Friday, December 13, 2013

{Recipe} Biscochitos: Traditional New Mexican Christmas Cookies

There are a few things I really love about December: Extra time with Sean, our national quad family Christmas card exchange ("Look! We're normal!"), and baking up a batch of biscochitos.

Growing up in New Mexico, I certainly ate my fair share of the sugary Christmas cookies that are so well known and loved, but there is another cookie that is distinctly New Mexican, and a tradition in many households: Biscochitos (bis-coe-chee-toes)!

It makes me really happy to share these with you! In fact, this post has been planned for a in, I took all of these photos last Christmas. I still need to make this year's batch, and hope to do that next week. BUT, if I wait that long to share the recipe with you, then you might not have time to make them. So here you go!

This recipe was passed from my aunt, to my mom, to me. My copy is on a piece of paper with a handwritten note at the top that says, "from 'The Best of New Mexico Kitchens.'" I always try to credit sources, so I did a Google search to look for a book with that title. I'm assuming it is this, The Best of New Mexico Kitchens, but I'm not entirely sure.

It's a short ingredients list, and you should have most of it on hand!

 Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, cream the lard (traditionally) or vegetable shortening, sugar, and anise seed.

Let's stop for a minute and talk about anise (a-nees) seed. It isn't as well known as a lot of herbs, but is pretty cheap. Tones is one of the cheapest spice brands, and the smallest containers lasts me a good 3-4 batches of cookies. It has a licorice taste to it, but the flavor is not overwhelming in these cookies. It's really an interesting flavor, so give it a try if you haven't in the past!

Back to the recipe: Then add the eggs to the creamed mixture.

Followed by the brandy....
 ...and the flour mixture.

Mix it up, and it will look like this:

In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together to top the cookies once you roll them out!

Roll your dough out with a rolling pin, and use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. The traditional shape is the fleur-de-lis, but I don't have that cookie cutter, so I used a circle last year and a heart the year before. It's kind of whatever cookie cutter I come across first.

Lay them out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar on top, then bake!

They have a drier texture than sugar Christmas cookies, but are just as delicious! They are also kind of addicting. You've been warned!

Traditional New Mexican Christmas Cookies
This recipe makes a BIG batch!
  • 6 cups Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 cups of Lard (or you can use vegetable shortening)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Granulated Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Anise Seed
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
Sift flour in a bowl with baking powder and salt. Mix well.

Cream lard, 1 1/2 cups of Sugar, and anise seed in a mixture until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add the brandy and flour mixture to the bowl and mix until combined.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. They cookies will be thin! Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.

Place the cookies on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a mixture of 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. They will be lightly browned and delicious!


Do you have a cookie that is part of your Christmas traditions?


  1. These sound really interesting, especially with brandy and anise in them. I wonder if I can make them without egg somehow? And thank you for the phonetic because I could not figure out how to say it :)

  2. My daughter and I just made these :-). We will see my dad for Christmas and your Grandpa is his Uncle Paul. I am hoping that he will enjoy them. I have to say they are much more difficult to make with a non-patient seven year old assist. I will say that they have plenty of cinnamon-sugar mixture on them ( we actually had to make more of that). We halved the recipe and ended up with about 6 dozen cookies. Thank you!

  3. Thank you for posting a traditional New Mexican Biscochito recipe. How did you get it, by the way? I grew up with these cookies and continue to make them for my family. I usually don't use the brandy or wine that some recipes call for. It doesn't change the flavor. Also, congratulations on your blessings and may you continue to enjoy the many blessings they will bring you.

  4. Nice read. I love when I have been anywhere else in the country, they look at me like I am nuts when I mention Biscochitos or Sopapillas. LOL I just tell them it is a New Mexico thing.

    1. How about when you mention Panocha the desert made of wheat flour? Have you had that?

  5. I have a biscochitos recipe I got in an American Girl recipe card and cookie cutter kit when I was little. I remember making a batch and bringing them into school when I was 12. They have always been popular wherever I take them, assuming my family and I can stay out of them! I love them when they are slightly underdone. My brother hates licorice flavor so I omit the anise seeds. Still so tasty!

    --Sarah from Virginia


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