50 Christmas Cookie Plate Ideas: Cookies, Candy, and More!

I love making plates of cookies to give out to friends and family, neighbors and coworkers, and all the other people in my life at Christmastime! It’s so fun baking up a storm and being able to give a bunch of treats away. Some people have the one bread, coffee cake, candy, or cookie that they are known for, but I like variety. Hope this list of 50 cookies, bar cookies, candy, muffins, and other treats helps you decide what to make this holiday season! Some of the recipes are my personal tried and true favorites, while others are on my to-bake list this season. I wish I could taste them all!

50 Christmas Cookie Plate Ideas | thepajamachef.comCookies

Bar Cookies


Muffins and Other Sweet Breads

Other Treats

SRC Cookie Carnival: Orange Spritz

Cute little crisp, buttery Spritz cookies are the perfect addition to your cookie plate this Christmas season! This version has an orange twist for a bit of freshness! 

Orange Spritz | thepajamachef.com

It’s always more fun to make cookies at Christmastime, don’t you think? This year for the Secret Recipe Club we are celebrating all things COOKIES by having a fun little cookie carnival.

2014 SRC Cookie Carnival | thepajamachef.com


For this event I was asked to make one of Marsha’s recipes from her blog, The Harried Cook. Marsha is a mom of two girls who loves Jesus too! She lives in India with her family and from glancing at her Twitter, I learned that she teaches cooking classes. How fun! :)

Orange Spritz | thepajamachef.com

Marsha’s girls love these Orange Spritz cookies–both the eating, and the making. I remember eating Spritz cookies every Christmas growing up… and truthfully, they weren’t my favorite cookies. But as an adult I have given them another chance. They’re so delicate and light, the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee or even a richer cookie treat. I almost made Marsha’s Lime and Pepper Cookies because they sounded so interesting, so you might want to check that recipe out too!

Orange Spritz | thepajamachef.com

But back to these cookies. This was my first time making Spritz cookies on my own and it was kinda fun, once I got the hang of my cookie press. By “me getting the hang of it” I clearly mean me desperately calling for Ben to come help because I could NOT figure out the instructions. It didn’t help that I have an Italian cookie press and the [oddly] translated instructions are spread out over several pages. Cookie press problems aside, the results were awesome. Thanks, Marsha for the great recipe! Merry Christmas!

Orange Spritz | thepajamachef.com

four years ago: Cranberry Sauce Two Ways

Orange Spritz

  • Servings: about 2 dozen medium cookies
  • Time: 35 minutes
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from The Harried Cook


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or a silpat.

With a mixer, cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in salt and the egg yolk until just combined. Add vanilla and orange zest, then beat again. Stir in flour.

Fill your cookie press and press out according to the cookie press’ instructions, placing on baking sheets approximately 1 inch apart.

Bake for about 8-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. The original recipe said baking time might be about 6 minutes, but mine was definitely about 12.

Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Check out other cookie recipes here:

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Crockpot Minestrone Soup

An easy, flavorful minestrone soup that can be made in the crockpot. We love this soup on cold winter nights.

Crockpot Minestrone Soup #winter #recipes #easy #soup | thepajamachef.comGrowing up, I didn’t like soup at all. Minestrone soup was probably my least favorite of them all, with all its tiny vegetables, white beans, and floaty spinach. The pasta was the only good part!! And there never was enough of it. It’s not like my mom served soup all the time or anything. I just remember it being an option. A gross option. Fortunately, my tastes have matured a bit. Now, I LOVE soup. Love love love it. I frequently make a big batch on the weekend and freeze leftovers in individual containers to make the lunch packing chore easier.

