Whole-Wheat Christmas Cookies

9 Reviews / 5 Average
Adapted from Pillsbury Family Cookbook, I've made these Christmas cookies with whole-wheat flour. Yes, they do contain refined sugar, but we're allowed to treat ourselves in moderation. You can also experiment with natural food dyes when you're decorating them to add some fun colors.
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A plate full of decorated Christmas cookies.

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For all those readers who asked…here is a whole-wheat Christmas cookie recipe! Now even though these are made with 100% whole-wheat flour please know they do contain some refined sugar (in both the cookie and the icing). I do occasionally post recipes made with refined sugar because, in my opinion, a cookie that’s homemade from scratch is far better than the factory-made version (or something like a “slice and bake”). And Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without cookies for Santa!

Disclaimer: This recipe contains refined white sugar, which means it doesn’t technically follow our real food rules…so only enjoy in moderation!

Two plates with brightly colored decorative Christmas cookies as a girls hand is picking one up in the background.

When it comes to decorating Christmas cookies though there always seems to be one dilemma…food coloring. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that we like to avoid the chemically-laden artificial dyes. So what’s one to do? Last year, we pureed some naturally dyed candies to color the icing and shortly thereafter purchased some natural India Tree natural dyes for a birthday cake. This year I played around with adding tumeric and paprika (yes, from our spice cabinet!) and also used some naturally colored sprinkles that I found at both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Shawn, our team’s FB coordinator, said she dusted off her juicer to help her add some colors to her kids’ icing.

No matter what you do to add some character to your cookies I can only hope you’ll feel the same as me: Those artificial neon colors just don’t look appetizing anymore now that I understand they are derived from petroleum and even require a warning label in some countries. What’s appealing about that? Naturally dyed cookies might not be as bright in color, but I think they taste just as good and, you be the judge, do these girls look like they are missing a thing?? :)

Two little girls making Whole-Wheat Christmas Cookies in the kitchen.

For a healthy holiday cookie recipe, try these Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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83 thoughts on “Whole-Wheat Christmas Cookies”

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  1. So I’ve been looking all over for a whole wheat/real food hamantaschan recipe for the Jewish holiday of Purim. These worked perfectly! I subbed coconut palm sugar for the white sugar, the cookies come about a bit darker, but tasted delicious. I put chocolate chips in the middle of half and all fruit apricot jam in the others.

  2. Does anyone have any suggestions for modifying these to be chocolate flavored? Should I just throw in a handful of cocoa powder? Any info would be appreciated, thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    Update: I made these last weekend with family and they were delicious!!! I haven’t made sugar cookies in a while, but they were really easy to make and we had a blast decorating them. Very very good and I will not want to go back to store bought mixes :)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Nicole. You could try whole milk but it will be more of a gaze than a frosting. You could also try milk with a little softened cream cheese to thicken it up. ~Amy

  4. 5 stars
    Just made these and they are delicious! Finally a good sugar cookie recipe with good ingredients! My kids love them! Do they need to be refrigerated since the icing has cream in it?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Erika. If you are concerned about it, you certainly can but there is a high sugar to cream ratio here and the cookies should be fine on the counter-top. ~Amy

  5. 5 stars
    I made these with my little girls today and they are so delicious! such a hit. do they need to be refrigerated with the heavy cream in the frosting? thanks!

  6. One thing about artificial colorings is that to me, as a French person, they are not appetizing at all… I look with suspicion and I am not attracted at all by anything that doesn’t look like say chocolate, vanilla, coffee, fruits, caramel, nuts… on pastry. The more “colorful” the dessert, the less I want it…

  7. These are delicious. After a while, we ran into a little trouble transferring the cookies to the sheet and then I remembered a trick my mom taught me…to put the dough back in the fridge for a bit to get cold again. Worked great. We didn’t even ice them and they were perfect as is, though we’ll try it again just for the fun of decorating. Thanks for another great recipe!

  8. I’m also curious about what to use instead of heavy whipping cream? I just ran to the store today and have all the ingredients except for Whipping Cream! Thanks :)

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Becky. Hope these turned out for you. For future reference, you could try a little softened cream cheese with whole milk. Just whole milk will work, too, but it will have the consistency of a glaze vs a frosting.

  9. When you mean a stick of cold butter, can I take one out of the freezer or would that be TOO hard? Looking to try these cookies this weekend with my daughter!! :)

  10. Can plain Greek yogurt be used in place of the heavy cream? I saw it on another website that it may work as a substitute, wasn’t sure if it works or not. Thank you!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Katie. While we haven’t tried it in this recipe, coconut oil is our typical sub for butter. ~Amy

  11. 5 stars
    I made these last year when the recipe was first posted, and everyone loved them! I made them again today with my 4 year old son, and he had a great time helping me. Wonderful afternoon activity for snow day #3, plus Christmas cookies for Santa are checked off the list!

