Christmas Cookie Recipe

Santa has the best job ever delivering toys to girls and boys and snarfing everyone's cookies left out for him. He definitely will leave the best gifts at your house if you use this amazing Christmas sugar cookie recipe that's as "from scratch" as you can get. Developed by Mackenzie Burgess, a registered dietitian nutritionist who runs the blog Cheerful Choices, the thing that makes this recipe stand out is the almond extract that gives it a unique and sweet flavor.

You can take a cookie from just another Christmas cookie to a mouthful of yumminess with the simple addition of almond extract. A ho-hum cookie explodes with flavor when you add in a mere quarter of a teaspoon or more. Grab the ingredients from your pantry and refrigerator and get ready to experience the tastiness of the cookies whipped up from this delightful and festive recipe. It takes just 40 minutes to prep and 8 minutes to bake followed by 20 minutes of family bonding while decorating. The recipe makes two dozen large-sized cookies.

Gather the ingredients for Christmas cookies

The first step to these delicious Christmas cookies is to preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out two large baking sheets and line them with parchment paper. Burgess prefers parchment paper over cooking oil, and it's for a good reason.

"Greasing the pan may increase the chances of the cookies slightly spreading and not rising as much. I find that using parchment paper helps them keep their perfect festive shapes," she explained.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, one-fourth of a teaspoon of baking soda, and half a teaspoon of salt. Then, you should set these dry ingredients aside. What's the one trick to measuring dry ingredients? Be sure to spoon the flour into the measuring cup instead of packing it down into the measuring cup, Burgess advised.

Cream the butter and sugar and add almond extract

Next, take two sticks of softened unsalted butter and cream it with one cup of granulated sugar until the wet ingredients are light and fluffy. Burgess prefers to use unsalted butter and add in the salt herself.

"So I have more control over the total amount of salt in the recipe. Margarine contains more water and less fat than butter which can result in thin cookies that may spread out and possibly burn. We definitely don't want this to happen, especially when it comes to beautiful sugar cookies. So for this recipe, stick with butter," Burgess said.

Next, beat in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and one-fourth of a teaspoon of almond extract, then add one large egg. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing the wet ingredients.

"The almond extract really accents the vanilla extract. I find it helps to enhance the overall flavor of the cookie. Just remember, a little bit goes a long way," Burgess said.

Bring the wet and dry ingredients together

Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and mix at low speed until the mixture is blended well. If the dough seems too crumbly, add in one tablespoon of milk. Then freeze the dough for 15 minutes to chill.

Many bakers are familiar with popping dough into the fridge to cool, but Burgess prefers the freezer. "I'm usually too impatient to chill the dough for several hours like many recipes call for. To speed up this process, I like to throw my dough in the freezer for 15 minutes. I find that this gives the same effect and helps everything stick together," she said.

For those who are gluten-free, Burgess suggested substituting the flour with gluten-free all-purpose flour with xanthan gum because the xanthan gum helps to provide elasticity and structure.

"If you wanted to add more fiber into this recipe, you could also replace half of the flour with white whole wheat flour. I often do this with baked goods to add in some extra nutrients without changing the flavor," Burgess advised.

Cut your dough into whimsical cookie shapes

Find your holiday cookie cutters like the Christmas tree, stocking, Santa, and reindeer, and prep your workspace. Dust the counter or table with flour and roll half of the dough out to one-fourth of an inch thickness.

"Having your dough rolled out evenly to one-fourth of an inch will help the cookies bake evenly. I find this thickness gives the perfect combination of pillowy soft on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside. If you have a thinner or thicker cookie, you may have to adjust the baking time accordingly," Burgess explained.

Simply cut the cookies into shapes, using up all of the dough. Place each cookie on a baking sheet and bake for six to eight minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven when they're done and let them cool on the pan for five minutes before transferring to a plate or rack to finish cooling.

Whip up the icing for the cookies

Combine two cups of powdered sugar, two to three tablespoons of milk and one-fourth of a teaspoon of vanilla. The icing should be slightly thick.

"Luckily, this icing is very forgiving. If it ends up being too thick, just add a bit more milk to thin it out. On the other hand, if it's too runny add in a bit more powdered sugar to thicken it up. I love homemade icing because it's as easy as three ingredients. This icing comes together in less than two minutes, so no need to buy the store-bought stuff," Burgess said.

Dye the frosting with food coloring if a certain color is preferred, such as traditional red and green. If the kiddos haven't been helping all along, it's time for them to step up and decorate the Christmas cookies.

"Making beautiful Christmas cookies takes a little bit of planning and prep work but it's so worth it. I like to have everything ready to go before I start like my butter softened and ingredients measured out. From there, throw on some happy holidays jam and bake away. It's a great idea to get the kids involved in helping measure out ingredients, cut out shapes and decorate at the end," she said.

Time to decorate the Christmas cookies

By using a piping bag or knife, gently spread the icing over cooled cookies and decorate with such fun items as festive sprinkles, edible balls, or colored sugar. Burgess advised cutting a small piece off the end of the piping bag. This small opening helps ensure you don't have too much icing coming out.

"You can also use different piping tips to create fun effects. When piping, use your dominant hand to squeeze the icing while the other hand guides it along the cookie," Burgess said.

You can find piping bags in the baking or cake decorating section of your local grocery store or craft store. They are also available to purchase online. But if you can't find any, there's an easy way to pinch-hit.

"If you don't have a piping bag you can also use a sealed Ziploc bag and cut off a small corner of an edge. This won't be quite as precise but it will definitely give a similar effect. All about baking on a budget," Burgess said.

Need more than two dozen?

What if two dozen cookies just aren't enough for your Christmas celebration? It's easy to double the recipe if more Christmas cookies are needed. Just make sure to have a large enough mixing bowl to contain all of the ingredients, Burgess said.

"You could also double the recipe and bake half of the dough now and freeze the other half to use later," Burgess said.

Whether or not you bake two or four dozen, Burgess reminds everyone that it's okay to snack on a sugar cookie during the holidays.

"As a dietitian, I want to point out too how I think it's so important to allow yourself the freedom of flexibility when it comes to food during the holidays. Aim to fit in nutritious, whole foods but also be sure to enjoy your favorite indulgent bites in moderation. It's all about creating a healthy balance," she said.

Christmas Cookie Recipe
4.8 from 20 ratings
The thing that makes this Christmas cookie recipe stand out is the almond extract that gives it a unique and sweet flavor.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Christmas sugar cookies
Total time: 1 hour, 8 minutes
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup rather than packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Food coloring, if desired
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in one teaspoon of the vanilla extract and the almond extract, and egg; scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add in the flour mixture and mix at low speed until the mixture is evenly moistened. If the dough is too crumbly, add in 1 tablespoon of milk. Freeze dough for 15 minutes to chill.
  6. On a floured surface, roll half of the dough out to one-fourth of an inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Repeat with remaining dough until you've used all of it.
  7. Add cookies to prepared baking sheets and bake for 6 to 8 minutes.
  8. Remove cookies from the oven and cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a plate or rack to finish cooling.
  9. Prepare icing by combining powdered sugar, milk, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract. Icing should be slightly thick. Dye frosting with food coloring if desired.
  10. With a piping bag or knife, spread icing over cooled cookies and decorate with festive sprinkles.
Calories per Serving 200
Total Fat 8.0 g
Saturated Fat 5.0 g
Trans Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 28.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 30.4 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Total Sugars 18.3 g
Sodium 82.0 mg
Protein 2.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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