Let’s set the scene: The stockings are hung, the menorah is lit, and the cinnamon candle’s scent is wafting through the house. Then, the smell of freshly baked cookies emerges from the kitchen, and everyone gathers ‘round to enjoy a batch of homemade holiday cookies.
But the real Christmas miracle is that this list of cookie recipes is healthier! We understand it’s totally time to splurge and enjoy a holiday treat (or seven), so we’re making it a bit easier by providing some better options. From the classic sugar cookie and gingerbread man to raspberry thumbprints and lemon drops, here are 48 cookie recipes that won’t do damage to those healthy habits.
Photo by Katie Morris
2. Chocolate Chip Cookie
We can’t not include this classic. This recipe is vegan — filled with nut butters, oats, and ground flax — but we promise it puts Nabisco to shame. Grab a glass of milk and dunk away!
4. Vanilla Iced Sugar Wafer
Gather some fitness-themed cookie cutters for this recipe! Made with egg whites and just a touch of sugar and spice, cutouts of Christmas trees and holiday bells never tasted better (or less guilty).
6. Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Pecan Cookie
Pumpkin season isn’t over till we say it’s over. (And it’s not over.) Filled with oats and nuts, one or two of these will keep anyone satisfied ‘till the New Year.
7. Coconut Cream Shortbread
Shortbread is usually loaded with at least one stick of butter, but these bites get their richness from coconut butter instead. They’re also free of gluten, corn, soy, nuts, and refined sugars. Pretty impressive for a Christmas cookie, right?
Photo by Perry Santanachote
12. Cranberry Almond Biscotti
For something with a bit of extra crunch, whip up a batch of biscotti. Using spelt flour (which is lower in gluten than regular wheat and great for people with a slight gluten sensitivity), applesauce, and olive oil, it’s quite all right to reach for seconds of these treats.
13. Soft Molasses Cookie
These vegan, gluten-free cookies are loaded with classic holiday flavor thanks to ground ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and vanilla. Half a cup of unsweetened applesauce makes these spicy treats nice and moist without adding too much fat.
14. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie (Gluten-Free)
Grab someone you love and enjoy this kiss under the mistletoe. It’s made with rice and tapioca flour, too, so even people with gluten intolerances can taste the love!
15. Gingerbread People
Half the fat and all the flavor? Sign us up! Besides, who doesn’t love to decorate these adorable gingerbread men at any holiday festivity.
Photo by Jordan Shakeshaft
16. Protein Peanut Butter Cookie
Sometimes, peanut butter straight from the spoon isn’t enough. These peanut butter treats are made with dry roasted peanuts, a touch of brown sugar, and protein powder for a high-protein, low-sugar treat. (And don't be afraid to throw in some dark chocolate chips for a lil' extra sweetness.)
Yep, shortbread cookies don’t always have to be full of butter. This recipe cuts out part of the fat with applesauce, still yielding a recipe that’ll satisfy any taste bud.
22. Pecan Pie Cookie
This festive flavor combination isn’t just for Thanksgiving. To make these cookies, just top basic thumbprint cookie dough (made with almond flour, coconut oil, almond milk, and maple syrup) with a spiced pecan filling.
Photo: Katie Morris / Katie at the Kitchen Door
24. Lemon Honey Drop Cookie
For a sweet and sour treat, try these brightly flavored baked goods. Lemon rinds, honey, and plain yogurt are the stars in this recipe that make this cookie a real (healthy!) winner.
25. Flourless Butterscotch Brownie
Need we read past the title? When the chocolate craving hits, grab one of these brownies, no flour included.
26. White Chocolate Peppermint Drop Cookie
What’s a holiday season without some peppermint? Swapping out some butter for plain yogurt makes them healthier, and crushed candy canes make them worth going back for more!
27. Toffee Square
Nuts, seeds, and coconut make this a superfood special in dessert form. Customize these bars with dried fruit and favorite nuts, or sprinkle in some chocolate chips for extra sweetness!
