The 16 best recipes to bake in December (2024)

With colder temperatures outside, time spent in a warm kitchen is more than welcome this time of the year. If you can imagine bopping around the kitchen with holiday tunes playing in the background, then I think you’ll especially like this list of recipes. (Bonus points if your spatula doubles as a microphone.)  

In this collection, you’ll find everything from cheesy bread for a cold winter night to dinner party appetizers — plus breakfast treats, nostalgic recipes, and more.

Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne

1) Layered Fig and Rosemary Cornmeal Scones

Layered with thick fig jam (or the fruit preserve of your choice) for a bit of texture and sweetness, these scones are excellent to prepare and freeze so you’re ready for any last-minute guests or a simple laid-back breakfast. Sprinkle them with sparkling sugar before baking for added sweetness and crunch.

Get the recipe:Layered Fig and Rosemary Cornmeal Scones

Shop the recipe:Sparkling Sugar

Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne

2) Almond Cloud Cookies

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting the King Arthur Bakery & Café, you might have had the experience of tasting one of these beloved cookies. The outside has a thin, shell-like surface that cracks to reveal a chewy, moist almond-flavored center. If you like the flavor of marzipan, you’ll love these cookies. (And though you can’t tell by the name, they’re also gluten-free!) 

Get the recipe:Almond Cloud Cookies

Shop the recipe:Almond Flour and Almond Extract

Photography and food styling by Liz Neily

3) Cranberry-Orange Babka

I am a huge fan of babka, and this festive cranberry-orange variation has my heart. Beautifully twisted and filled with swirls of tart-sweet cranberry, it’s a must-bake for breakfast — and, if you bake it in a Bakeable Paper Loaf Pan, it’s excellent for gifting. Drizzle on a simple glaze for an even more impressive presentation. 

Get the recipe:Cranberry-Orange Babka

Shop the recipe:Bakeable Paper Loaf Pan

Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne

4) Italian Rainbow Cookies

I’m a firm believer that the best cookies are actually cake. In these “cookies,” ultra-thin layers of almond-scented cake are held together by sweet apricot jam and finished with a chocolate glaze. And if you’re looking for more holiday cookie inspiration, we have dozens more recipes to choose from.

Get the recipe: Italian Rainbow Cookies

Shop the recipe:Almond Flour and Semisweet Chocolate Wafers

5) Faux-Laminated Maple Brioche Buns

Skip the fussy lamination of croissants and opt for these maple sugar-laden brioche buns for a more laid-back holiday breakfast. The shortcut laminating process, which involves folding the dough after applying melted butter, creates buns with an irresistible pull-apart texture.

Get the recipe:Faux-Laminated Maple Brioche Buns

Shop the recipe:Maple Sugar and Bread Flour

Photography and food styling by Liz Neily

6) Braided Christmas Bread (Hefekranz)

This gorgeous bread is a Christmastime classic that spans across Europe. The sweet, yeasted dough is accented with zippy lemon zest and golden raisins, though it’s easily adaptable to your favorite dried fruits.

Get the recipe:Braided Christmas Bread (Hefekranz)

Shop the recipe:Baker’s Special Dry Milk

Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne

7) Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Reverse creaming isn’t just for cakes; the mixing technique also makes exceptionally tender cookies. This cookie dough rolls out easily and holds its shape in the oven —perfect for an array of holiday cookie cutters and gorgeous frosted designs.

Get the recipe: Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Shop the recipe: Christmas Cheer Cookie Cutters and Plant-Based Food Colors

Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne

8) Rosemary-Scented Baked Brie Bread

This bread will (quite literally) be the star of your appetizer table. If you’re a fan of Brie wrapped in a blanket of pastry, you’ll love this upgrade: a pull-apart, rosemary-scented bread that can be dipped directly intoa puddle of melty cheese.

