Christmas dessert recipes everyone needs to try once

The holiday season, and Christmas in particular, is the perfect time to indulge your sweet tooth, especially when the weather is cold and a fire is raging in the fireplace, though crave-worthy desserts aren't limited by the weather. This list has you covered for all of your Christmas dessert needs, whether you prefer cookies, fudge, pies, or the ultimate festive dessert: chocolate yule logs.

While not all of these desserts are strictly Christmas-themed, each is a great addition to the holiday dessert spread. Some, like no-bake peppermint pie and peppermint bark, are clearly designed to get everyone involved in the holiday spirit. Others, like an easy Christmas cookie recipe, are perfect for making and decorating while bonding with family and friends. Others still are just nice to have around during the holiday season because they're simply that good.

Before deciding on what to make for dessert around the holidays this year, take note of Mashed's Christmas dessert recipes that everyone needs to try at least once (though, to be honest, you'll likely make them far more than once).

Christmas cookies

You'd be hard-pressed to find a Christmas treat as iconic to the season in the United States as homemade cookies with holiday-appropriate shapes and decorations. These from-scratch Christmas cookies are easy to make, so you can spend less time fretting over specifics and more time bonding with family.

All in all, these Christmas cookies take a little more than an hour from start to finish: 40 minutes to prep, eight minutes to bake, and 20 minutes (or longer depending on how elaborate you choose to get) of decorating for 24 large cookies.

What makes these cookies stand out from the many other Christmas cookie options out there is the almond extract. This makes the entire cookie taste better by accenting the vanilla extract and bringing out a nutty sweetness. Other ingredients include baking powder, baking soda, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, milk, salt, and food coloring if you decide to change up the shade of your frosting.

Once you've made the base recipe, the final appearance of the cookies is up to you. Simply grab your favorite cookie cutters — Christmas trees are an obvious choice, but don't forget about Santa and the reindeer — and layer on as much icing as you prefer.

Yule log

The yule log is a special piece of wood that's burned on the hearth around Christmastime in certain parts of Europe. The yule log as a dessert, however, is a delicious, log-shaped treat that deserves a spot on your holiday table.

Think of this yule log (or bûche de Noël in French) as Swiss roll — essentially a thin chocolate cake that's rolled with a layer of whipped cream. Plenty of frosting is involved, and little frozen bits of whipped cream in the shape of mushrooms are included in our recipe.

Before you're concerned, here's a piece of helpful advice: Anyone who can make a sponge cake can make this yule log. The recipe uses eggs, butter, flour, cream, cocoa, salt, and sugar. Canned chocolate frosting makes life easier, but you can always substitute with homemade, and the same goes for using Cool Whip instead of making your own whipped cream filling.

This yule log recipe is forgiving of small mistakes, yet it will be an eye-catcher anytime it's put on the table.

Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are desirable no matter the time of year. Chocolate chip cookies around Christmastime, however, just hit different with lights, presents, and all of the other trappings of the holiday season around you. We've got the perfect from-scratch chocolate chip cookies for the occasions, complete with a soft and chewy center and crispy edges.

All you need for this recipe is all-purpose flour, brown sugar, granulated white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, chocolate, butter, egg, vanilla extract, and salt. What type of chocolate you go for all depends on whether you prefer something that's more bitter or something slightly sweeter. Chopped chocolate that you've cut yourself from a chocolate bar, however, always ends up better than chips. And as much as you want to focus on the sweetness of chocolate chip cookies, the salt is an important ingredient to make this sweet treat more dynamic.

Eggnog

Admittedly, eggnog is not 100-percent in the desserts category, instead falling somewhere in between dessert and drink (and alcoholic beverage, if that's what you prefer). Regardless, it's a satisfying treat that's the perfect salve for your sweet tooth after a holiday meal. This year, leave the overly sweet commercial eggnog versions on the grocery store shelves and make your own.

This eggnog recipe uses egg yolks, sugar, heavy whipping cream, whole milk, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. It only takes about 15 minutes of active cooking time (plus 24 hours to let the mix chill and come together in the refrigerator).

This recipe cooks the egg yolks, so there's nothing to fear for people who are wary of using raw egg in beverages or meals. And while there are a couple tricks to getting the texture just right, this eggnog is easy to whip together. Once it's ready, you'll have a homemade drink that's rich and creamy and perfect for long nights spent snuggled into a blanket or sitting next to a fire.

Cranberry orange oatmeal cookies

The best desserts aren't just sweet but are instead a mix of flavors in every bite. These cranberry and orange oatmeal cookies are a balance of sweet and tart with a thick, chewy middle. Ingredients like cranberry and cinnamon make it perfect for the holidays, and these are perfect for everyday eating, too, because, well, they're delicious cookies.

The ingredients list for this recipe is a little on the longer side, but it's worth the trip to the grocery store. You'll need flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, vanilla extract, the zest from one orange, oats, cranberries, and pecans. A gluten-free flour mix can be substituted in, as well. Strolling the aisles for the ingredients might be the hardest part of this recipe, though, as it's a perfect batch of cookies to make when you want family or friend bonding time.

