December 22, 2013

12 timelessly lovely vintage Christmas cookie recipes

'Twas three mornings before Christmas and all through the house, every creature was actually stirring - a mixing bowl, that is. That's right, my lovelies, Christmas is just half a week away and I'm happily up to my eyebrows in holiday feast preparations. I don't mind in the least. Yes, it's taxing on me from a health standpoint, but this whole chunk of the year is, and it's a small price to pay to get to enjoy the magic, wonder and togetherness of Christmastime with my darling husband and our loved ones.

Like many families, cookies and bars have always been an integral part of our holiday season feast. Growing up, my mom often baked upwards of ten or more different types of Christmas cookies, bars and similar goodies for our family, as well as to take some of to when we went places such as my grandparent's house or to give as gifts to treasured neighbours.

Of course our family isn't alone in this delicious tradition by any means. Christmas baking has been a part of the season since pretty much the very get-go, and most of us who celebrate on December 25th enjoy indulging in at least one special treat on the big day - which often means reaching for the plate of cookies.

Over the years here, I've posted a handful of terrific vintage Christmas cookie recipes, some of which hail from my own family's recipe book, whereas others were online finds that really caught my eye. These include:

-Cherry Nut Shortbread Cookies

Cherry Snowball Cookies

Christmas Trees

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Gingerbread Men

Swedish Crisps

Today - always a day devoted largely to Christmas baking at my house - I wanted to share 12 more really charming looking vintage Christmas cookie recipes from the 1940s and 50s (one each to represent the twelve days of Christmas), all of which I've tucked away over the past year as I've come across them.

Any one of the following recipes could be altered a bit here or there, as desired, but I'll leave it up to you and your imagination, if you feel inclined to alter them. I think they each sound mighty yummy just as they are right now! :)



{To learn more about a specific image, or in some cases to find a larger version of it, please click on it to be taken to its respective source.}

All of my holiday baking is gluten and egg-free (as well as devoid of other ingredients that I'm not able to eat due to medical reasons), and this has meant the rejigging of most of my favourite recipes, as well as those I've found online, over the years. Happily however, about 90% of my experiments have turned out well (Ener-G egg replacer is a huge help you also need to forgo the real deal in any kind of baking), and my repertoire of tasty holiday desserts continues to grow with each passing Christmas season.

My very favourites from my family's classic recipes will always be the Mint Chocolate Brownies and Cherry Snowballs mentioned above, but I whip up several others most years as well, and am always game to try any new recipe that I can safely eat.

There's a reason why we leave cookies and milk out for Santa. These homemade, fantastic little treats are an integral part of the holiday season for most people and it's hard to image December without them ready and waiting, whenever the craving for something sugary hits, to give as gifts, and to sneak down and enjoy late at night in the beautiful glow of the Christmas tree. Each one is a special gift for your taste buds, a nostalgic reminder of holidays past, traditions handed down in the kitchen, and a symbol of the inherent sweetness of this amazing season.

I hope that you find a new vintage Christmas cookie recipe or two (or 12!) to try amongst those listed here today that sparks your interest, and who knows, perhaps becomes an instant classic at your house. Have fun baking and enjoying these awesome early winter days that lead up to the 25th, Christmas cookies never far from hand throughout the whole majestic season.


  1. I love old cook books and the advertisements and recipes from magazines of the 50s and 60s. This post made me hungry! Wishing you a fabulous Christmas - and a very Happy New Year. x

  2. Mint cookies, they are new to me, I have to try them. I will download and save all the lovely recipes you've posted here for next Christmas. We have baked gingerbread cookies, or "brown cakes" as they are called in Denmark. And this morning DH and I have made candy from marzipan. Small balls with liquer taste and I'm the creative one who makes carrots, green peas and small brown mice. Since we cannot eat that much we filled a nice silver box and walked to sons best friend and gave his parents half of it. They were very pleased and happy. :) have a very merry Christmas, dear.

  3. I love the visual images on your blog. They're always so adorable. And thought-provoking. My only fear is that someday you're going to post a vintage picture and I'm going to be in it!

  4. Almost all of my most beloved cookie recipes are vintage:) I have an egg and nut allergy in the family and the egg replacer is fantastic! luckily we can all eat wheat, the cherry snowballs sound delish. Wishing you a fabulous and healthy holiday season is always comes and goes so fast!

  5. mouth watering!
    cookie baking stands on top of our to do list over the holidays. hubby loves it and with the homemade i can control the amount of sugar in them. always use one easy recipe: flour, butter, sugar, egg. then i pimp it with chopped nuts, spices or chocolate. and decoration is very important!

