This post may contain affiliate links, please see our privacy policy for details.

Festive, easy, and fun…Holly Jolly Santa Cookies – Tis’ the Season! Simple vanilla sugar cookies shaped into the cutest, fattest little Santas, made effortlessly by shaping the dough into round balls. Frosted with a deliciously sweet whipped cream cheese frosting and you’ll have yourself the most perfect Christmas cookie. Fun to bake, delicious to eat, a great homemade gift, and a festive addition to your holiday cookie box!

overheard photo of Holly Jolly Santa Cookies

As I write this the snow is falling outside my NYC hotel room, and well, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This is so cheesy, but New York in December, and with white fluffy snow, is the most magical experience. I am so happy it decided to snow on my last day here in the city. I’ll be home by the time you read this, and back in the deep, deep Colorado snow. But I’m feeling extra thankful that I was able to see NYC this time of year…and in snowy winter weather too. Next year I’m bringing my mom and little Asher with me. It’s always better with family, especially those two Christmas loving freaks. They would be loving every minute of this snowy, Christmas scene.

Anyway, it feels very fitting to be writing this post as the snow falls. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, these cookies are cute wintry cookies…and of course, delicious. Something about a fat little Santa covered in sweet frosting (and even some chocolate candies too) is always adorable.

Those of you who’ve been following HBH since the VERY early days, there’s a slight chance you’ll remember these cookies. I shared a version of this recipe only a month and a half into HBH’s inception. While looking back through old content a few weeks ago, I stumbled across this recipe.

The crazy thing about developing so many new recipes is that sometimes I forget about the old (and really GOOD) recipes I’ve created. Even though the photos of these cookies were horrid, I still found them to be so cute. And I remember Asher having so much fun helping me bake them. So I’m bringing one of my favorite cookies back to life. And while it is a slightly decadent cookie, I love them so much.

dough balls lined up before assembling

(cookie dough balls lined up and ready to assemble)

assembling the Santa cookies

(assembling the red parts of Santa)

As you all know, I am no professional when it comes to decorating sweets. BUT I still love to make my desserts, especially the holiday ones, as cute and festive as possible. Enter these easy, rolly, polly, Santa cookies.

The idea is to take simple sugar cookie dough, roll it into tiny balls, attach them together into a “Santa” body, and bake. If you use the photos as guides, it’s the easiest sugar cookie you will make. Not to mention, so much fun! No stress, no pulling out your hair, just fun. Exactly what holiday baking should be.

Holly Jolly Santa Cookies before baking

Here is how you make these Holly Jolly Santa Cookies.

Start with the dough. I used my favorite sugar cookie dough that’s heavy on the butter…and vanilla. I died half of the dough red using food coloring and kept the other half of the dough plain. If you can find a great natural red food die, I would highly recommend using that. Sadly I’ve yet to find one that works well. If anyone has found one they use and love, please let me know!

Once the dough is died, it’s literally as simple as rolling each dough into multiple balls. Again, if you look through the photos you will most likely understand the process much, much easier. You need five white dough balls and five red dough balls to make one Santa.

overhead photo of Holly Jolly Santa Cookies after baking on baking sheet

Attaching the pieces…

This is the step that you might think will be tricky, but it’s actually so easy. To make each Santa, just gently push the dough balls together. Once again, use the photos as guides. Nothing needs to be shaped perfectly or lined up just right. As long as you have a rough body formed, the cookies bake up like adorable fat Santas.


Once you have your Santas formed, add mini chocolate chips for eyes and buttons, then bake! The process of rolling the balls will take a little time, but to me, this is easier than cutting out shapes…and I think they are way cuter, not to mention a little more unique. Because let’s be real, everyone is making your basic sugar cookies this time of year. Bake something a little different!

overhead photo of Holly Jolly Santa Cookies

Decorating is easy.

Since the cookies themselves are already so cute, decorating is EASY. I used a sweet, creamy, whipped cream cheese frosting to add a layer of excitement to each bite. The frosting is used for Santa’s beard, hat, and hands, but my recommendation? Keep a small bowl of the frosting aside for adding to each cookie while eating. The frosting is SO GOOD and the cookie is made even better with a bit of additional frosting spread all over our little Santas.

For Santa’s nose, I use a mini red M&M. Simple, easy, and so cute.

These cookies make a delicious addition to any holiday party, cookie plate, or even cookie gift box. And if you have young kids these are a must bake before Christmas. They’ll have so much fun attaching the pieces since it’s something they can easily do all by themselves!

I’m really hoping to be able to set aside time one of these days before Christmas to do a baking day with Asher. These are the perfect cookies to make with her!

overhead photo of Holly Jolly Santa Cookies

If you make these holly jolly Santa 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!

