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100+ Holiday Cookie Recipes – Hosting a Cookie Exchange in 2021

100+ Holiday Cookie Recipes – Hosting a Cookie Exchange in 2021


Cookie exchange parties have been a popular winter tradition for a long time. But in these times, you may still be uncomfortable mingling indoors with other friends. Maybe the usual parties aren’t happening, but there are still ways to safely trade treats. There’s no reason to stop hosting a cookie exchange in 2021! There are many creative ideas to change things up this year that encourage a holiday feeling for your community.

Photo credit: Platter Talk (see recipe in Top Holiday Flavors)

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If you’re ready to take on hosting a cookie exchange, there are several ways you can safely operate it this year. Since indoor parties might not be happening, try one of these compliant ways of hosting a cookie exchange in 2021. 

Photo credit: Rachael Hartley Nutrition (keep reading for recipe!)

Gather the Bakers – First up, start a Facebook group where you can gather participating friends and state the cookie exchange rules. These people should be local and willing to drive for drop off and pick up. You’ll want to have those with specific allergies noted in the group. The online group is a perfect place to share other details, like the most requested recipes!

Photo credit: Veronika’s Kitchen (recipe under Fruity and Festive)

Outdoor Cookie Exchange – Set a specific time and location in which everyone will drop off individually bagged treats. Have tables set outside where guests can leave their cookies.

Request that each guest bring their bagged treats in an open topped cardboard box (wrap the outside to make it festive!) This way the box can be set down at the table with minimal contact.

Photo credit: It’s a Veg World After All (see recipe under Unique Treats section)

Placards for Treats – Create a placard for each cookie stating the name and who made it. 

Have an Allergy-Friendly Table – Clearly post signs on tables with notes in regards to allergies. Instruct those making treats to put their nut-free, gluten-free and dairy-free treats in the corresponding locations.

Photo Credit: Bake It With Love (keep scrolling for recipe)

Choosing Treats

Once all bakers have dropped off cookies in their designated areas at the tables, have them line up. Walk along the tables and grab a to-go bag of each cookie type that you wish!

When hosting a cookie exchange this year, having these rules laid down is important. Post the rules in the group and ensure that the event is safe for all attending! Keep a list of all attendees with their phone numbers in case contact tracing is required.

  • If you’re sick or showing symptoms, please do not participate in baking and exchanging treats.
  • Servings should be individually bagged for grab & go. Include between 4-8 cookies per bag. No open treats!
  • Add your own name tag to each bag.
Photo Credit: NeighborFood Blog (find this recipe in the Sugar Cookies section)
  • If your treat contains a known allergen, make a bold note of this on the tag. Consider implementing a colored dot system for quick info during cookie pick up (ie: “Contains Peanuts” could have a bold blue dot on the tag, “Includes Dairy Products” could have a bold red dot, etc.) 
Photo credit: Living Lou (see Nutty Treats section for recipe link)
  • Tables will be labeled with a placard of your name and cookie. Find your area to drop off your treats.
  • During drop off, please follow signage posted on the tables. There will be areas to drop off and pick up allergy-friendly treats!
  • When it’s time for cookie pick up, please line up and follow the tables. Grab whichever treats you wish to take home with you.
Photo credit: What a Girl Eats (recipe link in Around the World section)

Hosting a cookie exchange can be one of the top family holiday traditions year after year! This round-up of holiday cookies and treat bars from fellow bloggers can help give the bakers inspiration. Whether hosting a cookie exchange or school bake sale, these 100 cookie recipes are sure to delight!

Scroll through each section that includes favorite Christmas cookies, kid’s favorites, retro treats, as well gluten-free and vegan recipes.

Photo credit: Salt and Baker (see last section of this article for recipe)

Top Flavors of the Holiday Season

Eggnog Madeleines from My Kitchen Love are filled with eggnog and all the seasonal warm spices. Definitely one of the top seasonal flavors with a delightful twist!

Photo credit: My Kitchen Love
  • Soft and chewy Peanut Butter Pecan Cookies from Bake It With Love are loaded with classic peanut butter cookie flavor with delicious chunks of pecan throughout the cookies! Top them off with a whole pecan for more great pecan flavor in these addictive and tasty, buttery cookies (for the image reference, see photo in the text above).
  • Get out the coffee, tea or hot coca because these Holiday Biscotti need some dipping! This recipe from Food Meanderings is made festive with colorful cranberries and pistachios.
  • Pomegranate Walnut Cranberry Bars are the perfect wintery recipe to add to your Christmas Baking list. A crumb crust is layered with sweet and tart cranberries and topped with a crunchy and crumbly walnut topping in this recipe from Good Life Eats.
Photo credit: Good Life Eats

