It is that time of year again, when the weather starts to turn chilly and the tree goes up. It’s a holiday season for many people, so it can be hard to get in the spirit if you’re not from a country with a big Christmas culture. But even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there are plenty of cookies around the world that have some festive traditions attached to them!
Christmas cookies, who doesn’t love them? From the classic gingerbread man to more interesting options like the biscotti, there’s a delicious cookie out there for everyone.
This roundup features 21 different Christmas cookies around the world, so get your baking sheet ready and started on your holiday baking!
Gingerbread is a classic Christmas cookie that is popular in Germany and other countries in Europe. It is made with molasses, ginger, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and usually has a gingerbread man shape.
Gingerbread can be traced back to Germany where Lebkuchen is currently popular. These are hard cookies flavored with cinnamon and cloves or other spices like cardamom or coriander seeds. They were originally given out during Christmastime by St Nicholas to children who had behaved well during Advent season (December). But they also became the symbolic cookie of Hanukkah because of the many spices that are reminiscent of Eastern European Jewish dishes.
Biscotti are an Italian Christmas cookie that are made of twice-baked dough. They can be flavored with anything from chocolate to nuts to dried fruit, and they can be either hard or soft.
Biscotti are thought to have originated in the city of Prato, Italy. There is a legend that says they were invented by a baker who was trying to come up with a way to use up leftover dough. He put it back in the oven after it had already been baked once, and this created the dry, hard biscotti we know today.
Rum Balls (Australia)
Rum Balls are a popular Australian Christmas cookie that is made of crushed cookies, cocoa powder, and rum. They are rolled into small balls, and then covered in either cocoa powder or icing sugar.
Rum Balls got their name because they originally contained rum, but the liquor had to be taken out of them for commercial purposes. They were first popularized in World War II, when there was a shortage on almonds. So alternative ingredients including coconut and cornflakes to replace almonds were used, along with chocolate and rum!
Kourabiedes are a Greek Christmas cookie that is made of butter, flour, sugar, almonds, eggs, and baking powder. They are rolled into balls and then covered in icing sugar.
Kourabiedes are usually served at Christmas time, but they can also be served at weddings and other special occasions. They get their name from the kourabiethes (Greek word for “wafers”), which are a type of wafer that is popular in Greece. Kourabiedes are very similar to these wafers, except they are made with a yeast dough and have a richer flavor.
Tea Cake (Russian)
Tea Cake is a Russian Christmas cookie that is made of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, baking powder, and vanilla extract. It is a soft, dense cake that is similar in texture to a pound cake.
Tea Cake is a popular Christmas cookie in Russia because it can be stored for a long time and it doesn’t spoil easily. This makes it perfect for shipping to family and friends who live far away. Another reason why it’s popular during the holiday season is because the ingredients are easy to come by – most people already have them in their kitchen!
Rosette Cookies (Norway)
Rosette Cookies are a Norwegian Christmas cookie that is made of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and baking powder. They are rolled out into thin sheets and then cut into shapes with a rosette cutter.
Rosette Cookies are popular in Norway because they are very easy to make and they don’t require any special skills or equipment. In fact, most people make them using a simple pastry brush! They also stay fresh for a long time, so you can make them ahead of time and store them in an airtight container.
Springerle are an German Christmas cookie that is made of flour, sugar, eggs, butter, lemon zest, and anise extract. They are pressed into a mold that is carved onto wood or plastic, and then baked.
Springerle were first made during the Middle Ages when people used molds in order to save the images on them in their own personal cookbooks. The images they chose to replicate were usually religious ones, which helped spread knowledge of Christianity throughout Europe. Springerle cookies are decorated with these same traditional images today!
Macarons are a French Christmas cookie that is made of ground almonds, sugar, egg whites, and icing sugar. They are filled with jam or butter cream, and then sandwiched together.
Macarons have become very popular in recent years because they’re so beautifully decorated. The name macaron comes from the Italian word “maccare” which means “to crush” – this is an allusion to how finely the ingredients are ground before being mixed into a dough. Macarons became popular in France during the early 1700s when Catherine de’ Medici took over as Queen of France after marrying King Henry II. She brought with her all kinds of different foods from Italy!
Sufganiyot are an Israeli Christmas cookie that is made of flour, yeast, sugar, eggs, cream, and vegetable oil. They are fried in oil, filled with jam or custard filling, and then decorated.
Sufganiyot became popular in Israel after the state was founded because many of the young people who had just moved there were experiencing a homesickness for some of their favourite foods from back home. So they created sufganiyot to remind them of Europe – especially Germany! At first they were shaped like donuts but today their shape is more spherical with a hole in the middle so they can be stuffed with filling!
Khrustyky are Ukrainian Christmas cookies that are made of flour, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs, raisins, and butter. They are baked in large rounds with a hole in the middle – traditionally they were made using a knitting needle!
Khrustyky became popular during the holiday season because their dough is fairly simple to make and you can even use it as a base for your own homemade fruit-filled pastries. Ukrainians also consider khrustyky to be good luck charms! Because of this superstition they always serve them on New Year’s Eve or before going out on any important occasion – no matter how many people come over!
