Our 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. Whenever we have someone to thank, these treats are the best way to show our gratitude. But in that case, you’ll want to make a double-batch, because there’s no chance that a plate of Ultimate Dark Chocolate Brownies makes it out of the house without a quick “quality check.”
These handheld treats will be the hit of any party. We love cookie recipes with a special Southern twist: Cornmeal Thumbprints with Tomato Jam, Tea Cakes, and Swoon Pies (our take on Moon Pies). But we still crave classics like chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, or snickerdoodles just as much.
Get really creative—not to mention decadent—with brownie and bar recipes that fuse two classic desserts, like Pecan Pie Bars. During the holidays, try our cookie, bar, and brownie spins on favorite holiday flavors: Candy Cane Cake Bars, Molasses Crinkles, and Pecan Pralines. With so many recipes to choose from, you can fill your cookie jar year-round. You’ll always have an easy answer when somebody asks, “What’s for dessert?”
Kitchen Sink Cookies
Recipe: Kitchen Sink Cookies
Go ahead and throw everything in. Well, not quite everything. As the name implies, you throw just about everything but the kitchen sink into these ultra-decadent cookies. That means they are packed full of chocolate, almonds, corn chips, and oats—that's a lot of deliciousness. Bake these up and you'll find the kitchen sink in there somewhere.
Chocolate Peanut Butter-Fudge Bars
Fudgy Flourless Chocolate-Pecan 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 cookie recipe that is also gluten-free, this is the perfect dessert. And don't even give a second thought to the flour—these Fudgy Flourless Chocolate-Pecan Cookies are perfect as they are.
Easiest Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe
Recipe: Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies
If our Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies had any fewer ingredients you would literally be standing at your counter eating peanut butter out of a jar with a spoon. Still, you will impress your guests with these simple, 4-ingredient peanut butter cookies. It is also incredibly easy to remember because you need one of everything: one cup of peanut butter; one cup of sugar; one egg; and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Now bake! In fifteen minutes or so they are ready to go. Serve them warm from the oven with a tall glass of cold milk. And, if you want to mix it up a little, you can add in your favorite chocolate morsels, chopped peanuts, or other delicious ingredient.
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.
Funfetti Sugar Cookies
Recipe: Funfetti Sugar Cookies
These cookies are sure to bring the party anywhere you go.
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.
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.
Blackberry-Oat Crumble Bars
Recipe: Blackberry-Oat Crumble Bars
Pack a batch of these tart, fruity bars for your next picnic.
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.
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.
Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
Recipe: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
Rolling these basic sugar cookies in a cinnamon-sugar mixture adds just enough spice and a bit of color. Brown butter makes it a sweet-and-spicy delight that practically melts in your mouth.
Red Velvet Brownies
Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies
These red velvet brownies taste as good as they look. They are moist, tasty, rich with cream cheese, and bursting with color. Let these Red Velvet Brownies be the star of your next dinner or get-together.
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Shaping with a cookie scoop helps to keep these rich cookies uniform in size.
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.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
We'll take your chocolate chip cookies and raise you a dose of brown butter.
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.
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.
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!
Easy Sugar Cookies
Recipe: Easy Sugar Cookies
This recipe creates cookies look beautiful and taste delicious. To transform these from everyday to elegant, cut this dough into a variety of your favorite shapes. Then, glaze them. The dippable glaze will transform the cookies into works of art almost too pretty to eat. But eat them you will, because although they appear enticing, they taste incredible, and once you have your first bite of these sweet delights it may just be difficult to stop. These are simple, classic cookies for a reason.
Recipe: Molasses Crinkles
People come together during the holidays to make these Molasses Crinkles. A heavy sugar crust and the peppery bite of ginger make these gingerbread cookies scrumptious. Be sure your spices are fresh; it will make a big difference to how these delicious cookies taste
Coconut Cheesecake Squares
Recipe: Coconut Cheesecake Squares
These bars get their extra-tropical flavor from coconut milk, lime, and flaked coconut.
Raspberry-Almond Crumble Bars
Recipe: Raspberry-Almond Crumble Bars
These layered fruit bars work well with fresh or frozen raspberries.
Recipe: Millionaire Shortbread
Consider this the homemade, way-upgraded version of your favorite candy bar.
Recipe: Best-Ever Brownies
Test Kitchen Professional Ivy Odom developed this recipe just in time for the holidays, but we have a feeling it'll be in our steady rotation all year round.
Recipe: Pinwheel Cookies
These are incredible slice-and-bake cookies, made by combining a layer of basic butter cookie dough with a layer of chocolate dough, then rolling the two together. The swirl pattern is simply eye-catching. And it tastes even better than it looks! Another kitchen tip is to cut the dough rolls with dental floss—it makes slicing the dough easier. These will turn out both artistic and artisanal however you slice it.
Buttery Pineapple Crumble Bars
Recipe: Buttery Pineapple Crumble Bars
At once fruity and buttery, these crumble bars simply melt in your mouth.
Old Fashioned Tea Cake
Recipe: Old Fashioned Tea Cake
Whether the tea is for two, or just for you, you will love the taste of these Tea Cakes. Even though they're called cakes, tea cakes are actually easy-to-make—and easier to eat—old-fashioned cookies made with butter, sugar, buttermilk, flour, and lemon. Think of these as the perfect cookie to pair with afternoon tea, or one you could just as easily enjoy with a glass of lemonade. So brew a pot of Earl Grey, or your favorite blend, and bake a batch of Tea Cakes. Then settle in for a delightful, relaxing, afternoon.
Pecan Linzer Cookies
Recipe: Pecan Linzer Cookies
These are a twist on Austria’s linzer torte. The tart has a nutty crust, a preserve filling, and lattice top―these cookies have a fitting Southern lineage because it adds in toasted chopped pecans. You get all the goodness of the traditional torte, plus the added flavor of the pecans. They bring in a delicate nuttiness, and add just a little fragrance to the hints of ground cloves and ground cinnamon. There's that suggestion of tart freshness from the lemon rind as well. All these flavors are subtle, but you will love them. Topped with powdered sugar, these Linzer Cookies bring a little sweet crunch to every single bite.
Fudgy Pecan Bourbon Balls
This recipe brings together two classic tastes of the South. But at the holidays, the question becomes, "Who spiked the cookies?" Hardly a Christmas can pass in the South without these traditional ball-shaped, bourbon-flavored pecan cookies ending up on a dessert bar or in a gift box. And nor should it, for these two distinctive flavors combine to bring the true warmth and smokiness of the season together to be tempered by the sweet sensation of sugar. Together, this is a sweetness to be savored, and this is definitely a pairing to be wished for.
Recipe: Thumbprint Cookies
These cookies have a little bit of everything. Raspberry jam makes a beautiful, jewel-colored filling, but you can also use other Southern favorite jams, such as blackberry, strawberry, or apple. One reviewer said raspberry was their favorite, so several until you find the one you think tastes best. They’re the perfect cookies to make with the kids―let them make the thumbprints and choose the filling. Since these are rolled in pecans you will get that pecan crunch in every single bite.
Recipe: Spritz Cookies
Spritz cookies are holiday classics. To bake truly authentic spritz cookies, you will want to invest in a cookie press. Then you will be sure to get that oh-so-perfect shape. This beautiful symmetry is actually party of the traditional spritz cookie, and you'll enjoy creating these gorgeous sweets on your baking sheets too. In the oven, these cookies bake to become light, crisp, golden delights. You can even add colored sugar crystals on top for an extra festive flair. Just be careful that the sugar is lightly colored with liquid—too much can make the sugar wet. Cool completely, then enjoy these festive delights.