23 Old-Fashioned Christmas Desserts From Grandma’s Recipe Box

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Ready to ditch the modern, trendy desserts and get back to the good stuff? I’m talking about the tried-and-true Christmas classics that Grandma used to whip up while shooing you out of the kitchen with a flour-covered hand.

church window cookies
Church Window Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

In this post, we’re digging deep into the dusty corners of Grandma’s recipe box to bring you 23 old-fashioned Christmas desserts that are so old, they’re practically hip again. So let’s celebrate Christmas, retro-style!

Church Window Cookies

Get ready to wow with Church Window Cookies, an old-fashioned wonder of the holiday dessert world. They’re a quirky mix of chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts, creating a stained-glass effect that’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Get the Recipe: Church Window Cookies

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Cream Cheese Mints

A white plate with green, orange, and red mints.
Cream Cheese Mints. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

These Cream Cheese Mints are like little bites of holiday nostalgia, ready to transport you to Christmases past. Just mix, roll, and chill – no oven required! Perfect for those family bonding moments (or sneaky solo snacking).
Get the Recipe: Cream Cheese Mints

Italian Ricotta Cookies

ricotta cookies on cutting board
Italian Ricotta Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Italian Ricotta Cookies are tender, cake-like treats. They’re a holiday favorite, but let’s be real, they’re too good to save just for Christmas. Like little clouds of Italian joy, these cookies have been spreading holiday cheer for generations.
Get the Recipe: Italian Ricotta Cookies

Swedish Almond Cake

Slices of Swedish almond cake dusted with powdered sugar and topped with almonds.
Swedish Almond Cake. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Make a traditional Swedish Almond Cake, a sweet testament to Scandinavia’s baking prowess. It’s an easy, elegant dessert that’s dusted with powdered sugar or glazed to perfection. This cake is like a Christmas postcard you can eat.
Get the Recipe: Swedish Almond Cake

Rum Balls

Rum balls with chocolate sprinkles in a tray.
Rum Balls. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Unleash your inner pirate with these boozy Rum Balls, a vintage treat that’s perfect for adulting this holiday. They’re rich, they’re naughty, and they’ve got enough rum to make any party merry. Warning: may cause spontaneous Christmas caroling.
Get the Recipe: Rum Balls

Pistachio Fluff

Pistachio salad topped with nuts and cherries.
Pistachio Fluff. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Pistachio Fluff is a holiday throwback that’s just as easy to make as it is to devour. Five ingredients, endless delight – it’s like a secret holiday weapon disguised as a green dessert salad.
Get the Recipe: Pistachio Fluff

Peppermint Meringue Cookies

striped meringue cookies
Peppermint Meringue Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Float away on a cloud of Peppermint Meringue Cookies, the lightest, fluffiest addition to your holiday feast. With their candy cane swirls and melt-in-your-mouth magic, they’re like a peppermint dream come true. Just try not to float away with delight!
Get the Recipe: Peppermint Meringue Cookies

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Loaf of cinnamon bread sliced to show the ribbon of cinnamon inside.
Amish Cinnamon Bread. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Amish Cinnamon Bread is a sweet and spicy loaf that’ll make your kitchen smell like a holiday haven. Quick to whip up and even quicker to disappear, it’s old-fashioned comfort food in loaf form. Perfect for sharing, but we won’t judge if you don’t.
Get the Recipe: Amish Cinnamon Bread

Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle

Red plate with peanut brittle on a red and white checked table cloth.
Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Whip up some Peanut Brittle and travel back in time to grandma’s kitchen. This easy-to-make, crackly sweet is the perfect homemade gift – if you can resist eating it all first! It’s like the holidays have been wrapped up in a crunchy, nutty, sweet bite.
Get the Recipe: Old Fashioned Peanut Brittle


Speculoo cookies stamped with snowflakes on a platter.
Speculoos. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Speculoos, the cookie with a name as fun as its flavor. These spiced European classics are like taking a bite of Christmas past, perfect for St. Nicholas’ feast or any festive gathering. They’re the cookies that whisper, “happy holidays” with every crunch.
Get the Recipe: Speculoos

