8 Holiday Cookie Recipes That Are Kid-Friendly and Delicious

Illustration of a peanut butter cookie and ingredients listed

Verywell Family / Nusha Ashjae

When your kids are home during the holidays and you're seeking activities to do them, revert back to the basics: baking festive cookies. Use the time in the kitchen to bond with them and encourage their creativity (there is an art to arranging chocolate chips). Remember that the important part of your kid's time in the kitchen is nurturing their kitchen skills and helping them feel connected to their food.

"When working with families I like to remind them that nutrition habits and food relationships are made over time," says Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, of Brooklyn-based Maya Feller Nutrition. "Continue to offer nutritious options through the holiday season." Feller encourages parents to keep nutrition top of mind when deciding what to bake for the holidays and get the whole family involved.

"Kids can and should be invited into the kitchen to engage in age-appropriate cooking activities," she adds. Baking is a way for kids to learn how to create food by using fine motor skills, math, and more, so invite them into the kitchen to make one of these holiday cookie recipes with you.

To give you some inspiration, we interviewed three nutritionists (who are also parents) on their favorite holiday cookie recipes to bake with their families. Each recipe is kid-tested, nutritionist-approved!

Meet The Experts

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, is an award-winning nutritionist and owner of Toby Amidor Nutrition. She' i based in Scarsdale, N.Y. and is mom to 19-year-old, Schoen; 16-year-old, Ellena; and 14-year-old, Micah.

Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, LD, is a registered dietitian and the creator of Mama Knows Nutrition. Find her in Dallas, Texas, where she is raising her children: Teddy (6 years old) and Emilia (4 years old)

Kiran Smith is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and food blogger at Easy Real Food. She resides in Charleston, N.C. and is mom to 17-year-old Jaiden, 15-year-old Deja, 13-year-old Shaela, and 10-year-old Sajin.

Ellena’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Ellena's peanut butter cookies with milk

Toby Amidor

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, created these peanut butter cookies in honor of her daughter, who is a huge fan of the nutty spread. The nutrition expert and mom of three teens has been in the kitchen with her children for years, helping them understand what goes into well-balanced dishes. These cookies, in particular, are made with natural peanut butter, which doesn't contain any added sugar.

Amidor says, "As I wrote each of my nine cookbooks, [my two daughters] assisted me in the kitchen and I explained tips and tricks of cooking. My daughter Ellena absolutely loves peanut butter, so I created these cookies for her to have an easy recipe on hand for the holidays."

Ellena’s Peanut Butter Cookies
Amount Ingredient  Notes
Cooking spray as needed
1 cup Light brown sugar packed
1 Large egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 cup Natural creamy peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon Salt

How to Prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
  3. Add the peanut butter and salt, mixing well to combine.
  4. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the batter, and use clean hands to roll into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet, pressing down to flatten. Repeat with the remaining batter, leaving ½ inch between cookies.
  5. Bake on the center rack in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Easy Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

gingerbread cookies on a plate

Kiran Dodeja Smith

For gluten-sensitive children, Kiran Smith created this gluten-free gingerbread cookie recipe. Smith tries to bake with at least one of her children bi-weekly, but says it was more often when they were younger. Making time to bake together around the holidays while her children were young was important for Smith, and she says she hopes it created a foundation for them to learn baking skills and nutrition info from.

"Like many families, we love decorating cookies around the holiday season," Smith says. "When possible, we also like baking from scratch, because you know exactly what goes into the recipe. The ingredients in this cookie recipe are minimal enough that kids can help make the batter, roll them out, cut them, and then decorate them. It’s a recipe that they can assist with start to finish. In addition, these gingerbread cookies are gluten-free, which are helpful for the growing population (including us!) who cannot tolerate gluten."

Easy Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies
Amount Ingredient Notes
For the dough
3 cups Gluten-free flour  
1 teaspoon Baking soda  
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 tablespoon Ground ginger
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
6 tablespoons Butter
3/4 cup Coconut sugar
1/2 cup Molasses
2 tablespoons Dairy-free milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
For the icing
1/2 cup Butter At room temperature
1 cup Powdered sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla

How to Prepare

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix gluten-free flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.
  2. In a separate (large) bowl, beat butter, coconut sugar, molasses, dairy-free milk, and vanilla until combined with a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Once combined, slowly add in dry ingredients while continuing to mix. The mixture will be dense and tough to mix by the end; make sure all is incorporated.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in cling wrap. Place in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. Once the cookies are chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Lightly flour a surface or use another piece of parchment paper to work on and place the chilled dough on top.
  6. Begin to roll it out the dough with a rolling pin. If it's sticky, knead a little flour into it. Roll it to be about 1/4-inch thick.
  7. Cut out shapes and place on lined baking sheet. They will puff up a bit so leave a little room in between each. Re-roll unused dough and repeat process.
  8. Bake for 6-7 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven but do not remove from baking sheet. Let sit for about 10 minutes, and place baking sheet in the fridge to cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan.
  10. For frosting: Place room temperature butter and powdered sugar in a bowl and beat with hand mixers. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Taste and adjust to your liking. If you want to thin the frosting, add milk or dairy-free milk 1 teaspoon at a time.

Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeyes

holiday-themed buckeyes in a bowl

Kacie Barnes

Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, LD, of Mama Knows Nutrition, is always watching out for how much sugar her children are consuming. That's why she created these peanut butter balls—or Buckeyes, depending on what part of the country you're in—for the holidays.

"I make these every year at Christmastime, and they're way lower in added sugar than the traditional version," she shares, noting that the natural peanut butter is lower in sugar than traditional jarred peanut butter. Plus, she doesn't add any sugar to the recipe. They come together in less than 20 minutes and have chia seeds, which are a good source of fiber and antioxidants.

Healthier Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeyes
Amount Ingredient Notes
1 16-ounce jar Natural peanut butter Smooth
1/3 cup Pure maple syrup  
1-2 tablespoons Coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon Sea salt
3/4 cup Crispy rice cereal
1 1/2 cups Dark chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Chia seeds
1 tablespoon Coconut oil

How to Prepare

  1. Stir the jar of peanut butter well before using.
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together the peanut butter and maple syrup vigorously, for about 1 minute, until it thickens up.
  3. Stir in the coconut flour until combined. If your peanut butter is dry, you may skip the coconut flour. Otherwise, add 1 tablespoon at a time and stir well. Aim to create a texture that isn't too sticky, but also not too dry either. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to firm up as the coconut flour will continue to absorb moisture with time. Add a touch more coconut flour if necessary. If it's too dry, add a little syrup.
  4. Add salt to taste, then stir in the rice crisp cereal and chia seeds.
  5. Shape into small balls, about 1-inch in diameter. You’ll get about 25-35.
  6. In a small saucepan, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil and heat over low heat, stirring frequently. Once half the chips have melted, remove from heat and stir until completely smooth.
  7. With a fork, dip the balls into the melted chocolate. Then place the ball on a plate or cutting board lined with parchment. Repeat for the rest.
  8. Place balls in the freezer for around 6-8 minutes until mostly firm.
  9. Dip a fork into the leftover melted chocolate and drizzle it on top to decorate, or top with sprinkles.
  10. Freeze the balls for about 10 minutes to set the chocolate and then remove from the freezer. Can serve immediately, or store in the freezer for 1-2 months in an airtight container.

Chocolate Oat Cookies

chocolate oat cookies

Ashley Lima

Amidor's chocolate oat cookies, which can be found in her latest cookbook, "The Family Immunity Cookbook," rely on unsaturated canola oil instead of the typical butter. They're also bulked up with oats, which are a good source of fiber.

"I wanted to create a cookie that was a step up health-wise from your standard chocolate chip cookie," Amidor says. "So I added oats, a type of soluble fiber, which most folks—especially kids—don't get enough of. Although these cookies are a dessert, they certainly have better-for-you ingredients and are rather tasty!"

Chocolate Oat Cookies
Amount Ingredient Notes
1 1/2 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour  
1 teaspoon Ground cinnamon  
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 cup Canola oil
1/4 cup Granulated sugar
3/4 cup Light brown sugar Tightly packed
1 Large egg Beaten
1 cup Rolled oats
1 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips

How to Prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and egg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Do not overmix. Fold in the oats and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  4. Scoop 3 tablespoons of the dough and, using clean hands, roll into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Repeat with the remaining dough to make a total of 15 cookies. Using clean hands, slightly press down on each cookie.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a tester inserted into a cookie comes out clean. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Let cool for 10 minutes before eating.

Gluten Free Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

chocolate peppermint cookies

Kiran Dodeja Smith

Bring festive colors to your holiday table with Smith's gluten-free peppermint cookies topped with candy cane pieces. The brown rice, flour-based cookies are infused with peppermint extract, and the crushed candy canes add texture to the chewy cookie.