One thing to note: Stand mixers with a paddle attachment make the process much easier, but it's not entirely necessary.

Gingerbread cookies

You're likely familiar with the tale of the gingerbread man, and there's a good chance you've built a gingerbread house or two over the years. Yet for the ultimate ginger-themed Christmas dessert, you need Mashed's gingerbread cookie recipe.

This recipe uses softened butter, vegetable shortening, brown sugar, an egg, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour. When properly put together, these ingredients add up to a cookie that needs no frosting, extra embellishments, or the shape of a person or house (though if you feel like doing any of those things to these cookies, that's perfectly fine as well). The taste is sweet but not overly so, with a warming and balanced baking spice flavor.

While this is an easy enough recipe to follow and certainly tasty as-is, there's room for variance depending on your preferences. Butter adds flavor and shortening leads to the right texture, but you can play with the ratio. You can also add additional spices like clove or more ginger if you like your cookies extra spiced. Or you can simply follow the directions for gingerbread cookies that won't disappoint even the most discerning cookie lover.

Peppermint pie

Peppermint is a classic holiday flavor, and there's no more iconic way to eat peppermint around Christmastime than a peppermint candy cane. But if you're looking for something different, you should crush those candy canes up and turn to this easy no-bake peppermint pie recipe.

This pie has a chocolate cookie crust made with Oreos and a fluffy peppermint filling. All it takes to make is softened cream cheese, peppermint extract, peppermint candy canes, Oreos, unsalted butter, and whipped cream. The recipe outlines how to make your own whipped cream, but feel free to lean on the store-bought kind if you prefer. And, though this particular peppermint pie is a no-bake pie, you will need some space in the refrigerator to let it set for a couple of hours.

The best recipes are easily customizable, and this one is no different. Chocolate and peppermint are natural pairs, but if you'd like a different crust than an Oreo crust, you can swap in whatever type of cookie you like. Nilla Wafers lead to a vanilla crust, for example, and graham crackers are always a go-to classic for crusts. The hardest part of the recipe is waiting the two to three hours for the pie to set in the fridge.

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies are about as simple a style of cookie that a sweets lover can make. That might lead some people to take the humble sugar cookie for granted, but the right recipe should be kept in your back pocket come holiday season when you need something quick and easy.

These sugar cookies only take around 25 minutes to make (and the recipe yields 12 cookies), so there's no need to set aside a big chunk of time unless you want to up your sugar cookie game with fancy frosting decorations. You'll need softened unsalted butter, sugar, an egg, vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. You can also add some pure almond extract for a more nutty flavor.

Once the dough is made, this recipe outlines how to make the perfect circular sugar cookies. You don't have to take this as law, however, and you can use your favorite cookie cutter shapes instead — a jolly, plump Santa Claus shape or Christmas tree ornament will really up the holiday vibes.

Peanut butter cookies

There are two types of cookies in this world: those that are extremely fancy with many different ingredients, and those that are as simple a recipe as it can get. Our peanut butter cookies recipe falls into that second category in a big way. These cookies only take three ingredients (yes, really) and about 15 minutes total of prep and bake time to make 24 delicious cookies.

All it takes is creamy peanut butter, egg, and sugar (white sugar is listed, but brown sugar is a lovely twist). With no flour, this recipe is perfect for people who are gluten-free. The cookies, amazingly, don't need baking powder or baking soda to be soft and fluffy. However, while the ingredients list is more than easy to memorize, there are a few key steps you will need to follow to make sure the cookies come out right. The shape, for example, must be a fork-flattened disk since the cookies won't expand on their own while baking.

When you need a quick and easy cookie recipe to satisfy a broad range of people over the holidays, look no further than these peanut butter cookies.

Peppermint bark

Peppermint bark is an easy and quick treat to make that's ideal for the holiday season, when everyone's mind is on candy with red and white swirls. Tins of the stuff can be found in plenty of stores as soon as the Christmas music starts playing every day, all day, but making your own is more fun and just as — if not more — delicious.

This peppermint bark recipe only takes three ingredients and about 15 minutes to make, though there's also a two-hour wait time before the peppermint bark is ready to bite into. You'll need to get your hands on two bars of semi-sweet baking chocolate, peppermint candy canes, and white almond bark (which is neither almond nor bark but a confection made with vegetable fats). It doesn't even matter which type of peppermint you opt for, since it's going to be crushed up anyway. The small candy canes can be quickly brought down to the right size in a food processor, but if all you have are the larger peppermint candy canes or even the small, round candies, those work as well.

Not that this needs any additional sweets, but if you're really craving something sweet, Oreos, M&M's, or whatever your favorite candy is can be sprinkled on top, as well.

Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons

If you're a fan of desserts, then there's a good chance you're familiar with the light (and expensive) French treat macarons. But how familiar are you with macaroons with two "o"s? Our chocolate-dipped coconut macaroon recipe can add a little nuttiness to your holiday dessert spread.

