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Officially kicking off the holiday season with these easy Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies. Made with nutty brown butter, double the vanilla, and a little bit of chocolate. These cookies are soft, buttery, and perfectly sweet with the best vanilla flavor. They’re generously glazed with a sweet, thick, and creamy vanilla bean glaze. And decorated with sweet chocolate and delicious holiday M&M’s for truly some of the best sugar cookies around. The secret is all in the combination of brown butter and real vanilla beans, which keep these cookies incredibly flavorful. Fun to bake, delicious to eat. These make for a great homemade gift, and a festive addition to your holiday cookie box!

Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

This is the year I’m focusing on ALL of the Christmas cookies. I have so many ideas and not enough days to share…picking the best cookies has been hard!

These were an easy choice though. They actually started out a little differently, but as soon as I had the idea to do Christmas lights, I was excited.

My goal this year is fun holiday desserts – but easy. Nothing too time-consuming and no big scary decorating projects. Just delicious, easy, cute, and extra festive. These cookies are all of those things.

My hang-up with basic sugar cookies is that they’re often flavorless and the frosting is even worse. They just taste like sugar, and I’m definitely not into that.

With these cookies, I wanted to add flavor with brown butter and real vanilla bean. The chocolate on top, just makes them even better.

Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

The details

Brown the butter, then let it cool off in the freezer a bit. Once it’s cooled (you only need 15 minutes), you can start mixing and baking.

Beat the butter with the sugar and vanilla bean powder. You’ll want to beat for at least a minute to really infuse the butter with the vanilla flavor. Next, add an egg and all the dry ingredients, then roll, cut, and bake. There’s absolutely nothing fancy here.

Whenever I make any kind of cut-out cookie, I always like to roll out the dough, cut the cookies, and then freeze the cut cookies on a baking sheet for a few minutes. This ensures that the cookies hold their shape. To cut my cookies, I used a simple circle cookie cutter and a holiday tree.

Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

If you want to skip the rolling – simply slice n’ bake

I LOVE slice-n-bake cookies, and you can easily slice-n-bake with this dough!

Just divide the dough in half as directed, then roll each piece of dough into a log and chill in the fridge until totally solid.

If you have an almost empty roll of wrapping paper around, cut the roll and fit it around each log, this will prevent the dough from forming a straight edge in the fridge!

And when ready to bake, simply slice-n-bake!

Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

Decorating is easy

I kept the icing simple, since I wanted the color to remain white but still have a nice flavor. I added a small amount of maple syrup and lots of vanilla.

It’s simple, but with the chocolate on top, perfect!

When it comes to cookies, I try to keep the decorating as easy as can be, and this is EASY. I used melted chocolate to draw on the cords for the lights, then used mini holiday M&M’s for the lights.

Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

Doesn’t get easier, but looks so cute once finished!

Asher wasn’t around when I made these, so I can’t wait to make these again soon with her. She’s going to love them! They’re the perfect Christmas cookie to make with kids!

Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

Looking for other Christmas cookies? Here are my favorites: 

Holly Jolly Santa Cookies

Vanilla Ginger Shortbread Wreaths

The Santa Clause Cookies

Lastly, if you make these Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings: 22 cookies
Calories Per Serving: 119 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Vanilla Icing

Instructions

  • 1. Add 6 tablespoons butter to a small saucepan set over medium heat, cooking until the butter begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stick in the freezer to chill, 10 minutes, but no longer.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    3. In a mixing bowl, beat together the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, the cooled browned butter, sugar, and vanilla bean powder until combined. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, beat until combined and the dough forms a ball. If the dough feels too wet to roll out, add 2-4 tablespoons additional flour.
    4. Divide the dough in half. Roll out the dough on a floured piece of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure you're using enough flour or your dough will stick. Cut out the cookies using circle and Christmas tree cutters. Transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. I recommend using a floured spatula to lift the cookies. Cover the baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm, 15 minutes. Roll out the leftover scraps, and repeat with the remaining dough.
    5. Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until just lightly golden. Let cool.
    6. Meanwhile, make the icing. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water until smooth and drizzly. If needed, thin the glaze by adding water – 1 tablespoon at a time, until drizzly. 
    7. Spoon the icing onto each cookie, spreading it to the edges. Let sit to dry. Add the melted chocolate to a sandwich bag and cut a small portion of the corner off. Draw 2 lines onto each round cookie and then a squiggly line up the trees. Press mini M&Ms into the chocolate as "lights" (look through the photos for examples).

