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These Vanilla Wreath Cookies are the simplest holiday cookie. Lightly sweetened buttery shortbread hinted with warming winter spices and finished generously with a sweet vanilla glaze. Decorate simply with sugared rosemary and your favorite holiday candies for a festive cookie “wreath”. So easy to make, so pretty, and are so especially delicious. Surely the coziest winter cookies to bake up any time this month…or to include in your holiday cookie boxes.

overhead photo of Vanilla Wreath Cookies with ribbon running through the cookies

I love December days…especially when they include holiday cookies. It’s truly the sweetest time of the year. And I’m here to help you all bake up only the best holiday desserts. When I asked you all what recipes you wanted for December, I’d say eighty-five percent of the responses said cookies. Everyone wants cookies now, and many of them! Well, this year I heard you, and I’m sharing three new cookies recipes. I kicked things off last week and shared an extra special (and decadent) salted caramel pretzel snickerdoodles, then came my 2019 holiday cookie box (complete with tips and trick for creating the perfect cookie box). Today I’m sharing a slightly less decadent, but still sweet and delicious, shortbread style cookie.

PS. This Friday I’ll have another cookie favorite that I’m already excited to share!

These vanilla, buttery, spiced cookies, look fancy but are actually so simple, and of course, are nothing short of DELICIOUS.

overhead photo of Vanilla Wreath Cookie dough before baking

Vanilla Wreath Cookies after baking but before adding the glaze

Here’s the background.

It’s probably no secret, but I usually prefer a more chocolatey dessert. But…there’s always a time and place for a glazed cookie and the holidays are that time. This cookie is a cross between shortbread and a sugar cookie.

It’s buttery and flaky like shortbread, using only butter and no eggs, but glazed like a sugar cookie.

So, you get the best of both cookies.

photo of sugared rosemary

Here’s how to make these wreath cookies.

Start with the cookie dough. It’s a mix of butter, sugar, brown sugar (for hints of molasses), and plenty of vanilla extract. Cream everything together until light and fluffy, then add the flour and spices. I wanted these cookies to have warm undertones and plenty of flavors, so I spiced them up with ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom.

Once the dough comes together, roll it out. Then cut the dough into circles with the centers cut out. I also made a few snowflakes too, so feel free to cut the dough into whatever shape you’d like.

For the glaze, I kept it simple since I didn’t want the flavor in the cookies to get lost. I made a very vanilla glaze that’s sweet and perfect atop each cookie.

overhead close up photo of Vanilla Wreath Cookies

Let’s talk about decorating…

I’m no professional cookie decorator. Therefore, I try to decorate my cookies as simply as possible. Enter my sugared rosemary “greens” for a true “wreath” look.

If you’ve never made sugared rosemary, this is the time. I love using sugared rosemary in my cocktails, but this is the first time I’ve used it in a dessert…and it won’t be the last. I was nervous about the flavor the rosemary would give off onto the cookie. But its earthy flavor goes so well with the warm spices and sweet vanilla throughout the cookies.

The sweetness from the sugar takes away that intense rosemary flavor and instead gives off just subtle hints. It’s delicious and so cute atop these cookies. And the best part…it’s so easy to make. Simply dampen the fresh rosemary with water, then cover in sugar, and let air dry.

To finish, I used small peppermint candies to add a pop of color. Elegant and kind of fancy, but easy and completely delicious.

side angled photo of Vanilla Wreath Cookies

I included these cookies in this year’s cookie box since they’re perfect for shipping. But I’ll also be making them throughout the remaining December days. My cousins have already requested these for Christmas week after seeing them in my cookie box on Sunday.

I think I see a family baking day in my future! Again, I’m excited!

Soo, let’s bake cookies on Tuesday, listen to Christmas music, and enjoy the most wonderful time of year!

overhead photo of Vanilla Wreath Cookies

If you make these vanilla wreath 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!

Vanilla Ginger Wreath Cookies

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings: 22 cookies
Calories Per Serving: 211 kcal

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


Vanilla Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • sugared rosemary, for decorating (below)
  • assorted candies, for decorating (optional)


