The Secret Cookie Recipes Grandma (Almost) Wouldn’t Share

Updated: May 08, 2024

Learn how to bake like grandma with these time-tested secret cookie recipes.

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Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother insisted that my grandmother write down one recipe for her when Mom got married in 1942: the how to make peanut butter cookies from scratch recipe. That was a real effort because Grandma was a traditional pioneer-type cook who used a little of this or that until it felt right. This treasured recipe is the only one she ever wrote down! —Janet Hall, Clinton, Wisconsin. Next, try this easy-to-make mom’s best cookie recipe.

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Great-Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies

This yummy cookie—a favorite of my husband's—goes back to my great-grandmother. At Christmastime, we use colored sugar for a festive touch. —Mary Ann Konechne, Kimball, South Dakota
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Torcetti

Our Sicilian grandmother often had my sister and me roll out the dough for these tasty torcetti. These cookies are melt-in-your-mouth good without being overly sweet. —Joy Quici, Upland, California
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Baki's Old-World Cookies

My uncles have always called these "cupcake cookies" because of the unique, pretty way they're baked. My maternal grandmother mixed many batches. —Marilyn Louise Riggenbach, Ravenna, Ohio
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Dipped Chocolate Logs

When my sister and I were little, we used to beg my mother and grandmother to make these buttery chocolate cookies during the holidays. Now, as moms ourselves, we get together every year to make Christmas cookies, and the chocolate logs are always on the top of our list. —Deanna Markkos, Western Springs, Illinois
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Grandma's Scottish Shortbread

My Scottish grandmother was renowned for baked goods, and these chunky shortbread bars are an example of why. —Jane Kelly, Wayland, Massachusetts
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Cardamom Spritz

As far back as I remember, I have loved cardamom. My grandmother often added the spice to her baked goods. I usually make these cookies with a spritz press—and camel disk—that I found at a thrift shop. It reminds me of a time when I rode a camel in the desert while deployed with the Navy. Of course, any design will do! —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado
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Grandma Krause's Coconut Cookies

When my two daughters were young, their great-grandma made them coconut cookies with oats. Thankfully, she shared the recipe. —Debra Dorn, Dunnellon, Florida
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Date Swirl Cookies

My granddaughter nicknamed my mother Cookie Grandma because she made wonderful cookie—including these crisp and chewy treats. —Donna Grace, Clancy, Montana
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Strawberry Cookie Cups

I learned to bake beside my mom and grandmother. When I was on break from college, I knew just how to entertain myself: I made cookies. Sharing this recipe with my mom and grandmother was a proud moment.—Andrea Zulauf, Livonia, New York
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Blackberry Peekaboo Cookies

My grandmother bakes this recipe every year for the holidays. She uses homemade blackberry jam that she makes fresh every summer. These cookies are so delicious! —Jacquie Franklin, Hot Springs, Montana
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Kourambiethes

My daughter-in-law gave me this recipe. Her grandmother was born in Greece and bakes these cookies for special occasions, including Christmas.—Carol Dale, Greenville, Texas
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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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Crisp Sugar Cookies

My grandmother always had sugar cookies in her pantry, and we grandchildren would empty that big jar quickly because they were the best! I now regularly bake these wonderful cookies to share with friends. —Evelyn Poteet, Hancock, Maryland
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Pizzelle

This recipe was adapted from one that my Italian-born mother and grandmother followed. They used old irons on a gas stove, but now we have the convenience of electric pizzelle irons. These delectable cookies are still a traditional treat in our family. —Elizabeth Schwartz, Trevorton, Pennsylvania
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Gingersnap Cookie

My grandma kept two cookie jars in her pantry. One of the jars, which I now have, always had these crisp and chewy gingersnaps in it. They're still my favorite cookies. My daughter used this recipe for a 4-H fair and won a blue ribbon. —Deb Handy, Pomona, Kansas
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Walnut Cookies

Black walnuts, which have a more distinctive flavor than traditional English walnuts, have a short shelf life. It's best to store them in the freezer. —Doug Black, Conover, North Carolina
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Grandma Brubaker's Orange Cookies

At least two generations of my family have enjoyed the recipe for these light, delicate orange-flavored cookies. —Sheri DeBolt, Huntington, Indiana
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Oat & Coconut Icebox Cookies

