belgian Spice Cookies
These cookies begin with five simple ingredients. Put them together, chill the dough, then slice the cookies and get ready to bake. They will come out of the oven crisp and fragrant wonders. If you would like to create a lacy design on these cookies (also known as Speculoos), place a stencil or doily over the cooled cookies before dusting each one with powdered sugar. These make a beautiful addition to any holiday table, and look great when you are entertaining guests. Keep an eye out for stencils or doilies with designs or patterns you would like to use.
Recipe: Lemon Meltaways
Think of these as being a tart twist on the traditional Mexican wedding cookie. You'll use just a tad less than two sticks of butter to make these delicate little gems. Our readers love these cookies, in part because they are so easy to make, but most of all because they taste great. They come out of the oven light and crispy, and only get better once they are covered in a generous dusting of powdered sugar. You may need to go ahead and plan to double—or triple—the recipe because these cookies are so good they won't last long.
Cappuccino Swirl Bars
Recipe: Cappuccino Swirl Bars
Grab one of the coffee bars for a quick jolt in the morning or an afternoon pick-me-up.
Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Tomato Jam
Recipe: Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Tomato Jam
Cornmeal may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when you imagine making a deliciously sweet cookie, but this take on the traditional thumbprint cookie shows you just how it is done. Filled with tomato jam, these cookies are both sweet and savory. And, what is better is that when refrigerated this dough keeps for days, or if you prefer you can bake these cookies in advance because they freeze well. Either way, the combination of cornmeal, sugar, and lemon zest turns into something simply amazing. This cookie gets the thumbprint of approval.
Chocolate-Peppermint Crackle Cookies
Recipe: Chocolate-Peppermint Crackle Cookies
It only takes a tiny bit of peppermint extract to bring the perfect minty taste to these crunchy crackle cookies. You'll love how rich and chocolaty they are thanks to the chopped, unsweetened baking bars, as well as some unsweetened cocoa. For the best "crackle" effect, you may want to reroll the balls of cookie dough in the powdered sugar just before baking to cover any exposed spots. Cool these Chocolate-Peppermint Crackle Cookies completely on a wire rack before digging in—if you can manage to wait that long! These will smell so good straight out of the oven that may be a little difficult.
Recipe: Swoon Pies Recipe
These are called swoon pies because you will swoon with delight from the moment you first smell them until you devour your last bite. Our twist on Moon Pies has is sandwiched between two tender graham cookies with their distinctive crunch. It is stuffed full of homemade marshmallow filling rich with the taste of vanilla, then dusted with special toppings. Finally, we dip half of it in chocolate—because a little chocolate certainly goes a long way! Crust these with your choice of chopped roasted salted pecans, chopped crystallized ginger, or sea salt. And yes, these still pair well with an RC Cola.
See More: Christmas Cookie Recipes
Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Recipe: Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Part of what makes these cookies so great is their signature chunks of dark chocolate. They are what give these cookies their name. They're also packed full of toasted oats, so you'll love their distinctive flavor. And, for an even chewier texture, you can substitute ½ cup of hazelnut or almond flour for ½ cup of all-purpose flour.
But what really pushes these delights over the edge is one of the final steps in the recipe: "press remaining chocolate into cookies." This happens right after the warm delights come out of the oven. You're supposed to wait 15 minutes for the cookies to cool completely after that. Good luck.
Nutty Chocolate Thumbprints
Recipe: Nutty Chocolate Thumbprints
These chocolate treats begin with a mixture of cocoa and peanut butter, and then get topped with the rich creaminess of a chocolate-peanut butter filling. The filling is made with bittersweet chocolate, bringing a dark, chocolaty goodness to each creamy center. Even if you haven't decorated cookies before, you'll find filling these Dark Chocolate Thumbprints is a breeze. Easily pipe the filling using a zip-top plastic bag. One reader described these cookies as "yummy" and said they didn't have any left over. So, if the proof is in the eating, these cookies are obviously delicious.
Chunky Chocolate Gobs
Recipe: Chunky Chocolate Gobs
This recipe for ultra-chocolate cookies is, hands down, one of the best cookie recipes ever to come through our Test Kitchens. It is hard to comprehend literally how much chocolate gets packed in. From the cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, to the Mounds bars, to the semisweet chocolate morsels, these cookies are simply a chocolate-lover's delight. What's better than a recipe that tells you to add an ingredient until you've reached the "desired amount"? So pack these cookies full of those semisweet chocolate morsels and get ready to enjoy some Chunky Chocolate Gobs. They're a lip-smacking delight!
Shortbread Cookie Sampler
If you love shortbread cookies—or just know someone who does—this Shortbread Cookie Sampler is the perfect sweet treat box for you. Buttery bites make for well-received packages, and these bites are incredible. We've included Chocolate-Peppermint Bars, Bourbon-Pecan Snowflakes, Cinnamon-Orange Squares, Sweet Potato-Marshmallow Sandwich Cookies, Key Lime Stars, and Cherry-Chocolate Thumbprints. So whether you prefer your shortbread sweet, tart, especially Southern, or spicy, there is a cookie for you here. This will be a box you won't be able to wait to open. If you would like to make this box yourself, we used a 9- × 6-inch box and inserted individual white treat boxes as dividers.
