The tradition of gathering in the kitchen during the holidays is one of our most favorite of all traditions. The warmth of the oven, smells of sweet treats baking away, and memories of joy and laughter are truly the best of the year. This year, bring the comfort of the season into your kitchen, with inspiration from some of the most popular cookies eaten around the world during the Christmas season.
Country of Origin: Germany
This spiced cookie is a Christmas favorite in Germany. Though there are some variations, common spices include white pepper, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. You will typically find them either coated in an icing or dusted with sugar.
Country of Origin: Russia
This Russian gingerbread cookie is very similar to German pfeffernusse, but these often include jam in the center of the cookie and come in more varied, intricate designs. Pair with tea for the perfect Russian Christmas treat!
Country of Origin: Austria
These classic, iconic Christmas cookies hail from Austria and are a twist on the famous Austrian dessert, Linzer Torte. Known for being both beautiful and delicious, these cookies consist of jam (typically apricot, redcurrant, or rasberry) sandwiched between two buttery, nutty shortbread-style cookies. They are dusted with powdered sugar and feature a cut out that creates a stained glass-like effect.
Country of Origin: Poland
This popular Christmas cookies may hail from Poland, but variations can be found across Eastern Europe. Their characteristically sweet and flaky texture comes from the use of cream cheese in the dough. They are typically filled with various jams, though you can also find them filled with sweet cheese, poppyseeds, and more.
Known as vanillekipferl in Austria, hókifli is a crescent-shaped walnut cookie that is popular during Christmas time across Austria, Hungary, and Germany. They consist of a rich, flakey dough with a sweet walnut filling and are dusted with powdered sugar.
Country of Origin: Argentina
Though typically associated with South America, these famous Christmas cookies are originally from Spain. As Spain conquered South America, they brought their cookies with them, and from there each region developed their own version. The most popular variety today gained acclaim in Argentina, and consists of sweet dulce de leche sandwiched between two shortbread-style cookies that is either dusted with powdered sugar, rolled in coconut flakes, or dipped in chocolate.
Country of Origin: Spain, Mexico
These crumbly cookies originally come from Andalusia but are also incredibly popular in Mexico, even having the nickname "Mexican Wedding Cookies". In both the south of Spain and across Mexico, these cookies can be found year round, but they are especially popular during the holidays. These cookies are beloved for their crumbly texture, which you can even see in their name. Polvorónes comes from the Spanish word "polvo" aka dust, referencing their texture and powdered sugar coating.
Country of Origin: Italy
These almond and pine nut cookies come from Sicily and are a holiday favorite across the south of Italy. They are beloved for their soft, chewy texture and nutty flavor. They're best hot out of the oven, but their luxurious ingredients also make them a fabulous gift.
Country of Origin: Italy
When hearing "fig cookies" one might think of store bought Fig Newtons, but let us introduce you to their superior Italian counterpart: cuccidati. Hailing from Sicily as well, these rich, flaky cookies are filled with a decadent blend of figs, dates, chocolate, walnuts, and spices. They are found throughout Sicily during Christmastime and are a must-try.
Country of Origin: Italy
This Italian shortbread cookie is technically not a Christmas cookie, as it is eaten on Epiphany (or La Befana in Italian), which takes place January 6th. Epiphany is still considered a part of the Christmas holidays though, so we're counting it! The name Befanini derives from Befana, the name of an old witch who is similar to Santa Claus in Italian culture. On January 5th she flies on her broomstick and brings children candy or coal. Many poorer Italian families who could not afford gifts would fill their children's stocking with these delicious shortbread cookies.
Country of Origin: Likely the United States
And last on our list, but certainly not least is this popular treat that graces cookie tins across the United States. Believed to be invented in the 1700's by German settlers in Pennsylvania, the Sugar Cookie is among the most popular cookies eaten in the country during the holidays. Simple in nature, but spectacular by design - these cookies are made in a variety of shapes, from snowflakes and Christmas trees to ornaments candy canes. While you can find a huge array of sweet treats, traditional sugar cookies topped with icing and colorful sprinkles are almost always the first cookie on the yearly baking list for Americans.
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