When it comes to Very Nice Problems, deciding what cookie to bake for your holiday swap or dessert spread has got to be right up at the top. In that spirit, we asked a few favorite food people to weigh in with the one treat that makes the cut every year no matter what — and they delivered deliciously.
“In the low effort-big reward category of holiday cookie recipes, rum balls are hard to beat. I make my mother’s recipe every year for a number of reasons: the no-bake dough comes together in seconds (in a food processor), the recipe yields a ton (40), they can be made ahead (stashed in the fridge or freezer), and everyone loves them!” — Ali Stafford, Alexandra’s Kitchen
“Peanut Butter Blossoms are always the nostalgic hit at my annual cookie party — they are first to be taken off the table. My recipe comes from my Aunt Marilyn, who made them every year until she passed away in 2020 from Covid. I am honored to pass along her recipe to everyone to enjoy, in her memory! The recipe is perfect for nut allergies, as well, as it can be made with sunflower butter or even cookie butter if needed.” — Dan Pelosi, Let’s Eat
“German Chocolate Cookies! (gift link) They have all my fave things — chocolate, coconut, and nuts, are super easy to make, and come out dense and chewy in the best way!” — Samantha Seneviratne, author Bake Smart
“These almond cookies are utterly, perfectly chewy and delicious, and they are both vegan and gluten-free, making them safe for people with all kinds of food allergies (except almonds, obvs). I know that this seems incredibly un-festive but they are made with… chickpea liquid! Happy holidays, BEAN EATERS! If you’ve never used aquafaba — chickpea liquid whipped up like egg whites — prepare to be amazed! Also? I add a pinch of salt and more almond extract than it calls for — like a full teaspoon — because marzipan vibes are my total holiday everything.” — Catherine Newman, Crone Sandwich
“Honey-Walnut Bars! They’re a nutty caramel bar on a shortbread base that has a salty edge. You can cut them into whatever size you want (though I recommend small since they’re so rich). And they keep well for at least a week. The people in my life would never forgive me if they weren’t included on my holiday cookie platter.” — Tim Mazurek, Lottie + Doof
“The Nubby Granola Shortbread from my book — it travels well (not delicate), lasts forever at room temperature (ship it far!), is naturally gluten free (white rice flour!), uses up those half empty granola bags, and is made entirely in a food processor! Sometimes I jazz it up by adding sheer icing or candied fruit pressed on top, but it’s honestly a magical cookie all on its own.” — Natasha Pickowicz, author More Than Cake
As for me, I can never go wrong with Linzer Tarts. They instantly make a dessert spread or a cookie box feel festive, no matter what they’re sitting next to.
What’s your go-to holiday cookie?
(Photos: Rum Balls, Alexandra’s Kitchen; Peanut Butter Blossoms, Dan Pelosi; Almond Cookies, Lazy Cat Kitchen; Honey-Walnut Bars, Dan Goldberg for Food & Wine; Coronado Cookies, Caroline Chambers; Linzer Tarts, Jenny Rosenstrach)