Macaroons have a similar egg white base as macarons, but macaroons use shredded coconut and are in the shape of little mounded balls. The recipe calls for egg whites, sugar, unsweetened shredded coconut, vanilla extract, salt, and bittersweet chocolate for the dip. They only take around 20 minutes of prep work as well as 15 minutes of baking for 18 macaroons. Best of all, unlike some coconut macaroon recipes that can get soggy, this recipe results in macaroons that are crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

Quick note: Owning a double boiler makes this recipe easier, but if you don't have one, you can arrange a saucepan and mixing bowl into a quasi-double boiler that works just as well. And one other note on ingredients: No matter how much of a sweet tooth you have, go for unsweetened rather than sweetened shredded coconut so that the texture ends up just right.

Chocolate chip cookie cake

Cookies get much of the attention around the holidays, and deservedly so. They're the perfect treat to leave out for Santa alongside a glass of milk or to just eat throughout the day — this is a no-judgment zone on cookie consumption. If you're looking to switch things up, make one giant chocolate chip cookie cake instead of making many small cookies.

For this chocolate chip cookie cake recipe, you'll need unsalted butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla extract, two eggs (one to use whole, and one just for the yolk), flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. A rich chocolate sauce completes this cookie cake, which can be homemade if you add semisweet chocolate, heavy cream, light corn syrup, and whipped cream to your shopping list.

Don't worry if you've never made a cookie cake before. If you've made cookies before, or even if you've just watched someone else make cookies before, you can make this cookie cake, which is essentially just a cookie in a larger format that's baked in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet.

No-bake pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie may get more attention in November when Thanksgiving rolls around, but it's a great dessert to put on the table after a long Christmas dinner as well. With Mashed's no-bake pumpkin pie recipe, you can skip all of the careful oven space allocation and cook time planning. Best of all, it only takes about 20 minutes to make, so you can have your dessert in no time.

For this recipe, you'll need softened cream cheese, brown sugar, canned pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, and whipped cream to go on top. If you choose to make the homemade crust as well, you'll also need graham crackers and melted butter. These filling ingredients simply need to be whipped and stirred together — exactly how much of the spices you use is up to your personal palate, but around one and a half teaspoons of nutmeg, clove, and allspice along with one and a half tablespoons of cinnamon is suggested. Once it's poured onto the crust, all that's left to do is let the pie sit in the refrigerator for two to three hours to set.

Marshmallow pumpkin cake

Maybe cake, instead of pie, better matches your sweet dessert cravings. You don't have to completely leave pumpkin out of the equation if that's the case. Instead, make this easy three-ingredient marshmallow pumpkin cake.

Everything you need for this recipe can be found in the pantry. First, you'll need a box of cake mix. White cake mix is perfect for people who want as much pumpkin flavor to show through as possible, but chocolate or any other flavor works for the recipe as well — just be sure the flavors don't clash too much with the pumpkin. There's also the option to make your own white cake mix, if you're up for it, with some flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

The other two ingredients are right there in the name: one can of pumpkin pie mix (pie mix has all of the spices and flavors already in it, while pumpkin puree is straight pumpkin) and one jar of marshmallow cream. Mixing the ingredients together and baking shouldn't take much more than about five minutes. After that, there's a quick 30-minute bake time and then however long you choose to spend decorating this pumpkin cake with the marshmallow cream before you have a delicious dessert on your hands.

Edible cookie dough

Many people enjoy licking the spoon and the bowl clean of raw cookie dough after mixing up a batch of cookies. The flavor can be addicting — cookie dough ice cream exists for a reason, after all. Still, it's not exactly the best practice from a health and safety standpoint due to the risk of salmonella from raw eggs and the bacteria in uncooked flour, according to the CDC. Our five-ingredient edible cookie dough recipe, however, is 100-percent safe, so you can get your cookie dough fix without having to think twice about it.

All you need is all-purpose flour, brown sugar, softened salted butter, milk, and mini chocolate chips. Though you're not cooking the dough, you still need a little bit of oven time to cook the flour (though a microwave or nonstick pan works as well). Then you mix the ingredients together in a similar way to how you mix the dough for regular cookies. Just 15 minutes after starting this recipe, you'll have guilt- and worry-free edible cookie dough.

Three-ingredient fudge

Fudge is rich, chocolatey, mouth-coating, and delicious. It's also typically on the harder side to make. This three-ingredient fudge recipe has all of the good parts of fudge without all of the fuss. Best of all: You don't need the candy thermometer to keep track of the sugar temperature like you do with some of the other popular fudge recipes out there, and there's no baking involved.

For this recipe, you'll need semi-sweet chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips or chopped chocolate depending on your tastes), a can of sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract. If you want to get fancy with your fudge, you can also add a nut butter, Oreo cookies, or chopped nuts like walnuts, pecans, or pistachios. The sweetened condensed milk takes care of the dairy and sugar component of many fudges, while the chocolate brings the flavor, along with any of the extra additions you add.

Bring this fudge to your next holiday gathering, and you'll be sure to be the star dessert chef of the evening.