Celebrate the Season with Holiday Cookies from Around the World

a plate of German butter cookies shaped like crescents
Photo: Allrecipes

Turn this year's Christmas cookie-baking extravaganza into an international affair with these world-famous traditional cookie recipes, including krumkake, crescent cookies, pizzelles, rugelach, lebkuchen, melomakarona, and much more. Explore flavors from around the world with these top-rated holiday cookie recipes.

01 of 29

Lace Cookies (Florentine Cookies)

a stack of thin caramel-colored almond cookies
Chef John's Florentines. Chef John

"These Florentine lace cookies are simple to make and gorgeous to look at," says Chef John. "This cookie technique is versatile and adaptable to any kinds of nuts or chocolate. They also keep pretty well so they're perfect if you're looking for an idea for an edible holiday gift for any cookie lover on your list — just stack them up in a box and tie them with a bow!"

02 of 29

Holiday Lebkuchen (German Spice Cookies)

round ginger cookies decorated with three blanched almonds and a thin lemon glaze, arranged on a white plate
Shae's Mama

"Since my mother's parents came from Nuremberg and Munich, Lebkuchen has been a holiday tradition in my family ever since I was little," says Shae's Mama. "We don't like the usual candied citrus peel, however, so I use apricots and dates instead. Great served with hot tea."

03 of 29

Crescent Butter Biscuits

crescent butter biscuits

These almond-enriched Christmas cookies are commonly known as Vanillekipferl. "Enjoy with a big mug of tea," suggests Marianne. "If you have a scale, please measure out the ingredients in grams, as the proportions are important. (Gram measures are in the Cook's Note)."

04 of 29

Butter Rich Spritz Butter Cookies

Butter Rich Spritz Butter Cookies
Butter Rich Spritz Butter Cookies. achamberlain

To make these soft, buttery, almond-flavored spritz cookies, you'll press the cookie dough through a spritz cookie press, creating designs like Christmas trees and snowflakes. "My mom has made these cookies for years for all of the holidays," says Sheri Lipp. "The kids love to decorate them as much as they love to eat them."

05 of 29

Pignoli Cookies

pignoli cookies on a rack
linda ch

These Italian pine nut cookies are gluten free and taste "pleasantly sweet," says Adele. "They're made with almond paste and pine nuts, but no flour."

06 of 29

Pfeffernüsse (German "Pepper-Nut" Christmas Cookies)

Iced Cookies on a white plate
Pfeffernüsse German Pepper-Nut Christmas Cookies. Chef John

These traditional German Christmas cookies are soft and chewy with a thin, crisp icing and the perfect combination of warming winter spices. "I think this is the best Christmas cookie of all time," says Chef John, who goes on to explain the name: "Pfeffernüsse translates to pepper-nut, even though these cookies don't contain either. Back in the day, 'pepper' was a generic name for any type of spice, and these were were called 'nuts' because they looked like nuts!"

07 of 29

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

coconut macaroons dipped in chocolate
Chef John

"Even first-time cookie makers can pull off super moist, tender, chewy macaroons," says Chef John. "Using sweetened condensed milk streamlines the operation and produces a very nice texture. Simple to make and easy to transport. Just stick an almond inside each macaroon if you want to relive that chocolate-coated coconut-filled candy bar of your childhood."

08 of 29

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

pieces of Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti lined up
Rob Tanner

These authentic Italian biscotti feature the traditional red and green colors of the holiday and distinct, surprising flavors. "This recipe is every bit as good as it sounds," says BONOZ3612. "I made them for the holidays and not only did they look beautiful on my cookie trays, but they were a hit with everyone who tried them."

09 of 29

Scandinavian Almond Bars

Scandinavian Almond Bars

"These cookies are my family's favorite cookie," says Marji Stark. "They are simple to make, unique, and pretty. A wonderful recipe to make for a cookie exchange. Take your recipe along, everyone will want a copy!" Sparkytoo rates them 5 stars, and says, "These brought a very happy memory to life and if my Norwegian grandmother were alive she'd be doing handstands. They were a staple of our Norwegian family and the very first recipe that my grandmother tried to teach me."

10 of 29

Pebber Nodder (Danish Christmas Cookies)

Pebber Nodder (Danish Christmas Cookies)
Pebber Nodder (Danish Christmas Cookie) | Photo by ashley c.

These Danish-inspired cinnamon and cardamom flavored shortbread nuggets are "like little bites of Christmas," says YAC2004.

11 of 29


two rugelach on a saucer with a cup of coffee

Simply fill cream cheese dough with raisins, chopped walnuts, and cinnamon sugar, and roll them into crescent shapes. "Absolutely the best rugelach recipe I have tried," says Katherine Lento. "Grew up buying all my cakes, etc. in Jewish bakeries, and this recipe makes the best I have ever tasted."

12 of 29

Linzer Tarts

Linzer tarts with powdered sugar

These Austrian holiday cookies were named after Linz, Austria. "These were exquisite — buttery and nutty and delicious," says TRISHICAT.

13 of 29

Ma'amoul (Lebanese Date Cookies)

Ma'amoul (Lebanese Date Cookies)
Carson Downing

"After a few phone calls with my mom and grandma, I managed to write a detailed recipe for one of my favorite Lebanese sweets, ma'amoul," says LauraF. "They take time to make, but are not very difficult. Wooden ma'amoul molds give them their distinctive decorative shapes." No wooden mold? No problem! After sealing the dough around the filling, flatten slightly, and then use a wooden skewer to carve your designs into the dough.

