Treats for Santa: Fruitcake Cookies

Before I get to this wonderfully “retro” recipe, and start explaining to everyone why I swear I have not lost my mind, I have a very tiny favor to ask of you:

I recently submitted a photo of my Chicken and Smoked Sausage Stew to a TopDog photo competition…would y’all mind taking a second to vote for me? All you have to do is click here, then make a quick username and hit “boost”! That’s it! It will only take you a second and I would be incredibly grateful. :-)

Alright. Cookie time.

In case you hadn’t noticed, it is now December, which means that it is now officially holiday baking season! This year I have a few different treats lined up for you, which is why I am not simply calling this mini-series “Cookies for Santa”…because I am sure every now and again Santa wouldn’t mind having something a little different to snack on. But let’s go ahead and start with a cookie recipe, shall we?

This recipe for fruitcake cookies is an old family favorite. In fact, they were my Uncle Mike’s favorite cookie growing up. One year, when he was in high school, my great-grandmother made a batch of these cookies and sent them home with my uncle. He was, of course, supposed to be sharing with the family…but instead, he hid them under his bed and ate them all himself! Now, you have to understand that the original recipe makes approximately 120 cookies…and yes, he did manage to eat every. single. one. (It does help that, like actual fruitcake, these cookies get better with age.) No one else even knew the cookies existed until my great-grandmother asked my grandmother how they were! I think perhaps the rest of the family was a little peeved, but my great-grandmother thought it was just about the cutest thing she had ever heard.

Now, before you start thinking I have completely lost my marbles in trying to convince you to buy that mysterious fruitcake fruit, you should know that King Arthur Flour has a number of options that are more natural than those you might find in your local grocery store. (For this recipe, this fruit blend is likely your best bet.) I, however, chose to put off my normal reservations regarding preservatives and embraced the retro-ness of this recipe and used what was available at my local Jewel.

Ok, so I assuaged your fears about the candied fruit…but I can still feel you eying your computer screen with suspicion. Admittedly, many of us – especially those of us who grew up in the north – have probably grown up with fruitcake being the butt of Christmas re-gifting jokes. But rest assured, these cookies are more like a chewy, nutty spice cookie than anything else. My father has spent his entire adult life swearing off all forms of fruitcake, yet could not stop eating these. I think I’ve made a fruitcake cookie believer out of him…and I bet I can make one out of you, too!

Give these fruitcake cookies a chance. My uncle would surely encourage it.

Fruitcake Cookies
The original recipe makes 120 cookies. I chose to halve it to produce a more manageable amount, but if you are baking for a crowd, simply double all of the ingredients.
Yield: 60 cookies
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar, well packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ tablespoons milk
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup unfiltered apple juice (you also may substitute orange juice)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups chopped pecans
  • ½ box white raisins (about 1¼ cups)
  • 1 pound chopped candied fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line sheet pans with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the chopped candied fruit with a few tablespoons of the flour. This will prevent the fruit from sticking together later. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the spices, remaining flour, and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at at time, then milk and juice. Add the sifted dry ingredients, then fold in the nuts, floured fruit and raisins. The dough will almost seem more like a cake batter than a cookie dough in consistency - that is ok, it's how it is supposed to be.
  5. Drop by teaspoons about 1 inch apart (cookies will not spread much at all) on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Cookies will last about 2 weeks at room temperature, longer in the freezer. Cookies will get even better as they age, so do not hesitate to make them a few days before you plan to serve them.



  1. says

    These cookies look so festive and tasty! Great for gift giving! I’ve never bought the fruit cake fruit and am glad you informed us of the healthier, less processed option from King Arthur. I’m also excited that apple cider is used for the recipe, sounds great!

  2. Sheila Bates says

    I love these cookies and had forgotten about them. I feel fairly certain that I could eat at least 60 of the 120 cookies which MyFitnessPal would not think is as cute as Ma-Ma would. I will make them for Christmas Eve and hide them from myself. :-)

  3. Robby says

    These will make my dad, the fruitcake lover, very happy in his stocking. Can you please clarify for me what ‘white raisins’ are? I am familiar with golden raisins, but not white. Thanks, I look forward to giving these a go soon.

  4. says

    haha ok fruit cake still freaks me out! But I trust you, those cookies do look DELISH darling! Im so excited its Christmas cookie season :) We need to have a real cookie exchange too!!

  5. Anne says

    I’ve made something like this, and as a bonus you can brush them with a little brandy when they’re warm out of the oven. It will soften the cookies slightly, but it’s a nice addition.

  6. Robby says

    I found these too late to make them last year, but couldn’t wait to try them out for my dad this year. These are very good, says the girl who doesn’t like fruitcake. Dad loves Collin Street Bakery fruitcake, so I peeked at their description and subbed honey for the sugar, and added a splash of cognac since I couldn’t find the brandy. Can’t wait to delivery them on Thursday. Thanks for sharing your family recipe, and the story of it, too.

  7. Robby says

    Dad deemed them ‘very good, maybe better than fruitcake’. And this from a man who is spoiled with regular homemade cookie infusions. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it will be a regular in the holiday rotation.

  8. Sally says

    Have you ever tried these as “bars”?? you know how you take the chocolate chip cookie batter and put in a 9 x 13 pan and bake? I am better these would be wonderful!! and I really like the thought of glazing them with a cognac/brandy style glaze…..

    • says

      I have never tried it! If you do, I would think you would want to keep an eye on the baking time; I have no idea how long they would need. If you try it and it works, let me know!

  9. Karen says

    I LOVE good Fruitcake! And it is hard to find! I made this recipe (doubled) and these cookies were BEYOND AWESOME! I ate almost all of them myself (some people are too afraid to try something new). I didn’t find unfiltered apple juice, so I used apple cider, and since I doubled the recipe, I used a 16oz container of red candied cherries, an 8oz container of green candied cherries, an 8oz container of candied pineapple, a 4oz container of diced mixed candied fruitcake mix, and an entire box of golden raisins. I am so happy to have found this recipe! I plan to make them at Christmas from now on! (Someday I’m going to be the legendary Grandma that makes these cookies!)

    • says

      I love this! The original recipe is the amount you made, so my great grandmother would love that you went for all 120 cookies! So glad you loved them and plan to make them again :-)

    • Julie says

      Oh, my gosh, this made my day. My Ma-Ma (grandmother) would have been so pleased to know how much you loved them. She also had multiple good fruitcake recipes (when you grow up an hour and a half away from New Orleans, it’s a Christmas staple). Enjoy them and now you know why my little brother hid them from us!


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