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If you’re looking for the best Christmas cookie recipe, look no further, these glazed orange cookies with cinnamon and cloves are THE taste of Christmas! (Jump directly to the recipe.)

“Those SMELL like Christmas.” said AJ when he walked into the apartment after going for bike ride. I had just read my friend Pat’s articleabout the smells of Christmas so I was pleased to hear him say that. In fact, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and call these the Best Christmas Cookie Recipe Ever! These orange and cinnamon cloves cookies DO smell like Christmas, in the best possible way. Even after baking a slew of desserts for my party, I was happy to be back in the kitchen, baking these, and these cookies are the perfect ones to end my run of 12 Days of Holiday Cookies.

Orange and cloves is a classic Christmas scent like the modern day pomanders that people make and give out as handmade gifts. I’ve never been that crafty, and the idea of poking tiny little cloves into an orange sounds a bit tedious but I’m always impressed when I see them at friend’s houses. The scent is intoxicating and, of course, is perfect for the holidays.

So when I came across a recipe for Pezzetti di Cannelle (little cinnamon cookies) in Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino I knew I had to immediately adapt it to include orange and cloves like a cookie form of pomanders. Turns out that the cookies not only smell like Christmas but they taste like Christmas too! AJ took one bite and turned to me and said, “Yep, Christmas is here.” See, Best Christmas Cookie. Ever.

Best Christmas Cookie Recipe – Glazed Little Orange Cookies with Cinnamon and Cloves

By Irvin Lin

These deceptively simple bite size cookies smell and taste like Christmas in the best nostalgic way possible. Cinnamon, cloves, orange and a touch of chocolate cocoa make these cookies a great addition to any holiday cookie tin you’re making. Or just make them by themselves and inhale (and taste) the essence of Christmas! Keep in mind that you have to let the cookies dry overnight after you glaze them so make sure to allow time for that.

Adapted from Southern Italian Desserts by Rosetta Costantino

Cookie dough
2 cup (280 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 g) white granulated sugar
2 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon whole milk
zest of 2 medium oranges

2 cups (250 g) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional, substitute orange juice in place)

1. Place the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, and baking powder in medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a balloon whisk, vigorously stir the dry ingredients together until well blended and uniform in color. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, milk and zest. Using a large spatula, stir until a rough dough. Switch to your hands and start to knead the dough until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover the dough and let rest for 30 minutes.

2. About 20 minutes into the rest period, preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with a silpat or a piece of parchment paper. Once the oven has preheated and the 30 minutes are up, pull out roughly a quarter of the dough and roll it into a rope somewhere between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch in thickness. Flatten it slightly with your hands until it’s about an inch wide and cut the dough diagonally like a diamond about 1 1/2 inch long. Basically you want the dough to be the size of a gnocchi dumpling. Place on the lined baking sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until one of the middle cookies are dry to the touch and feels done. Let rest on the baking sheet for 5-7 minutes, then move to a wire rack. Cool to room temperature (about an hour or more) before glazing.

3. When you’re ready to glaze, sift the confectioners’ sugar into a clean large bowl and add the orange juice and Cointreau (if using). Stir until the glaze is made. Gently add one cookie to the bowl and toss with the glaze and place back on the wire rack. If the glaze is too thin, it will run off the cookie and you need to add more sugar. If the glaze is too thick you might risk breaking the cookie in the bowl as the glaze won’t properly coat the cookie, just thin with 1/2 teaspoon of water, orange juice or cointreau continuing until the glaze is the proper consistency. Once there, add the remaining cookies and toss gently with your hands. Pull the cookies out, one at time and place on the wire rack. Let the glaze harden overnight, for at least 12 hours (longer if your kitchen is humid) and serve.

Makes about 60 small cookies.

If you like these cookies, check out the rest of my 12 Days of Holiday Cookies:

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Blueberries and Crystallized Ginger
Gluten Free Ginger Snaps
Butterscotch Cookies with Triple Chocolate Chips
Chocolate Double Rye Cookies
Hermit Cookies with Brown Sugar Icing, Dried Cherries and Crystallized Ginger
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies, Aztec Style
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Hazelnuts
Lemon Cookie Bars with Pomegranate Seeds
Mocha Cookies with Dark Chocolate and Pistachios (Gluten Free)
Caramel Bars with Salted Roasted Cashews (and Gluten Free option)

And check out these other awesome holiday cookies from around the web:
Sprinkle Bakes’ Chocolate Sugar Cookies
101 Cookbooks’ Minty Chocolate Christmas Cookies
Tidy Mom’s Red Velvet Gooey Butter Christmas Cookies
Simply Recipes’ Walnut Snowball Cookies
Chocolate Chocolate and More’s Swedish Christmas Cookies

Reader Interactions


  1. Eileen says

    So it seems like I really need to add these to the seven or eight other kinds of cookies already kicking around the house! NOM. 🙂


  2. Claudia says

    Did not even get past the first sentence before I shared this on my facebook page. (Hope that’s cool with you?) I totally believe you. They sound incredible. Thanks for spreading the joy of Christmas.


  3. Aimee @ Simple Bites says

    As someone who sat around and made pomanders this Christmas, I know that these would be right up my alley.

    Happy Christmas, Irvin!


