January 19, 2021

10 fun facts about holiday desserts

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From Yummly

What holiday cookie reigns supreme? How about your fruit cake preferences? We dove into Yummly search data to answer these questions and more with this festive infographic about holiday desserts. Discover 10 fun facts — plus some delicious recipes — right here, right now!

Women search for rum balls, but what do guys go for? Yummly’s data team looked at user behavior and found some surprising trends.

By Elaine Johnson From Yummly

10 Fun Facts About Holiday Desserts

Infographic by Joyce Rice

Digging into data could be a dull affair. Not at Yummly. You can learn a lot, it turns out. Take our recent dive into holiday desserts.

We started with some basic questions. Which desserts do Yummly users crave most in December? When does the longing for gingerbread cookies get serious? And what if people secretly adore the brightly colored candied fruits in fruit cake that some make fun of?

In search of answers, my colleague Ruth Rangan, head of content, and I put our virtual heads together with Yummly data whiz Saranyaa VR to ponder and dig deep. There were false starts. We had missed the cheesecake window! (It’s actually more popular with Yummly users at Thanksgiving than Christmas, it turns out.) 

At last, Saranyaa had the data wrangled and ranked. With a pa rum pum pum pum, here’s what December search volume and engagement on the Yummly app and yummly.com reveal about holiday desserts. I’ve included recipes, of course, because you’re going to want to get baking.

An infographic with a Christmas tree with holiday sweets on it and text

1. Sugar cookies rule

Adorable cut-out shapes with all the sprinkles your heart desires: They’re the most-searched holiday dessert in December on Yummly. This Yummly Guided Video Recipe will take you through the recipe step-by-step.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Christmas Sugar Cookies Recipeall purpose flour, food coloring gel and 14 more

Christmas Sugar Cookies by Yummly Add to Meal Planner

2. Women go for rum balls and meringue cookies

Search volume for these two sweets leans female by a big margin. While we couldn’t account for the two treats as a twin set — after all, one is dense and boozy, one melts in the mouth — we agreed they’d be quite delightful together on a holiday cookie tray.

Rum Balls  

Rum Balls Recipefinely chopped pecans, light corn syrup and 5 more

Rum Balls by My Baking Addiction Add to Meal Planner

No baking required, and ready in less than 30 minutes! Those are two big reasons to love rum balls. All you do to make them is combine crushed vanilla wafers, sugar, cocoa, and plenty of rum; shape it into balls; and roll in cocoa or powdered sugar.

Christmas Peppermint Meringue Swirls

Christmas Peppermint Meringue Swirls Recipecream of tartar, sugar, red food coloring gel and 3 more

Christmas Peppermint Meringue Swirls by YummlyAdd to Meal Planner

When we were testing this Yummly original recipe to get all the instructions just right, staffers were known to practically inhale the lighter-than-air treats. They’re that good.

3. Guys search for eggnog cake and eggnog cookies

Rich, creamy, and generously spiced, there’s so much to love about eggnog. Besides drinking it, male users on Yummly go for eggnog desserts big time, it turns out. With whiskey or rum? We’ll leave it to you, gents.

Spiked Eggnog Cake  

Spiked Eggnog Cake Recipegranulated sugar, nutmeg, salt and 18 more

Spiked Eggnog Cake by Liv For CakeAdd to Meal Planner

Layers of rich eggnog cake with rum syrup, cream cheese frosting, and white chocolate ganache add up to one special-occasion dessert.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Eggnog Cookies

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Eggnog Cookies Recipebaking powder, unsalted butter and 14 more

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Eggnog Cookies by Cooking ClassyAdd to Meal Planner

Store-bought eggnog goes into both the soft cookies and creamy icing in these easy treats. The boozy flavor comes from rum extract, rather than from rum, so you can serve the cookies to kids.

4. Cinnamon is number 1

More Yummly users add ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks to their Decemberonline shopping carts than any other spice. You know about using cinnamon insnickerdoodles and cinnamon rolls, but have you tried bizcochitos?

