21 Savory Cookies That Will Put A Spin On Your Party Menu

Whether you're planning a backyard barbecue party, a holiday soirée, or just a casual get-together with friends or family, you may find that your options are a little boring at best if cookies are on the menu. Sure, everyone loves a classic chocolate chip cookie or a sugar cookie. However, after you've eaten these cookies at one too many bake sales or birthday parties, you might find yourself wishing for just a little something more.

Enter savory cookies. No, these are not crackers. These cookies have the texture and consistency of a cookie but some of the flavors you might otherwise imagine when you think gourmet crackers. They're surprising and unexpected, and they make a great snack, appetizer, or anytime treat for those who find their taste buds lean more savory than sugary. So, what type of savory cookie should you make for your next party menu? Here are some of our favorites.

Cheese and herb shortbread cookies

Whether you just recently discovered this classic cookie thanks to Ted Lasso's shortbread biscuits or you've loved it for years, you likely expect something pretty traditional. A typical shortbread is made by blending just a few ingredients together (you really only need butter, sugar, and flour) and then baking this simple dough until the cookies reach a crumbly consistency.

However, what if you upgraded that traditional shortbread with some new savory flavors? Cheese and herb shortbread recipes blend those same three basic shortbread ingredients with a pinch of salt and herbs and the cheese of your choice for the tantalizing texture of a shortbread cookie with an herby, cheesy flavor that goes well with charcuterie spreads and an adult beverage or two. You really have your choice of the herbs and cheese that you might use, but popular options include rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, Parmesan, gruyère, and cheddar.

Savory oatmeal cookies

Hey, savory oatmeal is a thing, so why can't savory oatmeal cookies be a thing too? The idea is to swap your traditional bowl of oatmeal laden with brown sugar or maple syrup with a bowl of whatever savory goodness you prefer. Eggs, veggies, cheese, herbs — they all make suitable toppings for your breakfast oatmeal. Savory oatmeal cookies are the same.

Toss aside your raisins and chocolate chips. To make a savory oatmeal cookie, reach for the different spices and cheese. You'll make an oatmeal cookie like normal, albeit with less sugar, and then add in your choice of savory ingredients. Think rosemary and Parmesan, caraway seeds, or a combination of oregano, paprika, curry powder, mozzarella or gouda. If you don't like the thought of an oatmeal cookie without the chewy texture of raisins, add in some sun-dried tomatoes. Whatever combination of ingredients you use, these savory oatmeal cookies will work great as an appetizer, on a cheese board, or with sweeter accompaniments like fruit or jam.

Savory breakfast cookies

No, savory oatmeal cookies and savory breakfast cookies are not the same thing. Savory breakfast cookies are their own beast and offer all the flavors of a delicious, complete breakfast, wrapped up in a compact, convenient, on-the-go cookie package.

The exact combination of ingredients will differ according to the savory breakfast cookie recipe you choose, but you can expect to blend flour with eggs, cheese, and assorted breakfast meats. Some recipes use cheddar with breakfast sausage and crumbled bacon. Others add in finely chopped veggies like you would normally see in an omelet, such as onions and bell peppers. However you go about making your savory breakfast cookies, though, you'll find that these cookies are great for mornings when you're in a hurry. They also stand out as a unique alternative to biscuits or toast in a breakfast or brunch spread. Plus, this cookie is a good for those following a gluten-free or keto diet, as you can use a non-traditional flour in most recipes without sacrificing quality.

Potato chip cookies

There are cookie recipes out there that incorporate crushed potato chips, combining the salty flavor with the sweetness of chocolate chips, candy, and other more traditional ingredients. However, what if you skipped all that sweetness and focused on just the potato chips? Well, then you'd have a savory potato chip cookie.

A little old-fashioned and maybe not the coolest up-and-coming cookie trend, savory potato chip cookies are still worth a try if you're not a fan of overly sweet cookies. These bites put the potato chip flavor forward by keeping the overall cookie recipe simple (think just flour, butter, and sugar) and then loading on the potato chips. You'll need a fair amount of crushed potato chips, so some bakers recommend that you hold on to those potato chip crumbs left over in every bag until your next baking sess. If you make potato chip cookies and love them, but miss the iconic crunch of potato chips, you can add other, crunchy ingredients — like chopped nuts — to this recipe without straying to the sweet side.

Savory jam thumbprint cookies

Thumbprint cookies are a staple on the holiday baking scene and for good reason. They're easy to make; fun to create, especially for families, as you're encouraged to play with your food; and delicious. However, traditional thumbprint cookies — which are basically an Americanized version of a Swedish cookie popularized in the 1800s — are known to include raspberry or other fruit jam in the middle of the thumbprint.

