Hojarascas (Mexican Christmas Cookies)

Hojarascas are cinnamon-flavored Mexican cookies perfect to share during the holidays. Learn how to make them at home with our easy step-by-step recipe.

Mexican Hojarascas cookies with Christmas lights on the background.

Christmas season is coming up and I know you’re as excited as I am. In Mexico, Christmas brings a lot of delicious food, including today’s recipe, which is perfect to share with your family and friends.

About

Hojarascas are made of wheat flour, lard, sugar, and cinnamon. Once baked they are coated with a mixture of fresh ground cinnamon and sugar which gives them their particular look.

These cookies are a must during Christmas for Las Posadas where they are offered along with hot beverages like Ponche Navideño or to bring home nicely wrapped in cellophane bags.

The word “hojarascas” means dry leaves in English and refers to the crunching, and crackling sound the leaves make when you step on them, which is similar to the sound these cookies make when you bite into them.

Close-up of hojarascas cookies.

Traditional Variations

As you can imagine, the hojarascas recipe has different variations that depend on the region or state where they’re prepared:

  • Michoacan: In Patzcuaro, the dough is made with flour, egg yolks, lard, butter, and piloncillo syrup made with cinnamon, cloves, and anise.
  • Nuevo Leon: In this state, the dough for those Christmas cookies is made with corn flour, wheat, sugar, shortening, egg, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. After they’re baked, they’re dipped in cinnamon sugar. 
  • Durango: They are known as Pan de Polvo and are made with an infusion of water, anise star, and cinnamon. They are usually shaped rounded and have a “dusty” texture, hence the name.

Ingredients Needed

  • Flour: I used all-purpose flour, you can swap it with your favorite gluten-free flour mixture if you want.
  • Lard: The traditional recipe uses only pork lard. I decided to use a mix of lard and butter because it makes the cookies a lot more flavorful and gives them the perfect crumbly texture. You can use only one of those ingredients.
  • Sugar: Use regular granulated sugar or substitute it with brown sugar if you want. You will need a bit for the cookies and more for coating.
  • Cinnamon: You will need 2 small sticks of cinnamon, one to make the infused water and the other for the mixture to coat the cookies, you can replace one stick with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder.
  • Whole cloves: For the infusion, this is an optional ingredient, you can leave it out or substitute it with vanilla extract.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt always brings out the flavors when you’re baking and this recipe is no exception. It will make the cookies a little sharper and accentuate the cinnamon and other flavors. 
Hojarascas ingredients displayed with names on a marble surface.

How To Make Hojarascas

Make the cinnamon tea

  1. Place a cup of water in a small saucepan and add 1 cinnamon stick and 1-2 whole cloves.
  2. Bring to a boil, low the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until water has been reduced in half.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the tea to reach room temperature.
Cinnamon and whole cloves infusion in a cup.

Make the dough

Place lard, butter, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer and mix at high speed until you’ll have a fluffy and light mixture (about 5 minutes).

Mixed and fluffy butter in a bowl.

Add flour and ground cinnamon to the bowl then mix at low speed until lightly combined.

Flour and butter combined in a mixing bowl.

Now, change to the flat beater and while running the mixer at low speed, add cinnamon tea one tablespoon at a time until everything is combined into a dough.

Hojarascas dough ready in a bowl.

NOTE: You won’t need all tea, so make sure to not add all at once!

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form a ball. Wrap with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Make the mixture for coating

  1. Place the cinnamon stick in a blender or a spice grinder. Pulse a few times until the cinnamon breaks into small pieces.
  2. Run the blender at high speed for 15-20 seconds at a time until most of it is powdered but there are still some large pieces.
  3. Place the ground cinnamon in a small bowl, add 3/4 cup of sugar, and mix to combine. Set aside.
Cinnamon mixture preparation collage.

Make the Christmas cookies

Preheat the oven to 360°F/180°C and prepare a cookie baking sheet with parchment paper or butter.

Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a floured surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll the dough into a thick sheet.

Rolling the hojarascas dough with a rolling pin  on a kitchen surface.

Cut the cookies with the shapes you prefer. I am using here a star cookie cutter but you can use any shape you prefer, like hearts, flowers, etc.