Gingerbread Men Cookies
Recipe: Gingerbread Men Cookies
Cooking Video: How To Make Gingerbread Men
Variety is the spice of life, and we love making these spiced Gingerbread Men Cookies in a fun variety of sizes. These delicious treats are a favorite holiday tradition. It is very easy to involve the little ones in your family in getting these together in the kitchen by letting them decorate the cookies. They'll love what they can create with the Royal Icing, or with the Buttermilk Frosting. Assorted candies and decorator sugar cookies will also keep them enthralled as they create their gingerbread men holiday fun. Everyone will leave the kitchen with a sweet treat—and a smile.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache
Recipe: Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache
Of course these chocolate chip cookies would be decadent enough on their own, but sandwich some Bourbon Ganache between them and this treat gets elevated to new heights. The Bourbon Ganache is rich with whipping cream, semisweet chocolate morsels, and butter, and smoky-sweet with the flavors of that Southern staple drink: bourbon. Once this ganache is ready to go, it gives new meaning to the phrase "spreading it on thick" because you will want to cover every inch of these chocolate chip cookies with this creamy delight. Good thing this recipe includes the cookies because otherwise we'd be tempted to simply eat the Bourbon Ganache with a spoon.
Recipe: Lemon-Almond Bars
This recipe starts with a lightly browned crust, and just gets better from there. Fresh lemon juice and lemon zest bring the perfect tart bite to the filling, while fresh ginger adds the right amount of spice. Then, for added aromas, and for flavors and a crisp crunch, sliced almonds get spread on top—then these bars get baked a little more. When they emerge from the oven, they smell simply incredible. An hour later, you can cut them into bars, and enjoy these bite-sized delights. For quick cleanup and easy serving, line the bottom and sides of the pan with foil before adding the dough.
Red Velvet Thumbprints
Recipe: Red Velvet Thumbprints
White chocolate frosting and red food coloring combine to make the classic red velvet cake. We’ve taken that great combination and created the perfect handheld version: Red Velvet Thumbprints. These are filled with a rich concoction of cream cheese and white chocolate morsels, and then, to push it over the edge, you can top each cookie with even more white chocolate morsels. There is no need to use a pastry bag to fill these cookies. Just transfer the frosting to a zip-top plastic freezer bag, and snip the corner. These will look beautiful, and they will taste even better.
Candy Bar-Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe: Candy Bar-Peanut Butter Cookies
If you like peanut butter and chocolate, you'll love these gooey cookies. It mixes creamy peanut butter with candy bars to amp up the deliciousness level in these candy-bar cookies. What's even better is that a lot of the chocolate and peanut combination comes from using a candy bar. That means this recipe has all the makings of an easy kitchen classic. Our decadent recipe features three-dozen chocolate-covered caramel-peanut nougat bars. Yes, that is correct, 36 little candy bars are covered in dough, then baked to perfection. This is a simple delight. So don't decide if you prefer chocolate or peanut butter—enjoy them both in every single bite.
Recipe: Pecan Sandies
This is a very simple, classic cookie that only uses five ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen. Toasted pecans work wonderfully well in this cookie. They add a delicious nutty flavor and a beautiful fragrance to these easy-to-make delights. If you prefer to try another flavor for your sandies, that is certainly something that this recipe is designed to allow—instead of pecans, feel free to try almonds or your favorite nut instead. However you crack it, these crisp cookies fresh out of the oven will be sweet every single bite.
Recipe: Almond Snowballs
Because these cookies are called Almond Snowballs you may only think of them in a particular season, but these can be sweet treats any time. If you do plan to make them during the holidays, they will fit the spirit of the season well. Then, these fragrant, nutty cookies are finished with a coating of powdered sugar for a delicious winter dessert. Be sure to allow them to cool completely before rolling them in the powdered sugar. And be careful with every mouthful—although the more of a mess you make, the more you're enjoying your Almond Snowballs.
Recipe: Pecan Pralines
You will love this cookie from the moment you speak its name. And what could be more Southern than pecans, except maybe making sure they are in the perfect pralines? The key to these is making sure to keep your eye on the heat—the temperature, that is. Making pralines is all about warming everything up, then cooling it down just right. For twists on the traditional, you can add chocolate, instant coffee granules, or even bourbon to this to create even more unique pralines. Whether you prefer the classic recipe, or want to put your best praline foot forward, everyone who has a bite will go nuts for these!
Tips: Perfect Pralines
Chocolate Crinkle Candy Surprise Cookies
The surprise here is that these cookies are baked around a caramel-candy center. Every single ball contains a chewy caramel delight inside, creating the perfect warm, gooey middle. Topping them with sugar adds that extra little touch that makes these Chocolate Crinkle Candy Surprise Cookies special. It is very important to you’re your eyes on these so they cook just right. As Megan Porta of pipandebby.com explains, "Be careful not to overbake these cookies. Ten minutes is the sweet spot for most ovens." Cool them eight minutes, sprinkle them with some powdered sugar, and they're ready to eat.
Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe: Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
You'll be a cookie-lover from the minute you taste these. Dark brown sugar adds a surprising richness to this cookie dough, while the semisweet chocolate morsels are the perfect chocolate chips for this cookie. What is even better is that you are in control of how this cookie comes out of the oven. You can bake each batch 8 minutes if you love soft and gooey cookies, or up to 14 minutes for crisp results. Or, using this as your basic dough, you can improvise. If you prefer dark chocolate morsels, use them instead. With a few quick changes, these can become Oatmeal-Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies instead. However you dollop them out on to your baking sheet, you will agree that these are the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Chocolate Chunk-Mocha Cookies
Recipe: Chocolate Chunk-Mocha Cookies
Quite simply, these are some of our readers' favorite cookies. It consistently receives five-star reviews and stories of how they have been looking for this recipe for years—and how delicious this cookie is! Fabulously rich Chocolate Chunk-Mocha Cookies are simple enough for the most novice of bakers. They are filled with semisweet chocolate chunks, which make them a decadent delight. And it seems like they cook in almost no time. After the cookies cool completely, spread them with Mocha Frosting. This five-ingredient frosting is a smooth delight of coffee and cocoa. You'll love how bold its flavors are.
Smoky Mountain Snowcaps
Recipe: Smoky Mountain Snowcaps
Reminiscent of the white-dusted mountain peaks of the Snowy Mountains, these cookies, with white chocolate and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, are as sweet as snowfall on a school day in the South. They are simple to prepare and it only takes a few minutes to put them together. Toasted walnuts give them a bold flavor and a nice crunch, while nutmeg adds in a touch of spice. They're ready to keep give you warm feelings on a cool winter day. Snowy Mountain Snowcaps may look like snow, but they taste like mouthfuls of sunshine. These cookies are great to make ahead because they freeze well. Enjoy them all season long.
Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe: Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe gets rave reviews from our readers, who love how simple it is to get great flavors from such a small list of ingredients. You probably already have everything you need to put a batch of these together sitting on your pantry shelf. So if you want a great-tasting chocolate chip cookie recipe that is also gluten-free, this is the perfect dessert. It takes no time to stir together the peanut butter, sugar, egg, and dry ingredients, before adding in those semisweet chocolate morsels. And don't even give a second thought to the flour—these Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies are perfect as they are.
Mississippi Mud Cookies
Recipe: Mississippi Mud Cookies
You might take a ride all the way down the mighty Mississippi just to get a taste of these fabulous Mississippi Mud Cookies. Rich chocolate and ooey-gooey marshmallows give these cookies their savory sweetness. When cooked to perfection, the cookie bakes to a delicate crispness while the marshmallows emerge from the oven a golden, toasted brown that turns into a mouthful of magic. All this gets an extra boost from our favorite Southern nut—the pecan—that has been toasted to golden, fragrant, richness. Usually mud is something you get stuck in, but with these cookies you'll just want to get stuck into eating the whole batch.
Rolling these basic sugar cookies in a cinnamon-sugar mixture adds just enough spice and a bit of color. Lyda Jones Burnette, the former Test Kitchen director at Southern Living, borrowed this recipe from one of her favorite spice stores—Penzeys. She shows us how to take this simple recipe and make it a sweet-and-spicy delight that practically melts in your mouth. Cinnamon gets mixed into the dough, and then the dough gets rolled in a sugar-and-cinnamon mixture, making it doubly spicy, but with not too much bite. And to clarify a possible misunderstanding—this cookie doesn’t include any chocolate, caramel, and peanut bars of any type. It only has cinnamon and sugar perfection.
Recipe: Oatmeal-Toffee Cookies
These cookies start with the heartiness of uncooked oats, the crunch of chopped pecans, and the sticky sweetness of buttery—all of which add their own special and delicious flavor to these chewy wonders. This recipe makes four-dozen cookies, so you will have plenty on-hand for family, friends, and guests. These are easy-bake cookies—they bake in about ten minutes—so you can get a batch going in the kitchen whenever the mood strikes you. The oats make the cookies perfectly sweet, meaning that they are just right. Quite simply, one reviewer said these were a "very tasty cookie." We agree.
Crunchy Frostbite Cookies
Recipe: Crunchy Frostbite Cookies
You'll probably want a whole plate of these to ward off frostbite: think of them as what you have when your day doesn't include any chance of going out in the snow. Instead, in this recipe, just a touch of peppermint extract adds the perfect amount of frosty flavor to the white chocolate icing, creating a melt-in-your-mouth favorite. The "frost" here comes from dipping one side of these crunchy creations in a white chocolate frosting. When the topping hardens, it creates a cookie that looks as beautiful as it tastes. You'd better settle in next to the fire with a plate of these and warm up.