There’s nothing we love more than baking up dozens of Christmas cookies during the holiday season, and they seem to find their way into our carts at the grocery store of their own volition. They’re one of the easiest holiday desserts your kids can help make, and a lot of the store-bought ones are genuinely delicious. But we can all agree that some are definitely better than others, right? There are those we simply make do with and others we want to eat raw because the dough is so good before it’s cooked — even though the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says no to raw dough (killjoys!). This very scientific, not-at-all biased ranking will help you decide which cookies to enjoy this holiday season.
I’m so sorry, but biscotti are barely cookies. Yeah, you can easily ship them to your loved ones… because they’re basically stale rocks already. If you feel the need to eat them, at least do so with a warm cup of hot cocoa.
Snickerdoodles are the most vanilla of the Christmas cookies. Cinnamon and sugar? Basic.
8. Butter cookies
Butter cookies on their own would be really boring, but (!) they come in a variety of fun shapes, and they come in a tin that your family will use for the next 40 years to store sewing supplies, so they’re kind of an essential purchase during the holiday season.
7. Spritz cookies
Spritz cookies are buttery, sweet and a total pain to make. But there’s something magical about smooshing the soft cookie dough out the cookie press and watching it turn into pretty pastries.
6. Linzer cookies
Linzer cookies are the fancy version of thumbprint cookies. Put them in a decorative tin, and you can definitely give them away as a gift.
5. Molasses cookies
Chewy molasses cookies, redolent with spices and topped with crunchy demerara sugar, are a holiday classic. Served with tea or coffee, they’re the fuel you need to finish wrapping those presents.
Buttery shortbread cookies are totally basic, but when made correctly with tons of butter, a little sugar, flour and salt, they’re unbeatable. Word on the street is Santa likes them too. They’re a British tea time staple for a reason.
3. Russian tea cakes
Crumbly, nutty, buttery and covered in powdered sugar, Russian tea cakes (or Mexican wedding cookies, or snowball cookies) are an old-fashioned sweet that stands up to the test of time. Just be careful with the powdered sugar — if you eat them too fast, you’ll inhale it and end up coughing throughout your family’s Christmas dinner.
2. Gingerbread man cookies
Almost nothing is as classic a treat as cutout gingerbread man cookies decorated with white royal icing with raisins for eyes. They’re usually a little crisp on the edges; a little soft inside; mildly spiced with ginger, cloves and nutmeg; and sweetened with molasses. Serve them with hot cocoa, and you’ll be in holiday bliss.
1. Cutout sugar cookies
All hail the Christmas cutout sugar cookie! These classic treats are the ultimate family cooking project. Adults and kids alike can work together to roll and cut out cookies, and once they’re baked, everyone can have a turn decorating. If you manage not to eat them all in one day, you can send them to friends and family far and wide. They’re sturdy enough to survive shipping, and their low moisture content means they last for weeks.
A version of this article was originally published December 2018.