Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies

Christmas traditions in America include many different things.  There are the Christmas trees, cards, outdoor decorations, gifts and, of course, delicious food.  One of my favorite Christmas traditions is baking Christmas cookies.  It just would not be Christmas without home baked cookies.  Baking Christmas cookies brings back memories of your mom or grandma baking cookies in a warm kitchen scented with the smell of the cookies.

Like many Christmas traditions, the origin of the Christmas cookie began a really long time ago,  during the Middle Ages in Europe. As early as the 1500s, Christmas cookies were being baked up all over Europe.  We can thank the Dutch for Christmas cookies in the United States, who brought them here in the early 17th century.  Source is The Food Timeline.

I always associate a cut-out sugar cookie with Christmas.  And sure enough, I found two recipes for Christmas cookies in the American Cookery cookbook written by Amelia Simons in 1796.  Both of these recipes call for the cookies to be cut into shapes.  One of the recipes requires the cookies to be stored for six months so they can soften up.  Can you imagine having to wait six months to eat cookies you have just baked?

Christmas cookies can be any favorite cookie that you bake for the holiday but sugar cookies,  spritz cookies, and spiced gingerbread cookies are some of the traditional types.  Two of my favorite Christmas cookies are Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies.

The recipe for the Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies is from a vintage Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book that was first published in 1963.

Best Cooky of 1945-1950

It is interesting to note that Betty has a large section devoted to Christmas cookies (over forty cookies).   The Holiday Fruit Drops may have originated after the end of World War II when sugar was no longer rationed.  These cookies are packed with candied cherries, dates and pecans.  They are easy to make, keep good and actually seem to improve with storing.

Holiday Fruit Drop Cookies

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup buttermilk, or water
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups candied cherries, cut in half
2 cups chopped dates
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Pecan halves, if desired

In large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening, buttermilk and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until blended, or mix with spoon. Gradually stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in cherries, dates and chopped pecans. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375ºF. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet. Place a pecan half on each cookie, if desired.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched lightly. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Makes about 8 dozen cookies. 

Holiday Fruit Drops

Note:  The picture below is from last year since we have not had any measureable snow this December.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

christmas tree



  1. Earlene J Bray says:

    I have made these cookies every year for many years. My daughter works for a dentist. He looks forward to getting them. His favorite cookie. I bought this cookie book in 1963. Love it. A few years ago I saw it reprinted and bought my 7 kids a copy for Christmas as their favorite cookies growing up came from this book.

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