14 of 29

Chef John's Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes I sprinkled with powdered sugar
Philly Ry

Serve these slightly sweet and nutty holiday treats with hot tea or fresh coffee. "As the old joke goes, these Russian tea cakes might not be Russian, but at least they're not cakes," says Chef John. "No one knows exactly how these came to be known as Russian tea cakes but, nevertheless, they are quite delicious."

15 of 29

Sicilian Fig Cookies

Sicilian Fig Cookies
Sicilian Fig Cookies.

These delicious fig- and walnut-filled pastries make terrific holiday cookies. "I make these every Christmas for my Italian in-laws," says foodphotogirl. "One year my mother in-law and sister in-law used recipes similar to this one but ended up liking this recipe the best and asked for the recipe." Also try them with dried apricots or dates in place of the figs and hazelnuts instead of walnuts.

16 of 29

Springerle IV

Traditional Springerle
Kindra Loy Lee

"We have made these very traditional German cookies every year since I was a child," says Adrienne Belaire. "My mother remembers her grandmother making them with this recipe that has been in our family for generations. The molds can be hard to find, but check specialty cookware stores and antique shops."

17 of 29


thumbprint cookies on a white plate

These Swedish thumbprint cookies are "INCREDIBLE," says QueenOfGreatJunk. "This is my kind of cookie. I made them for a cookie swap, but decided not to take them...they were too yummy! I tried 3 different kinds of jam: raspberry, boysenberry, and blueberry. Raspberry won hands down."

18 of 29


A tall stack of wafer cookies on a white plate, with one turned sideways to show off the flower design

This recipe for traditional Italian waffle cookies "calls for a batter-like dough and is baked on a pizzelle iron," says Marianne Jungels. "Powdered sugar adds an elegant touch. In the Italian version, vanilla is replaced by anise. Chocolate may also be used."

19 of 29

Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies)

Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies)
Carson Downing

"These alfajores are to die for," says vegchef. "This was given to me by a chef who sweet-talked the recipe out of a street vendor in Peru."

20 of 29

Cream Cheese Kolacky

overhead view of homemade Cream Cheese Kolacky recipe filled with apricot and strawberry jam

"The dough for these cookies is what makes them exceptional," says MBMCD. "I always quadruple this recipe for the holidays. Most popular fillings are peach, apricot, raspberry, and date. Use your imagination! This year I'm trying Michigan cherry preserves and cranberry marmalade."

21 of 29

Ghorayebah (Butter Biscuits for Eid)

Ghorayebah (Butter Biscuits for Eid)
Carson Downing

These popular North African and Middle Eastern cookies are like a shortbread studded with cloves or almonds. "This is a seasonal Sudanese cookie usually used for Eid celebrations, but you are surely free to bake them at any time of year," says Shiara. "This recipe was handed down to me by my mother."

22 of 29

Chef John's Almond Biscotti

Chef John's Almond Biscotti
Chef John

These easy twice-baked biscotti are the perfect quick cookie for the holiday season. "My version is pretty straightforward — a classic Italian dipping cookie," says Chef John. "But you can add hazelnuts, pistachios, and any type of dried fruit. Or dip them in dark chocolate."

23 of 29

Viennese Crescent Holiday Cookies

homemade Viennese Crescent Holiday Cookies dipped in chocolate and dusted with confectioners' sugar

These light, buttery Austrian cookies are a taste of tradition. "They have been a Christmas family favorite for 20 years," says Debby Hawkins. "Flaky and buttery, they are worth the effort. Almonds can be substituted for hazelnuts."

24 of 29

Melomakarona Cookies

a plate of melomakarona, traditional Greek Christmas cookies
Diana Moutsopoulos

These Greek honey-soaked cookies embody Christmas and are a must in every Greek home during the holiday season. Scented with cinnamon and studded with walnuts, each cookie is dipped in a honey-based syrup after baking.

25 of 29

Norwegian Krumkake

overhead view of homemade Norwegian Krumkake recipe with decorative embossing and rolled into cone shapes

To create the decorative patterns, cook these traditional Norwegian cookies on a special krumkake iron. "If you like a mildly flavorful and crispy wafer-like cookie, this is it!" says SUCCESSB440 "Other flavorings can be added in addition to or instead of vanilla. You can even use this recipe to make your own ice cream cones. Easy and quick! Pipe them with whipped cream or dip in melted chocolate."

26 of 29

Anzac Biscuits (Australian Coconut-Oat Cookies)

Anzac Biscuits (Australian Coconut-Oat Cookies)
Carson Downing

Trish Gorman raves, "Doesn't get more Aussie than these! This is the one and only recipe I use to make the boys Anzac biscuits. I like a little extra golden syrup in the mix." Sharon McAllister explains the significance of this traditional recipe from Australia and New Zealand: "It's associated with the national day of remembrance (Anzac Day) to commemorate the Gallipoli campaign during WWI."

27 of 29

Kruschicki (Polish Bow Tie or Angel Wing Cookies)

Kruschicki (Polish Bow Tie or Angel Wing Cookies)
Carson Downing

You may also see these authentic Polish treats spelled chruściki. "The secret is to roll the dough thin for a light, crisp cookie," says Diane B. "This recipe is from my grandmother."

28 of 29

Speculaas Cookies or Spicy Sinterklass Cakes

Dutch windmill cookies next to a wooden mold

"This traditional Dutch cookie recipe came with a mold I got 20 years ago," says Harriet A. Schipper. "Speculaas is a corruption of the Latin speculum (mirror). The dough is pressed into carved molds that can be used for wall decorations. When turned out onto the cookie sheet, the picture appears as its mirror image, hence the name. If molds are not available, roll dough to desired thickness and use gingerbread man cutter or other cutter shapes. They are great to make ahead around Christmas because they last a long time."

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