Cookies may be fun to make but they’re even better to eat. And with thousands of variations spanning so many flavors and shapes, there’s a cookie out there for every taste. Creative bakers have made them into sandwiches and bars, coated them with ganache, filled them with jam and even stuffed them with candy. There’s really no end to the possibilities. F&W’s guide to these tiny desserts offers tons of holiday ideas, healthy recipes (yes, really) and lessons from the experts for perfecting your techniques.

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This Is My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I made brown butter chocolate chip cookies for the first time this weekend, and can’t wait to make them again.

Toffee-Apricot Oat Cookies

These lacy cookies are studded with tart dried apricot, salty-sweet chunks of toffee, and sweet milk chocolate for the perfect combination of flavors and textures. Be sure to rotate the pans during baking to ensure evenly baked, perfectly crisp-chewy cookies.

Cardamom–Poppy Seed Cookies

A generous ratio of butter to flour helps the dough spread in the oven, resulting in thin, crispy cookies with lacy golden brown edges. Chill the dough before baking to control spreading and concentrate the flavor of the cookies.

This Chocolate-Stuffed Marshmallow Cookie Is Gluten Free, and It's Spectacular

Krembo cookies, beloved store-bought treats from Israel, become even more irresistible when you make them at home, stuffed with chocolate ganache. Are you up to the challenge?

Nightcap Cookies

After all the excesses and indulgences of the holidays, I usually start the new year with a pressing need to rein in my eating. Too much rich food and booze starts to take a toll, after all. But here’s the thing: I can’t just quit cold turkey, going from aaaaalll the cocktails and sweets to none at all. (OK, technically I could. I just don’t want to.) So I go for a gentler come-down strategy that centers on my Nightcap Cookies, aka five-spice pecan shortbread. These are My. Kind. Of. Cookies. They’re buttery, a little salty, incredibly nutty, and crumbly-crisp—and a good way to bridge the gap between holiday hedonism and everyday reality. They’re way less sweet than most holiday desserts but just sweet enough to feel like a treat. And they’re made with whole-wheat pastry flour, not so much for the whole-grain goodness (though that’s a great benefit) but for the toasty flavor it adds. See, I have a theory that with certain baked goods, all-purpose flour’s blandness dilutes the flavors you want to play up—especially nutty or chocolaty ones. But whole-wheat flour, with its inherent nuttiness, amplifies those delicious notes. And because of whole-wheat pastry flour’s superfine texture, it works beautifully in pretty much any dessert. I like using cultured butter for these shortbread cookies instead of traditional butter because it adds a little bit of tang and deeper flavor overall. And I really enjoy kosher salt here for the little pockets of salinity it creates. A hint of five-spice powder, with its light anise fragrance, adds just enough subtle oomph to keep you interested bite after bite. And for heaven’s sake, I implore you to use toasted pecans so that they’re crisp, with intensified nuttiness. The cookies will be infinitely more delicious with well-toasted pecans instead of raw ones. By well-toasted, I mean roasting in the oven at moderate heat (around 300°F) for 18 to 23 minutes until the nuts are roasted throughout, not just on the outside like they are when you toast them in a skillet. (And when you’re toasting nuts, go ahead and toast a lot of them and store them in the freezer so you’re a step ahead later when you want a great topper for your oatmeal or salad.) These shortbread cookies are great to keep on hand, holding up well in an airtight container for a week or two. They’re the cornerstone of my new, more reasonable nighttime routine: one or two cookies after dinner with a prudent pour of bourbon. Because they’re really good with bourbon, poured neat. Promise.

More Cookies

Lemon-Tahini Cookies

Last winter I had the good fortune of spending a week traversing the cities, deserts, ports, and verdant fields of Israel in the company of 20-plus fellow food-obsessed chefs and food writers; culinary heavyweights Jonathan Waxman, Ruth Reichl, Jenn Louis, Nancy Silverton, and Marc Murphy were among them. We were on a spiritual pilgrimage of a new kind: to uncover and understand what is arguably the most complex convergence of food cultures in the world. Together we visited farms, home and restaurant kitchens, morning markets, wineries, food incubators, renowned dining rooms, and late-night food stalls. We were eager to taste and to learn how a land so fraught by ages of conflict (yet still so new in its independent history) can preserve its ancient foodways with such passion and purpose. We were a ravenous bunch, consuming, questioning, and squealing with glee at every flavorful find. In fact, our discoveries felt so plentiful that after a while I lost count, even with the pages of notes and flurry of photos I took each day. Despite our feeding frenzy, there were several distinct moments of clarity and revelation, when I tasted something so utterly satisfying that it is now and forever burned into my sense memory. One such instance took place at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, known to the locals as Shuk HaCarmel. We spent the morning guided through stalls and stands by author Adeena Sussman, whose new Israeli cookbook Sababa was inspired by the vendors and foods of the market. Toward the end of the tour we stopped at a beautiful display of molds for halvah, the dense sweet that in the Middle East is often made of pressed sesame paste (tahini) and sugar then swirled or sprinkled with anything from dark chocolate to nuts to rose oil. The shopkeeper placed a piece of his favorite in my hand, and as soon as it dissolved in my mouth I knew it would be my favorite, too. Bright, tart lemon zest (not juice) added the most fragrant, floral note to the otherwise dense, earthy dessert. Dark, just-bitter cacao nibs balanced out what otherwise would have been a cloying sweetness. It was a masterful combination, one I knew I needed to bring back to my kitchen. Of course I bought a large slab and have been nibbling on it ever since (Pro tip: Halvah will keep, well wrapped, in a cool, dark spot in your pantry for over a year!). In addition, the trinity of lemon zest, tahini, and cacao nibs has been making its way into my sweets and baking repertoire ever since, from morning pancakes to the perfect ice cream topping—and these unassuming, irresistible Lemon-Tahini Cookies. They may just be the ideal holiday gift for everyone on your list this year, no matter your culture or creed. After all, deliciousness knows no bounds.

Gluten-Free Cacao Nib Meringues

Made with chocolate, cacao, and cocoa, these intensely flavored meringues have a delicate, crispy exterior with a soft, chewy, marshmallow-like interior.

Triple-Ginger Rye Cookies

Hearty rye flour paired with three types of ginger—powdered, candied, and fresh—lends an earthy, lightly spicy flavor to these delicious holiday cookies.