  • 1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Beat until combined, and the dough begins to form a ball. If the dough is crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons milk or water until the dough comes together.
    2. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment to 1/4 inch thickness. Make sure you're using enough flour or your dough will stick. Cut out the cookies using a 3 inch circle cookie cutter or your favorite shape. Using a 1 inch circle cookie cutter, cut out the center of each cookie. Carefully transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Freeze until firm, about 10-20 minutes. Roll out the leftover scraps, and repeat with the dough.
    3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven for 12-14 minutes or until just lightly golden. Cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
    4. To make the glaze. In a medium bowl, beat together the powdered sugar, 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. Dip the tops of cookies into the glaze, letting the excess drip off. Transfer to a wire rack and decorate as desired with candied rosemary and holiday candies. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently run rosemary sprigs under a little water to dampen and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the rosemary with granulated sugar on all sides, making sure the rosemary is thoroughly coated in sugar. Allow to dry on the baking sheet for 1 hour. The rosemary can be made 1 day in advance and stored at room temperature.
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horizontal photo of Vanilla Wreath Cookies

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  1. These were cookies were awful. Way too crumbly. 12 minutes totally overcooked them. Way too much lemon. Such a waste of time. Thew them away

    1. 4 stars
      Thank you for this wonderful inspiration! It won me two ribbons for my family’s cookie contest! I did tweak it a bit. I used my mushroom cookie cutter and added the rosemary to the stems. It turned out so cute! Instead of 2 tsp of lemon zest I only added a pinch. For the cinnamon I did half a teaspoon. Once I did that it was the perfect balance of the butter, sugar, and spice. The texture was perfect as well! I’m definitely baking more of these to share!

      1. Hey Lindsay,
        Awesome! It’s so great to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for making it! Have the best weekend❄️ xTieghan

  2. I made these last year following the recipe, and this year swapped the lemon zest for orange zest (the only citrus I had). Delicious both ways!

  3. Hi Tiegan! I am making theses today up to cutting and freezing. I plan on stacking the cut shapes and freezing until I bake and decorate in about 3-4 days. Since the dough will be frozen solid, how much time would you suggest leaving at room temp before baking? Thank you!

    1. Hey Toni,
      I would pull them from the freezer at least 12 hours before baking. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    These are So good !!!!!! Thank you !! The warm spice flavors really pop towards the end of your bite … Next time I’d almost be tempted to up them a teeny tiny bit , they are very subtle … But I think that appeals to people who dont like heavy spices.

    1. Hey Maria,
      Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently run rosemary sprigs under a little water to dampen and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the rosemary with granulated sugar on all sides, making sure the rosemary is thoroughly coated in sugar. Allow to dry on the baking sheet for 1 hour. The rosemary can be made 1 day in advance and stored at room temperature.
      I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions. Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    These are DELICIOUS!!! So soft and buttery. The dough is crumbly at first, but 1 tbsp of milk is enough to get it together, just like the directions say! I put the dough in my fridge instead of freezer and it worked just as well. Also, cut the recipe in half and it still made 21 decent sized wreaths. Cut the icing in half as well and it was the perfect amount! I love this recipe!!! <3

  6. Wanting to make these for my holiday cookie boxes but was wondering if they could be made without the spices (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom)? Thank you!

    1. Hey Jenna,
      Yes, freezing is key! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

    2. These look amazing! If I don’t have cardamom, could I substitute with something else or just leave it out? I’m not familiar enough with that spice to know what it adds. Thanks!

      1. Hey Jen,
        You could use another warming spice in its place, or just skip it. I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    Hi! I made this recipe exactly as you stated, but used King Arthur Flour’s Gluten Free Measure for Measure, and they were PERFECT. For any users who need a gf recipe, it’s literally a 1:1 substitute and it will be stunning and delicious!! Thank you Teighan for such wonderful recipes.

  8. 5 stars
    I love these cookies! The addition of ginger and cardamom is so good. I will definitely be making these again.

  9. 5 stars
    Wonderful fun cookies to make. Great for kids because no eggs required.Love the sugared rosemary. Thank you for all you
    Create and share. I received your cookbook from a Fantastic cook & friend for Xmas.??

  10. Hi! Do you think this dough could be made ahead of time and chilled in the refrigerator for a day before rolling out, cutting and baking?

    1. HI! Yes, that will work so well! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  11. 5 stars
    I just made these and they turned out beautifully! The glaze worked perfectly and it was so pretty with the sugared rosemary. Besides being a pretty cookie, they are very tasty. Not too sweet, which works nicely with the glaze. And I love the touch of spice. Am adding these to my holiday cookie tradition!

  12. 5 stars
    I made these yesterday. Very easy dough to put together and the cookies are pretty and taste great. I would like to mention that these cookies have a nice lemon flavor, stronger than the vanilla to me, from the lemon zest in the dough. I used only a wreath cookie cutter of similar size to the photo and was able to get about 3 dozen from this recipe. For the glaze, I had to use about 3 tbsp of water to get the correct consistency with the stated amount of sugar and vanilla. Very excited to gift these to some of my coworkers!