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Skip the Sweets: 7 Savory Takes on Holiday Treats

savory rugelach on parchment paper
The Wood and Spoon

Sometimes we get a little sugar-saturated around the holidays. Christmas cookies are great, and all, but the endless treacly treats leave us daydreaming about something savory. From Rosemary studded cookies to creamy, dessert cheese, we’ve got all recipes you need to take a break from the sweet.

Savory Rugelach

Regular rugelach already sits somewhere in the land of in-between. It’s not quite a cookie and not quite a pastry. And, with its traditional fruit and nut filling, it’s somewhere between the worlds of sweet and savory too.

We love this particular recipe for its clever use of white chocolate. The overtly sweet version of chocolate isn’t often paired with savory components, but here it plays perfectly with nutty walnuts and earthy goat cheese.

Get the Recipe: The Wood and Spoon Sweet and Savory Rugelach

Dessert Cheese and Chocolate

chocolate and bourbon cheeseboard from Spices in My DNA

We know, cheese and chocolate might seem like an unlikely pairing. But cheese has been served post-feast in European countries for centuries. And, the creamy delicacy goes perfectly with savory, dark chocolate.

Ricotta, Fontina, Brie, and goat cheese all pair well with high-quality chocolate bites. Add in a selection of dried fruits or fresh berries, and you’ll have a dreamy dessert platter.  The best part is that cheese and chocolate go great with one other after-dinner favorite—dessert wine.

Get the Recipe: Spices In My DNA Chocolate and Bourbon Cheeseboard

Rosemary Butter Cookies

Combining herbs with butter is an obvious choice, and herb-filled butter cookies have been a favorite for some time. The original shortbread cookie dates back to the 12th century, and it’s likely we’ve been spiking them with herbs since the beginning.

If you haven’t tried this savory take on the traditionally sweet cookie, we think you’ll be impressed. It’s still on the sweeter side of things, but it’s not a sugar cookie, by any means.

Get the Recipe: Taste of Home Rosemary Butter Cookies

Honey- Habanero Cranberry Sauce with Goat Cheese

Chevre with honey-habenero cranberry sauce
Lauren Sakiyama

Here, a simple log of goat cheese is smothered in a spicy, but fruit-forward, honey-habanero cranberry sauce. It’s like cranberry sauce learned how to throw a fiesta, and the result is as great as that sounds.  Walk the line between sweet and savory by serving this one alongside buttery Ritz crackers. Or, give it a salty dimension with crispy pretzels.

Get the Recipe: Basic Ginger’s Honey and Habanero Cranberry Sauce

Savory Thumbprint Cookies

The typical thumb-print in a thumbprint cookie is made using chocolate. But you can exchange sweet and sugary cocoa for a savory ingredient instead. These parmesan thumbprints are filled with exciting ingredients like balsamic bacon jam. And, they’re bright in color, making them perfect for a holiday gathering.

Get the Recipe: Land O’ Lakes Parmesan Thumbprint Cookies

Stilton Souffles

The Great British Bake Off

Stilton is a very mild blue cheese. It’s creamy and a little earthy, making it perfect for a savory treat. While chocolate souffle is a classic after-dinner option, this cheese-based dish would work well as either a side dish or dessert.

To serve it for dessert, skip the lavash crackers and pour a glass of port instead. The sweet port wine is a beautiful complement to a sophisticated stilton souffle. And together, they make the after-dinner conversations much more enjoyable.

Get the Recipe: The Great British Bakeoff- Paul Hollywood’s Stilton Souffle

 Cardamom and Ginger Biscotti

Biscotti is a classically crunchy biscuit cookie known for being delicious when soaked in tea or coffee. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. And in this variation, we get to see it’s savory side shine.

As a dessert option, serve this spiced biscuit alongside a round of hot toddies. The ginger pairs beautifully with the classic cold-weather cocktail.

Get the Recipe: Food 52 Cardamom and Ginger Biscotti

So if this sugar-laden season is beginning to take its toll, and you just can’t imagine making one more super sweet treat, try one of these savory options instead. Serve them as a snack, or as a final course.  Friends and family will be forever grateful that in a world of sugary sweets, you choose a savory treat!

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »
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