5 Ingredients or Less

Nothing could be easier or more delicious than these Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Bars from 2 Cookin’ Mamas. Just 3 ingredients, then a coating in powdered sugar, is all it takes to make these popular rich, decadent bars.
Photo credit: 2 Cookin’ Mamas
The 3 Ingredient, 13 Minute Peanut Butter Cookies are not your typical peanut butter cookie because they’re made with only three ingredients and are ready in just thirteen minutes! These easy cookies from 365 Days of Baking & More are the perfect thing to make for your holiday desserts or cookie trays or when you need something sweet to eat.
Just 4 simple ingredients, these classic Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies from Babaganosh are simple enough for kids to make on their own.
These 5 ingredient Almond Cookies from It’s Not Complicated Recipes are simple to make and travel well! They are both gluten and dairy free and can also be frozen.
Photo credit: It’s Not Complicated Recipes

Kid-Friendly Holiday Favorites

These easy One Cup of Everything Cookies are a great first recipe for kids to help bake in the kitchen. A delicious crispy cookie with peanut butter, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts can be adjusted to your personal preferences.

Little girl eating a cookie at the table
  • Oreo cookies, marshmallows, candy canes and chocolate – These no-bake Christmas Marshmallow Treats from Everyday Family Cooking are packed with all the things that kids love! Bonus: They’re gluten free.
  • Christmas is the time for fun and festive sweets! These Christmas M&M Cookie Bars from A Princess & Her Pirates are sprinkled with red and green to add a pop of color and flavor to your holiday treats.
  • These Rice Krispie Cookies are crunchy and tender at the same time! Salted caramel chips can be used in this recipe by Simply Stacie, or trade for chocolate or butterscotch instead.
  • Chewy and soft sugar cookies with all the colors of the holidays, these Christmas Funfetti Cookies from Of Batter and Dough are the perfect kid recipe.
Photo credit: Of Batter and Dough


Classic Shortbread Delights

Frosted Brown Butter Citrus Shortbread Cookies from Of Batter and Dough are as beautiful as they are delicious!  They can be cut out and decorated like traditional sugar cookie and are a buttery cookie that’s not overly sweet.

Photo credit: Of Batter and Dough
Photo Credit: Earth Food and Fire

Chocolate Heaven

It wouldn’t be Christmas without these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies at the cookie exchange! Martha’s Baking Addiction shares the classic cocoa and powdered sugar recipe.
Photo credit: Marsha’s Baking Addiction
  • Crispy, chewy and gooey, these delicious S’mores Cookies are made with graham crackers and toasted under the broiler. This s’mores cookie recipe from Baby Savers is perfect way to get your chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker s’mores fix without a campfire!
  • Chewy Chocolate Cookies from Babaganosh are rich and fudgy, studded with white chocolate chips for added flavor.
  • Crave the Good shares this recipe for fudge sandwich cookies, the Homemade Oreo. For easier preparation, this recipe uses a boxed cake mix and can be made ahead and frozen.

Holiday Classics and Retro Favorites

The buttery goodness of Saltine Toffee from Suburban Simplicity is irresistible. This Christmas Cracker toffee treat recipe is so simple, yet so delicious. Try it and see how fast it disappears – it’s kinda addictive!

Photo Credit: Suburban Simplicity
  • The classic chocolate chip cookie made with a twist! Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies from Rachael Hartley Nutrition combine the delicate flavor of sesame with rich dark chocolate.
  • These Coconut Cherry Balls from Bacon is Magic are a retro Christmas favorite. A no-bake treat that is easy enough to make with kids but decadent enough that adults love them too.
  • Eggnog is a holiday classic flavor and these Eggnog Cookies have the subtle addition of nutmeg and vanilla. This recipe from Thrifty Jinxy is made even easier with a boxed cake mix.
Photo credit: Thrifty Jinxy

Vanilla Almond Crescent Cookies are made healthier with whole grain flour, ground almonds and pure maple syrup. This classic recipe from Natalie’s Health receives a sweet touch with a light dip of the cookie into cacao. 

Photo credit: Natalie’s Health
  • These Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Hello Spoonful are the perfect blend of flavors with a gooey tahini chocolate inside, slightly crisp outside and made with clean ingredients! They also have a boost of protein from collagen.
  • Made with whole wheat flour, honey and coconut sugar, these Honey Cinnamon Cookies from Natalie’s Health are soft, chewy and free of refined sugars.
  • From Okonomi Kitchen, these Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are made with simple ingredients like natural peanut butter, coconut sugar and rolled oats. These vegan gluten free peanut butter cookie bars are thick, chewy and studded with chocolate for a delicious healthy treat! (They’re also freezer friendly so you can bake ahead).
Photo credit: Okonomi Kitchen

Rich and Nutty Treats

These Caramel & Cashew 7-Layer Cookie Bars from NeighborFood Blog make a magical and rich treat that is perfect for any occasion!

