If your holiday happy place is a kitchen heavy with the sweet perfume of cinnamon, cloves, citrus and vanilla, and trays of cookies straight from the oven, these ten cookbooks are sure to inspire. There are recipes for modern classics, twists on traditional flavors and international crowd pleasers that will propel you to champion-level cookie swap baker. Be warned, you may find an inbox full of recipe requests.
1. Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook
Ever considered the origins of your grandmother’s recipe for bite-sized Russian tea cakes that coated your fingers in powdered sugar, or spicy hermit bars chewier than you’ve ever been able to recreate? There’s a good chance they came from the 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. It’s now available as a facsimile reprint with all the original text and images, and is a great resource if you’re trying to trace old family recipes lost through the generations.
2. Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen by Luisa Weiss
This cookbook is ideal for experienced bakers who want to spend a day creating classic German treats. There’s a whole chapter on Christmas cookies that will fill the house with an aroma reminiscent of festive holiday markets held in centuries old towns squares. You’ll need to do plenty of prep ahead of time, but the reward is savoring and sharing traditional spiced spekulatius, plum filled gingerbread pockets and a variety of lebkuchen, to name a few.
3. Cookie Love by Mindy Segal and Kate Leahy
You’ll win new friends with these sweet and savory delights that reinterpret classic cookies. Smoked almond shortbread, malted milk spritz and cocoa nib hot fudge rugelach are just a few of the more than 60 recipes in Cookie Love that will have everyone who tastes them asking for the recipe. Be sure to put a note out for vegetarians as the smoky bacon candy bar cookies indeed are topped with the nation’s most beloved pork product.
4. Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan
With full page pictures and simple instructions, Dorie’s Cookies is destined to become your go-to favorite year-round. It’s also filled with giftable holiday indulgences like salted chocolate caramel bars, crisp chocolate melody cookies and new must-haves like Moroccan semolina and almond cookies.
5. Gingerbread Wonderland by Mima Sinclair
Love gingerbread? Trying to attract more followers on Instagram? Want to win the office bake-off? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, Gingerbread Wonderland is the book for you. It’s an image-filled guide to every kind of spice cookie you can imagine. Craft too-perfect-to-eat Dutch windmill cookies, or an entire gingerbread village. For a conversation starter, bake up mini mug gingerbread houses — edible art meant to rest on the edge of your coffee mug.
6. How To Bake Everything by Mark Bittman
Mark Bittman is the master of making complicated techniques easy enough that even occasional bakers succeed in the kitchen. With dozens of cookie recipes as part of the massive tome1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482197290&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+bake+everything, you’ll find your next holiday signature cookie with the likes of deceptively easy fig bars, rich and fudgey flourless chocolate cookies, and a sugar cookie dough that can be customized in countless ways.
7. Martha Stewart’s Cookies
For those assembling a Pinterest-worthy holiday tray, Martha Stewart’s Cookies is a great resource. The table of contents is sorted by cookie type and accompanied by photos of each, along with packaging and storage tips — for the relatively few who don’t devour them immediately. Bake up perennial favorites like gingerbread, chocolate cut outs and rugelach, or more unique varieties like Italian polenta cookies, chocolate pretzels and peppermint meringue sandwiches.
8. Milk and Cookies Cookbook by Tina Casaceli
Loaded with best sellers from the eponymous Greenwich Village bakery, including chewy double chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and s’mores cookies, there’s also a chapter devoted to author Tina Casaceli’s treasured family Christmas cookie recipes. Flipping through these pages is like discovering your Italian grandmother’s recipe box full of heirloom sweets dating back a century. The pistachio biscotti, chocolate drop cookies and perfectly crispy, but labor intensive, wandies (fried dough strips) are personal favorites.
9. Soframiz by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick
Those who live in Boston understand the cult-like appeal of Sofra, the bakery/cafe that combines American classics with Middle Eastern flavors. Soframiz is loaded with sweet and savory treats from the bakery. The sesame cashew layer bars overflowing with raw honey, crumbly tahini shortbread and absolutely decadent chocolate earthquakes are sure to be the first to disappear from any cookie tray.
10. Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
The recipes in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar are delicious enough for vegans and non-vegans alike. With clear and easy instructions, and a dash of humor, the authors encourage even the most novice bakers. There are more than 100 recipes including afternoon must-haves such as gingersnaps and chocolate crinkle cookies, as well as vegan versions of holiday standards like gingerbread people and sugar cookie cut outs.