Get the recipe:Rosemary-Scented Baked Brie Bread

Shop the recipe:Bread Flour

Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne

9) Latke Focaccia

This mashup focaccia is a fun, modern addition to your Hanukkah table, but don’t let that be the only occasion for which you make this masterpiece. It’s a carb lover’s dream: Frozen shredded hashbrowns are added to a pan, then topped with plush focaccia dough and a final garnish of morepotatoes, which form a brown, crispy crust on the bread. Once it’s baked, turn the bread out of the pan to reveal its delightful giant latke-like appearance.

Get the recipe:Latke Focaccia

Shop the recipe: Bread Flour

Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne

10) Rugelach

It’s hard to choose a favorite rugelach filling — from chocolate to apricot to cinnamon — but luckily, our recipe includes all of those options. The flaky, buttery dough is enriched with both cream cheese and sour cream, which are the perfect foil to an array of sweet fillings.

Get the recipe:Rugelach

Shop the recipe: Sparkling Sugar

Photography and food styling by Liz Neily

11) Yule Log (Classic Bûche de Noël)

Another Christmastime mainstay, this Yule Log is a fun project bake for quieter days at home. It’s as good as it looks, too: Fluffy chocolate sponge cake envelopes sweetened mascarpone cream, and rich chocolate frosting gilds the lily. Don’t worry about shaping the perfect Swiss roll — any cracks can be covered!

Get the recipe: Yule Log (Classic Bûche de Noël)

Shop the recipe: Dutch-Process Cocoa and Vanilla Extract

Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne

12) Peppermint Bark Cookies

Peppermint bark meets cookies in these delightful slice-and-bake treats. These cookies have all the elements of the candy you know and love: minty flavor, crunchy texture, and plenty of chocolate — both white and dark. If you don’t have peppermint chips, you can simply crush up a few peppermint candies to use instead.

Get the recipe:Peppermint Bark Cookies

Shop this recipe: Slice-and-Bake Cookie Dough Keeper Set and Peppermint Oil

Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne

13) Olive Oil Sufganiyot (Hanukkah Jelly Doughnuts)

Is there anything better than a freshly fried doughnut? What if we told you there’s no kneading or stand mixer required either? Once fried, these airy doughnuts are filled with raspberry jam, then dusted with a final coating of sugar and orange zest. If you’ve never made sufganiyot at home, this is the year to try. And if you’re looking for a reliable, go-to recipe, this is it.

Get the recipe: Olive Oil Sufganiyot (Hanukkah Jelly Doughnuts)

Shop the recipe:Vanilla Bean Paste and SAF Red Instant Yeast

Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne

14) Glazed Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

This no-fuss holiday cake delivers on all fronts. The cake itself strikes the perfect balance between deeply chocolatey and warmly spiced, and, best of all, the dairy-free batter is mixed by hand and comes together in a mere 15 minutes.

Get the recipe:Glazed Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Shop the recipe:Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Onyx Wafers and Gingerbread Spice

Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne

15) Salty-Sweet Sablés

Take a classic French butter cookie, but add Parmesan and roll it in a crunchy panko coating — that’s the salty-sweet promise this recipe delivers These savory cookies would fit right in on a charcuterie board but could also be a nice change of pace in a holiday cookie swap.

Get the recipe:Salty-Sweet Sablés

Shop the recipe:Herbes de ProvenceandSlice-and-Bake Cookie Dough Keeper Set

Rick Holbrook

16) Chocolate-Hazelnut Stollen

If you’re not a fan of traditional stollen, this modern version may convert you. Swapping the classic dried fruit and spices for chocolate and hazelnut gives this stollen a deeper, richer taste reminiscent of Nutella. Though stollen is designed to last for several months, it’s so good it may not make it that long.

Get the recipe:Chocolate-Hazelnut Stollen

Shop the recipe:Dutch-Process Cocoa andSnow White Non-Melting Topping Sugar

Looking for more recipes to bake in December? Check out our Holiday Breads feature and collection of 40 classic holiday and Christmas cookie recipes.

Cover photo by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne.

Additional contributions from Laura Scaduto.

The 16 best recipes to bake in December (2024)

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