Photo Credit: NeighborFood Blog
  • Southern Pecan Pralines (or praline chews) from Keeping Life Sane are the perfect fall and holiday candy. These soft, sweet and nutty treats are sure to be a crowd pleaser.
  • Skip the pie, go straight for the bars! These Pecan Pie Cookie Bars from Organized 31 give you the best of both worlds.
  • Instead of bringing cookies, why not wow the party with some mouth watering fudge? This Peanut Butter Fudge from my friend Kirsten at Kids Are a Trip has the right amount of crunch – she guarantees everyone will ask for more!
Photo credit: Kids Are a Trip

Vegan Delights

Whatever the name (Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Teacakes, or Pecan Sandies), these Vegan Snowball Cookies from Vegan Huggs is always a welcome sight at the cookie exchange!

Photo credit: Vegan Huggs
  • Crispy shortbread cookies are perfect for dipping in chocolate, fruit jam or coffee. Vegan Cookie Fries from Planted 365 are easy to make, totally delicious, and also gluten-free!
  • This Wife Cooks offers a soft Vegan Cranberry Orange Cookie that’s a blend of citrus, sweet and tart. Festive and bright, these fresh fruit cookies are a colorful addition.
  • Warm and earthy pumpkin spice in a moist and soft cookie. This Vegan Pumpkin Cookie from Profusion Curry is also gluten free.
  • Vegan S’Mores Cookies with chocolate chips and marshmallows are so simple and tasty! This recipe from Planted 365 is also gluten-free!
Photo credit: Hello Spoonful

Traditional Christmas Cookies

Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies are an easy cookie that is dipped and chocolate and covered in sprinkles. They’re chewy on the outside and soft in the middle. This recipe from Food Folks and Fun is a holiday delight!

Photo credit: Food Folks and Fun
  • Who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate? These classic Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies have both and you’re sure to love them. This recipe from Keeping Life Sane has the added benefit of an eggless-recipe making it ideal for those with egg allergies.
  • Everyone loves a surprise and these Mint Surprise Sugar Cookies from More Than Thursdays have a peppermint treat hidden inside!
  • Urban Blisslife offers this Christmas classic recipe for Soft Gingerbread Cookies. Soft and chewy, just how I like them, these roll and cut cookies will help you make the perfect gingerbread man!
Photo credit: Urban Bliss Life

Soft and chewy Gingerbread Sugar Cookies are a delicious rolled sugar cookie recipe with a hint of gingerbread spices! I’ve made this recipe from Mommy Mouse Clubhouse and they are delicious!

Photo credit: Mommy Mouse Clubhouse
Photo Credit: She Saved

Fruity and Festive Holiday Sweets

It wouldn’t be a Christmas cookie exchange without the swirl cookie and this recipe from Beyond the Chicken Coop is an easy must-do. Cranberry Orange Swirl Cookies offer a tarty twist of fruit between the buttery layers.

Photo credit: Beyond the Chicken Coop
  • Fluffy and soft Iced Orange Cookies are glazed with a zesty orange glaze for a refreshingly light cookie. This image for this NeighborFood Blog recipe is shown earlier in the post.
  • Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies are perfect buttery shortbread cookies filled with raspberry jam and drizzled with glaze. This cookie recipe from Veronika’s Kitchen is one of the most popular Christmas treats during the holiday season! (scroll up to see photo shown earlier in this post).
  • Buttery and perfect with tea, coffee and conversation, these delicate Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread cookies from A Baking Journey have a lovely balance of sweetness and tang.
Photo credit: A Baking Journey

Gluten-Free Holiday Treats

No need to sacrifice flavor when you take out the gluten! These Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Bars are not only easy, they have a thick layer of yummy cream cheese frosting! Well If She Can Do It offers tips on how to create your own easy GF flour blend.

Photo Credit: Well If She Can Do It
  • A heavenly combo of chocolate and peanut butter, this recipe from Fit to Serve is gluten free and keto friendly. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars are a fast and delicious dessert fix!
  • This flavorful recipe from Fearless Dining  includes candied ginger, coconut,and chocolate. There are tips for making these egg-free, Gluten Free Gingerbread 7 Layer Bars without dairy.

