Dessert

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

Holiday baking season is in session! It’s time to stock the kitchen, break out the baking supplies, and prime your belly for all the delicious recipes to come. While our sweet tooth welcomes all types of holiday baked goods, there’s a special place in our hearts (and tummies) for holiday cookies. But, traditional Christmas cookie recipes aren’t always the healthiest (sorry, Grandma!), which can be challenging if you’re trying to stay on track with your goals. Of course, there’s no need to deprive yourself — enjoying a not-so-healthy treat from time to time is more than okay. After all, the holiday season only comes around once a year. But, if you’re trying to make healthier choices this holiday season, why not meet in the middle and call on healthy moderation? With a little preparation and a few healthy swaps, you can enjoy healthy holiday cookies (that taste like the real deal) without the added guilt.

In the spirit of a healthier holiday filled with tasty treats, we’ve put together The Ultimate Healthy Holiday Cookie Guide. Find must-have kitchen supplies, staple ingredients for your healthy holiday cookies, baking swaps, and of course, the best healthy Christmas cookie recipes.

Whether you’re joining in on a Christmas cookie swap, hosting the family holiday gathering, or just looking for healthy variations of the most common holiday cookies, find everything you need in this Christmas Cookie Guide.

The Kitchen Must-Haves for Healthy Holiday Cookies 

The must-have kitchen tools for all your holiday baking needs 

For Making 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

For 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!

For Decorating The Cookie Dough

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

Processed white flour is stripped of all nutrients, not making it the best flour option when whipping up healthier treats. Luckily there are many healthier flour alternatives that 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.

#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:

  • Applesauce 
  • Raw honey 
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Medjool dates
  • Coconut sugar
  • Sugar-free sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit

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 in place of butter
  • 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 

Everything you need for your healthy holiday cookie grocery list.

Flours & Grains

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

Sweeteners

  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Blackstrap molasses

Dairy/ Dairy-Alternatives

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

 Nut-Butter & Oil

  • Almond butter (unsweetened & creamy)
  • Coconut oil 

Flavorings & Add-ins

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

Spices

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

4 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? 

Ingredients: 

  • 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)

Directions

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 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 and grains. 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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 

Directions:

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).

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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 holiday cookies?  

Ingredients:

  • 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 

Directions:

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!

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! 

Ingredients:

  • 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!  

Directions:

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.

Notes:

  • 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 healthy 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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