  4. Nicole says

    Can you describe what the texture of these cookies should be like? I made them and the flavor is nice, but the texture is not at all what I expected. It’s very soft and bready. I did have to use flour when rolling out the dough, as it got incredibly sticky while sitting for the half hour. I had no problem with sticking while kneading it, but when it came to rolling it into the logs it was gluing itself to my cutting board. Could the flour I used in that step be contributing to the texture I got? Or is the texture supposed to be like that? I thought from the photos that they might be little crunchy cookies, but I have no idea!


    • Irvin says

      Hi Nicole.
      Hmmmm. The cookies aren’t really crunchy when they come out of the oven, as I bake them to be a little soft, but they shouldn’t “very soft and bready” though. I’d probably put the texture around a soft shortbread.

      I wonder if maybe you should bake them a bit longer to get them to firm up a bit? Otherwise I’m not sure why they would get so gluey and sticky. Do you know how old your flour was or how humid your kitchen was? Sometimes old flour can soak up humidity and moisture from the air.

      If you make them again and roll them out and they get sticky, try using cornstarch instead of flour to keep them from sticking. That and the extra minute or two in the oven should help give them a little more snap and less bready softness.


  5. Penelope says

    I would love to make these for my upcoming holiday brunch! But I’m hoping to do most of the prep ahead of time. Do you think the dough would freeze, or would the unglazed cookies freeze well? Thanks!


  6. Food, Faith, and Other Fabulous Finds says

    You are so right, these are just the most amazing Christmas cookies!! They taste just like this amazing lebkuchen that my best friend and I eagerly anticipate buying every Christmas. Yay! Now I can make them myself. 🙂


  7. Cinnamon Vogue says

    Irwin your bio is as fabulous as this recipe. Love it. Orange cloves and cinnamon in a Christmas Cookie. Voila!! Cointreau or Grand Marnier for the Glaze. Definitely a hedonistic recipe but worth every effort.


  8. Ceylon Cinnamon says

    I would like to make these recipe in coming holidays. Thanks for sharing the post!


  9. Margaret says

    I made these and the smell is amazing but for my taste they need more fat for a more satisfying taste. Maybe some butter or ground nuts!


  10. Ms Trovarello says

    I made these tonight and I was also surprized by the texture. I was expecting somthing a little harder for dipping in our espresso! But we love them. I like that the cookie dosent have a lot of sugar, but the glaze balances it all! Yum.

  11. ann says

    Just made these for my coworkers as little Christmas gifts, and everyone loves them! My mom tried a few before they got bagged up and is now demanding I make another batch for our family Christmas party. This is an excellent, unique cookie- the flavors and textures are perfectly balanced and they make a nice break from your run of the mill Christmas cookies.


  12. Gretty says

    Make them every year. One of my favourite Xmas cookie. Make sure you use a not too strong extra virgen olive oil and be generous with orange and glaze. I also appreciate having a recipe out of the butter side. Definitely a keeper!


  13. Sharon welling says

    So disappointed! These cookies has zero flavor. I then realized that the recipe did not include salt. Salt would have brought out all these wonderful spices


  14. CG says

    Preparing Cookies at home is one my favorite thing.. I think this is so special to me. so I will add this also to my list… THANK YOU so much..


  15. Emilia Mosseri says

    thank you for the recipe! i made the cookies last night, they came out great. they should be soft, and different, because the ratio of fat to flour is very low, only 1/4 cup to 2 cups….shortcread is 1:1.
    i made however two important changes: i replaced the 2 tbsp of link with 2 tbsp of cognac, and the 2 cups of sugar coating, with 2-3 tbsp of granualed golden sugar that i spenkled in order to keep them low sugar…i sprinkled also red pepper kernles…it made them kook very christmacy with the gold and red….yummy….


    • Orta says

      Could you please edit these suggestions for spelling? Surely you didn’t add red pepper? I was able to understand shortcread and granualed and spenkled but others may not.


  16. Sharon says

    I like to try something new every year and these were a winner. Absolutely delicious and very different from most Christmas cookies. When I had them rolled and cut, my husband walked by and said they look just like little pieces of dog poop LOL. So from now on in our house, they will be known as dog poop cookies.


  17. ceylon-cinnamon says

    I would like to make this recipe in the coming days. We got a lot of help with this post. Thanks for sharing this kind of post!


  18. Kendall says

    Are they supposed to be crunchy lime a gingersnap or more like a soft gingerbread?


    • Fran says

      This recipe had such wonderful ingredients that I had to try it. Not too sweet. I was able to get about 38 one and one half inch cookies. I like the texture once baked just had some trouble making ropes. Was a bit crumbly but overall great cookie.


  19. Keira says

    I might have to add these to the cookie plate.


  20. Manda says

    do you have a suggestion for a vegan substitution for the eggs?


  21. Patricia Stein says

    Can I make these ahead of time for a cookie swap? How should they be stored?


  22. Stephanie says

    Can I glaze these and then freeze?


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Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm Irvin Lin, a critically acclaimed cookbook author, IACP-Award winning photographer, IACP-nominated blogger, award winning baker, award winning former graphic designer, storyteller, recipe developer, writer and average joe bon vivant. I currently reside in San Francisco a block from Dolores Park and right near Tartine Bakery, Bi Rite Market & Creamery, and Delfina.

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