Classic vanilla cookies with a dash of the best holiday spices for Christmas. Decorate with coarse sugar for a little extra crunch and a touch of sweetness!
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About Christmas Spice Cookies
The holiday season is the cookie mecca, and when it comes to cookies, it’s hard to beat a classic vanilla cookie. They are the go-to base for so many other confections, and these spice cookies are no exception.
One of the biggest trademarks of the entire holiday season is all the tastes and spices that only seem to come out this time of year. It’s like an unspoken rule that these flavors can only be thoroughly enjoyed during the winter months – and, if you ask me, that’s a downright shame. A good spice combination is always welcome in my corner of the world, no matter what time of year it is.
So, what spices are in spiced cookies?
Before I lament the travesty of seasonal spices any longer, I should probably tell you what flavors are actually in these spiced cookies.
Because that’s what we’re here for, right? To capture the classic taste of Christmas that only comes out once a year?
In truth, these are spices that are fan-favorites throughout Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but I think Christmas gets the credit because it’s the “last chance” to enjoy them before New Year’s Eve (and the rest of the year) rolls around.
To see what I mean, check out the list below.
- Cinnamon. This is one of the most go-to spices for sweet and savory dishes, and for good reason. All you need is a small dish of cinnamon and the aroma and flavor are amazing and unmistakable.
- Ginger. This spice has a warm, spicy bite, but a good dose of sugar takes away the burn and leaves a deep rich flavor.
- Cloves. Like ginger, cloves can seem hot and spicy, but sugar goes a long way in evening out the flavor. They have a sweet, warm flavor, and are very aromatic.
- Allspice. This spice is pungent and fragrant and has a taste that reminds most people of a combination of cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Nutmeg is a very classic spice, but in this recipe, allspice fills the role it would normally play.
As you can see, if you’re looking for an easy and crowd-pleasing holiday cookie, the spices in these hit almost every mark.
How long do spice cookies last?
When stored in a sealed container, these Christmas cookies should last up to one week at room temperature. There is no need to refrigerate these cookies.
Can you freeze spice cookies?
Yes, you totally can!
If you’d like to always have a batch of these cookies on hand, the easiest way is to freeze them for later. There are two ways you can do this.
To freeze the raw dough:
- Mix all ingredients, then tightly wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap. If desired, place the dough in a firm container for safekeeping.
- Place in the freezer to store.
- Cookie dough can be stored for up to six months. When ready to bake, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, follow the preparation instructions as written.
To freeze the baked cookies:
- Bake and allow to cool completely.
- Store cookies in a single layer in a freezer bag or storage container. If you need to stack the cookies, separate each layer with a sheet of wax paper.
- Baked cookies and be stored for up to three months.
Do you need to chill the dough?
This particular recipe calls for chilling the cookie dough for three hours (or freezer for one hour).
I know it can be frustrating to put your baking on hold, but when it comes to cookies, chilling the dough is totally worth the impact it has on your baking.
The short explanation for chilling has to do with the butter. The firmer the butter is at the time of baking, the slower it will melt, which makes cookies less likely to spread while baking. So, as a general rule of thumb, chilling the dough will lead to more dense, fluffy cookies while not chilling will lead to flatter, chewier cookies. This is not always the case, though. Whether you need to chill depends largely on the amount of butter used AND the composition of the other ingredients.
For these particular cookies, the long chill time will make dough easier to roll out thin and cut out, as well as prevent the cookies from spreading during baking (so they keep their shapes).
If you’d like a more indepth explanation of chilling dough (with examples!) then check out this article: To Chill or not to Chill.
Notes & tips for these spice cookies
- If you’re doing a lot of holiday baking, I highly recommend having some silicone baking mats on hand. Baking cookies takes enough time without having to cut or measure parchment paper.
- Plus, some quality baking sheets are a must for a cookie baking extravaganza!
- For this recipe, I highly recommend using a stand mixer or a hand mixer. This recipe would be difficult to make by hand with a whisk.
More fun cookie recipes
How to make spice cookies
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 2 – Drop the mixer speed to low and whip in the egg whites and vanilla extract. Also scoop in the flour, working in small batches and mixing inbetween.
Step 3 – Next up, prepare the dough for chilling. For this recipe, it’s easiest to lay out a piece of parchment paper, roll the dough out, then top it with another piece of parchment paper. This will make it much easier (and keep the dough chilled longer) when it’s time to cut the cookies.
Step 4 – Chill the dough for three hours.
Step 5 – When ready to cut cookies, bring half of the dough to your work area. Also have some baking sheets lined with parchment paper nearby. Flour your cookie cutters, then press the shape into the dough. Repeat this step until all the dough has been used (rolling out the excess and cutting again) and the cookies have been placed on the prepared baking sheets.
Step 6 – If desired, sprinkle the top of the cookies with coarse sanding sugar.
Step 7 – Bake cookies.
Step 8 – Enjoy!
Christmas Spice Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 pinch ground cloves, to taste
- 1 pinch ground allspice, to taste
- 1 large egg white
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup coarse sanding sugar, for decorating
- Drop mixer speed to low and add in egg whites and vanilla extract, mixing about 30 seconds in between.
- Keeping speed on low, quickly scoop in flour, adding about 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time. Once flour has been added, continue to mix until flour first appears to be incorporated. Be careful not to overmix. Use a spatula to scrape the edges of the bowl and mix in any wayward flour.
- Chill dough for 3 hours in the refrigerator or 1 hour in the freezer.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then set aside.
- To cut cookies, prepare your work surface by dusting it with flour. Also coat your hands, cookie cutters, and rolling pin with flour, and set a bowl of flour nearby in case the dough begins to stick. Transfer chilled dough to a flat work surface and place a fresh piece of parchment paper nearby. Remove the top layer of parchment paper and lay the dough, exposed side down, on the fresh piece of parchment paper. Peel off the top-facing parchment paper and dust the exposed dough with flour. Use the rolling pin to roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, then cut the dough with your floured cookie cutters. Arranged cut cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. When you have cut all the cookies you can from a roll of dough, collect the scraps, flour your surface and tools, and roll dough out again. If dough ever becomes too soft, repeat the step of flattening it between the parchment paper and place it back in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Repeat this step until all the dough is used or cookie sheets are full.
- Sprinkle course sanding sugar on top of cookies, using colors or designs of your choice.
- Bake cookies for 15-20 minutes or until the very bottom edges of cookies begin to turn a golden brown color. If baking two cookie sheets at once, rotate baking sheets halfway through cooking time.
- Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Serve cookies immediately. Cookies can be stored in a sealed container on the counter for up to 5 days.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.