As I was working on recipe testing for the latest Yankee cookbook, the gorgeous Lost and Vintage Recipes, I met a cookie that has since muscled its way onto my short list of “absolute favorite cookies.” In truth it was a recipe for homemade graham crackers, but just like their animal cousins, graham crackers are decidedly more cookie than cracker, so let’s just call these “cookies.”
The dough for these homemade graham cracker cookies is finicky but manageable with a little practice, and lends itself beautifully to rolling and cutting, provided you keep it cold and have a steady sprinkle of flour to keep it from sticking. I’ve used this dough to make traditional rectangle “graham crackers,” but its pleasant crunch and warm cinnamon-and-sugar flavor make it a dream choice for sturdy, fragrant Christmas cookies.
In addition to my trusty vintage star, I happen to have mini cookie cutters (just an inch across) shaped like a house and gingerbread man, so I couldn’t resist the chance to whip up a batch of cookies for the holiday season.
These homemade graham cracker Christmas cookies start with the basics – flour, dark brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. The brown sugar really shines here in lending deep flavor to the cookies. I make my dough in the food processor because it gets pretty thick and needs a lot of muscle, but you could use a standing mixer or robust hand-mixer as well.
Once everything is combined, a stick of cold butter is cut into pieces and added to the mix. Blend the butter into the mixture similar to the way you would for pie dough, meaning you want to get it where the mixture looks like coarse meal.
Then, in a small bowl, whisk together honey, milk, vanilla. Once it’s smooth, it gets added to the flour mixture until you have a thick, sticky dough.
“Sticky” is the key word for this dough, which is why you need to flour your countertop before turning the dough onto it. Using your hands, work the dough into the ball, then transfer to the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands or a floured rolling pin, flatten the dough into a rectangle about one inch thick, and then wrap it securely in the plastic wrap before refrigerating it for at least 2 hours to firm up.
I like to put the wrapped dough on a baking sheet to make sure it stays level and smooth.
After it’s chilled, remove the dough from the fridge and cut it neatly in half. Re-wrap one half and return it to the fridge. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
On a well-floured surface (very important!), roll the dough out until it’s 1/8” thick. Cut into shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Once a baking sheet is filled pop it back in the fridge to chill again.
If the dough you’re working with is sticking too much, re-wrap what’s left of it in plastic and return it to the fridge, swapping it out for the other half of dough. When I make these cookies I sometimes have 3 or 4 sections of dough in fridge-to-counter rotation, to make sure I am always working with the coldest dough.
Once you have two baking sheets full of cut and chilled cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar, then lightly sprinkle it over the cookies. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick holes in the center of each cookie so they will stay flat while baking. Make the hole last so it won’t get filled in with the cinnamon and sugar! Bake for 10 minutes for small cookies, and up to 15 minutes for larger cookies or until golden brown and set.
If you’re looking for a delicious holiday cookie that will be gobbled up by your friends and family (if you don’t eat them all first!), these Homemade Graham Cracker Christmas Cookies are the perfect choice.
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