To give your thumbprint cookies a savory twist, swap out the normal sweet jam for a savory one. There are tons of options out there, and all could make for a delicious cookie. Try tomato jam, bacon jam, pepper jam, or onion jam. After you've picked your savory jam for the cookies' thumbprint filling, don't forget to add some complementary ingredients to your cookie dough. Cheddar, balsamic vinegar, Parmesan, cracked pepper, red pepper flakes — you're limited only by your creativity.

Cumin cookies

If you primarily use the cumin in your cabinet for chili or tacos, it's time to discover a new use for this staple spice: cookies. Cumin cookies boast roots in India, where these cookies are known as jeera or zeera biscuits.

They feature a pretty standard base of flour, sugar, butter, salt, and sometimes milk, but also, of course, cumin. Do note that for traditional cumin cookies, you'll want to use roasted cumin seeds, not ground cumin. The cookies are easy to make and, after assembling and chilling the dough, all you do is roll it, cut it, and bake. Once finished, the cookies are a favorite alongside a nice cup of tea. No time for baking in the near future but still want to try these buttery, crispy cookies? This is one of the few savory cookies that you can buy, either at your favorite international foods store or online.

Tomato cookies

Ask a baker how to make a tomato cookie, and you'll get a lot of different answers. Turns out, there are about a million ways you can turn a tomato into a cookie, so if tomatoes are your favorite fruit, you have plenty of options.

Historic tomato cookie recipes call for creating a basic sugar cookie and then adding tomato sauce into the mix. Similar vintage tomato cookie recipes call for using mashed tomatoes in a basic cookie dough and then topping the cookies with icing. Still other recipes call for cookies with a filling made from chopped green tomatoes. However, if you want to go full-on savory, you'll want to make sure you create a cookie that also incorporates other savory ingredients that help bolster the tomato flavor. Think herbs and spices like rosemary, basil, or paprika, alongside nuts like pine nuts, almonds, or peanuts. Think cheeses like Parmesan or cheddar. You can also add in other produce, like chilis. As for your actual tomatoes, consider using tomato paste or sauce, or sun-dried tomatoes, rather than diced or fresh tomatoes, which may add too much liquid to your dough.

Lemon basil cookies

Lemon and basil (no, not the stand-alone herb that is "lemon basil" — we're talking two separate ingredients) are inarguably a good combo. The citrusy zing of the lemon paired with the pungent, earthy flavor of the basil make for a delicious addition to many dishes, both sweet and savory.

If you want to specifically make lemon basil cookies, you have lots of options. These flavors work in just about any type of cookie and are easy to add into most basic doughs. Go with a sugar cookie base, drop cookie base, or a shortbread base, or make vegan or gluten-free lemon basil cookies. Want to amp up the flavors even more? Throw in a little lime zest alongside your lemon zest. Or, think about the other flavors that often appear alongside the classic lemon and basil duo. Cheeses, nuts, and herbs such as oregano can add even more savory fun to your cookie.

Sesame cookies

Possibly the most well-known sesame cookie is the Italian biscotti regina, or the queen's biscotti, supposedly named for Queen Margherita of Savoia. This cookie with Sicilian origins is covered in sesame seeds, which, historically, would have been imported into Italy from the country's Arabic neighbors. The cookie is neither overly sweet nor overly savory. It's just light and nutty all the way around.

Often served with marsala wine, the cookies require toasted sesame seeds. If you've never toasted sesame seeds before, the process is easy but does require careful attention. Just spread your seeds in the bottom of a frying pan and let them cook over medium heat, stirring the seeds around once or twice to ensure you don't overcook any one portion. The process takes only a few minutes; be careful not to overcook the seeds, as they'll toast even more after you add them to your cookies.

Savory madeleines

Light, fluffy, and delicate, madeleines are an impressive, eye-catching addition to any cookie spread with their defined ridges on the one side and smooth mounds on the other. Often, madeleines are lightly flavored, to match their light texture, with citrus flavors. However, you can easily turn your madeleines savory with the addition of herbs and cheeses. Consider adding herbes de provence (a blend of herbs that includes marjoram, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, oregano, tarragon, and savory), sage, horseradish, Parmesan, gorgonzola, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, or any other flavor combo that catches your eye.

Of course, if you've never made madeleines before, you'll want to take a few precautions to give yourself the best chance at achieving that classic shape. Make sure to butter and flour your madeleine pan, or use a non-stick version; pour the batter evenly into each indentation; keep an eye on the time so they don't overcook; and immediately remove the cookies from the tray for cooling.

