The premise of the holiday cookie swap is always all fun and games. A festive, non-denominational way to celebrate with friends or co-workers during the end-of-calendar-year holiday season while eating lots of baked goods. Pure, wholesome good times all around. It's supposed to be an egalitarian gathering where everybody goes home with plenty of cookies, and thus, everybody wins. Ha! Suuuuure.
Now that you've been invited, the game is on. Your cookie has to outshine all others. It must be tastier, more unique, more tempting to the eye, more evident of your technical baking abilities than everyone else's. (Why does it always come to this? Why can't you just be chill?) It must disappear from the buffet table faster than all others, proving its superiority. Nevertheless, you have that one co-worker who you know is going to dig deep into her Pinterest-worthy baking creation reserves and you will not be shown up again this year. So whether you're trying to clinch the entirely-in-your-head title of cookie swap champ, or just looking for some fresh Christmas cookie inspiration, we pulled together this list of our best cookie recipes from the archives. Bake on.
This simple sugar cookie gets a little lift with the help of the humble candy cane. This sounds like a scented candle designed specifically to trigger the nostalgic part of your brain that will send you searching for It’s a Wonderful Life on Netflix.
This cookie is triply foolproof. First, it’s a recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, queen supreme of excellent sweets, who cannot steer you wrong. Second, it’s the kind of perfectly gooey you think you can only find in a bakery. Third, she made it on camera with us too, in case you’re feeling extra uncertain of your recipe reading ability.
Adult romance novelist Lynn Hubbard gave us this recipe, as inspired by her erotic e-book in which a lost young woman stumbles upon the cabin of a well-endowed anthropomorphic gingerbread man. You can keep their salacious backstory to yourself at the office holiday party, though.
Certainly one way to stand out from the cookie swap crowd—or thoroughly confuse your family—would be to take up a decidedly pagan motif for your cookie contribution.
Oatmeal raisin cookies always feel a little bit like your mom trying to trick you into eating your vegetables, but that’s kind of ridiculous—there’s still two sticks of butter and two cups of sugar going on here.
These cookies may look simple, but are surprisingly sophisticated with a warm hit of cardamom and crunchy toasted nuts. Certainly not your run-of-the-mill, standard holiday fare, but festive nonetheless.
GBBO baking star Ruby Tandoh reminds us that not all cookies must be made with butter. Olive oil, dark chocolate, and a garnish of flaky sea salt lend a hip, wellness-y sophistication to these cookies, without skimping on the chocolate.
If you’d ask us our opinion of dried cranberries and white chocolate individually, we’d probably say we prefer to take a pass. But together, and with this chewy dough, you’ve got some converts. For something even more unexpected for the swap, try substituting another of your favorite dried dark fruits, like blueberries or cherries.
Once again, we went straight to the experts for this classic. Peanut butter cookie dough is one of the most simple you can have in your arsenal, so you should have a good one. You cannot go wrong with this recipe from the good folks over at Ovenly.
Do you, too, miss the days when joyous fluff balls, Bo and Sunny Obama, roamed the snowy grounds of the White House? Flex your royal icing piping skills and commemorate them with this sugar cookie cut-out recipe from White House executive pastry chef Susie Morrison. Or decorate them like your own beloved canine.
Be the maverick who uses savory ingredients in your sweets. Made with tahini, then rolled in toasted sesame seeds, these cookies are nutty, soft, buttery and just a tad salty. These are the cookies for the person who never wants to order dessert.
We tried really hard to get to the bottom of this infamous cookie from the pop diva behind our favorite holiday tune. We couldn’t quite get there, but you can still give this recipe a try, and don't act like you won't be dancing around the kitchen, using your mixing spoon as a mic to belt it out.
Whether you're the lone vegan in a sea of butter- and egg-eaters or you know there's gonna be that one co-worker or friend who will really appreciate having SOMETHING to eat, these chocolate chip cookies come from vegan baker and food writer extraordinaire Alicia Kennedy, and they won't fail to satisfy just about anyone.
Use this perfect blank canvas of a sugar cookie dough to create envy-inducing sweets. Sprinkles, royal icing, buttercream icing, sugar crystals. Let your creativity run wild.
These are the best chocolate chip cookies ever, and Culinary Director Farideh Sadeghin stands by them. We throw down that gauntlet, and we encourage you to do the same. Crispy exterior, gooey inside, over a pound of chocolate, and sprinkled with salt on top. Perfection.
All of the flavors of the festive holiday beverage, without any of the icky reservations about drinking a room-temperature beverage with raw eggs in it.
Like a funfetti cake and a chocolate chip cookie had a chewy, delicious love child.
These cookies might not be the prettiest to look at, but they taste beautiful.
Buttery, chewy sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon and yet even more sugar—who can resist?
Who says a ginger snap has to have a "snap" at all? We prefer them soft and chewy and perfectly spiced.
With miso for a salty kick, white chocolate for sweetness, and ground coffee for a little bitterness to round it all out, these cookies will be the talk of the swap.
Like chocolatey, powdered-sugar-dusted clouds, these fluffy, chewy vegan cookies are sure to be a crowd pleaser.
A shortbread cookie dough is the perfect blank canvas for adding whatever other mix-ins your little heart desires—fruit zest, herbs, spices—but we suggest starting with toasted walnuts.