8 Great Christmas Cookies from Around the World (with Recipes)

These holiday bakes are sure to inspire future trips.
child making Christmas cookies
(Photo: @andreafwagner via Twenty20)

As 2021 winds down, the holidays promise the chance to add a bit of cozy joy to our lives. We’ve got trees to trim, gifts to purchase, and, most deliciously, many (many) Christmas cookies to bake. This holiday season, let’s celebrate our love of travel by baking cookies from around the world. Here are eight cookies to add to your holiday baking list that offer a little taste of the world. Whether you’re baking for Santa, a cookie exchange, in-person or virtual holiday party, or simply for yourself, these cookies will inspire you to break out the baking sheet, parchment paper, and the holiday cheer.

Anzac Biscuits

These Australian oatmeal and coconut cookies (biscuits in the local language) are a perfect treat to box up and send to distant friends and family. This biscuit dates back to World War I, when families at home in Australasia would mail these sturdy treats to their deployed soldiers in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). Given this history, these will surely survive a trip through the mail, so pack these in a pretty tin to send some love in crispy cookie form. 

Recipe: Anzac Biscuits

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Pineapple Tarts

Ring in the new year with these pineapple-jam-filled cookies from Southeast Asia. These pineapple tart cookies are often associated with Chinese New Year and other festive occasions. They are popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. The pineapple jam is spiked with clove, which fuses tropical flavors with a traditional Christmas spice. 

Recipe: Pineapple Tarts

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Mbatata 

Malawi in southeastern Africa is known for its friendly people, so much so it’s nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa.” Hailing from this warm-hearted land, Mbatata are cake-like cookies made from sweet potato with raisins and cinnamon spice—flavors that lend themselves to the holiday season. Shape these into hearts and take some time to share the cookie love with your friends and family while paying homage to this small African nation.

Recipe: Mbatata 

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Alfajores 

We’re heating up our ovens and heading to South America for alfajores: shortbread sandwich cookies filled, most often, with creamy and sweet dulce de leche. These cookies are popular across South America, but most notably in Argentina and Peru. Give these cookies a festive flair by rolling the sides in coconut or by dipping one half in chocolate. Or to make them twice as nice, opt for both.

Recipe: Alfajores

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Basler Brunsli

When visiting Switzerland, your cookies will obviously be spiked with chocolate. Basler Brunsli is a gluten-free cookie (GF, friends, rejoice!) made with cookie dough that incorporates almond flour, chocolate, and warm spices. This Swiss special is wildly popular in its home country. It’s also a cut-out cookie, so it’s a perfect opportunity to pull out your cookie cutters and let the kids go to town making fun shapes. 

Recipe: Basler Brunsli

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Pfeffernüsse

You almost can’t get more Christmas than these German spice cookies. Pfeffernüsse cookies are heavily spiced with all the flavors you’d expect from piquant gingerbread cookies. Once baked, they are covered in a white sugar glaze to give them the appearance of perfect little snowballs. Make a batch of these and pretend you’re strolling through a German Christmas market.

Recipe: Pfeffernüsse

Millionaire’s Shortbread

This Scottish sweet levels-up plain shortbread with layers of caramel and chocolate. We know for a fact that you can find an amazing version of millionaire’s shortbread cookies at the Edinburgh Castle, but until you can make a visit in person, treat yourself to this bar cookie as a perfect, sweet, and shareable holiday treat.

Recipe: Millionaire’s Shortbread

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Nanaimo Bars

Canada’s Vancouver Island is a scenic and magical place that’s home to majestic evergreen forests and shockingly beautiful seascapes. It’s also the origin of the Nanaimo bar,  a no-bake bar that combines a coconut and graham cracker crust with vanilla custard and chocolate ganache. Make a batch to share, and then add Vancouver Island to your travel list. 

Recipe: Nanaimo Bars

Want more cookies? Check out original cookie recipes from Cook with Kerry.

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Kerry Sainato
Kerry Sainato worked in the travel industry for 15 years where she helped manage the SmarterTravel Media network including brands like SmarterTravel, Airfarewatchdog, and Jetsetter. She now owns and operates CookwithKerry.com where she shares original recipes, kitchen hacks, and product reviews. Kerry's first love is cooking and second love is traveling. Her favorite place to be: a vacation rental kitchen somewhere new with local ingredients sourced from a day of exploring and people to feed.

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