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Fruitcake Cookies

When you don’t have time for a full fruitcake, these cookies keep things festive.

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I’ve never actually made fruitcake. I’ve had fruitcake, certainly, but I’ve never actually made it even though I mean to every year. And you know why? Because you have to soak that stuff for months so if you haven’t set a calendar reminder for early October, you’ve kind of missed the boat. But do you know what you can make anytime on a whim during the holiday season and still approximate the fruitcake experience? That’s right — Fruitcake Cookies. They’re easy, they’re delicious, and they’re so very festive.

These are really a very simple drop cookie with no chilling, rolling, or shaping required. (And, no, no soaking either.) You start by creaming together butter and sugar, like you’d do with most cookies, but in this case it’s all brown sugar. Creaming butter and sugar is basically a process in which you’re breaking down the sugar crystals to create air pockets in the butter, which in turn puffs your cake or cookie into a nice light texture. You want to keep beating until your mixture is light in color and fluffy, this will take at least three minutes.

Then you get to add egg, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and the like. The only out of the ordinary thing so far is rum or rum extract. You technically can skip it if you don’t have it — it won’t affect the texture of the cookie, but it will change the flavor. And let me tell you, that little dash of booze really makes these feel like fruitcake.

Once the batter is cohesive, it’s time for those fruitcake mix-ins and there are a lot. More than you think will fit, really. There’s chopped dates, candied cherries, candied pineapple, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts.

See? A lot. But fruitcake has a lot in it too. You can find candied cherries at the grocery store and you can opt to go with green or red, or both, like I did.

Scoop them out by the tablespoon and bake for fifteen minutes.

Don’t overbake as you want a soft texture — there’s plenty of contrast thanks to all those nuts and other add-ins.

And then just tuck them into some cookie tins to share or set them out on your most festive platter. They’re good to eat right away! But…

I know, I know I said you didn’t have to soak anything and you don’t, but these cookies are actually even better if you let them sit for a few days before you eat them. Just store them in an airtight container while you exercise some patience — the time helps all those festive flavors really meld.

Yield 3 dozen cookies

10m prep time

15m cook time

Rated 4.4 out of 5
Rated by 5 reviewers
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you're making mealtime meaningful.
100% of the Share to Care sponsor fees fund meals for families in need. Learn More
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum (or 1 teaspoon rum extract)
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dates, finely chopped
  • 4 oz red candied cherries, halved
  • 4 oz candied pineapple, diced
  • 1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg, vanilla, and rum or rum extract and beat to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually beat into creamed mixture.
  5. Stir in dates, candied cherries, pineapple, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts.
  6. Drop by the tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheets and bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes.
  7. These cookies taste best after a few days stored in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.