Pryaniki are a Russian Christmas cookie that is made of flour, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and butter. They are baked in small rounds and then dunked into a sugar syrup.
Pryaniki became popular in Russia because they are very easy to make and they taste delicious! The sugar syrup gives them a nice crisp outer shell and a soft and chewy centre. They are usually served as a dessert but can also be enjoyed as a snack.
Bebinca is an Indian Christmas cookie that is made of flour, sugar, ghee (clarified butter), coconut milk, and eggs. It is baked in individual servings and then served with a coconut syrup.
Bebinca became popular in Goa, India during the 1700s because it was very quick and easy to make! It’s thought that this is why it became so popular there – because at that time people were still trying to rebuild their lives after the Portuguese conquest. Bebinca can be made as one large cake or many small ones – making it perfect for parties since everyone can enjoy an individual piece!
Gevulde Speculaas (Netherlands)
Gevulde Speculaas are Dutch Christmas cookies that are made of flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, ginger powder, cloves, nutmeg, almonds and cher. They are shaped into rounds, filled with a almond paste, and then baked.
Gevulde Speculaas have been around for centuries and are thought to originate from the Catholic Church. Back in those days, it was common for the clergy to give out cookies made from these same ingredients as a form of charity. The name speculaas comes from the Latin word “speculum” which means mirror – this is because the cookies were often decorated with intricate designs that would reflect in the light!
Pfeffernusse are a German Christmas cookie that is made of flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamom, butter, eggs, and milk. They are shaped into balls and then rolled in sugar before being baked.
Pfeffernusse became popular in Germany during the 1800s because they are incredibly addictive! The combination of spices give them a unique flavour that is unlike any other cookie. Because they are so easy to make, they quickly became a staple at Christmas time.
Nastar are Indonesian Christmas cookies that are made of flour, butter, vegetable shortening, sugar, eggs, and jam. They are shaped into small star-like shapes and then rolled in granulated sugar before being baked.
Nastar became popular in Indonesia because it’s the perfect way to use up all that leftover fruit you have sitting around after the holidays! Plus, the bright red colour represents blood – which is why Nastar cakes are often eaten during Java’s holiday season to commemorate victory over foreign invaders years ago! Because they were so easy to make, many families would create dozens of these while watching TV together on New Year’s Eve instead of helping with their family business – causing Nastar to become the go-to New Year’s Eve activity in Indonesia!
Melomakarona are Greek Christmas cookies that are made of flour, sugar, olive oil, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and walnuts. They are shaped into small rounds and then baked.
Melomakarona became popular in Greece because they are incredibly delicious! The combination of spices and nuts give them a unique flavour that is unlike any other cookie. They are usually served with a cup of coffee or tea as a dessert but can also be enjoyed as a snack.
Shortbread are Scottish Christmas cookies that are made of flour, butter, sugar, and salt. They are formed into one big round shape before being baked.
Shortbread became popular in Scotland because they are incredibly delicious! The buttery texture is unlike any other cookie. They are usually served with a cup of tea or coffee in the morning or as an after-dinner treat alongside your favourite hot beverage in the evening!
Stroopwafels are Dutch Christmas cookies that are made of two thin layers of waffle-like dough with a caramel syrup filling in between them. They are cooked on both sides until golden brown before being rolled in granulated sugar.
Stroopwafels became popular in the Netherlands because they are incredibly delicious! The caramel filling is sweet and gooey and pairs perfectly with the waffle-like dough. They are usually enjoyed as a dessert or snack.
Florentines are Italian Christmas cookies that are made of flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and almonds. They are formed into a thin sheet before being cut into small squares and baked.
Florentines became popular in Italy because they are incredibly easy to make! The dough is very simple to put together and doesn’t require any complicated techniques. Plus, the almond flavour goes really well with the chocolate coating. They are usually enjoyed as a dessert or snack.
Turron are Spanish Christmas cookies that are made of nougat and marzipan. They are shaped into bars, covered in chocolate, and then wrapped in a green-gold foil.
Turron became popular in Spain because they are incredibly delicious! The combination of nougat and marzipan makes them incredibly addicting! Plus, the green-gold foil gives them a unique aesthetic that is unlike any other cookie. They are enjoyed as part of a dessert or snack alongside coffee or tea.
Alfajores are Argentinian Christmas cookies that are made of flour, butter, powdered milk, sugar, and cornstarch. They are filled with dulce de leche (caramel-like spread) and rolled in coconut before being baked.
Alfajor became popular in Argentina because they are incredibly delicious! The combination of sweet caramel and chewy coconut is unlike any other cookie. They are usually enjoyed as a dessert or snack after lunch or dinner.
A few of these Christmas cookies have been enjoyed for years and in some areas, they are a traditional treat served with a hot drink during this special time of year. Some may be a relatively new idea from different parts of the world, but all of these treats would make excellent additions to any holiday party!
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Read more: 15 Christmas Foods Around The World