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10 Fun Facts About Holiday Desserts

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

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Infographic by Joyce Rice


(Want more Christmas recipes and tips? Check out our big Yummly Christmas page!)


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

Click on the image to get a closer look at the fun facts


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

Yummly Original

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  

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

Yummly Original

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  

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

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 December online shopping carts than any other spice. You know about using cinnamon in snickerdoodles and cinnamon rolls, but have you tried bizcochitos?

Southwestern Bizcochitos

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

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

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

Yummly Original

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

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

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

Yummly Original

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.

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