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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: 206 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. 5 stars
    I made these cookies for Christmas. Because I made your bourbon cupcakes as well, to lighten things up, I changed the icing on the cookies and used lemon juice instead of maple syrup. Either way, the cookies are absolutely delicious!!! I struggled a little with the decoration, couldn’t get the darn M+Ms to stand up. Next time I’ll use a pair of tweezers.

    1. Hey Dhalia,
      I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your review, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Merry Christmas! 🎁🎄

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was super easy and the cookies turned out delicious! Now I just need to keep my husband out of the cookie container so they actually make it to our Christmas destination!

    1. Hey Molly,
      Happy Friday!!☃️ I love to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for making it and your comment! xT

    1. Hi Virginia,
      Just a few minutes until the icing sets:) I hope you love these cookies, please let me know if you give the recipe a try! xT

  3. 5 stars
    SO yummy!! I used vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean powder and did not add any hazelnut liquor and they still turned out delicious! I can’t speak to the vanilla icing because I used my own recipe for icing, but the cookie itself is sooo delicious.

    1. Hey Samantha,
      Happy Holidays!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed and appreciate you giving it a try! 🎄❄️

    1. Hey Jade,
      Since the hazelnut liquor is optional you can go ahead and skip it. Let me know how these cookies turn out, I hope you love them! xx

  4. Is the hazelnut liquor added with the vanilla or later in the recipe? I could not find where this was mentioned in the directions.

    1. Hey Beverly,
      Yes, you’ll add that in step 3 if using:) Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xT

  5. Wondering if you could give directions for what to do if you freeze the dough in a log… do you need to bring to room temp and then cut and bake? Bake longer? thanks

    1. Hey Christine,
      By the time you take the log out of the freezer and slice the cookies, you should be fine to just bake as directed:) I hope you love this recipe! xT

        1. Hey Gab,
          Yup, you are going to do that in step 4:) Please let me know if you have any other questions! Happy Holidays! xx