Officially kicking off the holiday season with The Santa Clause Cookies. Made with double the vanilla and sweet brown sugar, these cookies are soft, buttery, and perfectly sweet with hints of caramel throughout. They’re generously glazed with a sweet, thick, and creamy vanilla bean glaze that truly makes these cookies melt in your mouth. The secret is all in the combination of hazelnut liquor, vanilla, and brown sugar, which keep these cookies incredibly flavorful, soft, and so delicious. Finish them off with a light dusting of vanilla sugar to keep the decorating simple and easy. Fun to bake, delicious to eat, a great homemade gift, and a festive addition to your holiday cookie box!

front on close up photo of The Santa Clause Cookies

My favorite Christmas cookies…for your Black Friday baking and snacking!

Hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families!! I know so many of you made recipes from HBH. And I mean so many. We’ve been LOVING getting to see every last dish being made on Instagram. It’s always so fun to see what everyone is making. And you guys? I’m feeling extra thankful for you all! The last couple of days we’ve truly been overwhelmed with messages in regards to Thanksgiving. We’ve never seen so many cocktails mixed up, turkeys roasted, and pies baked than we have this year. Grateful for you all.

And, shout out to my cousins, Maggie and Abby, who are both apart of our small HBH team. They’ve been working overtime to help manage all the messages coming in. I couldn’t do it without these two!

overhead prep photo of cutting the cookie dough The Santa Clause Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com

(cookies after baking)

(cookie outlined in frosting)

(cookie covered in Sprinkles)

But today? Today we’re moving onto CHRISTMAS, my very favorite time of year, it’s finally here!

And to celebrate? We have cookies! Possibly the best tasting sugar cookies…that just so happen to be easy (or at least easier), and fun to make.

I have to admit, I spent a lot of time thinking about what would be the perfect post to share with you all today. I went back and forth with a few ideas (as I always do). But in the end, I had these cookies pictured in my head and my excitement for them won me over. These are the best way to officially welcome in the holiday season. Along with all the decorating, holiday music, baking, and time with friends and family that’s to come.

They’re especially perfect if you happen to be trimming the tree and decking the halls today…like I am.

front on photo of The Santa Clause Cookies snowy winter tree

Here’s the story.

I come up with recipes in unusual ways. I’m very visual and often have a vision in my head of the recipe I want to create. That was the case with these cookies. I had one picture in my head and one goal when I set out to make them.

The picture was a snowy, winter wonderland with Santa front and center. Kind of like his own snowy North Pole. I wanted to use lots of fun snowflake cookie cutters and Christmas trees with a few Santas snuggled throughout my snowy scene. And then, as I was starring at the photos, it hit me, these needed to be called, The Santa Clause Cookies. The Santas remind me so much of Tim Allen in The Santa Clause…one of my favorite Christmas movies.

overhead photo of The Santa Clause Cookies

The Santa Clause Cookies. Details…

The goal was simple. Create a sugar cookie that actually tastes GOOD. As in not just sugary, but a cookie with real flavor, and a frosting that doesn’t just taste like cardboard. All in a beautiful wintry setting.

I really LOVE these cookies, but every other sugar cookie? Not usually my thing. My pet peeve with typical sugar cookies is that they just taste like sugar. There’s no flavor. So that’s why I love these cookies, these cookies have flavor! Some of the best cookies to come out of my kitchen. Dramatic, but even my mom agrees, these are DELICIOUS.

And they happen to be pretty easy too. Well, depending on how you decide to decorate. You can keep things simple or go all out, but I’ll leave that up to you!

These cookies are soft, buttery, and hinted with just the right amount of brown sugar, which has hints of caramel from the molasses.

The process is simple. Beat the butter with brown sugar, add an egg, add in the dry ingredients, 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 varying snowflake cookie cutters, a holiday tree, and a star for Santa. But you can use any shapes you have on hand, or that your family loves the most.

front facing photo of The Santa Clause Cookies

The Frosting.

I kept it simple since I wanted the color to remain white, but I made mine with double the vanilla and a splash of hazelnut liquor.