Crockpot Minestrone Soup #winter #recipes #easy #soup | thepajamachef.comIn the winter, this is one of my favorite soups to make. I usually have all the ingredients on hand so making this hearty Italian in the crockpot is super simple. There are some ways to fancy it up though, if that’s your thing–you can saute the veggies, use fresh herbs instead of dried herbs, etc. But the classic crockpot cooking style of “toss it in and forget it” TOTALLY works for this recipe. The one deviation I take from that is cooking the pasta separately, to help it not soak up all the broth right away. That’s not too hard, is it? Hope not, because this is one delicious soup!! Enjoy!

two years ago: Cranberry Orange Pancakes with Cranberry Maple Syrup
four years ago: Eggless Cookie Dough

Crockpot Minestrone Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 6-8 hours
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adapted from Skinnytaste


  • 1 – 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 cups/48 ounces chicken or vegetable broth, reduced sodium if possible
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 3 small diced carrots
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese rind, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup uncooked small pasta like ditalini or small shells
  • 1 – 10 ounce package frozen spinach, defrosted with liquid squeezed out
  • Parmesan cheese for garnishing


Add beans, broth, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, basil, and rosemary to a large crockpot. Stir and add Parmesan cheese rind, if using. Set crockpot to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

An hour before you want to eat, bring a small pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to crock pot along with defrosted spinach. Stir, cover, and let crockpot cook for another 30 minutes or so to heat through.

Before serving, remove bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan!



  • If desired, you can saute the onion, carrots, and celery before adding to the crockpot.
  • Fresh herbs can be used in place of dry herbs.
  • A thicker minestrone can be achieved by pureeing half the beans with 2 cups chicken broth.
  • The pasta absorbs the broth as it sits, so when you reheat it, you may have to add additional broth or water.
  • Soup reheats and freezes well!


Art Smith’s Macaroni and Cheese

A decadent, ooey gooey baked macaroni and cheese that is perfect for your Christmas table or for a cozy weeknight at home. It can even be prepped earlier in the week and baked later! A tried and true family favorite!

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese | thepajamachef.com - a family favorite that can be prepared ahead of time. If I had to choose one last meal, this macaroni and cheese would be it. I know there’s lots of other good meals out there, but mac and cheese is HARD to beat. And if it’s your last meal, then the healthier choices don’t matter very much, do they? :) Sorry, didn’t mean to get into a philosophical mood there. It just sorta happened. And I suggest that this macaroni and cheese just “sorta” happens in your world soon. It’s simply the best!

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese | thepajamachef.com - a family favorite that can be prepared ahead of time. My mom’s been making it for years, and it’s really the ultimate mac and cheese. It’s baked, so it has those crispy edges that we all know and love, but unlike some other baked pasta dishes, the middle has lots of ooey gooey cheesy goodness. There’s really no other way to describe it besides ultimate, divine, incredible, and utterly amazing! You can be somewhat flexible with the cheese that you use–using some cheddar and some parmesan is a must, but other than that, anything goes! American, colby, an Italian blend, gouda… If it’s cheese, it should be good!

Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese | thepajamachef.com - a family favorite that can be prepared ahead of time. I always serve this pasta with a big green salad or another veggie side. As you can tell it was summertime when I took these pictures at my parents’ house, but we enjoy this pasta year round. It would be a great addition to your Christmas table, too. It’s a great side dish since it’s SO rich. We easily get at least 12 servings. Enjoy!!

one year ago: Cranberry-Pistachio Citrus Butter Cookies
two years ago: Streuseled Cran-Apple Sweet Potato Casserole
four years ago: Sweet Potato Soup

Art Smith's Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 12+
  • Time: 60 minutes
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from Art Smith’s Back to the Table


  • 1 pound pasta – elbow macaroni or penne recommended
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk, warmed
  • 4 cups cheese, shredded – definitely use half cheddar + something else of your choice [he suggests American, but just go with what you feel like – Italian blend, colby, gouda, etc.]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • hot pepper sauce [I use Frank’s]
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated


Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions, then drain.

Meanwhile, grease a large casserole dish [a 9×13 pan works, as does any 4 quart casserole dish] and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk. The milk doesn’t have to be hot but it shouldn’t be cold either. Room temperature or gently heated in the microwave is perfect!

Bring sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in half of the cheese. Season to taste with pepper and hot sauce.

Spread a third of the pasta over the bottom of the casserole dish. Top with half of the reserved cheese and a third of the sauce. Repeat: a third of the pasta, remaining cheese, and a third of the sauce. Repeat: remaining pasta, remaining sauce. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.


