blue background with text Easy Cookie Recipes and gingerbread people

Easy Holiday Cookie Recipes

December 6, 2022

No matter what time of year, you can count on finding fresh cookies waiting for you upon your arrival at one of Asheville’s bed and breakfasts. During the holidays, our elite innkeepers hold nothing back and bake up some of the best cookies around. 

We asked our friends at bed and breakfasts around Asheville if they would be willing to share some of their most popular holiday cookie recipes, and they definitely didn’t disappoint.  

This holiday season, as you’re preparing your neighborhood gifts and planning your potluck contributions – channel your inner innkeeper with these five tried and true recipes that we got directly from the maestros themselves.

**Pro-tip:: Read all the way through for BONUS RECIPES!

Madeline’s from the Beaufort House Inn

-10 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces (141g)
-2 large eggs room temperature
-½ cup granulated sugar (100g)
-3 Tablespoons light brown sugar firmly packed
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-⅛ teaspoon salt
-1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour (155g)
-2 teaspoons lemon or orange zest

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and whisk together 1 Tablespoon melted butter and 1 ½ teaspoons flour. Use a pastry brush to lightly but thoroughly grease every cavity of your madeleine pan. Set aside.

In a small heatproof bowl, melt remaining 10 Tablespoons of butter. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugars, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk vigorously until thoroughly combined (about 30 seconds).

Sift flour into the egg mixture, about ⅓ of the flour at a time, gently stirring into egg mixture after each addition.

Drizzle cooled melted butter around the edge of the batter and add zest, if using. Gently fold into batter using a spatula until ingredients are thoroughly combined (but do not over-mix).

Drop batter by heaping Tablespoon into the prepared pan.

Transfer to the center rack of 375F (190C) preheated oven and bake for 9 minutes or madeleines are light golden brown and spring back when lightly touched. Remove to a cooling rack to cool immediately.

If your madeleine pan did not hold all of the batter, allow the pan to cool before re-brushing with butter/flour mixture and refilling with batter and baking your next batch.

If desired, sprinkle madeleines with additional powdered sugar or dip in melted chocolate before serving.


a plate of madeline cookies covered in powdered sugar
Madelines from Beaufort House

4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups unsalted butter, soft
2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup mint chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In stand mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture beating on low speed until incorporated.
Add chocolate chips; continue mixing until just combined.
Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30, up to 4 days.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until cookies are set.

2 cups granulated sugar
1# softened butter
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
½ tablespoon ground cinnamon

Whip ingredients in stand mixer with paddle attachment until fluffy, then add 1 egg. Mix until incorporated.

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon baking soda

Mix these ingredients in a separate bowl than add to butter mixture one spoon full at a time until all ingredients are together.

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup ground cinnamon

Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a separate bowl. Using a scoop, dole out even sized cookie dough balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture then place on a parchment lined, greased sheet tray. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes (until the tops slightly crack), rotating half way through. Remove from the oven and cool before plating.


  1. Pecan Bars from Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast(slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 c all purpose flour
1/3 c packed light brown sugar
1/4 c toasted pecans, chopped course
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Pecan Filling
4 T unsalted butter
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/3 c light corn syrup
1 T bourbon
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 c toasted pecans, chopped course

For the crust:  

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9″ square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Fold two pieces of heavy duty foil lengthwise to measure 8″ wide.  Fit 1 sheet in bottom of greased pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan (overhang will help removal of baked bars.)  Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet.  Spray again with nonstick cooking spray.

Place flour, brown sugar, pecans, salt and baking powder in a food processor fitted with a knife blade.  Process mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal, about five 1-second pulses.  Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles sand, about eight 1-second pulses.  Put the mixture evenly into the prepared pan and bake until the crust is light brown, about 18 minutes.

While the crust bakes, make filling by melting butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once melted, add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon, vanilla, salt and egg; whisk until combined.  Add chopped pecans and stir.

Pour filling on top of hot crust and spread evenly.  Bake until the top is brown and cracks start to form across the surface, 22 minutes.  Let the bars cool completely before removing from the pan using foil handles to transfer to the cutting board.

a stack of pecan bar cookies on a plate beside a green mug
Pecan Bars from Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast
  1. The Best Cookies in the World from Carolina Bed and Breakfast

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2¼ sticks) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate and milk chocolate combined- chopped (but not too fine, you want chunks, not thin shards of chocolate. I used one bar each of the Lindt Creamy Milk and 70% Dark Chocolate bars)
1 large egg, beaten to blend for egg wash
Demerara (or Turbinado) raw sugar (for rolling the cookie log into to get those crunchy edges)
Flaky sea salt (I use Murray River Salt flakes)

Using an electric mixer and a medium bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until super light and fluffy, 3–5 minutes.

Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add flour, followed by chocolate chunks, and beat just to blend.

Divide dough in half, then place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over to cover dough and protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands (just like you’re playing with clay), form dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. Each half should form logs that are 2–2¼” in diameter. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet (two, if you’ve got them) with parchment paper. Brush outside of logs with egg wash. Roll logs in demerara sugar (this is for those really delicious crispy edges).

Slice each log into ½”-thick rounds. Arrange on a prepared baking sheet about 1″ apart (they won’t spread much). Sprinkle it with sea salt. Bake cookies until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12–15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all.

**Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 1 week ahead. Tightly wrap in plastic and chill or you can freeze them up to 1 month. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead. Store in plastic wrap or an airtight container.**


  1. Coconut Macaroons from Bent Creek Lodge

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/3 cup Egg whites (2 eggs)
7 cups Sweet coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*

Mix condensed milk, vanilla, & egg whites together in a mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment.

Add coconut and mix well.

On a half sheet pan lined with a Silpat silicone baking mat or parchment paper, use an ice cream scoop to form firmly packed balls. They will not spread out when baked, so you can place them close together.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. May need to rotate the pan halfway through baking. Bake until brown on the top and bottom. Let them cool on the pan and freeze for 1 hour before applying chocolate.

Melt chocolate in the microwave. Dip just the bottom of the cookies in the chocolate and return to the freezer for 2 minutes, just enough for the chocolate to harden.

Using a spatula, drizzle chocolate over the top of the cookies and return to the freezer again until the chocolate hardens.

Store macaroons in an airtight container in the freezer. Best if served at room temperature.


BONUS:: Extra Recipes!

When we asked Asheville innkeepers for a few of their favorite cookie recipes, there were too many yummy recipes to choose from. We couldn’t pick just five so that’s why we decided to share these three bonus recipes with you, as well. 

From Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast, we have two more recipes to share. Follow the links to get these recipes straight from the source. 

  1. Maple Pecan Snickerdoodle from Sally’s Baking Addiction 
  2. Peppermint Mocha Cookies

And lastly, a traditional family recipe from our friends at Oakland Cottage:

  1. Holiday Peanut Brittle

We encourage you to try one (or a few) of these popular treats for yourself! Let us know how it goes! 


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