A guide to cookies to get you through the holidays.
With the holidays right around the corner, cookies are probably on your mind. Nothing brings families together like baking, so long as it doesn't end in a fight over who gets to lick the spoon. Cookies make great gifts, and the heavenly smell they leave in the kitchen is certainly a perk. They come in a wide range of flavors, shapes, and textures, and vary based on where you are in the world. From light and crisp to chewy and soft, here are 28 of the most popular types of cookies to know.
Although the origin of this beloved cookie is up for debate, there's no doubt it's a favorite during the holidays. Snickerdoodles are a type of drop cookie (any cookie that is formed by dropping spoonfuls of dough directly onto a baking sheet) that is coated in cinnamon and sugar. They can be crisp or soft, with a slightly cracked surface.
Popular Snickerdoodle Recipes:
2. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Among the most popular of all cookie types, the chocolate chip cookie's invention was a happy accident. In 1930, Ruth Graves Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, ran out of baker's chocolate and substituted for it with pieces of Nestle's® semi-sweet chocolate. The rest is history. Chocolate chip cookies are drop cookies that can be soft and doughy or crisp and crunchy depending on how long you cook them or what ingredients you use.
Popular Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes:
- Chef John's Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies III
- Urban Legend Chocolate Chip Cookies
3. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
A seriously underrated cookie, oatmeal raisin is another type of drop cookie. Its dough is oatmeal based, and contains raisins and brown sugar. They're warm and comforting—a reminder of simpler times and grandma's house.
Popular Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Recipes:
Also known as ginger nuts or ginger biscuits, these spicy treats are popular all around the world. Powdered ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and nutmeg make this popular holiday cookie the perfect blend of sweet and spicy.
5. Shortbread Cookies
Shortbread cookies have a very high ratio of butter or shortening to flour, hence the name "short." They differ from butter cookies in that they have lower quantities of flour and sugar, giving them a more crumbly and tender texture. These classic cookies originated in Scotland, and go all the way back to medieval times.
Popular Shortbread Cookie Recipes:
6. Peanut Butter Cookies
A favorite for all the peanut butter lovers, these cookies are made with hand rolled dough that is often flattened with a fork to achieve that familiar waffle pattern. This technique was first introduced in the 1933 edition of "Pillsbury's Balanced Recipes," and also helps to distinguish this cookie for those with peanut allergies.
Popular Peanut Butter Cookie Recipes:
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies II
- 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
- Classic Peanut Butter Cookies
7. Whoopie Pies
These sandwich-style cookies are made with two soft, pillowy cookies and a marshmallow filling. Considered a Pennsylvania Amish tradition, legend has it that they're named after the exclamation children would make when they found them in their lunches. Today they are very popular in Maine, where whoopie pies were first sold. Traditionally chocolate cookies were used to make whoopie pies, but they've since expanded to everything from red velvet to pumpkin.
Popular Whoopie Pie Recipes:
8. Sugar Cookies
The sugar cookie is like the vanilla ice cream of cookies—everyone likes it but few claim it as their favorite. Basic ingredients like sugar, flour, butter, eggs, and vanilla make up this popular cookie type. It was first created in mid-18th century Pennsylvania by the Moravians. They can be easily be cut into shapes and customized, leading to their wild popularity, especially during the holidays.
Popular Sugar Cookies:
9. Molasses Cookies
An offshoot of the popular holiday gingerbread cookies, molasses cookies are made with just as much ginger. Sometimes molasses is the sole sweetener in these cookies, and other times it's made with a mixture of sugar and molasses. They can come in either a soft, cake form or a chewier crinkle form (perfect for gifting).
Popular Molasses Cookies:
10. Kiss Cookies
Kiss cookies are made by pressing a chocolate kiss into soft, fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies. They are fairly customizable—choose whatever base you'd like for the cookie. They're eye-catching presentation makes them perfect for serving to company.
Popular Kiss Cookie Recipes:
The origin of the word biscotti literally means "twice-cooked/baked" as biscotti is twice baked, resulting in its hard texture and long shelf life. It traces all the way back to ancient Rome, where it was a convenient snack for travelers. Today biscotti can be found in coffee shops everywhere, in a variety of flavors.
Popular Biscotti Recipes:
12. Butter Cookies
Like shortbread cookies, butter cookies have a high proportion of butter to flour. The difference between the two is that butter cookies have increased amounts of flour and sugar, helping them to hold their shape better than shortbread. Their sturdy texture allows them to be shipped as gifts, and they'e perfect for rolling and cutting into a variety of festive shapes.
Popular Butter Cookie Recipes:
13. Spritz Cookies
These German cookies are traditionally served around Christmas time. They're made by squirting the dough through a cookie press to make intricate designs. Spritz cookies can come in a variety of colors and flavors, including almond, peanut butter, orange, chocolate, and more. Dip them in chocolate and decorate with sprinkles for a festive treat.