28. Raspberry Coco-Oat Macaroon
Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and filled with coconut. What else could we ask for in a cookie? Fresh raspberries add some extra sweetness (and fiber), and rolled oats keep all the ingredients together.
Photo: Averie Sunshine / Averie Cooks
30. Spiced Carrot Cake Cookie
With grated carrots and rolled oats as two of the major ingredients, this soft, spicy cookie is a good balance between healthy and indulgent. If butterscotch chips aren't your fave, sub in dark chocolate.
33. No-Bake Coconut Delight
Need a quick, easy dessert to bring to that last minute, unexpected holiday party? This five-ingredient, no-bake dessert will fit the bill.
34. Raspberry Bar
Tart raspberries plus low-fat cream cheese make for a creative holiday dessert. Enjoy as a late-night snack or the perfect start to any morning.
35. Fig and Date Swirl
For some fiber with your dessert, what better than a cookie filled with figs and dates? Swap some butter for low-fat yogurt or applesauce, or stick to reduce-fat cream cheese to make these even better for the body.
Photo: Marie Poulin / Citron Limette
38. Tiramisu Cookie
Vegan and gluten-free cookies don’t have to be dry, flavorless, and boring. These tiramisu sandwich cookies feature tasty ingredients like rum, vanilla, amaretto, coconut cream, and instant coffee.
39. Homemade Raw Oreo
Since Oreos are milk’s favorite cookie, they’re probably Santa’s favorite cookie, too. These homemade sandwiches are raw, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Pro tip: you definitely need a food processor to whip up these allergen-free bad boys.
40. Oatmeal-Raisin Spice Cookie
Here is the classic oatmeal raisin cookie with some holiday spice! Applesauce instead of butter, whole-wheat flour, and oats make this an A+ cookie.
41. Raw Chocolate Pumpkin Pecan Macaroon
These no-bake treats are practically a health food (practically…). Not-so-unhealthy ingredients include unsweetened coconut, pecan flour, pumpkin puree, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon.
42. Quinoa and Almond Flour Cookie with Chai Spiced Almond Butter
The name might be a mouthful, but this recipe is actually pretty straightforward. The cookies are made with quinoa and almond flour, so they’re safe for gluten-free friends. Make them into sandwich cookies by adding the spicy almond butter or eat ‘em plain.
43. Zucchini Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Coconut Cookie
Old-fashioned rolled oats, coconut flakes, and (obviously) zucchini give these bite-sized treats plenty of flavor and texture. Vanilla, chocolate chips, and brown sugar make them taste holiday-worthy.
Photo: Tiffany / Offbeat + Inspired
44. Gluten-Free Lemon Almond Butter Cookie
Got an almond butter lover in the house? These totally DIY treats are bound to be a major hit. Grind up some almonds, then mix the butter with coconut flour, lemon zest, brown sugar, and vanilla. They’re simple, gluten-free, and guaranteed to be gone in less than an hour.
45. Salted Caramel Mocha Cookie
If the words “salted caramel mocha” don’t have you running to the kitchen, you might not be human. With whole-wheat flour, apple butter, and plenty of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, these treats are a relatively healthy way to indulge your sweet tooth.
46. Peanut Butter and Jelly Coconut Cashew Sandwich Cookie
Everyone’s favorite elementary school lunch gets dessert-ified in these fun, no-bake cookies. Make a basic bar cookie from ground nuts and coconut, then chill the dough and slice to form “bread.” Fill the mini PB&Js with your favorite nut butter and jam.
47. Chocolate Covered Almond Biscotti
Filled with almonds, olive oil, and cinnamon and drizzled with dark chocolate, these crunchy cookies are perfect for an afternoon coffee break. Sub in whole-wheat flour to add some fiber.
48. Triple Threat Peanut Butter Cookie
There are peanut butter cookies, and then there are peanut butter cookies. These treats, which are made with powdered peanut butter (such as PB2), creamy peanut butter, and peanut butter chips, definitely fall in the latter category.
What are your favorite holiday cookies? Share in the comments below or get in touch on Twitter @Greatist.