"Many gluten-free flours are refined and therefore not as nutritious as others," Smith shares. "I specifically used brown rice flour in this recipe since it’s whole grain and a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals." 

Gluten Free Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Amount  Ingredient  Notes 
1 stick  Butter At room temperature
3/4 cup  Sugar  
2 Eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon Peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups Brown rice flour
1/3 cup Cocoa
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1/2 cup Chocolate chips

How to Prepare

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place sugar, butter, eggs, and peppermint extract in a bowl. Use a hand mixer to mix ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet and combine. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Using a cookie scoop (or rolling into balls), place on baking sheet 2 inches away from each other. Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated oven.
  5. Optional: Drizzle melted chocolate over cookies and add crushed candy canes.

Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

peanut butter banana cookies

Ashley Lima

Not only are Amidor's peanut butter and banana cookies incredibly simple to make with just three ingredients, but they're full of good-for-you ingredients. This recipe is perfect for little hands to help out with, especially when it comes to rolling the cookies and putting them on the tray.

"How many times do you feel like baking but not whipping out all the ingredients that go along with the recipe?" Amidor says of this simple recipe. "These easy-to-make cookies are perfect for a beginner cookie baker."

Peanut Butter Banana Cookies
Amount  Ingredient  Notes 
1 cup  Old-fashioned rolled oats  
1 cup  Smooth peanut butter  
2 Bananas Ripe

How to Prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place the oats in a blender or food processor and pulse until it reaches a flour consistency. Add the peanut butter and banana and blend until combined.
  4. Using clean hands, roll 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and gently press down with the prongs of a fork (it should leave a mark). Repeat with the remaining batter, spacing cookies 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake until a tester inserted into a cookie or two comes out clean, 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before eating.
  6. Store leftovers in a covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Kacie Barnes

Nothing says fall holiday fun quite like pumpkin. Start baking these in the fall and keep making them with your little ones through the end of the year. Barnes' pumpkin chocolate chip recipe has fiber-rich oats and whole-wheat flour instead of unbleached white flour.

"As a dietitian, I always like to add nutrient-packed ingredients to recipes when possible," Barnes says. "My kids and I love the pumpkin chocolate chip bread from our local market, so I wanted to make a version at home with less added sugar, and I thought cookies would be a fun alternative! I chose whole wheat flour and oats to add more fiber to the recipe and reduced the added sugar to make it a better-for-you treat. My kids love to stir the ingredients together, and there's always a battle over who gets to crack the egg. Of course, adding in the chocolate chips is their very favorite part!"

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Amount  Ingredient  Notes 
1 cup White whole-wheat flour  
1 cup  Old-fashioned rolled oats  
1 1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/3 cup Light brown sugar Packed
1/4 cup Avocado oil Or butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 Large egg Whisked
3/4 cup Pumpkin puree
1/2 cup Chocolate chips

How to Prepare

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, avocado oil, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry until fully combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips. 
  6. Use 1-½ tablespoon size cookie scoop to scoop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat liner. Press down slightly with your fingers on each cookie. 
  7. Optionally, add a few additional chocolate chips on top of each cookie.
  8. Bake for 8-12 minutes, removing when cookies are fully set and just slightly starting to brown.
  9. Cool for 5-10 minutes on baking sheet then move to cooling rack. Serve warm, or cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Oatmeal Raisin Drop Cookies

oatmeal raisin cookies

Ashley Lima

The binder in Amidor's oatmeal raisin cookies is banana, so you and your kids will get the fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C of the fruit. Plus, you've got fiber in the oats.

This recipe is another easy winner from the nutrition expert's "The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook," which she also jokingly says is a cookbook that even her teenage son can follow along with.

"These simple cookies, like the name suggests, are made by dropping a spoonful of the dough on a prepared baking sheet," Amidor says. "They also provide oats for whole grains and raisins for some fruit. They're delicious and simple—that's what I strive to create."

Oatmeal Raisin Drop Cookies
Amount  Ingredient  Notes 
1 1/2 cups  Old-fashioned rolled oats  
Bananas Ripe 
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 teaspoon Salt

How to Prepare

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Pulse the oats in a blender or food processor. Add the bananas and salt and blend until smooth.
  4. Transfer the batter to a medium bowl. Fold in the raisins.
  5. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between cookies. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  6. Bake until a tester inserted into a cookie or two comes out clean, 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before eating.
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