Tahini cookies

If you like the flavor of sesame cookies, but you want more, bigger, better, bolder sesame flavors — or you just don't like the texture of the toasted sesame seeds on your cookies — consider tahini cookies. Tahini is made by combining ground, toasted sesame seeds with oil.

Tahini cookies are a particular favorite within Jewish culture, and a traditional Israeli recipe simply combines tahini with flour, sugar, and butter (and sometimes a leavening agent). Beyond just making basic tahini cookies, though, you can add a range of other ingredients to the mix, too, to create unique flavor profiles. Some recipes add sesame seeds to the exterior of the cookie, for a mix between a sesame and tahini cookie. Other recipes add in tasty ingredients such as nuts, honey, or maple syrup. And a few take the light and nutty tahini cookie and give it a sweet slant, with the addition of chocolate chips and cinnamon.

Miso cookies

Miso, a umami-forward ingredient made from fermented soybeans, is gaining traction in the world of baking. The savory flavor complements sweet desserts and is often used in salty-sweet combinations. However, just because you're using miso in your next cookie baking project doesn't mean you have to pair it with lots of sweet ingredients, like chocolate. You can go the mostly savory route by adding miso to your peanut butter cookies, or by making a miso-sesame or a miso-tahini hybrid cookie. In general, miso pairs well with nutty, earthy, and warm flavors.

However you make your miso cookies, though, be sure not to use too much miso in the mix, or you'll overpower the rest of your cookie. King Arthur Baking recommends measuring out your miso at a ratio of 2 tablespoons per every cup of flour. If you want more, you can always add more, but you can't remove it once it's in the dough. King Arthur Baking also recommends toning down the salt in your cookie recipe whenever you use miso since it is plenty salty.

Bacon shortbread

For bacon fans, the breakfast meat is great no matter how you slice, dice, crumble, or cook it. But have you ever thought of adding bacon to your cookies? Bacon may be a popular savory option for sweet-savory combos (think bacon sundaes from fast food chains or chocolate-covered bacon). But if you want a treat that's more savory than sweet, don't add bacon to just any ol' cookie recipe. Skip the ultra-sugary options like chocolate chunk cookies, and go with a more low-key, plain (but still delicious) cookie, like a shortbread.

If adding bacon to an existing, favorite shortbread recipe, cook the bacon first, let it cool, and then chop it into small pieces before adding it to your dough. Want even more bacon goodness in your shortbread? Swap out some of the butter that you might normally use for your recipe for bacon fat. Just use whatever bacon fat resulted from cooking the bacon for the cookie. Top your cookies with cheese for extra flavor.

Jalapeño cookies

It's not uncommon to add chopped up jalapeños to biscuits or cornbread for a spicy kick to your favorite carbs. However, you can also add these chili peppers to many types of cookies for a spicy, savory treat.

While some may just add jalapeños to sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies for a spicy-sweet combo, you can go more savory than sweet by opting to mixing them into shortbread, along with some cheese. Shortbread's plainer, less-sweet recipe makes it a great canvas on which to paint your savory cookie dreams. Pick a sharp, flavorful cheese to accompany your jalapeño, such as pepper jack or cheddar. You can also add in other, complementary ingredients, such as lime, dry mustard, chili powder, or even bacon. Basically, think of the jalapeño-centric foods you already like to eat (maybe jalapeño poppers?) and then don't be afraid to add the same or similar flavors to your shortbread cookies. Drizzle with a peppery glaze for even more over-the-top flavor. 

Curry cookies

There are many savory-leaning herbs and spices that you can use to flavor a basic cookie recipe. Curry powder, with its blend of several other spices, including turmeric, ginger, cumin, peppers, fennel, cinnamon, and more, is one of them. It lends a potent flavor to any dish you add it to — including cookies.

How you go about making curry cookies will differ according to who you ask, but most recipes start with a shortbread dough or a sugar cookie-like dough (though sometimes the amount of sugar is decreased from what you might normally use). Then they build their unique flavor profiles from there. Potential flavor combinations include curry powder, paprika, and poppy seeds; curry powder, cardamom, and pecans; or curry powder and ginger. Whatever flavors you combine, though, the curry base will give your cookies a golden hue and a warm flavor that's enjoyable alongside tea or a cocktail.

Cheesy Rice Krispies cookies

Rice Krispies treats have been made the same way for decades from the same three ingredients — Rice Krispies cereal, marshmallows, and butter. You mix it all together on the stove, let it cool in a pan, cut your squares, and you have a family-favorite sweet treat that's practically a part of American culture. So what if you flipped the whole thing on its head and made savory Rice Krispies treats?