The hojarascas dough cut into stars with other cookie cutter shapes on the side.

Gather the scraps, roll them and cut out more cookies until all dough is used. Then transfer the raw cookies to the prepared cookie sheet.

Hojarascas cookies on a baking sheet before baking.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until you’ll see the edges gets a bit browned. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Carefully transfer small batches of cookies to the bowl with the cinnamon sugar mixture and coat on both sides until nicely covered.

Hojarascas cookies on a plate with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Place the cookies on a wire rack and allow them to cool down completely before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • You can make this recipe by hand, just make sure the butter and lard are nicely softened, and then use a normal hand mixer.
  • Make sure lard and butter are a bit softened before mixing with sugar.
  • Be careful when handling the cookies before they cool down as they’re very fragile.

Gift Them

Hojarascas cookies are the perfect holiday treat for family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. There are many ways for wrapping cookies for gifts, here are a few ideas:

  • Cellophane bags with festive ribbons.
  • Jars. Those 16 oz mason jars are perfect for this purpose!
  • Cookie tins.
  • Paper bags with a nice personalized tag.
Mexican Hojarascas cookies piled and Christmas lights on the background.

How To Store

Hojarascas cookies can be stored in a dry airtight container for up to 1 week. Or you can freeze them for up to 2 months in resealable bags.

You can also roll the dough, cut the cookies, and place them in the freezer for 1-2 hours, then transfer them to a bag and return them to the freezer where they will last for up to 3 months.

When ready, you don’t need to thaw them, just bake 1-2 minutes more than the recipe calls.

More Mexican Cookies Recipes

Hojarascas recipe.

Mexican Hojarascas Recipe

author Maricruz
50 cookies
Mexican hojarascas cookies are crumbly, nicely flavored with cinnamon, and perfect for gifting your family and friends in the holidays. Learn how to make this easy recipe!
prep 20 minutes
cook 15 minutes
Resting time 10 minutes
total 45 minutes

Equipment

  • cookie cutters stars, hearts, flowers, etc.
  • baking sheet
  • stand mixer

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup pork lard (optional, you can double amount of butter)
  • cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water (final 3-4 cucharadas de infusion)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 whole cloves
  • pinch salt

For coating

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

Instructions
 

  • Place water in a small saucepan and add 1 cinnamon stick and whole cloves.
  • Bring to a boil, low the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until water has been reduced in half.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the tea to reach room temperature.

Make the dough

  • Place lard, butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl. Mix at high speed until you’ll have a fluffy and light mixture (about 5 minutes).
  • Add flour and ground cinnamon to the bowl then mix at low speed until lightly combined.
  • Change to the flat beater and while running the mixer at low speed, add cinnamon tea one tablespoon at a time until everything is combined into a dough. NOTE: You won’t need all tea, so make sure to not add all at once!
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form a ball.
  • Wrap with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Make the mixture for coating

  • Place the cinnamon stick in a blender or a spice grinder.
  • Pulse a few times until the cinnamon breaks into small pieces.
  • Run the blender at high speed for 15-20 seconds at a time until most of it is powdered but there are still some large pieces.
  • Place the ground cinnamon in a small bowl, add 3/4 cup of sugar, and mix to combine. Set aside.

Make the hojarascas cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 360°F/180°C and prepare a cookie baking sheet with parchment paper or butter.
  • Lightly flour a working surface and a rolling pin and roll the dough into a sheet.
  • Cut the cookies with the shapes you prefer (stars, hearts, flowers, etc.) and place them on the baking sheet.
  • Gather the scraps, roll them and cut out more cookies until all dough is used.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes or until slightly browned on the bottom and edges.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully transfer small batches of cookies to the bowl with the cinnamon sugar mixture and coat on both sides until nicely covered.
  • Place the cookies on a wire rack and allow them to cool down completely before serving.

Notes

  • You can make this hojarascas recipe by hand, just make sure the butter and lard are nicely softened, and then use a normal hand mixer.
  • Make sure lard and butter are a bit softened before mixing with sugar.
  • Be careful when handling the cookies before they cool down as they’re very fragile.
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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    They looks so delicious and the recipe is explained perfectly. Thank you! I have all ingredients at home to make hojarascas so I’ll try the recipe today :)