Southwestern Bizcochitos

Southwestern Bizcochitos Recipeflour, vegetable shortening and 13 more

Southwestern Bizcochitos by AllRecipesAdd to Meal Planner

Sweetly spiced with anise seeds in the dough and cinnamon-sugar on the outside, sandy textured bizcochito cookies star on many Southwestern tables at Christmas time. Shortening or lard is traditional, but you can also make them with butter.

5. “No candied fruit” is not the top search for fruit cake 

Plenty of folks seem to love fruit cake, even the kind with neon-colored candied fruit. Classic fruit cake, “no-bake,” and “with condensed milk” all rank higher in search than “no candied fruit.” 

Best Holiday Fruitcake

Best Holiday Fruitcake Recipeall-purpose flour, chopped walnuts and 11 more

Best Holiday Fruitcake by Simply RecipesAdd to Meal Planner

This dense and fruity loaf finds a middle ground on the candied fruit debate, including candied cherries for color but more natural raisins and dates for sweet fruit flavor.

6. Sticky toffee pudding is the most-searched slow-cooker dessert

Set it and forget it while the dates-and-brown sugar batter of sticky toffee pudding simmers to caramel goodness. In December, that’s the reward busy dessert-makers seek.

Slow Cooker Sticky Toffee Pudding

Slow Cooker Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipefirmly packed light brown sugar and 13 more

Slow Cooker Sticky Toffee Pudding by Away From the BoxAdd to Meal Planner

Medjool dates, brown sugar, and molasses give sticky toffee pudding its dreamy rich flavor. Cook the batter on high for 3 hours to create the magic.

7. More cooks call them “snowball cookies” 

You’ve tried them, the round, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth holiday cookies coated in powdered sugar. Did you know the same basic cookie goes by many names? Yummly users search for the term “snowball cookies” most often, followed by Mexican wedding cakes, Russian tea cakes, polvorones, and meltaways.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies Recipeunsalted butter, salt, powdered sugar and 4 more

Mexican Wedding Cookies by YummlyAdd to Meal Planner

The secret to the toastiest, most buttery flavor: Bake the cookies low and slow at 300° until they’re golden on the undersides.

8. Midwesterners search for spritz cookies the most

We know a thing or two at Yummly about cookie preferences across the U.S., so it was no surprise that Midwesterners have a particular love for buttery spritz. You betcha, must be the Scandinavian heritage

Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies Recipevanilla, all purpose flour and 6 more

Spritz Cookies by Southern PlateAdd to Meal Planner

Once you have a spritz cookie press, you can squeeze and go to create lots of cookies in very little time.

If you’ve ever rolled up a cake with buttery icing and decorated it to look like a yule log, you’ll never forget it. Wait, yule log, or bûche de noël? Whatever you call it, the fancy sponge cake with faux bark guarantees gasps at the table.

Yule Log

Yule Log Recipeicing sugar, icing sugar, vanilla extract and 6 more

Yule Log by NigellaAdd to Meal Planner

With some artful scrapes with a skewer and dusting of powdered sugar “snow,” your cocoa cake with dark chocolate icing will look like you brought it in from the forest. 

10. Gingerbread o’clock starts December 18

Searches for molasses-and-spice gingerbread cookies peak on Yummly the week before Christmas.

Classic Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

Classic Holiday Gingerbread Cookies Recipegranulated sugar, unsalted butter and 16 more

Classic Holiday Gingerbread Cookies by YummlyAdd to Meal Planner

Just as the name promises, these are made with molasses and four kinds of spices for the traditional flavor you’re craving.

More fun with holiday infographics

If you’ve enjoyed learning what data can tell us about cooking from Yummly, don’t miss these next two articles.


GO TO ARTICLE The United States of Holiday Cookies

From fruitcake cookies to chocolate saltine toffee, these are the most uniquely popular holiday treats in each state.


RECIPE ROUNDUP Favorite Holiday Cocktails, State by State

White Russian. Peppermint Martini. Jingle Juice! According to Yummly users, these are the best holiday cocktail recipes to make 


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