In addition to my vanilla frosting, I also made a simple cream cheese buttercream to use for Santa’s hat and beard. Both are SO good. You can make one or the other…or both! It’s Christmas, tis’ the season!

overhead close up photo of The Santa Clause Cookies

A Couple Special Touches.

One, hazelnut liquor, which is not needed, but it does add something special. The sweet liquor really helps to highlight all the vanilla within the recipe. It’s a pricey ingredient, but if you make a lot of holiday sweets…and cocktails, it’s definitely a liquor I would recommend having on hand.

The smell alone reminds me of the holidays.

Two, a little vanilla sugar for decorating. Which is simply just sugar and vanilla bean powder. Not only does this sugar add a sparkle to each cookie, but it gives these White Christmas Cookies that extra special and oh so sweet holiday touch.

front facing photo of The Santa Clause Cookies snowflake

Decorating is easy…

Well, I kept mine easier anyway. The Santa cookie took me a bit longer than the trees and snowflakes. But all-in-all, you can re-create these with no fancy ingredients or equipment!

Just find some fun sprinkles, red sanding sugar, mini chocolate, and use up that homemade vanilla sugar. I did my best to explain my process within the directions, but guys, have fun with these cookies! The more imperfect they are the cuter they end up being. So just have fun!

Hope you guys love these as much as I do! Happy Christmas baking to you all! See ya tomorrow for a very special Christmas drink!

front facing photo of The Santa Clause Cookies
The cookie cutters I used are all linked below: 

Looking for other Christmas cookies? Here are my favorites: 

Holly Jolly Santa Cookies

Vanilla Ginger Shortbread Wreaths

Coconut Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Covered Pretzel Presents

Lastly, if you make these The Santa Clause 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!

The Santa Clause Cookies | halfbakedharvest.com
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4.01 from 249 votes

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

The Recipe

The Santa Clause Cookies.

Fun to bake, delicious to eat, a great homemade gift, and a festive addition to your holiday cookie box!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 22 cookies
Calories 176 kcal

Ingredients

Vanilla Frosting

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • assorted sprinkles, vanilla sugar, and or sanding sugar, for decorating

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, , at room temperature (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. 1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the hazelnut liquor (if using) and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. 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.

    2. Divide the dough in half. Roll out the dough on a floured piece of parchment to 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure you're using enough flour or your dough will stick. Cut out the cookies using your desired shape/shapes. I used a variety of snowflakes, a star, and a Christmas tree. Carefully 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. Freeze until firm, about 20-30 minutes. Roll out the leftover scraps, and repeat with the remaining dough.

    3. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until just lightly golden. Cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

    4.  Meanwhile, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the powdered sugar, hazelnut liquor (if using), vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water until smooth and drizzly. If needed, thin the glaze by adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until drizzly. 

    5. To make the buttercream, in a bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until extra light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat together until whipped, about 2 more minutes.

    5. Decorate each cookie as desired with vanilla frosting, buttercream frosting, sprinkles, and or vanilla sugar.

    To Make Santas: Outline a star cookie with vanilla frosting, then fill the cookie in with frosting, leaving 1 triangle portion without frosting for Santa's face. Sprinkle/press red sprinkles and/or sanding sugar into the frosting to create his body and hat, shake off the excess. Attach two mini chocolate chips for his eyes. Fill in his beard with the buttercream frosting, then add a red sprinkle for his nose. See photos above.

    To Make Snowflakes: Pipe lines and dots of frosting onto each cookie to enhance the snowflake shape (see photos for visuals). If desired, sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Let the frosting set before serving, about an hour.

    To Make Christmas Trees: Fill in each tree with vanilla frosting, then sprinkle with vanilla sugar.

Recipe Notes

To Pipe Frosting Onto Cookies: add the frosting to a small sandwich size Ziploc bag (or a piping bag), then snip off a small portion of the corner off.

Vanilla Sugar: Mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped. 

overhead horizontal photo of The Santa Clause Cookies