Icebox Cake

Icebox cake with raspberries, blueberries and strawberries on a pink plate.
Icebox Cake. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Throw it back to simpler times with this no bake Icebox Cake. Layers of graham crackers and berries come together in a dessert that’s as easy as it is delicious. It’s a no-fuss, no-bake wonder that’s a surefire crowd-pleaser.
Get the Recipe: Icebox Cake

Peppermint Patties

Peppermint patties in a red mug.
Peppermint Patties. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Homemade Peppermint Patties are here to put store-bought versions to shame. Imagine biting into soft, creamy peppermint goodness, all wrapped up in a chocolate coating. It’s a minty kiss under the mistletoe!
Get the Recipe: Peppermint Patties

Cardamom Cookies

Stack of cardamom cookies with a glass of milk in the background.
Cardamom Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Spice up your cookie game with Cardamom Cookies, a Scandinavian treat that’s not your average holiday cookie. Crisp, aromatic, and packed with flavor, they’re the perfect partner for a cup of hot cocoa. They’re a vintage delight.
Get the Recipe: Cardamom Cookies

Swedish Tea Ring

Side view of holiday tea ring.
Swedish Tea Ring. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Welcome to the sweet circle of joy that is the traditional Swedish Tea Ring. This almond-filled pastry wreath is a festive and delicious nod to Swedish holiday traditions. It’s ready to be the star of your holiday dessert spread.
Get the Recipe: Swedish Tea Ring

Butterscotch Cookies

Butterscotch cookies on a red plate.
Butterscotch Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Enjoy the sweet and chewy Butterscotch Cookies, where brown sugar and butter meet for an old fashioned holiday romance. Throw in some butterscotch chips and pecans, and you’ve got a cookie that’s hard to put down. They’re like little bites of butterscotch bliss.
Get the Recipe: Butterscotch Cookies

Mini Pavlova

Mini pavlova filled with lemon curd and topped with berries.
Mini Pavlova. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Impress with less stress with these Mini Pavlovas topped with lemon curd and berries. The crisp outside and fluffy inside are a fun combination of textures, while the toppings add a burst of freshness. This vintage classic is easy to make ahead of time!
Get the Recipe: Mini Pavlova

Jam Pinwheel Cookies

Top view of raspberry pinwheel cookies topped with sparkling sugar.
Jam Pinwheel Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Jam Pinwheel Cookies are retro spirals of joy that’ll spin your holiday dessert game right round. Buttery dough, sweet jam, and a sprinkle of walnuts all rolled up into one delightful treat. They’re like edible Christmas ornaments (but tastier).
Get the Recipe: Jam Pinwheel Cookies

Cherry Salad

Cherry fluff salad in blue bowls with whipped cream.
Cherry Salad. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Cherry Salad, also known as Pink Fluff, is the quick, sweet retreat from the holiday hustle. Just 6 ingredients and 5 minutes to whip up this retro hero. It’s an easy going and fabulous treat.
Get the Recipe: Cherry Salad

Haystack Cookies

chocolate haystacks closeup
Haystack Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

In a holiday rush? Haystack Cookies to the rescue! Just 4 ingredients and a few minutes to create these vintage chocolate-peanut butter lifesavers. They’re the heroes your holiday dessert table didn’t know it needed.
Get the Recipe: Haystack Cookies

Amish Apple Fritter Bread

A slice of apple cinnamon bread on a cutting board.
Amish Apple Fritter Bread. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Cozy up with Amish Apple Fritter Bread, a slice of spiced, glazed goodness that screams old-fashioned holiday comfort. It’s perfect for sharing (or hoarding). Every slice is a bite of nostalgia, reminding you of the joys of simple baking.
Get the Recipe: Amish Apple Fritter Bread

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Chocolate crinkle cookies on a baking rack cooling.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are here to satisfy all your gooey, fudgy, chocolatey cravings. They’re the perfect blend of brownie and cookie, and they’re dairy-free to boot! These cookies are like an old fashioned little black dress: perfect for every occasion.
Get the Recipe: Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Lime Jello Salad

green jello salad topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
Lime Jello Salad. Photo credit: Upstate Ramblings.

Lime Jello Salad is the retro green goddess of the holiday table. It’s tangy, it’s sweet, and it’s got that wobbly charm that brings out the kid in everyone. This salad is proof that Jello never goes out of style.
Get the Recipe: Lime Jello Salad

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Retro christmas desserts.

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

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