Photo by Isabella Navarro

The button cookeis after they’ve been baked and decorated. The recipe has been in the Navarro family since the 1980s.

Navarro Family Button Cookies

December 9, 2021

With a taste like no other, button cookies are what makes the holiday season such a special treat for me. 

My grandmother, Maria, or Grandma Maria as we call her, always wanted to have her dishes be the best out of everyone else’s. Whether it was a small appetizer or a homemade dish, she made sure to come out on top. 

In 1986, my grandmother was sitting in her apartment with her first cousin, Carmen, and her husband Moses. While she paced around the living room, she looked out the window to the immense buildings and busy lifestyle of Manhattan, New York. She struggled to come up with a dessert to make for an upcoming Christmas party. 

Carmen and Moses attempted to help Grandma Maria think of a festive idea, suggesting casseroles, pie and other traditional sweets, but none of the dishes seemed appealing to her. 

Then it struck my grandmother that she could make the typical holiday cookies, but with a twist. Instead of using chocolate chips or sugar to add to the mixture, she decided to add ginger instead. 

Though the ginger was a creative move, Grandma Maria didn’t think it was enough to outshine the other guests that were attending the party. 

She glanced over to the dining room, where a stash of Christmas materials, used for presents, were placed. The pile consisted of wrapping paper, boxes, glitter and ribbons. 

When she glanced at the ribbons, she turned to Carmen and said ‘I’m going to use the ribbons to tie it through the cookies and make it look like a present’. 

Once the words slipped my grandmother’s mouth, joy filled inside her, knowing the dessert she was about to construct would live on for generations, and also win over the guests at the party. 

The dish became a successful hit when Grandma Maria brought the cookies to the event. Since then, the delicious ginger cookie recipe was passed down to my father and uncle. 

When the cold weather starts to set in and lights are hung around the tree, it marks the official time to bake the cookies. Each year I get more excited to bake them, especially with my sisters. 

While mixing the rich ginger and sweet sugar into the mixing bowl, ‘All I Want For Christmas’ by Mariah Carey is the main song we play while we bake. 

The light-weight dough evens out to make perfect circles and holes for the ribbons. 

When the cookies are perfected after being placed in the oven, I tend to use the ribbons for decoration. Once the cookies are displayed for everyone to see, I take the ribbons out and take a bite of the ginger flavored cookie. 

The cookies draw you in as you take a bite of the warmness that fills it. When you take a bite of the cookies, a soft texture dissolves in your mouth with ginger lingering. Once you eat one of the cookies, there’s no stopping from there.  

The smell of ginger roams through the house as the cookies bake. Especially after the baking process, the house begins to smell like a Christmas vacation in the mountains. 

Thanks to my grandmother’s creativity, these ginger button cookies are what bonds my family together. 



1 ¾ cup flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

⅓ cup sugar

¾ cup butter

1 tsp milk


½ cup of ginger



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add flour, cornstarch, ginger and sugar into a large bowl. Make a soft mixture. 

Stir the milk using a spoon, then bring mixture together with your hands to make a dough. 

Lightly flour the rolling pin, and start rolling the dough. 

Use the round cutter to make the dough circular. 

Make 4 holes in each cookie with a skewer. Make sure the holes are big enough to pull the ribbon through successfully. 

Bake the cookies in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool for about 5 minutes. When cool enough, thread the ribbons through the holes and tie the ends to make a bow. 


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