Everyone will delight in these precious Stained Glass Cinnamon Sugar Cookies. This recipe from Our Potluck Family offers the step-by-step instructions on how to make these cookies with a showstopping stained-glass effect.

  • These Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Easy Budget Recipes are fudgy and soft on the inside and slightly crunchy and covered in powdered sugar on the outside. A Christmas classic!
  • Skip the rolling pin, these Soft Gingerbread Cookies from Crayons and Cravings is easy enough for kids to make. Simply roll the molasses dough in a ball and coat with sprinkles for a sweet holiday treat.
  • These Cherry Christmas Cookies from Platter Talk are festive and easy to make! Roll, refrigerate and slice for a bright and delicious dessert (see image in the top section of this article).
  • Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies look just like the ones my grandma used to bake! This recipe from Living Lou sparkles with sugar and is flavored with traditional holiday spices.
Photo credit: Living Lou

Kid’s Favorite Sweets

From Shweta in the Kitchen, these Kitchen Sink Cookies have everything you crave for in a cookie, plus more! They are eggless, soft, chewy, with hints of salt and loaded with your favorite mix ins. Bet you can’t eat just one!

Photo credit: Shweta in the Kitchen
  • Reminiscent of Frosty, these Melting Snowman Cookies are a kid favorite! Rich, chocolaty cookie recipe from Thrifty Jinxy with decorating tips to recreate the design.
  • These Super Easy Toffee Bars from Saving You Dinero are a holiday classic that kids adore.
  • Enjoy your favorite childhood treat without the mess with this recipe from Hello Spoonful. Oatmeal S’mores Cookie Bars are a great seasonal treat, with the classic S’mores flavors in a quick and easy bar form. Made with whole wheat flour and oats, this s’mores recipe is healthier than most. 
  • Well If She Can Do It offers this adorable recipe for Grinch Snowball Cookies. These tasty bites will make your heart grow two sizes with joy!
Photo credit: Well If She Can Do It

Best Buttery Cookies

Just 4 simple ingredients needed for these tasty Whipped Shortbread from Food Meanderings. Kids will be drawn to these sprinkled cookies with the cherry on top!

Photo credit: Food Meanderings
  • Delicious and melt-in-your-mouth, these Butter Cookies from Marsha’s Baking Addiction are a sweetly simple addition to your cookie exchange.
  • A cookie shaped like a reindeer? Yes, this is Christmas! These adorable Rudolph Peanut Butter Cookies from Thrifty Jinxy are such a delight.
  • This nutty and delightful recipe from Living Lou is a holiday cookie platter must-have. Hazelnut Shortbread Bars with Chai Tea Glaze go together quickly and are a melt-in-your-mouth delight (see image for these earlier in the post).
  • Frost ’em or eat them straight up! Brown Sugar Cookies like this recipe from Pumpkin n’ Spice has a deeper, more caramel flavor without losing any of the soft, chewy quality.
Photo credit: Pumpkin ‘n Spice

Unique and Creative Treats

These decadent Buttery Popcorn Cookies combine irresistible brown sugar cookies and crunchy salted popcorn. I’ve never seen or tasted anything like this unique recipe from Kitschen Cat.

Photo credit: Kitschen Cat
  • These Potato Chip Cookies from Baby Savers are like an extra brown sugary chocolate cookie with added texture and a bit of saltiness. The salt isn’t overpowering, and the potato chips turn into tasty chewy bits both inside and outside of the cookie. 
  • Have you ever heard of carrot jam?! But these healthier-for-you Carrot Jam Thumbprint Cookies from It’s a Veg World After All are so intriguing I can’t wait to try them! (see image earlier in this article)
  • Bacon in a cookie, I’m all in. These Sweet and Salty Bacon Chocolate Cookies from Crave the Good are an amazing combination that’s a cookie platter must-do.
Photo credit: Crave the Good

Bars, Blondies & Fudge

Showcase diversity when hosting a cookie exchange by offering treats outside of cookies. This recipe for Gingerbread White Chocolate Fudge from Nourish Plate is a creative dessert that’s creamy and easy.

Photo credit: Nourish Plate
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are stuffed with both kinds of chips for an easy kid-friendly treat. This recipe comes from Dancing Through the Rain.
  • These Gluten-Free Banana Blondies are rich, buttery and fudgy with the fresh, vibrant flavor of banana. This one from It’s Not Complicated Recipes are so quick and easy to make they are certain to become a family favorite.
  • Love that salty-sweet combo that keeps them coming back for more! These Bar Snack Blondies from Crave the Good have the perfect balance of chocolate, peanuts and pretzels.
Photo credit: Crave the Good

Traditional Holiday Tastes from Around the World

A seasonal favorite that’s reminiscent of winter snowballs, Pfeffernusse German Christmas Cookies from Platter Talk offers a peppery flavor with traditional spices and the sweetness of powdered sugar.

