The Ultimate Healthy Holiday Cookie Guide

From shopping lists, healthy baking swaps, and wholesome recipes, we’ve got all your holiday cookie needs covered.

By: Lexy Parsons

‘Tis the season for seasonal treats — let the holiday baking commence! While our winter sweet tooth welcomes all types of holiday baked goods, there’s something extra satisfying and nostalgic about holiday cookies. From creamy peanut butter blossoms, to frosted sugar cookies, to snickerdoodles, and Grandma’s homemade gingerbread men, there are so many fun and festive recipes waiting to fill our bellies and warm our kitchens. However, while unarguably delicious, traditional holiday cookies aren’t notoriously nutritious. Ingredients often contain processed sugar, refined fat, and excess calories (yes… even Grandma’s homemade recipes). 

That said, there’s no need to deprive yourself. Indulging in some sweets (especially during the holiday season) is more than okay. But, what if you could have your holiday cookie and eat it too? No, not a holiday miracle — thanks to wholesome ingredients and better-for-you swaps, healthy holiday cookies (that don’t skimp on flavor) are possible!

No matter if you’re heading to a Christmas cookie swap, hosting the family holiday gathering, or just looking for healthy variations of the most common holiday cookies, your holiday dessert menu is about to get a major upgrade! Ahead, your healthy holiday cookie guide. Including, kitchen baking essentials, must-have ingredients, healthy holiday swaps, and of course, the healthiest Christmas cookie recipes.

The Kitchen Must-Haves for Healthy Holiday Cookies 

The must-have kitchen tools for every step of your holiday baking. 

Step #1: Preparing The Cookie Dough

Mixing bowl set: The baking essentials. We love this non-slip set, equipped with various sizes! 

Measuring spoons and cups: Because when it comes to baking, measurements matter! We love this stainless steel set.

Silicone spatula: To scrape up every last cookie dough drop. This 5-piece set will come in handy when decorating, too!

Stand or hand mixer (optional): Don’t want to mix your cookie dough by hand? Call for backup with a stand mixer or handheld mixer

Step #2: Baking The Cookie Dough

Cookie scoop: For perfectly uniform cookies, we love utilizing a cookie scoop.

Non-stick cookie sheet: Grab a few while you’re at it! 

Silicone baking mats or parchment paper: To line your cookie sheets for an even, stick-free bake. Invest in silicone baking mats or opt for parchment paper

Silicone spatulas: For a non-stick transfer to the cooling rack! 

Cooling racks: To prevent overbaking.

Rolling pin: For a smooth and even cut-out cookie, we love this silicone design

Cookie cutters: We love these cute holiday-themed cutouts!

Step #3: Decorating The Cookies

Food coloring: We love this all-natural food coloring for sugar cookie decorations!

Toppings: Feel free to get creative with anything additional here, but we love this healthy version of the classic rainbow sprinkles.

Pipe bags and tips: For mess-free cookie decorating, we love this reusable silicone set.

How to Make Healthier Holiday Cookies with Simple Baking Swaps 

#1 Healthy Flour Alternatives VS Processed Flour

Did you know that processed white flour, a common base for many homemade and store-bought sweet treats, is stripped of all nutrients? During the refining process, many nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, and phytonutrients are removed. Luckily there are many nutrient-dense flour alternatives that are gluten-free, grain-free, and can be easily substituted to make healthy holiday cookies.

Some of our favorites include: 

  • Oat flour
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour 
  • Buckwheat flour 
  • Cassava flour

Keep in mind, these flours may not always be an exact substitute for all-purpose flour. If you’re looking for a healthier 1:1 replacement, try a store-bought variety, such as Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Flour.

RELATED: What You Really Need to Know About Baking With Gluten-Free Flour

#2 Natural Sweeteners VS Refined Sugar

Replacing refined sugar with natural alternatives can reduce calories (and of course, sugar content), enhance the nutrient value (think fiber and minerals), and keep you on track with your fitness goals. 

Here are some natural sweeteners to consider:

RELATED: Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Sugar Intake

#3 Plant-Based Alternatives VS Dairy

Whether you’re dairy-free or are interested in testing dairy-free baking alternatives, swapping dairy foods (such as butter, milk, and cream) for dairy-free alternatives can add a healthy spin to your holiday cookies. 

