The holiday season brings festivities, family gatherings and, most importantly, lots and lots of food. Almost every family has recipes it likes to make during this time of year, from a classic Christmas pot roast to gingersnap cookies. Some recipes are tied to family traditions or culture, while others are just too tasty to pass up.

The following recipes were provided by Northwestern students, each of whom shared the holiday treats they make with their loved ones. Recreate them with family or friends, and maybe these treats will become permanent fixtures on your holiday menu. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Cookies

Layna Lu

This treat allows you to taste two classic flavors in one bite: chocolate chip and cookies and cream. These cookies are for anyone with a sweet tooth. The addition of cream cheese softens the cookies, and combination of Oreos and chocolate chips gives them some crunch. These cookies are great after a Christmas feast, or even to leave out for Santa Claus. Feel free to customize the toppings in the cookies, as well. If you want to add more of a holiday flare, you can add crushed  candy canes. Additionally, swap out the Oreos with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups if you are a peanut butter lover.


Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes


- 1 box of vanilla cake mix

- 8 tbsp. butter, softened

- 1 egg

- 1 tsp. vanilla extract

- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened

- 2 cups Oreo cookie chunks

- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

- 1/2 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the cake mix, butter, egg, vanilla, and cream cheese. Mix until a soft dough forms.

3. Stir in the cookie chunks and chocolate chips by hand.

4. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

5. Roll the dough into 24 even balls.

6. Place the dough balls on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will seem under done, but will continue to set as they cool.

7. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Tap the tops of the cookies with a flat spatula to even them out.

8. Move the cookies to a wire rack or a piece of parchment paper on the counter to cool completely.

9. Store in a sealed container once they are completely cooled.

Panamanian Ojaldas

Layna Lu

Ojaldas, which translates to “fried bread,” are a staple in Panamanian cuisine. They are typically served as a breakfast food, but can be eaten any time of day. In their most basic from, ojaldas are simply made of flour, water, salt and a raising agent. Every family has their own twist; some add egg, while others drizzle honey on top. You can make ojaldas savory by adding cheese or sausage, or you can satisfy your sugar craving by dusting powdered sugar on top. Either way, you cannot go wrong with these delectable treats!


Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


- 2 cups of flour

- ¾ cups of water

- 1 tsp. of salt

- 1 tsp. of sugar

- 2 tsp. of yeast

- 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil (to mix in the dough)

- 2 cups of vegetable oil (for frying)


1. Add all ingredients together in a large bowl and knead the mixture together.

2. Take golf ball-sized pieces of dough and flatten them into rough circles using a rolling pin. They should be approximately 4-inches in diameter.

3. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil in a pan until the oil reaches 350°F.

4. Fry the flattened dough until each circle is golden brown.

5. Add any desired condiments, and eat while hot.

Chinese Sesame Balls

bread, bun, sweet, pastry, sesame roll, hamburger bun, wheat, flour
Ashley Laurens

Although most people in mainland China typically do not celebrate Christmas, sesame balls are popular during the Lunar New Year. They are fried dough balls made out of glutinous rice flour and have the same texture as Japanese mochi. The inside of the balls are often filled with lotus paste or sweet red bean paste, and the outside is coated with sesame seeds. They provide a perfect combination of textures, with the crunch from the sesame seed coating and the soft, gooey tenderness from the paste and dough. Sesame balls are often served as dim sum, a style of Chinese cuisine that involves small, bite-sized portions.


Prep Time: 45 minutes, plus overnight soak

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes


Red Bean Filling

- ¼ cup red bean, dried

- 4 cups water

- ¼ cup sugar


- ⅔ cup hot water

- ½ cup light brown sugar

- 2 cups glutinous rice flour, plus more for dusting

- ½ cup sesame seed

For Frying

- 5 cups vegetable oil


Red Bean Filling

1. In a medium bowl, combine the red beans with one cup of water. Cover with plastic wrap and soak overnight.

2. After they're soaked, drain the red beans and transfer them to a small saucepan with the remaining 3 cups of water.

3. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, cover the saucepan and cook for 1 hour, until the beans are soft enough to mash with a fork.

4. Add the sugar and cook, stirring frequently. Do so until the liquid evaporates and a thick red bean paste forms.

5. Transfer the red bean paste to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the paste to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.


1. In a small bowl, whisk the hot water with the light brown sugar until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add the glutinous rice flour to a medium bowl and use a spoon to create a small well in the center.

3. Pour the sugar syrup into the well and stir for 5 minutes, until the dough is well combined and no longer sticks to the bowl.

4. Lightly dust a clean surface with the glutinous rice flour.

5. Turn the dough out and knead it for 5 minutes, until it forms a smooth, round ball. Use a little bit more flour or water as needed.

6. Divide the dough into 8 pieces.

7. Roll the pieces into small balls, then flatten into discs about ½-inch thick and 2 ½-inches in diameter.

Assembling the Balls

1. Place 1 tsp. of red bean filling in the center of a piece of dough.

2. Fold in the edges to cover the filling, then roll into a ball.

3. Roll the ball in the sesame seeds until the dough is covered.

4. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot until it reaches 350°F.

6. Fry the sesame balls for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown.

7. Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain.

8. Let the sesame balls cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Layna Lu

This recipe is for those who want to make a quick, easy snack that is still delicious. These pretzels are salty and sweet, as well as easily customizable. You can mix white and dark chocolate together, dip the pretzels into crushed nuts, slather them in Nutella, or dust pretzels with freeze dried strawberries if you are feeling extra fancy. If you want a lot of creative license while making your dessert, this treat is for you!


Prep Time: 140 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Total Time: 140 minutes


- 1 bag of chocolate chips

- 4 tbsp. peanut butter

- 1 large bag of Snyder’s Sourdough Hard Pretzels

- Your choice of toppings


1. Melt a bag of chocolate chips for two minutes in the microwave. Then, add 2-4 tablespoons of peanut butter into the bowl, depending on your preference. The glaze should be the texture of thick fondue. Set it aside.

2. Sort out and discard the broken pretzels.

3. One at a time, use a pincer grip to hold the pretzel by two of its holes and dip into the chocolate-peanut butter glaze. 

4. Lift and shake the excess glaze off the pretzel.

5. Flip the pretzel and dip the other side into the chocolate.

6. Place the fully dipped pretzel on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

7. Refrigerate the dipped pretzels for about an hour. Then, decorate with toppings of your choice, such as crushed candy canes, sprinkles, or a white chocolate drizzle.

8. Refrigerate for another hour until you serve.

Nothing is better than homemade food, especially during the holidays. If you're looking to add new dishes to your repertoire, try making these recipes. Each is highly recommended by Northwestern students and beloved for their taste and personal value.