Looking for the best cookie recommendations for holiday baking? From sugar cookies to gingerbread to the best cookies for shipping, I have plenty of suggestions!
As someone who, at their core, just wants to take a bite out of every chocolate in the box, the appeal of a holiday cookie box with a little bit of everything is limitless! I love crafting the perfect cookie box with a good variety of soft and chewy, crunchy, chocolate-y, spiced, fudgy, sprinkled, glazed, etc.
After testing more than 160 cookie recipes in the bake offs alone, I’ve culled a few of my top recommendations for holiday baking. Below, you’ll find a mix of suggestions from my bake offs as well as recipes that I’ve tried and loved from other recipe developers.
The best cookies for shipping
For cookies that travel well in the mail, I like to stick to hardy cookies age well or even cookies whose flavors deepen with age (like gingerbread). A few of my favorites:
- Smitten Kitchen’s olive oil shortbread with rosemary and chocolate: Not only is this recipe so, so easy to throw together, it’s also a buttery, crisp cookie that holds up well over days. They can be a tiny bit delicate, so just make sure you cushion the cookies well in the package.
- Frosted sugar cookies: My friend and I recently made a batch of Katrina’s Kitchen’s sugar cookies and mailed them to her coworkers. Not only did the frosted, baked cookies hold up well after a week in the freezer, they were also traveled well without crumbling. I think most glazed sugar cookies will hold up decently in the mail since the glaze helps prevent the cookie from staling. (See below section for sugar cookie recs and links.)
- Gingerbread: I recently re-made both Tartine and Baker by Nature’s recipes and both held up well after several days at room temperature. I think Tartine would be especially good for sending because of the all-over glaze. I could also see Cook’s Illustrated holding up especially well given its high moisture content. (See below section for gingerbread recs and links.)
- Drop cookies: The Ovenly peanut butter cookies mentioned at the bottom of this post are also dense, thick and rich cookies that age and travel well. Chocolate chip cookies (see highlights below–my pick would be Cook’s Illustrated) are also a classic care package staple!
- Rugelach: I love a butter/cream cheese rugelach dough for extra flakiness. I think these rich, sturdy cookies travel extremely well! (I like using a Nutella + raspberry jam instead of a nut filling.)
Sadly, I don’t have specific recipes to recommend for these, but biscotti and spritz cookies would also be great hardy cookies that travel well.
Frosted sugar cookies
- For a thin, buttery crunchy cookie that you can make ahead: King Arthur Flour
- For a thick, soft and easy cookie (no chilling!): In Katrina’s Kitchen
- Thick and melt-in-your-mouth Lofthouse copycat cookies (very cute with some festive sprinkles!): Serious Eats
Ginger molasses cookies
Based on my best ginger molasses cookie bake off:
- For a truly spicy, chewy, flavorful cookie: New York Times (or borrow Sohla’s tip of rolling the dough in ginger sugar (i.e. ginger powder mixed with sugar) to add a spicy edge to any cookie)
- For a classic, not-too-spicy, thin and chewy cookie: Claire Saffitz
- For a fancier, higher-effort flat and chewy cookie rippled with ginger caramel: Displaced Housewife
Based on my best gingerbread cookie bake off:
- For a glazed gingerbread that’s soft, rich and a little spicy: Tartine
- For a soft, mildly spiced untraditional gingerbread that tastes like Biscoff: Baker by Nature
- For a chewy, moist, balanced gingerbread: Cook’s Illustrated
- For the spiciest gingerbread I’ve found: Moosewood
Suggestions based on my best brownie bake off and the vegan brownie bake off. These are perfect on their own or as a base for any recipe from peppermint brownies to marbled cheesecake or peanut butter brownies!
- For the ideal chewy, glossy-topped, perfectly chocolate-y crowd-pleaser: King Arthur
- For gourmet, rich, silky, melt-in-your mouth brownies, I always make these when I have an abundance of eggs and a little extra time: Tartine
- For a gooey brownie with espresso notes that falls somewhere in between the structured workhorse of King Arthur and fancy richness of Tartine: The Kitchn
- For an eggless recipe perfect for any plant-based friends: Rainbow Plant Life
- There is only one snickerdoodle I crave regularly (airy, faintly tangy, perfectly balanced), and that is: Smitten Kitchen
- For a brown butter-based rich and chewy snickerdoodle: Ambitious Kitchen
Peanut butter cookies
- For perfectly crisp-edged, fudgy-centered cookies with rich peanut flavor: Jessie Sheehan
- For slightly thicker, conventionally delicious pb cookies: Bravetart
- For a twist–a thick and gooey chocolate cookie studded with peanut butter chips that will stun your friends: Cake by Courtney’s Levain-style chocolate peanut butter cookie
Based on my best shortbread bake off:
- For a thick, beautifully fine and sandy texture that melts in your mouth (splurge on fancy butter for the best effect!): Ted Lasso
- For a very crisp, very buttery shortbread that uses rice flour and a twice-baked technique: Seasons and Suppers
- For my favorite twist on shortbread–these are both so easy (oil-based instead of butter-based!) and SO delicious (chocolate and subtle rosemary are a match made in heaven): Olive oil rosemary chocolate shortbread from Smitten Kitchen
Chocolate chip cookies
- For a flavorful, perfectly chewy crowd-pleaser: Cook’s Illustrated
- For a slightly more gourmet vibe: Claire Saffitz
- For a great gluten-free option: Miro Uskokovic
- For a standout, extraordinarily thick gooey with a crisp exterior and gooey center that will have people asking for the recipe: Hijabs and Apron’s Levain-style CCC
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Based on my best oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bake off. (Yes, you can of course use raisins instead of chocolate chips if you prefer):
- For impressively thick gooey-centered cookies packed with oats and chocolate: Kroll’s Korner (I think these would also be good if made in a smaller size!)
- For a thick and chewy, wholesome-yet-decadent feeling cookie: Smitten Kitchen
- For a thinner, fudgier with minimal oats: Broma Bakery
- One of the most-requested cookie recipes I’ve made–sweet, savory and so satisfying: Bon Appetit’s miso almond butter cookies
- The chocolatiest cookies I’ve found! My friend makes the base dough into chocolate crinkle cookies: Hot cocoa cookies from King Arthur
- If you have an abundance of egg yolks (this call for 3 eggs + 3 yolks) and/or lemon juice, these are the only lemon bars I make: Cook’s Illustrated
- These are a bit of a project, but I love these for a s’mores cookie profile: campfire crunch cookies
- My favorite easy vegan chocolate chip cookies from Oh Ladycakes, but I have a whole bake off on vegan CCCs here!
- My friend just delivered some of these to me, and they were AMAZING: Oatmeal raisin cookies from Nora Cooks
The fastest treat ideas
- Just melt chocolate: Dip pretzels, Ritz peanut butter sandwich crackers or your favorite storebought cookie in melted chocolate and add sprinkles
- Ready in 30 minutes (vegan and gf!): 4-ingredient peanut butter cookies from Ovenly