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11 easy-to-make Christmas cookies and treats for the baking inept

Look like you know what you're doing with these ridiculously simple recipes

Holiday cookies and cocoa
Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

Christmas cookies, candies, and treats are all but a requirement when December rolls around, and for some, it’s a real pain in the antlers. Look, I’m no Ebenezer Scrooge. I love holiday baking and all the festive fun that comes with it. But truth be told, I’m absolutely terrible at decorating desserts.

While I pride myself on making things taste delicious, nothing I’ve ever created is worthy of a bakery display window. Not only are my artistic talents seriously lacking in this arena, but the mess that comes with a huge assortment of differently colored piping bags, sprinkles that take weeks to clean up, and greasy frosting stuck to every surface of my otherwise sparkling clean kitchen? Bah humbug.

That’s why I love these easy Christmas cookie recipes. In just a few simple steps, you can have every single bit of the holiday cheer that comes with cookie baking and candy making, but with none of the headache. Most of these recipes don’t even require turning on an oven, let alone mixing a rainbow of holiday colors in a hundred different bowls or bedazzling your countertops in edible glitter. So this holiday season, give yourself a little grace and save the stress and mess for another year. These are our absolute favorite easy Christmas cookies and treats.

Peanut brittle
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Peanut brittle

(From The Country Cook)

This old-fashioned charmer will make everyone feel cozy and warm. Biting into peanut brittle just tastes like home, and this recipe is an absolutely fantastic one. Make a huge batch to give out as Christmas gifts, and everyone on your list will be delighted.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, sliced
  • 2 1/4 cups unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Method

  1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Place the candy thermometer inside of the saucepan.
  3. When the mixture begins to boil, add in the butter and stir to combine.
  4. When the mixture reaches 280 degrees Fahrenheit, stir in the peanuts.
  5. Continue to cook until the candy thermometer reads 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda.
  7. Immediately pour the mixture into the prepared cookie sheet and spread it evenly using a greased spatula.
  8. Cool the mixture completely. When it hardens, break it into pieces and store it in an airtight container.
Candy cane bark
What the Fork Food Blog / Facebook

Candy cane bark

(From What the Fork)

Chocolate bark is a pretty common treat around the holidays, and you won’t get any complaints from us. What we especially love about this two-toned treat is the mixture of white and semi-sweet chocolate. Accented with the kiss of peppermint, this addicting treat is a definite crowd-pleaser.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup candy cane pieces

Method

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the white chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Heat for 1 minute, then stir well. Continue to heat for 20-second intervals, stirring after each heating, until the chocolate is melted.
  3. Mix the peppermint extract into the chocolate.
  4. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly in a thin rectangle on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. In another clean, microwave-safe bowl, add the semi-sweet chocolate and the remaining 1 teaspoon of the vegetable oil. Microwave as before.
  6. Pour the semi-sweet chocolate over the white chocolate and use a spatula to spread evenly.
  7. Immediately sprinkle the top with the candy cane pieces.
  8. Freeze or refrigerate until completely hardened (about 20 minutes), then break into pieces.
Pretzel turtles
Cooking Classy

Pretzel turtles

(From Cooking Classy)

It truly doesn’t get any easier than these cute little turtles. Absolutely zero baking skills required here. If you can turn on an oven and unwrap a piece of candy, you can make these impressive little treats.

Ingredients

  • 1 (11 ounces) bag Rolo candies (50 Rolos)
  • 50 mini pretzels
  • 50 pecan halves

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Lay pretzels in a single layer on a baking sheet, then place one Rolo candy in the center of each pretzel.
  3. Warm in a preheated oven just until the chocolate and caramel have softened (about 4 minutes).
  4. Remove from oven, then press 1 pecan into each Rolo candy. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator and chill until the chocolate has set.
No-bake oatmeal chocolate cookies
Two Peas & Their Pod / Facebook

No-bake cookies

(From Two Peas & Their Pod)

We all know that everyone’s grandmother had some version of this cookie on hand and whipped it out for grandkid visits and rainy days. What we didn’t know was how extremely easy these treats are to make. These delicious cookies come together in just a couple of minutes and make a perfect, nostalgically delicious gift.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups quick oats

Method

  1. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, granulated sugar, milk, and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is at a full rolling boil, boil for 1 minute.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir until peanut butter is melted and smooth. Stir in the oats.
  4. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture (about 2 tablespoons per cookie) onto the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Let them sit at room temperature until cooled and hardened, or about 20 to 30 minutes.
Saltine toffee
Amanda's Cookin'

Saltine toffee

(From Amanda’s Cookin’)

If you haven’t yet tried this tasty toffee, you’re missing out big time. The surprising layer of saltine crackers adds a flaky, crispy, salty crunch that’s just wonderful.