  • Tent pasta with aluminum foil after about 20 minutes if top is browning too much.
  • This recipe can be prepared in advanced, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking. Just bring to room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking, or place pan in a cold oven and let oven heat up with the dish. From the refrigerator, you’ll have to bake it at least 40-45 minutes to heat through but use your best judgment.
  • Leftovers freeze well.

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

Cupcake Day: Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream

Sweet spiced apple cupcakes paired with a tart cranberry buttercream. Two fall flavors in one mini cupcake bite! With just a few special ingredients you can have some extraordinary cupcakes!

Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream | thepajamachef.com

Before I forget… go say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my baby sister. :) How convenient that I’m posting a cupcake recipe today, huh? Here we are 25 years ago! Aww.

Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream | thepajamachef.com

The best things come in small packages, I think [see above?!], and mini cupcakes and muffins are no exception. They’re pretty much my favorite things ever! I hadn’t made mini cupcakes in wayyy too long, so when Coleen of The Redhead Baker announced her celebration of cupcakes this fall, I KNEW mini cupcakes would be my contribution. And after much deliberation, I decided to make apple cupcakes. But what to top them with?

Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream | thepajamachef.com

One of my Nashville friends has her own baking business and recently brought some sample cupcakes to our Bible study. She topped her apple cupcakes with a salted caramel buttercream, which was delicious, but I didn’t want to be a copycat. :) Cinnamon buttercream also sounded good too, but then my favorite applesauce variation came to mind. Ben and I love swirling cranberry sauce into homemade applesauce, so I thought a nice tart cranberry buttercream may be the way to go. And ohhh my–it is!

Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream | thepajamachef.com

Multiple strong, overly sweet flavors don’t always work for cupcakes in my book. So I like to keep either the cake or the frosting on the simple side, and really play up the other. The cake portion of these cupcakes are just a subtle, spiced apple flavor. I grated the apples to add some texture and fresh apple. I normally love small chunks of apple in cake and muffins, but the grated texture works better in mini cupcakes, imo. Then the frosting. Ohhh the frosting!

Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream | thepajamachef.com

The cranberry buttercream is stunning, isn’t it? It’s naturally that bright, bold shade of pink, and each bite is better than the last. This buttercream is sweet, with a fantastic cranberry-y tart aftertaste. Good thing this recipe makes a ton of buttercream… enough to keep in your fridge for a late night snack. :) Seeing these pink seasonal cupcakes just makes me so happy! I wish I could bring some to share with you in real life today. Enjoy!

Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream | thepajamachef.com

Thanks for organizing this celebration of cupcakes, Coleen! Be sure to scroll down below the recipe to see lots of yummy cupcake recipes. Have a great Monday!!

four years ago: Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits

Mini Apple Cupcakes with Cranberry Buttercream

  • Servings: 32 mini cupcakes
  • Print


for apple cupcakes from Chow

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded apples [2 medium Gala apples]
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour [156 1/4 grams]
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3 ounces buttermilk, room temperature

for cranberry buttercream from Baker By Nature

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Begin by shredding the apples with a box grater or food processor. Then press apples through a fine mesh sieve to drain as much juice out as possible.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. With a mixer, beat butter for 2 minutes until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla and beat for another two minutes. Add egg and buttermilk, then beat for another minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Then, fold in apples.

Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling just below the top of the cup.

Bake for 14-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes clean. Cool completely before frosting.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare buttercream. Begin by placing cranberries and lemon juice in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cranberries pop and can be mashed easily. Mixture will look like a thick cranberry jam. Remove from heat, and working in batches, press mixture through a fine mesh sieve to separate the puree from the seeds/skin. This may be time consuming but is worth it. Cover and refrigerate puree to chill.

When ready to frost cupcakes, beat butter on medium-high for 2 minutes, until very smooth. Add in cold cranberry puree and beat for another minute until fully combined. Add powdered sugar, cup by cup and beat until desired thickness is achieved. I used about 4 cups. Stir in vanilla, then pipe or frost as desired.

Pssst! Look at all these other delicious cupcake recipes that my friends made for Cupcake Day! Mmm!