Notes

To Slice n’ Bake: divide the dough in half as directed, then roll each piece of dough into a log about 5 inches long and wrap in parchment paper. Chill in the fridge 4 hours or until ready to bake. Alternately, you can freeze 45 minutes if in a hurry. Slice the logs into 1/4 inch rounds and bake as directed. 
Tip: If you have an almost empty roll of wrapping paper around, cut the roll down the center, then fit it around each log, this will prevent the dough from forming a straight edge in the fridge. 
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Easy Vanilla Bean Christmas Lights Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

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Comments

  1. These cookies are by far my favourite! I have used this recipe multiple times for different occasions and they are always a hit!

    1. Hey Alex,
      Awesome!! Thanks for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Have a great week:) xTieghan

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      Wonderful! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it. Have the best weekend:) xTieghan

  2. Really loved the brown butter/vanilla flavor of this cookie and the creative use of the small M&M’s.
    Wondering where you got the tree cookie cutter you used? Such a unique tree shape – loved it!

    1. Hi Beverly,
      Wonderful! I am thrilled to hear this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a go! I drew the stencil for the tree:) Happy New Year!🎆 xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    Made these and i cant stop eating them before bed right now. I saw someone added frangelico to the icing, good call! I subbed it for the water in the icing, which i will add less next time because i almost feel like a lil tipsy. However, the cookie itself is the vanilla cookie of my dreams!

    I froze the other half of the dough for another time, but curious about storing? Air tight container on counter ok for a few days?

    1. Hi Leah,
      Awesome!! I am thrilled to hear this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! If you have extra dough I would store in the fridge. Happy Holidays!💥 xT

  4. I have been looking for a great tasting sugar cookie for YEARS. This is it! This is the one I will come back to each Christmas. Truly delicious. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Thank you so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Merry Christmas!🎄🎁 xT

  5. These were a huge hit!! I made them for my husband to take to work for Christmas and multiple people thought we got them from a bakery! I will be making these every year now! 😊

    1. Hi Taylor,
      Happy Holidays! Thank you so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!🎄🎁 xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    These cookies taste great and came out so adorable. I ended up using a different frosting recipe from another one of yours (cinnamon browned butter) and it was such a hit! Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary,
      Happy Holidays! Thank you so much for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!🎄🎁 xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    Amazing! Three days after bake and they are still soft and delicious. The dough was so easy to cut with & the vanilla tastes so good.

    1. Hi Holly,
      Wonderful! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a try! Happy Holidays!🎄🎁 xTieghan

  8. These turned out really well! I made an icing out of butter, Frangelico (hazelnut), vanilla, and icing sugar to build on the Frangelico flavour in the dough.

    1. Hi Leslie,
      Wonderful! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for giving it a try! Happy Holidays!🎄🎁 xTieghan

  9. Hi I made this cookies for the kids in our family to decorate in Xmas eve. However my dough started to crumble into little balls half way through. Still got a decent amount of cookies out of it though… do you know why this happened? Thanks for all your recipes they’re always the best!

    1. Hi Annie,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try, sorry to hear this. Was there anything you adjusted in the recipe? A little more info would be helpful:) xTieghan

      1. Mine did the same thing. I got 20 cookies out of the dough, but it was very crumbly. I couldn’t roll it out, I had to press it with my hands. I didn’t use the hazelnut, that’s the only thing different I did.

  10. 5 stars
    These cookies are delicious! I did the slice and bake method and of course didn’t read the instructions so I only had them in the refrigerator for 1 hour. And my logs were to skinny so the diameter of my cookies was pretty small. But, nonetheless, the still came out great. And now I know for next time!

    1. Hi Judy,
      Thank you so very much for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Happy Holidays!🎄🎁

    1. Hi Riz,
      You could use honey in place of the maple syrup. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

      1. 5 stars
        These were so fun to make and we loved them! Had to use honey instead of maple syrup for the icing and it still tasted great, though I had to add more water to thin it out a bit. I also ended up freezing half the dough as there would be too many cookies for my 2-person household – how long would they be good for in the freezer?

        1. Hey Riz,
          Awesome!! I am thrilled to hear this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it! I would keep for no more than 3 months in the freezer. Happy Holidays!💥 xT