There is no better way to spice up the holiday season than by trying some new desserts with the family. Read on for some of the best Polish Christmas cookies around.Jump to Recipe
The Festive Heritage of Polish Christmas Cookies
In Poland, the bakery is more than just a place to buy bread; it’s an institution that brings Polish traditions to life through cakes, pastries, and ciasteczka (cookies). Around the holiday season, especially during Christmas and New Year, people of Polish heritage all over the world come together to bake Polish Christmas cookies.
I grew up in a third-generation Polish household, and like most children, I had quite the sweet tooth. I especially loved pound cake and cookies! So when my Babci (grandmother) would come to our house around the holidays, I looked forward to the Christmas desserts and treats she would bring. Shortly after the Christmas tree went up, my Babci would arrive bearing an assorted plate of cookies from the Polish bakery that we would enjoy after Christmas Eve dinner but before our family tradition of watching Christmas movies.
Read on for some of my childhood favorites.
Kolaczkis, Polish-Filled Cookies
When I think of Polish cookies, kolaczkis come to mind immediately. I cannot see one without picturing my grandmother, as they are her personal favorite due to her love of fruit jams. After bringing the cookie box home from the bakery, she would sit down at the kitchen table eating kolaczkis over a game of checkers with me. In between bites, she would share Polish folktales and traditions.
These cream cheese cookies are famous throughout the European continent, as they strike the right balance between the rich creaminess of butter-filled dough and the dollops of sweet fruit preserves in the middle. Follow the recipe below by the Polish House Wife, Louis Britton, to try this Polish delicacy!
Kołaczki (Polish Filled Cookies)
- 1 Mixing bowl (If you plan on making the filling, you will need two mixing bowls)
- 1 Fluted Pastry Cutter
- 1 Set of Measuring Cups
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 1/2 cups butter
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1 1/2 cups filling such as fruit preservatives or jam, nut or poppy seed filling
- Cream the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy
- Stir in flour and salt
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour
- Preheat oven to 350
- Roll out the dough by first dusting the surface (mat or countertop) with granular sugar
- Roll to 1/8 inch and cut into 2-inch squares. I used a fluted pastry cutter to get the zig-zap along the edge of the cookies.
- Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each square
- Fold over opposite corners and seal well
- Bake for 15 minutes or until corners just begin to brown
- Cool on a rack and dust with powdered sugar
Polish Chruściki, aka Angel Wings
Chruściki, or Angel Wings, traditionally ends the twelve-course Polish feast of Wigilia. The courses of the Eastern European dinner of Wigilia celebrate each month of the year and honor the twelve Disciples of Christ. Incorporating eggs and extra yolks into this deep-fried pastry helps it achieve a light and crispy consistency. These divinely-flavored cookies are always a winner around the holidays.
Polish Honey Spice Cookies (Ciasteczka Miodowe)
Polish Catholics enjoy Ciasteczka Miodowe around the Holidays and will leave the cookies out for St. Nicholas. If your household celebrates Santa Claus, these are the perfect cookies to bake with the kids before Christmas Eve. They’re basically gingerbread cookies, but instead of using butter, you use egg yolks to bind the ingredients together. The rest of the ingredients, including cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and honey, remain the same. Enjoy the aroma as they bake, and let them add something sweet to your Christmas celebration.
Polish Walnut Cookies
These traditional Polish Christmas cookies also serve as a tasty decoration, so it’s no wonder they’re Poland’s most popular Christmas cookies! They’re challenging to make but worth the time and effort.
These three-dimensional cookies require a special sheet that creates half a walnut-shaped shell. Once the dough is in the sheet, the baker uses their finger to make an indent on both halves. Finally, after baking, the indentations on the cookies are filled with creamy fillings, a popular choice is Nutella, and pressed together. The Polish Housewife does a spectacular job baking these cookies, so check out her website for the recipe and extra tips!