Jolly Santa Cookies

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings: 14 Santa Cookies
Calories Per Serving: 691 kcal

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


Cream Cheese Buttercream


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add the flour, and salt, beat until combined, and the dough begins to form a ball.
    3. Remove 1 cup of the dough and set aside. With the remaining dough, add in 1 teaspoon red food coloring, adding more if needed for better color. Keep in mind that the color will darken over time.
    4. From the red cookie dough, make 1 (1-inch) ball and 5 (1/2-inch) balls. From the plain cookie dough, make 1 (3/4 inch) ball and 5 (1/4-inch) balls. You will have a body, head, hat, four red arms and four white hands and a white ball for the top of the hat. I find it easiest to make all the parts first, then assemble.
    5. On the prepared baking sheet, place the red 1-inch ball, gently flatten until 1/2 inch thick. Attach four of the red 1/2-inch balls for arms and legs. Next, attach the plain 3/4-inch ball for a head, gently flatten until 1/2 inch thick. Attach the plain 1/4-inch balls for hands and feet. Shape the remaining red 1/2-inch ball into a triangle for a hat and attach it. Repeat with remaining dough, arranging the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Add chocolate pieces for eyes and buttons (see above photos for visuals, this will help!).
    6. Transfer to the oven and bake the Santa's for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden
    7. To make the frosting. Add the butter and the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until extra light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat together until whipped, about 2 more minutes.
    8. To decorate. Transfer half the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a small tip. Or, take a ziplock bag and snip a very small portion of the corner off the bag. Use the bag to go around Santa's face, arms, and legs. Put a small dot on the tip of his hat and then place one red mini M&M on his face as his nose.


Storing: the frosting will set up, but it's best to store these cookies in a single layer in an airtight container. If using these cookies to fill a cookie box, place a piece of wax or parchment paper between each cookie to help protect them, then carefully stack the cookies, or line them up side by side. 
Freezing: unfrosted cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw, then decorate as directed. 
View Recipe Comments

horizontal photo of Holly Jolly Santa Cookies

Add a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    These Santa cookies were a hit! We made a double batch, but only ended up with 18 cookies. We had nine cookies per sheet. We were measuring the sizes, but still ended up with larger, fatter santa cookies. They were still super cute and a really good sugar cookie dough that rolls up super nice. I was surprised at how red the dough looks and how well the Santa cookies stayed together after baking. The extra icing for dipping is a great tip. Definitely will make again next year just have to make those balls smaller. 😉

  2. An annual staple at my home during Christmastime whether I’m creating cookie boxes for my employees or participating in a cookie exchange. Thank you for always sharing your creativity & comfort with us! ❤️

  3. I’m not sure where I went wrong. I mean, other than doubling the recipe and still yielding the same amount of cookies. Whoops! Possibly didn’t bake them long enough, especially given their bigger size. But a few crumbled coming out of the oven. I tried a leg and it seemed dryer than it should have been. Does that mean too much flour? 🤔 also feel I could have done better at sizing the balls, but I digress. Kids said they’re delicious so I suppose it’s a win. Fun to try and definitely going to try again soon!

    1. Hi Monique! Hmm I would maybe say add a little less flour and cook them less time if you feel they came out too dry! xT

  4. 2 stars
    While super cute, this was a miss for me as they lacked flavor and only tasted good where there was frosting. They are super cute.

  5. I’m going to get started on these cookies this week. Before I do, I just wanted to confirm that there’s no baking soda or powder in this. The recipe doesn’t say there is so I wanted to be sure that’s correct. Perhaps the cookies would spread out too much with it in them? Thanks! They look adorable!

  6. This is so wonderful and festive! The chubby little Santa’s are so much fun. I have made cookie collections in past years and this reminded me, and inspired me, to start baking! Thank you!

  7. I love these, they were such a hit last year! Wondering if I can make the doughballs a few days ahead of time? How far in advance do you recommend and in the fridge or feeezer?

    1. Hi Samantha,
      Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you, thanks for making it and your feedback! Sure, you could do that and then thaw when you want to bake:) xT

    2. This is just what I was looking for except I want to make red and green holly berry cookies but the same concept as these Santa cookies. I’ll try adapting your recipe. Thank you!

  8. Would your sugar cookie recipe with the hazelnut liqueur that you make The Santa Clause Cookie with, work for this cookie also?

    1. Hi Lorna,
      You are going to want to use this recipe for these specific cookies. Or are you asking if you can add hazelnut liqueur to these? I think that would be okay for you to do! Please let me know if I answered this correctly! xx

  9. I see in the notes you can bake these cookies and freeze them. I’ve never done that before. Do they turn out okay? Or is it better to make and eat? Any tips for defrosting the cookies? I am looking to save myself some time around the holidays. These cookies are so cute, I don’t want to ruin them by freezing them.

    1. This will be third year I’m making these and yes I decorate them and freeze ..then take out when I need them to defrost a hour or so on counter ..I freeze single layers between parchment paper after icing sets of my grand babies favourite at Christmas ..