Try these dairy-free swaps:

  • Coconut oil or mashed avocado in place of butter
  • Unsweetened pumpkin purée in place of dairy yogurt or sour cream
  • Dairy-free milk in place of cow’s milk
  • Creamy non-dairy yogurt (such as Kite Hill Greek-style yogurt or full-fat Coconut Yogurt) in place of yogurt, sour cream, or heavy cream
  • Canned coconut milk in place of heavy cream
  • Plant-based or dark chocolate in place of milk chocolate

RELATED: Healthier Holiday Swaps That Are Weight-Loss Friendly

Staple Healthy Holiday Cookie Ingredients 

Based on the recipes below, here’s everything you’ll need for your healthy holiday cookie grocery list. Modify or add as desired!

Flours & Grains

  • Almond Flour 
  • Gluten-free Rolled Oats
  • Oat flour (store-bought or homemade)

Sweeteners & Fruit

  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Raspberries (or berries of choice)

Dairy/ Dairy-Alternatives

  • Dairy-free milk (oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or your favorite variety)
  • Eggs

 Nut/Seed Butter, Oil, Nuts & Seeds

  • Almond butter (unsweetened & creamy)
  • Peanut butter (unsweetened & creamy)
  • Tahini 
  • Coconut oil 
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Slivered almonds

Flavorings & Add-ins

  • Cacao or cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • Vanilla extract
  • Mint extract
  • Almond extract
  • Chocolate chips (naturally sweetened, option for dairy-free)
  • Paleo chocolate bar
  • Shredded coconut, unsweetened 
  • Raisins, unsweetened
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Himalayan sea salt 


  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Pumpkin pie spice (or ground nutmeg and cloves)

8 Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes (+ 1 Bonus Dairy-Free Cookie Icing) 

#1 Gingerbread Cookies

Made with wholesome ingredients like almond flour, oat flour, and all-natural sweetener, these gingerbread cookies are a healthier take on Christmas cookie classics that will leave you equally as satisfied. Did we mention they’re plant-based, gluten-free, and dairy-free? 


  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup oat flour 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin spice 
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, room temperature or melted
  • 1 tbsp almond butter, creamy
  • ½ cup coconut sugar (optional for added sweetness) 
  • 3 ½ tbsp blackstrap molasses 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1-2 tbsp non-dairy milk (we used oat milk)


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 

Step #2: In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, mixing together the almond flour, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.

Step #3: In a separate bowl, prepare the wet ingredients, mixing everything except the non-dairy milk. Cream together the coconut oil, almond butter, molasses, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Mix together until a creamy consistency is achieved.

Step #4: Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until well combined. Add 1-2 tbsp of non-dairy milk as necessary to bind the dough together.

Step #5: Once dough-like consistency is achieved, refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to help solidify the mixture. 

Step #6: Remove from the fridge and form into tablespoon-sized scoops. Option to roll/coat in coconut sugar topping!

Step #7: Evenly place cookies on lined baking sheet.

Step #8: Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly cracked and golden on the top.

Step #9: Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes (they will seem soft but will harden as they cool).

Step #10: Enjoy and serve once cooled (about 30 minutes – 1 hour).

#2 Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

These almond flour-based sugar cookies will be all the talk at the holiday cookie swap. They’re lightly sweetened with maple syrup, made with less than ten ingredients, and free of gluten, grains, dairy, and processed sugar. Roll them into balls for pillowy cookies, or get creative with cute holiday cutout shapes! Finish with a naturally sweetened sugar cookie glaze and a sprinkle of toppings for the ultimate holiday treat.


  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda 
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted or room temperature 
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt 


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

Step #2: Add almond flour, salt, and baking soda to a large bowl. Stir until well mixed. 

Step #3: Slowly mix in wet ingredients, adding coconut oil, vanilla, almond extract, and maple syrup. Form into a dough.

Step #4: Once dough consistency is achieved, chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Step #5: Remove from the fridge and form into tablespoon-sized scoops. Alternatively, roll dough out and slice into cut-out shapes!

Step #6: Place evenly on lined baking sheet, and bake for 8 minutes

Step #7: Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. If they are slightly soft, that’s ok! Cookies will harden once cooled.

Step #8: Once cooled, top with frosting, glaze, or toppings of choice! 