Photo credit: Platter Talk
  • These vegan Kolaczki Polish Cookies from Veggie Inspired are flaky and buttery with the flavors of almond with apricot jam.
  • From the Czech Republic, What a Girl Eats bring us this recipe for Moravian Molasses Cookies. These wafer thin, crispy molasses cookies offer rich holiday spice (image for this recipe shown above).
  • Ask Chef Dennis shares this recipe for buttery, salty-sweet Italian Pistachio Cornmeal Butter Cookies.
  • A Canadian traditional treat, Nanaimo Bars include a nutty base, creamy filling and chocolate ganache topper. This three-layer bar from Earth Food and Fire is a stunning addition to any cookie exchange.
  • Italian Christmas Butter Cookies offer a traditional taste and flavor, using a cookie press to create the designs. This recipe from Our Potluck Family shares fun decorating tips you can do with the kids.
Photo credit: Our Potluck Family

A Bite of Peanut Heaven

This adorable recipe from Smack of Flavor for Snowman Peanut Butter Cookie offers a chewy peanut butter cookie with chocolate features. The perfect combination!

Photo credit: Smack of Flavor
  • Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars are a welcome cookie exchange addition (and make for a great after school snack too!) This easy recipe from She Saved has just 6 basic ingredients for a rich and tasty combination.
  • Packed with chocolate, peanut butter chips and more, these Loaded Chocolate Chip Cake Squares from Rachael Hartley Nutrition can be amended to your liking (the image for this recipe is shown earlier in the article).
  • The quintessential holiday cookie exchange dessert, this delightful recipe for Peanut Butter Blossoms comes from Crayons and Craving.
  • No-Bake Peanut Clusters are a no-fail holiday treat that’s perfect to nestle among the candy and baked goods. This recipe from Beyond Frosting requires just 4 ingredients!
Photo credit: Beyond Frosting

More Vegan Holiday Treats

From Running to the Kitchen, these moist, cake-like Pumpkin Bars are gluten-free and vegan! Packed with fall spices to make a delicious afternoon snack or dessert.

Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen
  • Applesauce Chocolate Chip Cookies from Hello Spoonful are the best vegan chocolate chip cookies ever! Made with real ingredients, without eggs and butter, and require no chilling time. What could be better?!
  • Combination of tart jam with buttery-sweet crumb – yum! From Vegan Huggs comes this recipe for Jam-Filled Vegan Thumbprint Cookies.
  • Enjoy the flavors of the holidays with these Peppermint Mocha Rice Crispy Bars from Veggie Inspired. Brown rice cereal treats are topped with dairy-free chocolate and crushed candy canes.
Photo credit: Veggie Inspired

More Fresh Fruity Holiday Cookies

Coconut Krispie Date Balls combine sweet dates with crispy cereal and coconut in a unique recipe from Beyond Frosting.

Photo credit: Beyond Frosting
  • These bright and colorful Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies are sure to be a standout at the cookie exchange tables! Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, this recipe from Pumpkin ‘n Spice can be made ahead and frozen.
  • Candied fruit and cornflakes combine with caramel in this rich nut-free recipe from A Baking Journey. Florentine Cookies are coated with dark chocolate for a sweet and rich combo.
  • Oatmeal Raspberry Bars are a quick and delicious treat when hosting a Christmas cookie exchange. This recipe from Organized 31 has options for subbing in oatmeal packets.
  • Delightful Cranberry Cake Bars melt in your mouth, with a tart and sweet combo that can’t be beat. Soft and chewy inside with crispy crust edges and a festive holiday flavor.

Nutty Chocolate Christmas Treats

These Chocolate Pecan Slab Pie Bars from Bake It With Love are a wildly popular treat whenever they’re served. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is – no special reason is needed to make a batch of this fantastic dessert.



Photo credit: Bake It with Love
  • Mmmm, Nutella! This creative recipe for Nutella Ritz Bars from my friend Amiyrah at Four Hats and Frugal offers the saltiness of Ritz crackers with the hazelnut chocolate combo of Nutella.
  • Urban Bliss Life shares these easy and delightful Chocolate Chip Bars that bake in a pan for fast serving.
  • Chocolate and walnuts combine for a total of seven delicious layers in this recipe from Salt & Baker. Adding these decadent 7 Layer Bars to the party when hosting a cookie exchange is a must! (scroll back to top section for image reference).

What are you most excited about hosting a cookie exchange this year? Share in the comments!

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