Every European country has their own spin on the classic Christmas cookies, but in the Czech Republic they’re a time-honored (and time-intensive) tradition.
If you’ve ever been to a Czech home over the holidays, chances are you’ve been inundated with plate upon plate of fresh, homemade Czech Christmas cookies made from recipes dating back generations of grandmothers.
But seasoned pros know you don’t just go diving in: delicious as each may be, not all Czech Christmas cookies are equal.
Here are our picks for the best-of-the-best come Christmastime in the Czech Republic:
10. Vanilkové rohlíčky (Vanilla rolls)
If you’ve ever come across a tray of Christmas cookies after it has been picked clean, chances are a bunch of these are still there. There’s a reason for that: while Vanilkové rohlíčky are easily the most common Czech Christmas cookies, they are also live up to their name: typically dry and somewhat bland (though good with a cup of coffee) they can pale next to some of their more interesting companions.
9. Máslové kokosky (Coconut Cookies)
Traditional butter cookies usually made with a hearty helping of the namesake ingredient, these can move up higher on the list based on your fondness for coconut. Chocolate base not usually present.
Alongside Vanilkové rohlíčky, these seem to be the most widespread and popular Czech Christmas cookies. Traditionally made with hazelnuts or almonds, these are similarly dry but generally a little tastier than their common counterparts.
7. Vánoční perníčky (Christmas Gingerbread)
One of the few cookies on this list that are universally eaten at Christmastime, these can come in a number of different shapes and sizes and with different decor on top. Prime taste depends on freshness, although hardened cookies have their fans.
6. Bílé lanýžové kuličky (White Truffle Balls)
One of the more indulgent options, these truffles are traditionally made with cream, butter, and white chocolate, and rolled in coconut flake dusting.
5. Linecké cukroví (Linzer Cookies)
A popular selection year-round, these cookies named after Austria’s larger Linzer torte are made by sandwiching jam (usually strawberry or raspberry) inside of two crumbly sugar cookies. The top cookie has a shape cut out to reveal the jam, which can be a festive design during the holidays.
4. Rumové kuličky (Rum Balls)
Similar to the white truffle balls, but instead of white chocolate made with cocoa and rum – typically Tuzemák. Yum!
3. Ořechy plněné krémem (Nuts filled with Cream)
These are similar to pracny – a buttery nut-based cookie – but with a twist: two nut-shaped cookie halves are filled with a delicious creamy center.
2. Išlské dortíčky (Ischler Cookies)
Named after the Austrian spa Ischl, these mini-versions of the larger Ischler Cake were reportedly a favorite treat of Emperor Franz Josef I. They’re still popular not only in the Czech Republic, but throughout Europe.
1. Vosí hnízda (Wasp’s Nests)
Best of the best: these carefully-crafted treats, molded to look like their namesake, typically have a piškoty base and a rum or eggnog-based filling. Because of the time involved in making wasp’s nests, these are among the rarest of Czech Christmas cookies, and while typically included among the usual batch they can be small in number and disappear quickly.