These Christmas Pinwheel Cookies might just be the most festive cookies you’ll make this holiday season! Three colors of buttery dough are rolled up into a log, revealing a colorful pinwheel inside when sliced and baked.
Pin this recipe now to save it for laterPin Recipe
Can you believe it’s already Christmas cookie season? If you’re like me, you’re probably visiting all your favorite food blogs right about now, pinning all the cookie recipes you want to make this year—and these Christmas pinwheel cookies should definitely make the list! (Don’t skip my Waffle Cookies, either!)
By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, your kitchen will be piled high with bowls and baking sheets, and you’ll have flour in your hair and bits of dough stuck to your sweater. But, dang it, you’ll also have heaps of cookies for sharing with friends and family!
(You’ll probably swear you won’t make so many cookies next year, but let’s be real. You’ll do it all over again next Christmas because that’s what the holidays are all about!)
Festive Christmas Pinwheel Cookie Recipe
But let’s get back to this recipe for Christmas pinwheel cookies! Some Christmas cookies look impressive but are a little bit lacking in the flavor department. Luckily, these cookies deliver on both fronts. They’re so pretty on a tray of Christmas cookies, but they also taste amazing! The secret is a splash of almond extract, which adds a lovely aroma and flavor to complement the vanilla.
The other secret? Butter. It makes these Christmas pinwheel cookies rich and, well, buttery. Make sure you take your butter out before you’re ready to start baking so it can sit on the counter at room temperature to soften up a bit. It shouldn’t be cold, but it shouldn’t be warm either—butter that’s too soft will result in flat cookies. (Here are some more tips on how to make cookies!)
Ingredients For Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
See recipe card below this post for ingredient qualities and full instructions.
- All-purpose flour – If needed, use a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour blend to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter – Don’t substitute salted butter! Using unsalted allows you to control the flavor of the cookie.
- Granulated sugar
- Large Egg
- Pure vanilla extract
- Almond extract – Almond extract is so underrated for baking!
- Red food coloring
- Green food coloring
How to Make Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
- Mix the wet ingredients: Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until it’s light and fluffy. Then, beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract.
- Add the dry ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, beating until combined.
- Color the Dough: Divide the dough into three portions. Leave one portion in the mixing bowl, and place the other two portions in two separate bowls. Use food coloring to tint one portion red, one portion green, and leave one portion plain.
- Roll out the cookie dough: Roll out each portion of dough between waxed paper, forming three 9×6-inch rectangles. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- Form a dough log: Remove the waxed paper, and layer the dough with red on the bottom, followed by white, and then green. Roll the dough tightly jelly-roll style, starting with the long side, to form a log. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
- Slice and bake: Preheat your oven to 375°F. While the oven heats up, unwrap the dough, and place it on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 1/4-inch slices, and transfer the pieces to ungreased baking sheets, leaving roughly 1 inch of space in between. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the edges are set, and carefully transfer the Christmas pinwheel cookies to wire racks to cool.
Make sure your knife is sharp before you start cutting the cookies. A dull knife will pack the cookies down as you cut them.
How To Store Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
Store baked Christmas pinwheel cookies in an airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Or, prepare in advance, and store the unbaked cookie dough wrapped tightly with plastic wrap in a sealable bag. It will stay fresh in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Allow the dough to thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, slice and bake as the recipe card states.
Pinwheel cookies are made with a buttery sugar cookie dough. Usually, it’s flavored only with vanilla extract, but I like adding almond extract too for something different!
It depends on the type of food coloring you use, and the depth of color you want. I always recommend being conservative to start, and adding more if needed. You can always add more, but you can’t undo adding too much!
Yes, just like with classic shortbread, you can prepare the dough for these cookies and keep it in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator. Then, slice and bake according to the recipe instructions.
Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
- Mixing bowls
- Baking sheets
- Hand mixer
- Measure Cups
- measuring spoons
- 1 1/2 sticks 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring
- 1/4 teaspoon green food coloring
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond extract.1 1/2 sticks, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into creamed mixture.2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Divide dough into three portions. Tint one portion red and one portion green and leave one portion plain.1/4 teaspoon red food coloring, 1/4 teaspoon green food coloring
- Roll out each portion between waxed paper into a 9×6-in. rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove waxed paper. Layer the dough in order of red, white, and then green.
- Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 375°. Unwrap and cut pinwheel and checkerboard dough into 1/4-in. slices. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.