  6. MAIDS-OF-HONOUR. Possibly the epitome of vintage goodies. You'd have to rejig it a little for your health stuff (I bet a coconut/almond flour mix might work for the gluten-free factor, and is already in line with the flavours in the tarts) - but OMG, they're unexpectedly addictive.

  7. I was just thinking what to bake - and now is a whole list for me to choose from! Now, which recipe to try first...

  8. cookie baking is one of the best parts of the hollidays

    retro rover

  9. A yummy sounding selection. Will have to give some a try!

  10. Yum yum! You awakened my desire to bake again, dear Jessica. I love the smell of freshly baked cookies at home on these special days. I've been very busy these days, so busy that I did not have time to enjoy your lovely posts, but I wanted congratulate to you and your wonderful husband . I wish you Merry Christmas and much happiness. With love.

  11. My beau and I just finished making his traditional family cookies, anise flavored pizzelle, and I'll be whipping up a few batches of my holiday favorites as well. Your cherry snowball cookies sound amazing, so I might add those to my "to make" list, too! I love this time of year because it's a time for traditions, both preserving them and making new ones.
    You always make things sound so beautiful (and delicious), I'm sure the holiday season at your house is absolutely delightful.

    1. How wonderfully delicious! I adore anise flavoured sweets, as does my Italian husband, so we'd both adore your festive pizzelle. Those cherry snowballs are so fabulously tasty! I really don't think any single cookie tastes more like Christmas (at least the Christmas of my youth) than they do for me. I hope you adore them, too, if you give them a try sometime yourself.

      That is an immensely touching compliment, thank you very much, my sweet dear.

      Tons of hugs & the merriest of holiday season wishes,
      ♥ Jessica

  12. Oh how yummy! I particularly love the photo and the end - love that Christmas cake and how it's decorated. Beautiful! Sorry I haven't visited in a while - I've been super busy. xo

  13. Hello dear Jessica,
    I love Thumb Print Cookies. I have great memories of my older sister baking up loads of goodies at Christmas, and somehow her Thumb Print Cookies left a great impression with me.
    These photos are so adorable.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    :) Hope

  14. Thank you so much for sharing these treasures!! :D
    I agree, the Christmas season just wouldn't be the same for me without special cookies (our favourites are sugar cookies and gingerbread men XD).
    I hope that you are doing well, and that you don't get too exhausted <3
    I also hope that you, Tony, and your family have an amazing Christmas, and since I probably won't be able to talk to you before then, have a very merry and happy Christmas!!! xoxo

  15. I had no idea cookies were such a big part of the American Christmas tradition - being a Brit, I'm used to mince pies, Christmas pud and Christmas cake. But those recipes you've posted look lovely.

  16. YUM! yum yum yum! These recipes look so good and I don't even bake! lol :) Maybe I will pass them onto my husband to try hehehe. Enjoy Christmas Jessica and all the delicious goodies you are making. I look forward to hearing how good Santa was too you :)


  17. Thank you for sharing these recipes. I also enjoyed the ads included in the arguing for butter and the other for margarine!
    I myself have to rework cookie recipes as well, but have successfully converted all of my traditional Czech cookies into vegan ones...and no one can tell the difference (Ener-G is definitely a staple in my pantry)! I do make my own vegan butter though, as I do not care for margarine. I have made some of my cookies gluten free too, just for fun, and am happy with them (I use a combination of almond flour and xanthan gum). I think as long as you make cookies from scratch, people enjoy them and appreciate the effort. Honestly, some of my most fond childhood memories are baking with my mother during the holiday season. We would start weeks before Christmas and hand the treats out to friends.

  18. I always wonder if things tasted different/better before - because of the ingredients we have now and what was available back then. My grandmother is always saying that tomatoes use to have flavor and that now they're just water.

  19. The very thought of Christmas cookie baking makes me feel warm and happy! And this collection of vintage recipes is VERY delightful! I have come across some truly insane vintage recipes over the years (I have a copy of the Culinary Institute's Encyclopedic Cookbook that's just FULL of bizarre wartime substitutions), but sometimes I honestly forget how old recipes can be the basis for some of the BEST dishes -- not just weird aspics and stuff! ;D

    Feeling tons of love and holiday cheer for you and your wonderful blog,

  20. We are still deciding on the sorts of cookies we'll be making on Second Christmas. I'm pushing towards honey cookies - the chewy goodness. Then again, we must have something creamy..
    But, there's one thing for sure: there will be something sweet.
    Butter Riches sound amazing (these belong in my cookbook, and will get there) - they will be made soon.. not for Christmas. I think I'll make these on a "it's not a Holiday" day. (my favourite day, alongside the Un-birthday) :D

    Have a joyful, restful and Merry Christmas!

  21. Fab! I love old cookbooks...the graphics and styling are the best. The recipes are too.
    Have a wonderful Christmas.