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.
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!
By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, your kitchen will be piled high with bowls and baking sheets, 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 Cookies
But let’s get back to this recipe for Christmas pinwheel cookies! There are some Christmas cookies that look impressive, but are a little bit lacking in the flavor department, but 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!)
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Unsalted butter – Don’t substitute salted butter! Using unsalted allows you to control the flavor of the cookie.
- Granulated sugar
- Pure vanilla extract
- Almond extract – Almond extract is so under-rated for baking!
- Red food coloring
- Green food coloring
How to Make Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
1. 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 and vanilla.
2. Add the Dry Ingredients
In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, beating until combined.
3. Color the Dough
Divide the dough into three portions; leave one in the mixing bowl, then place the other two portions in two other bowls. Use food coloring to tint one portion red, one portion green, and leave one portion plain.
4. Roll Out the Dough
Roll out each portion of dough between waxed paper, forming three 9×6-inch rectangles. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
5. 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, then refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm.
6. 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 into 1/4-inch slices and place them 1-inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, then carefully transfer the Christmas pinwheel cookies to wire racks to cool.
What are pinwheel cookies made of?
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!
How much food coloring do you put in cookies?
It depends on the type of food coloring you use, and the depth of color you want. I always recommend being conservative to start, then adding more if needed. You can always add more, but you can’t undo adding too much!
Can Christmas pinwheel cookies be made ahead?
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.
How to Store
Store Christmas pinwheel cookies in an airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
More Christmas Cookies and Treats to Try
- No-Bake Christmas Crunch Cookies
- Christmas Crack Saltine Cracker Toffee
- Cream Cheese Mints
- Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies
- Christmas Ooey Gooey Butter Cookies
Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 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
- 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 and vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into creamed mixture.
- Divide dough into three portions. Tint one portion red and one portion green and leave one portion plain.
- 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.