6 Cookie Recipes to Bake This Christmas

For many of us, making — and eating — Christmas cookies is a quintessential holiday tradition. There’s nothing more heavenly than biting into a warm, gooey cookie that’s bursting with the season’s coziest spices. While the holidays are certainly a time to indulge in seasonal sweets, there’s a way to do so without doing serious damage to your diet. By using whole wheat, less sugar, and fewer artificial ingredients, you can prepare healthier versions of your favorite Christmas cookies, ensuring you can indulge guilt free. Have a healthy and happy holiday by preparing these six Christmas cookie recipes.

Source: iStock

1. Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies

Eating Well’s aromatic cookies are moist, light, and filled with a zesty center that will entice your tastebuds. The recipe calls for cranberries, spices, whole wheat, and low-fat milk, creating a scrumptious sweet that is just as nutritious as it is delicious. Interestingly, Livestrong notes that one serving of fresh cranberries contain 0.2 milligrams of vitamin C and 6 grams of fiber, both of which can contribute to weight loss. One Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookie contains 54 calories, 1 gram of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 24 milligrams of sodium.

Ingredients:

Filling: 

  • 1½ cups sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom, or allspice

Dough:

  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • Scant ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom, or allspice
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 3½ tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk, plus more as needed
  • 2½ teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

Directions: To prepare filling, combine dried and fresh cranberries, honey, orange zest, cinnamon, and cardamom over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook, stirring, until the fresh cranberries burst and soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor and puree. If the mixture seems dry, stir in up to 2 teaspoons water. Transfer the mixture to a nonreactive container and refrigerate while preparing the dough. To prepare dough, whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom in a large bowl. In another large bowl, combine oil, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, milk, orange zest, vanilla, and almond extracts.

Beat the wet ingredients with an electric mixer first on low speed, then on medium speed, until well combined. Add half the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until evenly incorporated. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in up to 1 tablespoon more milk. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 to 45 minutes to reduce its stickiness. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a 6-inch-long log. Working with one log at a time, center it on a 16-inch-long sheet of baking parchment or wax paper. Cover with a second sheet. Press and then roll into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle of even thickness, inverting the dough occasionally to roll out any wrinkles and patching it to make the sides as even as possible.

Transfer the dough, in the paper, to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining log of dough and transfer to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the dough is slightly firm, about 15 minutes. To prepare pinwheel rolls, place one sheet of dough on a work surface. Peel off the top sheet of paper. Spread half the reserved filling evenly over the dough. Working from a 15-inch-long side, tightly roll up the dough jelly-roll style, leaving the bottom sheet of paper behind. While rolling, slightly stretch out the center to yield an evenly thick roll. Wrap the roll in a clean sheet of wax paper, twisting the ends to prevent unrolling. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place on the baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 3 to 4 hours.

To bake cookies, position racks in the upper third and center of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one pinwheel roll at a time, trim the uneven ends. Cut the roll crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices using a large serrated knife; periodically turning the roll to maintain a relatively round cookie shape. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about ½ inch apart. Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden brown, 12 to 16 minutes, switching the pans back to front and top to middle halfway through baking. Immediately transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cut and bake the remaining pinwheel roll.

Source: iStock

2. Almond Snowballs

Food Network’s cookies get their sweet and nutty flavors from shredded coconut, cherries, almonds, and almond extract. Each Almond Snowball contains 64 calories, 4 grams of fat, 5 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of carbohydrates.

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • Pinch coarse salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar, eyeball it
  • 1½ cups, about 6 ounces, shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract, eyeball it
  • ¼ teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 9 candied red cherries, halved
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites and salt to soft peaks, then add sugar and beat again until peaks are stiff. Beat in almond flavoring. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in half of the coconut. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and flour, stir, then fold in the remaining coconut.

Using a melon baller or other small scoop, or working with 2 spoons, form 9-inch snowballs a couple of inches apart on each of two cookie sheets. Bake snowballs 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and garnish each snowball with half a cherry and a couple of slivered almonds. Transfer to a rack or serving plate to cool.

Source: iStock

3. Pine Nut Cookies

Almond paste creates cookies that are stunningly sweet and terrifically tender. Cooking Light notes that you should keep an eye on your Pine Nut Cookies while they’re baking; lighter cookies will brown much faster than full-fat ones. Two cookies, which is one serving size, contain 103 calories, 5.7 grams of fat, and 12.2 grams of carbohydrates.

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup almond paste
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • ½ cup pine nuts, divided
  • 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grate almond paste on large holes of a box grater. Combine paste and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Place ¼ cup pine nuts in a mini food processor; pulse until finely ground. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine ground nuts, flour, and baking powder, stirring with a whisk.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat on low speed just until combined. Stack two baking sheets one on top of the other, and line the top sheet with parchment paper. Shape dough into 48 equal-sized balls. Press 3 to 5 of the remaining pine nuts in a sunburst shape on top of each ball. Place 12 balls 2 inches apart on the top baking sheet. Bake 14 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes on pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat procedure 4 times.

Source: iStock

4. Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cutouts

There’s no need to feel guilty about indulging in Pillsbury’s Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cutouts. Filled with whole wheat, molasses, and zesty spices, these cookies deliver great flavor without using too many refined and artificial ingredients.

Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Frosting:

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar and 1 cup butter with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and egg until well blended. On low speed, beat in remaining cookie ingredients until well mixed. If necessary, cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour for easier handling. On lightly floured surface, roll out ¼ of dough at a time to ⅛-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2½-inch round or desired shape cookie cutters. On ungreased cookie sheets, place 1 inch apart. Bake 6 to 9 minutes or until set.

Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. In small bowl, beat ¼ cup butter and the shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and dash salt. On low speed, gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. On high speed, beat in 1 tablespoon milk until light and fluffy. Add enough additional milk until frosting can be spread or piped. Frost or decorate cookies as desired. Let stand until frosting is set, about 30 minutes. Store in loosely covered container.

Source: iStock

5. Holiday Spritz Wreaths

Taste of Home’s festive wreath-shaped cookies are a dieter’s dream come true. Each Holiday Spritz Wreath contains 37 calories, 2 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 25 milligrams of sodium. Feel free to help yourself to seconds!

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup sugar blend
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground all spice
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 drops green food coloring
  • ¼ cup holiday sprinkles

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, beat the sugar blend, butter, and oil until well blended. Beat in eggs and extract. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture and mix well. Beat in food coloring. Using a cookie press fitted with a wreath-shaped disk, press dough 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Decorate with holiday sprinkles. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks.

Source: iStock

6. Whole Wheat Coconut Oil Cutout Cookies

Veggie and the Beast’s Whole Wheat Coconut Oil Cutout Cookies are made with whole wheat flour and no butter or refined sugars, resulting in treats that are light, moist, and healthy. Whether you’re looking for a nutritious cookie to serve your kids or simply want to enjoy a seasonal sweet without feeling guilty, these cutouts are a Christmas must!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup coconut oil, measured solid and then melted
  • ¾ cup Sucanat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Beat together the coconut oil and sucanat. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. You don’t want to refrigerate it for too long, because the dough will get hard. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to ⅛-inch thickness, and then cut with cookie cutters. Place the cookies on a parchment/silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes. Allow to cool completely, and then top with your favorite glaze.

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