While you'll need a few more ingredients than what's included in a classic Rice Krispies treat, making cheesy Rice Krispies cookies is still fairly simple. In addition to your Rice Krispies cereal, you also need flour and cheese as well as butter and whatever other spices or flavor-boosting ingredients you plan on using. Options might include paprika, cayenne pepper, nuts, or Worcestershire sauce. You mix it all together, roll the dough into balls, and bake the cookies. The result is a crispy, crunchy, cheesy cookie.

Khara cookies

Khara cookies are spicy, shortbread-esque cookies (or biscuits, as they're technically called in their home country) that are particularly popular in southern India. The story goes that the savory cookie was invented in a historic Bangalore bakery, and they became so famous that they quickly spread all over the country.

The general recipe for Khara cookies includes flour, leavening agents, sugar, and butter for the base (much like a standard shortbread cookie). Then, all the flavor comes from an array of tasty ingredients, such as chilies, coriander, curry, and ginger. Some recipes use asafetida as well. If you're not familiar with asafetida, it's an Indian spice extracted from a plant relative of the carrot, and it's known for being particularly odorous. These cookies can be easily adjusted if you'd like to make them gluten-free, and you can also adjust the spice level in case you pick a recipe that's a little too spicy for your liking.

Smoked cookies

Smoking your own food at home is easier than ever. And, no, you don't need to spring for a giant, expensive meat smoker for the backyard. Smoking individual ingredients or cocktails is simple thanks to affordable smoking guns and cloches you can buy from a range of retailers. But while smoked cocktails have trended in recent years, smoked cookies are another matter — but nonetheless they are worth trying if you'd like to expand your savory cookie options.

When it comes to smoking cookies, you can start with any kind. If you think a cookie could use a hit of savory, smoky flavor, you can smoke it. The one thing you do need to be sure to do, though, is choose the right smoking pellets for the job. Whether you choose maple, oak, apple, or cherry, each wood type lends a distinct flavor to whatever you're cooking; choose one that will complement the flavor of your cookie.

Speck plätzchen

It's not just Americans who have shoved bacon into every conceivable dessert possible. Germany has its own take on bacon-flavored desserts, including this cookie, the speck plätzchen, that promises a savory good time. The German word "plätzchen" refers to a range of cookies, while "speck" is the German word for bacon. It's literally a bacon cookie. Beyond bacon, these cookies can include cumin, caraway seeds, and caramelized onions.

If you do decide to make your very own bacon cookies at home, you can save time spent manning the stove, as well as mess, by baking your bacon in the oven. If you're not going to make your cookies right away, crumble the bacon once it's cooled and then store it either in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to six weeks. Just make sure to use an airtight storage container or bag. Then, when you're ready, thaw any frozen bacon before use, or use refrigerated bacon immediately, and mix it right into your dough.

Ham and cheese thumbprints

Thumbprint cookies are known as the fun-to-make holiday treats that typically are dolloped with a bright and cheerful serving of jam. However, if you want to take your thumbprint cookies over to the savory side, you have options. Beyond swapping fruit-based jams out for savory jams, you can also ditch the jam altogether and make ham and cheese thumbprints.

This cookie is a little more difficult to make than your average thumbprint. Some recipes require that you start off making your dough like you would a choux pastry — on the stovetop. After blending your cooked liquid ingredients and adding your savory ingredients like ham and cheese, you pipe the dough onto your baking tray before making the requisite indentions. However, unlike when making traditional thumbprints, you don't immediately bake the filling into the center with these cookies. Instead, you half-bake the cookies, chill them until you're ready to use them, then add the cheese into each center, and bake the cookies again to melt the cheese.

Corn cookies

What if the deliciousness of cornbread could be translated into cookie form? That's what corn cookies give you. They can be traced to a handful of different cultures. One version takes inspiration from Sioux culture and adds natural sweeteners and sunflower seed butter to cornmeal. Another version hails from Nicaragua, where the cookie's corn flour base is mixed with cheese.

You used to be able to find a modern version of the corn cookie at Trader Joe's, where the retailer sold a corn cookie mix that received rave reviews until it was discontinued, leaving fans with just their copycat recipes (per Reddit). Another modern favorite? The corn cookies at Momofuku Milk Bar. As company founder Christina Tosi told The Washington Post, her corn cookies are inspired by cornbread and are, in many ways, just as simple, using a handful of ingredients, including flour, sugar, eggs, and two types of corn.