15 Holiday Cookie Recipes That Actually Err On The Healthy Side

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
By Laura Schwecherl
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Let’s set the scene: The stockings are hung, the menorah has been lit, and the cinnamon candle’s scent is wafting through the house. Then, the smell of freshly baked cookies emerges from the kitchen, and everyone gathers ‘round to enjoy a batch of homemade holiday cookies.
But, the real Christmas miracle is that this list of cookie recipes is healthier than most lists! We understand it’s totally time to splurge and enjoy a holiday treat (or seven), but we're still making it a bit easier by providing some better options. From the classic sugar cookie and gingerbread man to the snickerdoodle and peanut butter cookie, here are 15 cookie recipes that won’t do damage to those healthy habits.
1. Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
We can’t not include this classic. This recipe is vegan — filled with nut butter, oats, and almond meal — but we promise it puts any packaged cookie to shame. Grab a glass of milk, and dunk away!
2. Fruit and Nut Bar
These bars work for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or an after-dinner dessert. It has protein (nuts!), fiber (fruit!), and all the great taste. (So, make them today!)
3. Snickerdoodle
These cookies are so simple, so delicious, and so not-so bad for you. With just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar, this holiday classic can be enjoyed anytime.
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4. Vanilla Iced Sugar Wafer
Gather some fitness-themed cookie cutters for this recipe! Made with egg whites and just a touch of sugar and spice, cutouts of Christmas trees and holiday bells never tasted better.
5. Espresso Crinkle
Unsweetened cocoa powder and instant espresso take center stage in this recipe. Paired perfectly with a cup of coffee, these cookies are a caffeine-lover’s dream.
6. Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Pecan Cookie
Pumpkin season isn’t over till we say it’s over. (And, it’s not over.) Filled with oats and nuts, one or two of these will keep anyone satisfied ‘till the New Year.
7. Coconut Cream Shortbread
Shortbread is usually loaded with at least one stick of butter, but these bites get their richness from coconut butter instead. They’re also free of gluten, corn, soy, nuts, and refined sugars. Pretty impressive for a Christmas cookie, right?
8. Vegan Chai Cookie
No dairy? No problem! With a touch of spicy chai, this recipe is guaranteed to impress any sweet tooth. Enjoy these cookies with a cup of tea and good company.
Photographed by Julia Stotz.
9. Low-Fat Gingerbread Cookies
Half the fat and all the flavor? Sign us up! Besides, who doesn’t love to decorate these adorable gingerbread men at any holiday festivity.
10. Macadamia-Ginger Cookie
Macadamia nuts need more love. And, luckily, there’s nothing not to enjoy with this cookie made with egg whites, fresh ginger, and a touch of honey, too.
11. Paleo Sugar Cookie
Cavemen need cookies too, right? Using almond flour, honey, and coconut oil, this basic holiday dessert just got real fancy.
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12. Hot Chocolate Cookie
Cookies that taste like hot chocolate? We went there. Made with dates, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and coconut oil, we’ll never need to drink the liquid stuff again.
13. Cranberry Almond Biscotti
For something with a bit of extra crunch, whip up a batch of biscotti. Using spelt flour (which is lower in gluten than regular wheat and great for people with a slight gluten sensitivity), applesauce, and olive oil, it’s quite all right to reach for seconds of these treats.
14. Soft Molasses Cookie
These vegan, gluten-free cookies are loaded with classic holiday flavor thanks to ground ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and vanilla. Half a cup of unsweetened applesauce makes these spicy treats nice and moist without adding too much fat.
15. Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie (Gluten-Free)
Grab someone you love and enjoy this kiss under the mistletoe. It’s made with rice and tapioca flour, too, so even people with gluten intolerances can taste the love!