Tasty Little Christmas Gifts

These Christmas Checkerboard Cookies are some of my favorite cookies to make for the holidays. UsuallTasty Little Christmas Giftsy, they’re made with chocolate and vanilla dough, but I like to spice things up a bit: my checkerboard cookies are colorful and feature unique, adventurous flavors. For beautiful cookies that look like miniature Christmas gifts, I like to pipe on a little icing bow. They are so cute!

Checkered Cookies on Board

How to Make Checkerboard Cookie Dough

At first glance, these festive cookies might look a little tricky, but don’t get discouraged: this checkerboard cookie recipe is easy. You’ll start by making a vanilla dough and dividing it into four pieces. This is when things get exciting! 

The red checker is flavored with maraschino cherries, the green one is made with finely chopped pistachios, and for the white one I like to use orange zest and leave the dough a neutral color. The best part is the brown checker: cocoa powder and Kahlúa come together for a rich, adult flavor that everyone will devour.

How to Assemble the Checkerboard Cookies—Tips and Tricks

Here’s a tip: anyone can do this! To make a seamless checkerboard, all four flavors of dough are combined to make a log. Just roll each dough quarter out into a long strip and stack them in pairs to make one big log. Here’s another tip: refrigerate the dough after you assemble the log for perfect checkers. It’s too soft to slice at room temperature. When the log is firm, you can slice, bake and serve!

Yield: Makes 50 to 55 cookies
Cookies + Desserts: Christmas Checkerboard Cookie Recipe

Cookies + Desserts: Christmas Checkerboard Cookie Recipe

These cookies are perfect for a holiday cookie swap, especially packaged in a lovely Christmas cookie tin, ribbon, and a sprig of decorative berries. They are colorful, festive, and delicious; A lovely Christmas cookie in the shape of a Christmas present embellished with a lovely ribbon. Now that’s a beautiful splash of color on any Christmas cookie tray.


  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate sprinkles
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons Kahlúa®
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon pistachio paste, or 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachio nuts
  • 6 maraschino cherries, minced
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • A few drops of orange oil or extract
  • Green, red, or white ready-to-pipe icing


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. On low speed, gradually add flour until blended. Divide dough into quarters.
  2. With one quarter, knead dough together with cocoa powder, Kahlúa, and sprinkles; green food coloring and pistachio paste or chopped pistachios into a second quarter; and chopped maraschino cherries and red coloring in the third quarter. In the remaining dough, knead in orange zest and orange oil or extract.
  3. Divide each portion in half and roll into 8-inch logs. Use hands to square up the sides. You will have 8 pieces total. Place an orange and red log side by side. Top with a green and chocolate log. Press firmly together to adhere. Use hands to again square off dough sides. Repeat with remaining 4 logs. Wrap each log in wax paper and refrigerate until firm; about 6 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place logs on cutting board. Slice crosswise into 1⁄4-inch rectangles. Place each rectangle on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until firm and lightly browned on the bottom. Let cookies rest on prepared baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Once cooled, pipe icing on cookies to resemble gift wrap: ribbon and a bow. When icing is completely dry, transfer cookies to an airtight container.
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April 18, 2023 — Mary DiSomma