This recipe was passed down through my family from Grandma Irene and is a favorite of my dad and cousin Dennis. It's a true cookie lover's cookie: crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and perfectly dunkable. —Lori Rowe, Tigerton, Wisconsin
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Mexican Chocolate Sugar Crisps

My grandma loved these so much, she would hide them from my grandpa! I think of her every time I make a batch. Like Mexican spice? Try stirring in a little chili powder. —Michele Lovio, Thousand Oaks, California
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Frosted Spice Cookies

This recipe has been handed down through many generations of my husband's family. The cookies were always in his grandmother's cookie jar when he'd visit. Today, he enjoys them more than ever—and so do I. —Debbie Hurlbert, Howard, Ohio
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Honey-Lime Almond Cookies

Decades ago my grandmother passed this buttery lime cookie recipe to me. Through years of baking, our cookie memories keep the family connected, although we’re miles apart. —Paula Marchesi, Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania
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Grandma's Raspberry Rugelach

I remember sitting on my great-grandmother's couch with a pad and pen in hand as she told me each ingredient and measurement for her special rugelach. Her recipe stands apart because it's a fun twist from typical versions. —Dalya Rubin, Boca Raton, Florida
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Coconut Cookies

This simple yet satisfying coconut cookie recipe has been around for generations. Pressing a fork into the top gives the look of an old-fashioned washboard. —Tommie Sue Shaw, McAlester, Oklahoma
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Grossmutter's Peppernuts

Before Christmas, my grandmother would bake peppernuts and store them until the big day. When we came home from school, the whole house would smell like anise and we knew the holiday season was about to begin. —Marilyn Kutzli, Clinton, Iowa
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Grandma's Polish Cookies

This traditional khruchiki recipe has been handed down through my mother's side from my great-grandmother. As a child, it was my job to loop the end of each cookie through its hole. —Sherine Elise Gilmour, Brooklyn, New York
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Italian Rainbow Cookies

My family has made these classic Italian rainbow cookies for generations, and this homemade version is so much better than the bakery version. They are always a special treat during the holidays or any time of year! —Cindy Casazza, Hopewell, New Jersey
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Icebox Cookies

This cookie recipe from my 91-year-old grandmother was my grandfather's favorite. She still makes them and sends us home with the dough so that we can make more whenever we want, I love to make a fresh batch when company drops in. —Chris Paulsen, Glendale, Arizona
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Grandma's Star Cookies

My husband's grandma would make these butter cutouts only with a star cookie cutter. I use various shapes for celebrations throughout the year. —Jenny Brown, West Lafayette, Indiana
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Italian Horn Cookies

My family has been making these delicate, fruit-filled Italian horn cookies for generations. They’re light and flaky, with the look of an elegant old-world pastry. —Gloria Siddiqui, Houston, Texas
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Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

My grandmother always made these cookies for the holidays. The recipe has been passed down through generations to me, and now from me to you. — Robert Logan, Clayton, California
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Mint Chocolate Wafers

My grandmother gave me a cookbook stuffed with recipes. This is a slight twist on one of the first—and best—recipes I made from the book. It's best to store these in the refrigerator. —Mary Murphy, Evansville, Indiana
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Triple Ginger Cookies

My dad loved ginger cookies. I tinkered with the recipe my grandma handed down by using fresh, ground and crystallized ginger for more pizazz. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
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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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Italian Sprinkle Cookies

Of all the Italian cookie recipes I make, this is my favorite. These sprinkle cookies take some time, but, believe me, they are well worth it! My husband and I used to operate an Italian American restaurant, and this recipe goes back generations. —Gloria Cracchiolo, Newburgh, New York
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Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

I'm the fourth generation of cooks in my family to bake these cookies. When my grandmother sent me a batch for my birthday one year, I asked her for the recipe. That's when I learned it was originally my great-grandmother's recipe. It's one that I will definitely make sure gets passed on! —Loretta Pakulski, Indian River, Michigan
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Grandma's Sugar Cookies

We bake these cookies for holidays and other special occasions. The recipe is one of my great-grandmother's that I received years ago from one of my great-aunts. —Kristy Deloach, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Iced Orange Cookies

I usually make these bite-size orange cookies at Christmastime, when Florida citrus is plentiful, but they're delicious any time of year. Every time I sniff their wonderful aroma, I remember my grandmother, who shared the recipe. —Lori DiPietro, New Port Richey, Florida