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12 Contest-Winning Cookies for Your Holiday Cookie Tray

These contest-winning Christmas cookie recipes are perfect for a cookie swap, an open house or as a thoughtful gift for a friend. Or you could just eat them all yourself.

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Baklava Thumbprint Cookie Exps Thd18 225441 C07 26 4b

Grand Prize: Baklava Thumbprint Cookies

The topping on my sister-in-law's peach cobbler was so delicious that I asked for the recipe, then decided to use that to top a cookie I developed with the flavors of baklava. My adult son tried one and immediately ate two more—which is unusual for him! It's a good recipe to mix up the night before and bake fresh the next day for company. —Sharon Eshelman, Harrington, Delaware
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Carrot Spice Thumbprint Cookies  Exps Thd18 226706 C07 27 2b 10

1st Place: Carrot Spice Thumbprint Cookies

Carrot cake is a family favorite, and these delicious cookies taste just like it with shredded carrots, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, cinnamon and cloves. And they're topped with a rich cream cheese frosting. Who could resist? Each cookie is like eating a piece of carrot cake, but with no fork needed! —Susan Bickta, Kutztown, Pennsylvania
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Pineapple Coconut Tassies Exps Thd18 226779 C07 27 4b 1

2nd Place: Pineapple Coconut Tassies

These cookies may sound and look fancy, but they're rather easy to make Their simplicity makes them an ideal choice for baking with children. My granddaughter enjoys helping me measure the ingredients. Children also can help shape the dough into balls, and then you can finish them together. —Connie Shuff, York, Pennsylvania
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Sea Salt Mint White Mocha Cookies Exps Thd18 223269 C07 26 5b 3

3rd Place: Sea Salt Mint White Mocha Cookies

This recipe came from my mom's Grandma Alice, who taught her how to bake. Grandma Alice always had a fresh plate of warm cookies on her counter. I learned some of her recipes by heart as a child, and I've been making these since high school. They taste like Christmas.—Kristin Bowers, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
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Cheesy Cajun Cornbread Biscotti Exps Thd18 226373 C07 26 1b 6

Runner Up: Cheesy Cajun Cornbread Biscotti

This cookie is our best seller at our Christmas cookie bazaar. Everyone requests this tasty biscotti every year. It's simple but very delicious. I will also serve it year-round alongside a meal as an appetizer. —Paula Marchesi, Auburn, Pennsylvania
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Chocolate Lebkuchen Cherry Balls Exps Thd18 225781 C07 26 3b 3

Runner Up: Chocolate Lebkuchen Cherry Balls

Here's my twist on the traditional German holiday lebkuchen—with a surprise inside. Maraschino cherries add a sweet and unexpected punch to the holiday spice of gingersnaps. —Arlene Erlbach, Morton Grove, Illinois
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Runner Up: Cinnamon Roll Macarons

These macarons are a winter/fall staple for me—inspired by the classic cinnamon roll, they are a delicious treat for a cold or snowy day. These pair well with a mug of tea, and can be eaten as Christmas dessert or just a snack. Try custard, mousse, ganache, or any other buttercream as fillings, too. —Elizabeth Ding, El Cerrito, California
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Coconut Lime And Pistachio Cookies Exps Thd18 225107 C07 26 2b 4

Runner Up: Coconut, Lime & Pistachio Cookies

Perfect for freezing, these cookies look like Christmas but taste like summer. —Barbara Crusan, Pass Christian, Mississippi
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Runner Up: Crystallized Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is the best of twp worlds—gingerbread and chocolate chip cookies. Since they're combined, you don't have to choose between them. —Colleen Delawder, Herndon, Virginia
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Runner Up: Ginger S'mores

I’ve spent a few years now perfecting this recipe to get a soft, flavorful cookie while balancing the marshmallow and chocolate so they don’t overpower the cookie. I think I finally got it! Recently I added orange zest—it really complements the other flavors. —Lynsay Benson, Minnetonka, Minnesota
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Jamaican Chocolate Cookies With Caramel Creme Exps Thd18 220834 C07 27 5b 3

Runner Up: Jamaican Chocolate Cookies with Caramel Cream

I made these for an office party cookie contest—and not a crumb was left on the platter! Sweet potatoes are the secret ingredient. Canned sweet potatoes will work, too, if you're short on time. —Noelle Myers, Grand Forks, North Dakota
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Runner Up: Spiced Eggnog Rum Cookies

One year, when I had a lot of eggnog on hand, I created a new holiday cookie recipe. The flavor is subtle, but somehow it transforms regular sugar cookies into something special for the holidays. —Mark Banick, Turner, Oregon
Taste of Home
Originally Published in Taste of Home

Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."
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