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Classic Holly Wreath Cookies

Do you remember making the classic holly wreath cookies as a child? This was always one of my favorite Christmas treats.

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Holly wreath cookie with m and ms.

I’m a little late with this particular recipe, but I’d really had no intentions of sharing it. This isn’t because it’s a special recipe, nor because I didn’t want to share it.

I simply thought that everyone had this recipe already and that it was something everyone did on a regular basis.

When I told my husband what the wee ones and I were planning to make for Santa’s cookies, he gave me a blank look. He had no idea what I was talking about with holly cookies.

When I described them to him, he confirmed that he’d never had them nor seen them before. That was when I decided that I needed to make sure everyone was aware of these easy, yummy, fun cookies.

Are holly wreath cookies gluten free?

The only potential gluten is the corn flakes, as most brands make it with malt, which is a gluten derivative. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are not gluten free for this reason.

While many of the Aldi cereals are gluten free (their rice cereal, for example), their corn flakes are not gluten free as they also contain malt. If you do not react to malt, then you are set.

Nature’s Path Corn Flakes are gluten free, and while I usually use the traditional version, the honey’d version works, too.

Barbara’s also offers gluten free corn flakes, and Nestle also makes a gluten free corn flake cereal that is probably one of my favorites.

What size marshmallows should I use for holly cookies?

You can use either full size or mini marshmallows to make holly wreath cookies. However, I prefer to use the full size marshmallows.

I find that they melt better than the smaller marshmallows. It’s also easier for me to count 30 marshmallows than to weigh the small ones.

If you go by weight, you want eight ounces of marshmallows.

What kind of butter should I use for baking?

Use unsalted butter. Always use unsalted butter for baking.

Salted butter varies the amount of salt by brand, so you can’t easily know how much you need to have, so just stick with unsalted butter.

And yes, recipes are designed for unsalted butter for this reason.

What candy do I use for the flower in classic holly cookies?

Traditionally, holly cookies used red hots, but I don’t like them. And I don’t think cinnamon and marshmallow go that well together.

Instead, I use red M&Ms. And yes, that means that I need to pick out all the red ones from my big jar, but that’s ok with me.

Bowl with all red m and ms.

Just make sure you place them M side down for aesthetics.

Or use the traditional red hots if you prefer.

How to Make Classic Holly Cookies

Put the butter and marshmallows into a heavy pot and heat on medium low, stirring occasionally until they’re all melted and combined. Remove them from the heat.

Butter and marshmallows melted together in a pot.

Add the green food coloring and vanilla. You’ll want to make it a bit darker than you think, as it will look much lighter once it’s thinned out amongst the corn flakes.

I now use the food coloring gel versus the drops I grew up with. I find that they make better end colors and also are less messy.

Green melted marshmallows in a pot.

Add in the corn flakes and very, very gently stir them together. If you do it like you’re folding in eggs, you’ll break fewer flakes which is really the goal.

Corn flakes covered in green marshmallow goo.

Very quickly, you’ll want to use a spoon to scoop out the mixture to make small “wreaths” and place them on waxed paper (or in my case, a silpat).

Spoon holding a serving of green marshmallow covered corn flakes.

Only create three or so cookies at a time so the mixture doesn’t cool off too quickly or it won’t hold onto the red candies well.

If you want to make a wreath shape, use a chopstick. You simply need to shape it from the center out, pushing the sides with the chopstick.

Chopstick shaping a holly wreath.

Alternatively, you can leave them in a rough leaf shape, which is how my mom always made them.

Classic holly wreath cookies on a wooden board.

Again, working quickly, place the M&Ms (or red hots) on top of the wreaths to make the holly berries. If you let the mixture cool before putting in the M&Ms, they won’t stick.

If you’re doing it, you’ll want to make sure the M on the M&Ms are facing down. If you’re letting small children do this, trust me when I say that explaining this concept just doesn’t work.

Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container on the counter for up to a week. Be sure to place wax paper between the layers to keep the cookies from sticking to each other.

Save this classic holly cookie recipe to make again!

Need more Christmas cookie ideas? Try these:

Classic holly wreath cookies on a wooden board.

Holly Wreath Cookies

Yield: 30 cookies
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

I am SURE you grew up eating these yummy marshmallow treats. If it's been awhile, you need to make these holly cookies stat!


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 30 full size marshmallows
  • 7-10 drops green food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 cups corn flakes
  • 60 red M&Ms


  1. Gently melt butter and marshmallows in a heavy pot, stirring periodically.
  2. Once melted, stir in green food coloring and vanilla.
  3. Immediately add corn flakes and gently stir until coated with marshmallow mixture.
  4. Use a soup spoon to add 2-3 dollops of mixture to parchment paper or a silat at a time. Immediately shape the way you want it to look.
  5. Add M&Ms after you shape each one. Repeat until you have used all the corn flake mixture.


  • To make wreath shapes, use chopsticks as the sticky mixture won't stick to them.
  • Traditionally, holly cookies got made with cinnamon red hots. I like them with M&Ms instead, but feel free to go with the original if you prefer.
  • For more tips and hints, please see the full article.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 537Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 92mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 3gSugar: 66gProtein: 5g

This site uses an outside source to provide nutrition as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Did you make this recipe?

Please rate the recipe above and save it on Pinterest so you can find it to make again and again. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about it, too!

Overhead of a singly holly wreath with text holly wreath cookies.

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  1. Michelle says:

    Angela – They are great… and long gone in our house! And what, you’ve only found 473 recipes out of the 476 that were submitted? What’s up with that? 😉

  2. Angela says:

    THey look great, Michelle! Hubby loves anything with marshmallow so I will have to try’ em. (Right after I get done with the 473 recipes I’ve already found to try in the new cookbook, LOL!)

  3. Michelle says:

    Smoochiefrog – True… but ummm with them, they’re just focused on trying to get this complete before the marshmallow gets too cool and hard 🙂 I may try that next time though.

    Bev – Definitely try it with your children. They’re way fun, and I love the recipes that the kids can really get into from counting the marshmallows putting them into the pot to putting in the food coloring drops, etc. Good luck!

    Jeff – Apparently this must be a MN thing since no one else has heard of them… And I *love* your idea to fool people 😉

    Cookie – They’re great. Except we can’t make them anymore… at least not like this. But that’s a story for a different day!

  4. Cookie says:

    I’ve never seen those before. What a great idea 🙂

  5. Jeff says:

    Yum! We always made them with the red hots but the m&ms sound good too.

    I say leave the “m” facing up. You can tell people that stands for Merry Christmas! 😉

  6. Beverly says:

    These look yummy and fun! I had never seen them, either. I’m copying the recipe to try with my children.

    Thanks for sharing.


  7. Smoochiefrog says:

    A way to keep the M’s down would be to tell your bakers helpers that letters don’t belong on these cookies and that all letters must disappear! I don’t know if that would work with your kidlets, but it’s worth a shot. 🙂

    They look quite hollyish and tasty! 🙂

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