Polish Almond Crescent Cookies
Crescent cookies are an eastern European treat, and making them is fun for the whole family. Crescent moon-shaped shortbread biscuit cookies are whimsical and delicious. Our Christmas Cookie Exchange article has a delicious recipe for these, and you can make them more Polish by replacing the pecans with almonds.
The recipe is also sugar-free!
Cranberry rugelach is always a delicious addition to any Polish Christmas celebration. To make them, mix a cup of unsalted butter, eight ounces of cream cheese, half a cup of sugar, two and three-quarters cups of all-purpose flour, and a teaspoon of salt. In a mixing bowl, mix the softened butter and then add cream cheese and sugar.
Continue mixing for five to seven minutes or until the mixture becomes fluffy. In another bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Once the mixtures are thoroughly combined, knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and divide it into eight portions.
Next, roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a 4-inch circle, wrap these in plastic, and refrigerate for an hour. Mix the sugar, cranberries, walnuts, melted butter, cinnamon, and allspice in a smaller bowl. Then, on a floured surface, take one of the 4-inch chilled dough circles and roll it out into an 8-inch circle. After this, add three tablespoons of the filling and spread the filling to within a half-inch of the edges. Cut the dough into wedges and roll them into crescent shapes. Brush with the egg and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Polish Ammonia Cookies (Amoniaczki)
Light and crispy, Amoniaczki is a Polish must at any special event. The delicacy is popular in the Pomeranian region of Poland, mainly because refugee families brought the tradition with them after WWII. Instead of yeast, baking soda, or baking powder, the recipe calls for ammonia. Ammonia has been used in baking for centuries and evaporates while baking. This sweet treat is great when the kids are home, as they can get involved with the cookie-cutter. Be sure to line your baking pan with parchment paper first so the cookies don’t stick to the pan.
Polish Foodies has a delicious, detailed recipe for Polish Ammonia Cookies that your family will love.
Pierniczki świąteczne – Cinnamon Polish Christmas Cookies
These Polish spiced Christmas cookies are guaranteed to make your house smell like Christmas! A major plus to these holiday treats is the dough does not need to be refrigerated before baking. Pierniczki świąteczne traditionally serves in Poland as Christmas tree decorations and edible Christmas gifts. You can also top these cookies with traditional Polish meringue icing for sweetness.
Rozetki is a deep-fried Polish treat that is beautiful to look at and delicious. Famous across the globe, these cookies can be made in any shape, including elegant floral designs.
Light and fluffy like crispy funnel cake, these cookies get their unique shape using rosette irons. The cookies are made by first heating the oil with the molds. Then, carefully dip the mold halfway into the batter and back into the frying pan. Flip the mold, remove it from the oil, and then dust the cookies with powdered sugar. Bon appetite!
Shortbread Cookies (Ciastka Kruche)
Ciastka Kruche, or shortbread cookies in English, have a delicate flavor and crumbly consistency and are the ideal cookie to serve with coffee or tea over the holidays. Since you roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to punch out shapes, your kids will love to help make and decorate these delicious treats!
To make them, you’ll need two cups of all-purpose flour, five ounces of butter, three egg yolks (save the whites), half a cup of powdered sugar, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a quarter cup of sour cream, two tablespoons of baking powder, and a pinch of salt.
First, add flour to the mixing bowl, followed by the butter cut into small pieces, then add the rest of the ingredients and gently hand mix. To avoid getting a dense cookie, be sure not to overwork the dough. Next, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. At this time, preheat the oven on bake to 350°F. Once the dough has been chilled, roll the dough out on a floured surface to a quarter-inch thickness. Then, grab your favorite cookie cutter and place the cookies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Once the cookies are on the baking sheet, brush each cookie with the egg whites. Finally, top with powdered sugar and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Wesołych Świąt (Merry Christmas!)
Not only are these Polish Christmas cookie recipes delicious, but they’re also a unique window into Polish culture. Perhaps, this article will come in handy if you ever need to impress some Polish in-laws! Which ones are you most excited to try? You can let us know on social #getfamilyapp.