#3 Double Chocolate Thin Mint Cookies

We took the classic chocolate peppermint Christmas cookies and gave them a crunchy twist. These thin mint double chocolate cookies are not only healthy (grain-free, dairy-free, and even plant-based), but they’re also so simple to make (just five ingredients needed).


  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder, unsweetened
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, room temperature
  • ½ tsp mint extract 

Chocolate coating:

  • 1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips (we used Endangered Species Oat Milk Chocolate Chips! For a lower sugar option, we love Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips), melted
  • ¼ tsp mint extract 
  • 1 tsp coconut oil


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Step #2: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

Step #3: In a large bowl, combine almond flour and cocoa powder. Stir until well combined.

Step #4: Mix in remaining cookie ingredients until a dough is achieved. If it’s crumbly, that’s ok! The ingredients will come together when chilled.

Step #5: Place dough in the fridge to chill for 30-40 minutes.

Step #6: Once chilled, remove dough from the fridge and form into a large ball.

Step #7: Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper or saran wrap, and roll out the dough until it’s ¼ – ½ inch thick. 

Step #8: Once the dough is evenly spread, form evenly sized cookies. Using a circle cookie cutter (or the lid of a jar!) form cookies.

Step #9: Evenly place cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Step #10: Remove from oven, and let cool.

Step #11: Once cooled, place cookies in the fridge while preparing the chocolate coating.

Step #12: To make the coating, mix melted chocolate chips, coconut oil, and mint extract into a smooth chocolate mixture.

Step #13: Remove chilled cookies from the fridge, and dip each cookie in the chocolate mixture until fully coated.

Step #14: Place chocolate coated cookies on a lined baking sheet. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or until completely hardened.

Step #15: Serve and enjoy! Store leftover cookies in the fridge.

#4 Snickerdoodle Cookies

Like cinnamon-spice-flavored pillows of heaven. Soft yet chewy, light yet flavorful, and made with the healthiest ingredients (like oats, almonds, and all-natural sweetener). Vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, what’s not to love about these healthy snickerdoodle holiday cookies


  • ½ cup Gluten-free Oat flour
  • ½ cup Almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar 
  • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil 
  • ½ tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp baking soda 
  • ¼ tsp baking powder 
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan salt

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice 


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

Step #2: In a small bowl, create your cinnamon sugar topping by combining coconut sugar and pumpkin spice (or ground cinnamon) together. Stir until well combined, then set aside.

Step #3: Add dry ingredients to a large bowl, mixing together oat flour, almond flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until well mixed. 

Step #4: In a separate large bowl, mix wet ingredients. Cream together coconut oil, vanilla, coconut sugar, and maple syrup. 

Step #5: Slowly stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until a dough forms. Scrape down sides and stir as necessary. 

Step #6: Once dough consistency is achieved, chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. 

Step #7: Remove dough from fridge. Next, form dough into ½  tablespoon sized scoops (or 1 tbsp for larger cookies).

Step #8: Roll dough into a ball, then dip in cinnamon sugar mixture. 

Step #9: Evenly place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes

Step #10: Remove from the oven and cool. If cookies are slightly soft, that’s ok! They will harden once cooled.

Step #11: Once cooled, serve and enjoy!

#5 Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Everything you’d want from a cookie — the perfect balance of sweet and salty, chocolate and PB, and soft yet crunchy. The best part? They’re sweetened naturally with coconut sugar, grain-free, and can easily be made vegan. Use your favorite paleo chocolate bar and get baking! 


  • 1 cup unsweetened peanut butter, creamy
  • 1 ¾ cups almond flour
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 egg (sub 1 flax egg or 1 chia egg)
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 paleo chocolate bar, melted


Step #1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Step #2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, coconut sugar, peanut butter, egg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Add the almond flour and salt. Mix well until the mixture forms a soft dough consistency.

Step #3: Roll dough into 12 balls. Place on a lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Using your thumb or the back of ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, press in the center of each cookie to make space for the melted chocolate. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove from the oven to cool.

Step #4: Using a spoon, pour the melted chocolate into each cookie. Allow 5 minutes for chocolate to set, or enjoy immediately!

#6 Raspberry Almond Flour Thumbprint Cookies

Grain-free, gluten-free, and vegan! Made with almond flour, these healthier thumbprint raspberry cookies will be your new holiday favorite. Chewy, pillowy, and filled with a melt-in-your-mouth raspberry chia jam. 



