Christmas Cookie Crawl: Best Bakeries in NYC for Seasonal Sweets

Magnolia Bakery serves far more than cupcakes this season. The well-known bakery is one of our favorite local spots for Christmas cookies in NYC.
Magnolia Bakery serves far more than cupcakes this season. The well-known bakery is one of our favorite local spots for Christmas cookies in NYC.

One of the best things about the holiday season is hunting for the best Christmas cookies in NYC. It's the season to indulge in once-a-year special treats. Whether you bake them or buy them, enjoying Christmas cookies is a great way to treat the kids (and you!) between all that shopping, visiting Santa, and checking out amazing Christmas windows all over town.

From traditional European specialties and the American classic sugar cookie, we've rounded up 10 tasty bakeries for Christmas cookies in NYC this season. Find more sweet treats in our Family-Friendly Restaurant Guide and all our top holiday picks in our NYC Kids' Guide to Holiday and Christmas Events.

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1. Billy's Bakery – Multiple Locations

Billy's, started by a Magnolia Bakery alum, Billy's offers a retro-Americana atmosphere and baked goods selection in its three Manhattan shops. Billy's bakes colorful, cookie-cutter-shaped sugar Christmas cookies. Seasonal flavors include maple pecan and gingerbread. It also sells a DIY cookie decorating kit.

2. Levain Bakery – Multiple Locations

What NYC sweet treats list would be complete without an homage to our beloved Levain Bakery? Delicious at any time of the year, Levain's cookies are some of the best I've ever tasted. Ever. Whether you're in Harlem, Noho, on the UES, UWS, or in Brooklyn, a stop at one of these bakeries is a treat to yourself. If you can't make it to a store, you can order its dark chocolate peppermint cookies or a holiday cookie assortment to be shipped directly to your home or opt to send one as a sweet gift.

RELATED: Best Hot Chocolate Spots in NYC

Christmas cookies in NYC: Eleni's
Eleni's charming Christmas cookies are almost too cute to eat.

3. Eleni's – Multiple Locations

Eleni's makes the sort of cookies you might want to make yourself—if you had the kitchen space, time, and know-how. Eleni's offers a stunning variety of handmade, iced sugar cookies for the holidays and plain old everyday occasions. Christmas cookies include adorable Santas, stockings, decorated Christmas trees, ornaments, snowmen, and mittens, plus dreidels and menorahs for Hanukkah. Find Eleni's cookies at locations across the city, including the Hudson Market. Gift alert: If you have a doodler at home, look for the shop's cute blank cookies and special food-safe decorating markers, sold individually or in perfect-for-gift-giving tins.

4. Magnolia Bakery – Multiple Locations

The famous cupcakery offers a tempting variety of nostalgic Christmas cookies in NYC that are sure to remind you of the treats grandma used to make! The limited-time offerings include festive maple pecan pinwheels, melt-in-your-mouth sno-balls, rich chocolate crinkle cookies, classic molasses cookies, spritz cookies in adorable holiday shapes, traditional gingersnaps and my son's favorite, snickerdoodles. While the bakery's standalone shops are quaint, they are often pretty cozy (read: crowded) with out-of-towners looking for Carrie Bradshaw's favorite treat. Be prepared to wait, or try visiting one of its less-crowded outposts in Grand Central Terminal, Moynihan Train Hall, or Bloomingdale's.

RELATED: Best High Tea Spots in NYC for Kids

Christmas cookies in NYC: Eli Zabar's
Eli Zabar knows how to craft delectable Christmas cookies, including shortbread crafted with his mother's own recipe. 

5. Eli's – Multiple Locations in Manhattan

From NYC's original family of gourmet grocers, Eli Zabar's many East Side shops prepare and sell distinctive, upscale foodstuffs. My son and I are suckers for its shortbread cookies, no matter the shape. Pick up a holiday gift box packed with a variety of rich, buttery Christmas cookies or a pre-packed dozen to take to the school holiday fete, gift a babysitter, or just stow away for a Christmas Eve treat. Other options include the always-popular jam tot or the super cute gingerbread figures that can be personalized for gift tags or holiday dinner place cards.

6. Ovenly – Multiple Locations

Warm, seasonal treats are on the menu at Ovenly's Brooklyn and Manhattan locations. What says "happy holidays" more than a hot chocolate cookie, filled with chocolate and marshmallows? Or try its salted chocolate chip cookie. It offers gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free options. Stop by one of its stores to try one of its seasonal cookies or bars.

RELATED: 12 Must-Do Holiday Activities and Christmas Events in NYC for Kids in 2022

Christmas cookies in NYC: Leckerlee
Leckerlee specializes in lebkuchen, an old-school, gingerbread-like stuffed cookie cake..

7. Leckerlee – Upper East Side

For a taste of the traditional Nuremberg seasonal treat, lebkuchen, stop by one of the Leckerlee seasonal shops at the Neue Galeria Design Shop, Chelsea Market Baskets, and Schaller & Weber. For the uninitiated, lebkuchen is an ancient gingerbread-style cookie/cake stuffed with candied fruits, nuts, and warm spices often dipped in chocolate and usually placed atop a thin oblate wafer (the wafer used in the Catholic Eucharist). At Leckerlee, grab one to go, or opt for a gift-worthy festive tinful.

8. Pasticcera Rocco – Greenwich Village and Bay Ridge

Family-owned since the 1970s, this popular bakery and cafe in the West Village and Brooklyn is known for Italian pastries. Its filled-to-order cannolis are an NYC institution! For the holidays stop by for some of its cheerfully decorated butter Christmas cookies, available by the pound, the platter, or the piece. Take a break from shopping and relax with a cup of coffee and a treat in the dining room.

RELATED: 20 Must-Visit Cafes, Sweet Shops, and Iconic Family-Friendly Restaurants in NYC

Christmas cookies in NYC: William Greenberg Desserts
Black and white cookies ar the trademark treat at William Greenberg, but this NYC institution offers a varied collection of Christmas cookies in NYC. 

9. William Greenberg Desserts – Upper East Side and Upper West Side

This NYC bakery has been a neighborhood staple for more than 60 years, known for its legendary black-and-white cookies. Get that infamous favorite in sweet potato and pumpkin varieties for the holidays, or the original recipe glammed up with red and green or blue and white icing depending on your seasonal celebration. Other treats include gingerbread cookies (made from a family recipe) and delightfully decorated Christmas cookies and Hanukkah butter cookies. You can also order gingerbread houses and people for added fun.

10. Schmackary’s – Hell's Kitchen

Schmackary's bakes dozens of varieties of inventive cookie flavors (currently 84 types and counting). This holiday season you can enjoy a Ginger Rogers, which has yummy spices of ginger and molasses, or perhaps you'd prefer to nibble on a Viva Ferrero or Dirty Peppermint cookie. With this sort of variety, who can decide? Thankfully they sell cookie flights, so you can sample them all!

Originally published in 2015. Photos courtesy of the respective bakeries

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