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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 32

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 I 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 21

1st Place: Carrot Spice Thumbprint Cookies

Carrot cake is a family favorite, and these delicious cookies with shredded carrots, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, cinnamon and cloves taste very similar. They’re even topped with a rich cream cheese frosting. With each cookie it feels as if you’re eating a piece of carrot cake, but no fork is 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 12

Runner Up: Cheesy Cajun Cornbread Biscotti

This savory cookie is the bestseller at our Christmas cookie bazaar. Everyone requests the tasty biscotti every year. They're simple but very delicious. I will also serve them year-round as an appetizer. —Paula Marchesi, Auburn, Pennsylvania
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Runner Up: Chocolate Lebkuchen Cherry Balls

Here’s my twist on the traditional German holiday lebkuchen—with a surprise inside. —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 13

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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Ginger S Mores Exps Thd18 221421 C07 27 6b 2

Runner Up: Ginger S'mores

I’ve spent a few years perfecting this recipe to get the cookie soft and full of flavor and to balance the marshmallow and chocolate without overpowering the cookie. I think I finally got it where I want it! —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—not a crumb was left on the platter! —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 the eggnog transforms regular sugar cookies into something exceptional 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."