  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ⅛ tsp salt

Raspberry Chia Jam:

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (black or white)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Step #1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Step #2: In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Add the almond flour and salt. Mix well until the mixture forms a soft dough consistency.

Step #3: Roll dough into 12 balls. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Using your thumb or the back of 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, press in the center of each cookie to make space for the chia jam. Pinch together any large cracks around the sides of each cookie.

Step #4: To make the raspberry chia jam, place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium high heat. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Use a spoon to break up the berries. Once the mixture has thickened slightly and resembles a jam-like texture, remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, fill the cookies with ½ – 1 teaspoon of chia jam.

Step #5: Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until they get lightly browned on the edges. Once done, the cookies will be soft, don’t remove them from the baking sheet until cool. As they cool, they will become crisper.

Step #6: Keep them in a covered container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days, they will get softer with time. To freeze, let cool and store in freezer-safe containers with parchment paper between each layer, will keep for up to 2 months.

#7 Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies

Healthy enough to enjoy for a nourishing holiday breakfast or decadent dessert! These yummy Cinnamon Raisin cookies are filled with nourishing ingredients like oats, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon. 

Serves: 10


  • 1 cup oats, rolled
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup raisin
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • Almond butter, to serve


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Step #2: Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until the mixture comes together, adding a splash more water if needed.

Step #3: Drop the cookie dough by the rounded tablespoon onto the parchment-lined baking tray, shaping them into rounds.

Step #4: Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are golden.

Step #5: Serve with a dollop of almond butter.

#8 No-Bake Chocolate & PB Buckeye Cookies

Known as buckeye cookies, buckeye delights, or PB-chocolate truffle cookies, these creamy and indulgent no-bake bites will satisfy all your dessert cravings. No oven needed! We used our protein-packed PB balls as the base, but you can also modify and make the recipe without protein powder. Simply skip the protein powder, increase the nut butter to 1 cup and add an additional 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup if desired.


  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3-4 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Chocolate coating:

  • 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp coconut oil


Step #1: Add all of the base ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together.

Step #2: Chill in the fridge or freezer for 10-20 minutes to set and then roll into bite-sized rounds.

Step #3: Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave or over the stove top. Once creamy and fully melted, transfer to a small bowl. 

Step #4: Dip each peanut butter ball into the chocolate mixture, then place on a pan or plate lined with parchment paper. Place back in the freezer for 10-20 minutes, or until set, before enjoying.

Step #5: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Bonus Recipe: 2-Ingredient Healthy Dairy-Free Frosting

Made with wholesome ingredients like coconut butter and all-natural sugar, enjoy this healthy holiday frosting guilt-free. Use it as a glaze for your sugar cookies, or drizzle it on your gingerbread men, snickerdoodles, and healthy holiday desserts! 


  • ½ cup coconut butter, slightly melted or room temperature
  • 2 tbsp sweetener (we love maple syrup or honey)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract, optional 

Note: To turn this frosting into a glaze, add 4-8 tablespoons of room temperature water to thin, stirring in the water one tablespoon at a time. 

Optional Add-insNatural food coloring: follow the instructions on your food coloring of choice. We love this (all-natural) brand!  


Step #1: Bring the coconut butter to room temperature (or slightly warmer). Boil a medium-sized pot of water. Once boiled, remove from heat. Place (glass) jar of coconut butter into the warm water for 2-3 minutes (or until room temperature is achieved). See note.

Step #2: Add the melted coconut butter, sweetener of choice, and vanilla into a medium-sized bowl. Stir until a smooth paste is achieved. 

Step #3: If making the glaze, add 4-8 tablespoons of room temperature water, one tablespoon at a time, to thin. Consistency should be thin and glossy.


  • Jars must be glass! If using plastic jars, place desired amount of ingredients into a glass jar and repeat above steps.
  • If using honey as sweetener, repeat step 1 to melt honey.
  • No time to make your own? Try this organic store-bought frosting!

Bring Joy to Your Holiday Season with These Must-Have Healthy Holiday Cookies

The ultimate healthy Christmas cookie guide to satisfy all your sweet tooth needs. No need to choose between taste or nutrition you can have them both! Use this guide to plan out your holiday shopping list, grab the essentials, and get baking! With these simple baking swaps and healthy recipes, transform all your favorite sugar-filled cookies into healthier holiday treats. A healthier holiday starts here!

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