Popular Spritz Cookie Recipes:
14. Snowball Cookies
These melt-in-your-mouth cookies go by many names including Mexican wedding cakes, butterballs, and Russian tea cakes. They're balls of buttery shortbread filled with pecans and rolled with powdered sugar. A wintery sweet no one can resist!
Popular Snowball Cookie Recipes:
15. Drop Cookies
A drop cookie is any cookie that's made by dropping spoonfuls of dough directly onto a baking sheet. This means lots of cookies can be drop cookies such as chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and more. They have a soft, cake-like texture and are extremely versatile.
Popular Drop Cookie Recipes:
16. Thumbprint Cookies
These round, shortbread cookies are made by pressing your thumb into the dough to make a whole that can then be filled with a variety of jams. They're synonymous with the holidays, and completely customizable. Be careful not to press your thumb too hard into the dough, as this may cause the dough to crack.
Popular Thumbprint Cookie Recipes:
17. Pinwheel Cookies
For cookies that stand out in a crowd, these hypnotizing pinwheels are the perfect choice. Although they may appear challenging to make, all that's required is rolling two dough rectangles of different colors together in a pinwheel formation, before slicing them into rounds and baking. Get creative with food coloring or add ingredients like dates!
Popular Pinwheel Cookie Recipes:
These thin, flat, and dry cookies have several variations. Whether you're baking classic vanilla wafers for banana pudding or another variation, wafers are for those who prefer a lighter cookie fix.
Popular Wafer Cookies:
While a macaron is a sandwiched, meringue-based cookie invented in France, a macaroon is coconut based. It has a dense, lumpy texture and comes in various forms. It may be flavored with fruit or dipped in chocolate—or simply enjoyed plain. The best part about macaroons is, unlike their French counterparts, they require very little time to make.
Popular Macaroon Recipes:
20. Fortune Cookies
For many folks in the U.S., these cookies are synonymous with Chinese take-out. But they can easily be made at home using flour, sugar, vanilla, and sesame oil. They're origin is actually from a Japanese cookie known as "tsujiura senbei." When they were first introduced in the U.S., they were sweetened with vanilla to appeal to American tastes. Break into them and see what fortune awaits!
Popular Fortune Cookie Recipes:
21. Crinkle Cookies
Chocolate addicts love these fudgy crinkle cookies that are rolled in powdered sugar. They have a chewy texture that melts in your mouth. Patience is a virtue when it comes to crinkle cookies, as they require refrigerating the dough overnight. But it's so worth it once you pull those powdered cookies out of the oven and see the fudge center peeking through the cracks.
Popular Crinkle Cookie Recipe:
22. Icebox Cookies
Icebox cookies are cookies that are made by forming the dough into a log, and chilling it in the refrigerator, hence the name. Once you're ready to bake, simply slice the dough into rounds and place on a baking sheet. Icebox cookies can be customized however you like. Try adding fruit, nuts, and even oatmeal to the dough.
Popular Icebox Cookie Recipes:
23. Gingerbread Cookies
Perhaps no cookie has more holiday street cred than the gingerbread cookie. Use them to make gingerbread men or gingerbread houses (and have gingerbread house decorating contest!). Basic ingredients include butter, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, sugar, and molasses.
Popular Gingerbread Cookie Recipes:
Less cookie than mini pie, tassies are a Southern delicacy. They are made by molding dough into small muffin cups which are then filled with an egg filling. These adorable mini pies will stand out on any holiday dessert spread.
Popular Tassie Recipes:
25. Lebkuchen Cookies
Similar to a gingerbread cookie, Lebkuchen is a traditional German cookie that is served around Christmas time. Sometimes they can come in cookie form, and other times they more resemble dessert bars. They have a hard, sugar glaze and spicy ginger taste. They'll keep well past Christmas day too.
Popular Lebkuchen Cookie Recipes:
Not to be confused with macaroons, macarons are round, meringue-based cookies with a creamy ganache filling in between. Today, it's the most popular cookie in France, coming in a rainbow of colors and flavors. The cookie crust is delicate and similar in texture to an eggshell. Bite in to reveal the chewy meringue texture inside. It may require some practice to get them just right, but they'll keep for several days and will be the star of any dessert table.
Popular Macaron Recipes:
27. Black and White Cookies
The base of a black and white cookie is soft and thick shortbread, which is iced with half vanilla fondant and half chocolate fondant. Black and white cookies are considered a New York City delicacy, made famous by the Seinfeld episode "The Dinner Party." Whether or not they're actually a metaphor for harmony and unity (as Jerry suggests), they're quite delicious.
28. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
White chocolate chips and macadamia nuts are the perfect pair. Today the popular cookie has expanded to include variations with dried fruit and other additions. No matter how you take them, these cookies are one of life's simple pleasures.
Popular White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie Recipes:
- White Chocolate Macadamia Cranberry Dreams
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies II
- Macadamia Raspberry White Chocolate Cookies