Ingredients

  • 40 saltine crackers
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place all 40 saltine crackers on the sheet in a single layer.
  3. In a saucepan over medium/high heat, combine butter and brown sugar, then bring to a boil. Stir occasionally until it’s combined and the sugar is melted. Continue to boil for five minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and pour the caramel mixture over the cracker layer, spreading into an even coating.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes, until the caramel starts to bubble.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with chocolate chips. When chips begin to melt, spread them over crackers with a spatula.
  7. At this point, you can top it with any additional ingredients you like — nuts, candies, etc. Otherwise, feel free to leave as is.
  8. Let the pan cool in the refrigerator until firm, or about two hours. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
No-bake chocolate and peanut butter bars
Sally's Baking Addiction

No-bake chocolate peanut butter bars

(From Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Chocolate and peanut butter is probably the world’s most perfect combination. This homemade treat is far more deliciously satisfying than anything you’ll find in a bright orange package from the store.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, divided
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method

  1. Line an 8-by-8 or 9-by-9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, and confectioners’ sugar. Stir in 1 cup of peanut butter, then press evenly into a prepared baking pan.
  3. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with the chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stove. Stir until smooth. Spread over the peanut butter layer.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator until completely firm, at least two hours. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting.
Chocolate rum truffles
Also the Crumbs Please

Chocolate rum truffles

(From Also the Crumbs Please)

Once you learn how easy these are to make, you’ll have some dangerous knowledge on your hands. Even though these treats taste every bit as complex and rich as they sound, no one will have any clue how easy these decadent chocolate rum truffles are to whip up.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 9.3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup rum

Coating

  • 14.1 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup cocoa

Method

  1. Using a stand mixer and paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until soft.
  2. Add the melted chocolate and mix for an additional minute until creamy.
  3. Add the rum and mix on low speed until well combined and smooth.
  4. Cool for about 5 to 10 minutes in the freezer or until firm enough to scoop with an ice cream scoop, but not so hard that the dough is difficult to work with.
  5. Roll the truffles quickly into balls, then cool for about 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 10 to 15 minutes in the freezer.
  6. Dip the truffles in melted chocolate, then refrigerate for about 10 to 15 minutes to let the chocolate set. Dust with or roll in cocoa before serving.
Cranberry pistachio fudge
Baker by Nature

Cranberry pistachio fudge

(From Baker by Nature)

Chocolate fudge is wonderful, but every now and then, it’s nice to add a new item to the list of holiday treat staples. This gorgeous fudge is the perfect addition to that list. Perfectly sweet, melt-in-your-mouth fudge gets a beautiful Christmas makeover with red and green cranberry and pistachio in this easy recipe.

Ingredients

  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 20 ounces high-quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, chopped, divided
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, divided

Method

  1. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, allowing the excess paper to hang over the sides, set aside.
  2. In a large glass bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate, butter, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Fill a saucepan with water until about 1/4 full, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Place the bowl of ingredients over the top of the simmering pan.
  4. Stir frequently until the white chocolate has melted and the mixture is completely smooth, or about 8 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and fold in 1/2 cup of pistachios and 1/2 cup of dried cranberries. The mixture will be very thick.
  6. Scrape the fudge into the prepared pan, smoothing the top evenly. Sprinkle with remaining pistachios and cranberries. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before slicing.
No-bake coconut balls
The Big Man's World

No-bake coconut balls

(From The Big Man’s World)

With all the added calories that come with Christmas treats, every once in a while, it’s good to have a healthier option. With these little coconut balls, you won’t have any clue that you’re eating healthy. Vegan, keto, and absolutely scrumptious, this tropical-tasting treat is one you don’t have to feel guilty about.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blanched almond flour
  • 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup keto maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk

Method

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients and pulse until a dough forms. If the batter is too crumbly, add extra coconut milk until a slightly sticky texture remains.
  2. Roll into small balls. If desired, roll balls in extra shredded coconut.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.
Butterscotch haystacks
Savory Tooth

Butterscotch haystacks

(From Savory Tooth)

This one has been around for a while, though some families make them at Easter because they resemble little nests. Put a few pastel-colored candies in the center and you’ve got a cute-as-a-button Easter treat. But my family always makes these at Christmastime. The flavor of butterscotch is warming to the heart and soul and just screams winter treat to me. Paired with the crunch of chow mein noodles, this easy recipe is a butterscotch lover’s dream.

Ingredients

  • 11-ounce package butterscotch chips
  • 6-ounce package chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Method

  1. Combine chow mein noodles and peanuts in a large bowl.
  2. Melt butterscotch chips in a separate bowl in the microwave at 30-second intervals until melted.
  3. Pour melted butterscotch over noodles and peanuts. Mix until noodles are coated.
  4. Using a tablespoon, scoop the noodle mixture onto wax paper, forming small haystacks.
  5. Refrigerate until haystacks are hardened, or about 30 minutes.
3-ingredient peanut butter cookies
Barefoot in the Kitchen

3-ingredient peanut butter cookies

(From Barefoot in the Kitchen)

Who says peanut butter cookies have to be complicated? These are easy Christmas cookies to make that may take you around 20 minutes to throw together with the baking time included. To add the Christmas touch, put Hershey’s candy cane mint chocolates in the center after baking.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the peanut butter, sugar, and egg until the mixture is smooth.
  3. With your hands, roll the dough into about 1-inch balls and place them on a non-greased baking sheet.
  4. Use the back of a fork to press down twice in opposite directions to form the criss-cross pattern on top.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes, and then let the cookies cool on the tray for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Store in an airtight container. To keep the cookies soft and moist, take a slice of fresh bread, and break it up into pieces, then add to the airtight container.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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