  12. Can I make these early and freeze for Christmas? If so, how long do you think they’ll hold up – refrigerated and frozen?
    Thank you!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hello Cheryl. We haven’t tried it with a press but I think it would work. The dough is not quite as soft as other sugar cookie recipes. ~Amy

  13. I will try these. I am horrible with cut out cookies, though. They ALWAYS turn into a goopy mess when I roll them out and when I attempt to place than on the cookie sheet. I may try using some of the coconut sugar we got recently. It is organic and it comes from the nectar of coconut flowers… It has a caramel flavor to it. Our Vanilla was a gift made from soaking the vanilla bean in vodka. SO GOOD! If you are looking for clean seinkles and candies they can be found online with a google search. Maybe you could go splits with some like-minded friends to get the more desirable candies and sprinkles at a lower cost. And if you are splitting the order, you won’t have tempting leftover candies around the house, either!!! Merry Christmas!

  14. I came on here hoping you had a Christmas cookie recipe! So glad you do. I love the minimal amount of sugar. I think I will try this raw coconut sugar I just bought. I also love the suggestions for alternate food colouring. I never thought to just use coloured real food. I’m going to experiment pureed beets, all-natural raspberry jam and real juice. Thanks for the ideas.

  15. I’m wondering if anyone has tried making these thicker like those soft, thick store-bought frosted sugar cookies that are so tasty but oh so bad for you…? I’m planning to make some guitar shaped cookies for my son’s birthday party in a couple weeks and would love to use a whole wheat recipe, but we like the nice thick and soft ones.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Rachel. We’ve not experimented with adapting this recipe. If you do, we would love to know how they turn out. ~Amy

  16. I am so excited that I get to be in charge of our classroom cookie decorating for the Valentina’s party. That means homemade cookies and icing vs store bought with food dye. Do you think the icing can be made ahead of time (a few hours before the party) and refrigerated? I was thinking about storing it in big zip locks, then at party time, squeezing onto each of their plates to spread on the cookies themselves. What do you think?

  17. So fun to bake with those beautiful little girls. Those cookies look absolutely delicious…I’m going to use the recipe for New Year’s. My little girl will love it. For natural dyes, I find using grape juice, cranberries (boiled with water and strained) and even coffee grounds can work. We just use a natural recipe for the frosting, then divide it into smaller sections to add the dye. It’s fun and healthy!

  18. Great idea about the natural dye! Thanks for the post. I also use refined sugar sparingly…I just make sure that’s it’s “cane sugar”. Otherwise it’s most likely GMO (from GMO sugar beets).

  19. We used freeze dried strawberries blasted in the blender to make a nice red powder. Mixed in with regular icing, it turned a prety pink. We have done blue/purple with butterfly pea flowers. Easy easy, the water runs blue/purple when you boil them.

  20. We were on a budget this year when it came to our holiday desserts so we had to be a little creative when it came to decorating our cut-out cookies while avoiding artificial colors. We definitely couldn’t afford the natural dyes and even the bags of hard candy (to grind up) were a little spendy. What we ended up doing was getting a package of naturally colored candy canes (to grind up for sprinkles) and everything else was stuff we already had on hand. We used coconut flakes, Enjoy Life chocolate chips (in whole form and also ground up to a sprinkley dust) and ground up cashews. We also added cocoa powder to some of our frosting so we had white (in both vanilla and peppermint) and brown and sometimes we piped the frosting on in designs. Honestly, when all was said and done, the cookies were far tastier than just colored frosting or colored sugar toppings would have been and we had just as much fun being creative and decorating. I think I was the only one who missed the colorful cookies (thanks to years of tradition). Our 7 year old didn’t care at all that the cookies weren’t vibrant and colorful. He was just excited to get to add chocolate!

    1. I love reading this. Those cookies must have been gorgeous and delicious, and I SO agree that often it’s only me who remembers doing things the old way. I often remind myself that we’re making new memories for our boys, we don’t need to do everything the way I did as a child. They are not disappointed. :)

  21. I’ll tell you what NOT to do with your kids. “Let’s make Christmas cookies with white frosting this year, Santa loves white frosting.” My boys wouldn’t buy that one!

    1. The trick is to do cookie shapes that are naturally white. We made snowflakes with white frosting and white snowflake sprinkles and snowmen with chocolate chips for eyes, mouth and buttons and a sliver of dried apricot for the nose. Next year I plan to try dying my own sugar with cranberry juice. I find Tree of India’s food coloring/colored sugar to be so muted, its not worth the exorbitant price.

  22. My Whole Foods didn’t have any sprinkles :( And Austin isn’t getting a Trader Joe’s for a couple of years – BOO!!

    I mad pink icing for my daughter’s birthday last week with beet juice (from a can of beets) and it was perfect. And carrot juice made great orange icing at Halloween.

  23. I made cutout Christmas cookies this morning too! Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without them.
    For the colors, I use raspberry puree for red (pink) and liquid chlorophyll for green. Chlorophyll, of course, is what makes plants green. You can find it in liquid or powder form in the vitamin section of your favorite natural food store.

  24. Newbie questions:

    How long (days) can the whole wheat (without icing) crackers stay good at room temperature? How do you consume after freezing?

    The same question for the whole wheat muffin recipe too , how do you consume muffins after freezing?


  25. Why don’t you just use Sucanat? It’s a fabulous replacement for refined sugar! We mostly use raw honey, but for baking we use Sucanat (which is an unrefined raw cane sugar) and it turns out perfectly!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi DaNelle. During the pledge, Lisa and her family only used honey and maple syrup. But, you are right, beyond that, Sucanat is a great replacement for white sugar. I have used it often…we’ll keep it in mind for future recipes. Jill