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No Who down in Who-ville can resist the mesmerizing swirls of Christmas Pinwheel Cookies rolled in nonpareil sprinkles for an extra festive touch! These swirly treats are sure to be the talk of your next cookie exchange!

Be sure not to miss any of my Christmas cookies recipes! If you love these pinwheel cookies, you might also want to try my chocolate crinkle cookies, and Mexican wedding cookies as well!

An image of Christmas pinwheel cookies on a plate with a glass of milk.

Pinwheel cookies can be enjoyed any time of the year and can be colored with any color you like to match the season or occasion.

But we think they are especially perfect at Christmas because they look just like something from the imagination of Dr. Seuss. I can just imagine these pinwheel cookies in a Who-ville bakery window display case!

While these are essentially just a sugar cookie, they are delightfully fun to make and less work than cutting out and decorating individual cookies.

You just make one dough, then divide it into thirds and color two of them. After rolling out each color layer, they get stacked and rolled up cinnamon roll-style to get the swirly look that is characteristic of pinwheel cookies.

An image of a stack of slice-and-bake sugar cookies.

What are Slice-and-Bake Cookies

I love slice-and-bake cookies for the holidays because you make the dough in advance and can leave it chilling in the fridge until you are ready to bake.

Then you just remove the roll of cookie dough and slice off as many cookies as you like, rather than rolling and cutting them out like typical sugar cookies.

Some of my other favorite slice-and-bake cookies are Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies and Double Chocolate Nutella Sandwich Cookies.

An image of slice-and-bake pinwheel cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

How to Make Pinwheel Cookies

Make the Dough

  1. Combine butter and sugars in a mixer and beat well until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the eggs, vanilla, and any flavoring (if desired), scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  3. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

An image of sugar cookie dough in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Color the Dough

  1. Divide the dough into three even sized balls. You could be really precise and weigh them to make sure you get even amounts, but I always just eyeball it.
  2. Return 1/3 of the dough to the mixing bowl and add a few drops of gel food coloring. I like gel food coloring (affiliate link) best because it is more concentrated and you get better color with less of it than with liquid food coloring. Mix the food coloring into the dough, then repeat with another color. Red, green and white are obvious Christmas choices, but you could just divide the dough into two portions and do candy cane pinwheel cookies.
  3. Flatten each ball of dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes or in the fridge for 1 hour.

An image of sugar cookie dough dyed red, green, and white. 

Assemble & Bake

  1. Roll out each disc of dough, one at a time, on a piece of parchment paper to create rectangles that are roughly the same size and shape. Stack the thin layers of dough on top of each other with white in the middle and red and green on the top and bottom. The easiest way to do this is by lifting the parchment paper and flipping it over, then peeling it off the dough and repeating with the next layer.
  2. Trim the long sides so that the edges are even. The shorter ends can be trimmed later after you roll the dough into a log.
  3. Carefully roll the dough into a nice, tight log, using the bottom piece of parchment paper to lift the dough and help you roll it to avoid cracks. Then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours.
  4. Once the dough is chilled, you can slice and bake them as is, or roll in nonpareils on a baking sheet to coat the outside of each cookie. You really have to press the dough into the sprinkles to get them to stick and give good coverage, but because the dough is chilled well, it won’t cause your swirls to get misshapen. At this point, you can slice and bake the cookies, or wrap them up and store them in the fridge for up to 1 week to slice and bake as needed.
  5. When ready to bake your pinwheel cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Unwrap the roll of cookie dough and cut off the uneven ends. Then slice 1/4-inch cookies and space them 1-2 inches apart on the parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set, then cool completely on a wire rack.

An image of three colored layers of sugar cookie dough being rolled up to create pinwheel cookies. An image of a log of sugar cookie dough rolled in holiday nonpareils being sliced into individual cookies. 

How to Store Pinwheel Cookies

Store baked pinwheel cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to 1 week. They also freeze well for up to 3 months. Just let them thaw on the counter for a few hours before serving.

Pinwheel Cookie Flavor Variations

These cookies have a nice, light classic sugar cookie flavor that is buttery and sweet with a hint of vanilla as written. But you can use your favorite extracts to change things up.

I’ve added 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of peppermint, anise, coconut, and rum extracts before with good results, although if I’m being honest, the classic sugar cookie flavor is my favorite.

You could also use fresh lemon zest and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice for lemon flavored pinwheel cookies.

An image of Christmas pinwheel cookies on a festive red and white holiday plate. An image of stacks of pinwheel sugar cookies.

More fun Christmas Cookies

Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
Yield: 30 Cookies

Christmas Pinwheel Cookies

No Who down in Who-ville can resist the mesmerizing swirls of Christmas Pinwheel Cookies rolled in nonpareil sprinkles for an extra festive touch! These swirly treats are sure to be the talk of your next cookie exchange!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Red & green gel food coloring
  • Holiday colored nonpareils
  • Optional: 1/2-1 teaspoon of additional flavoring extracts or lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Combine butter, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar in a mixer and beat well until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the eggs, vanilla, and any flavoring (if desired), scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  3. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Divide the dough into three even sized balls.
  4. Return 1/3 of the dough to the mixing bowl and add a 5-10 drops of red gel food coloring, mixing well until the dough is evenly colored. Repeat with another 1/3 of the dough and the green food coloring.
  5. Flatten each ball of dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes or in the fridge for 1 hour. 
  6. Roll out each disc of dough, one at a time, on a piece of parchment paper to create rectangles that are roughly the same size and shape. Stack the thin layers of dough on top of each other with white in the middle and red and green on the top and bottom. Trim the long sides so that the edges are even. The shorter ends can be trimmed later after you roll the dough into a log.
  7. Carefully roll the dough into a nice, tight log, using the bottom piece of parchment paper to lift the dough and help you roll it to avoid cracks. Then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours. 
  8. Once the dough is chilled, roll in nonpareils on a baking sheet to coat the outside of each cookie. You really have to press the dough into the sprinkles to get them to stick and give good coverage. At this point, you can slice and bake the cookies, or wrap them up and store them in the fridge for up to 1 week to slice and bake as needed.
  9. When ready to bake your pinwheel cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Unwrap the roll of cookie dough and cut off the uneven ends. Then slice into 1/4-inch cookies using a sharp knife and space them 1-2 inches apart on the parchment paper.
  11. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set, then cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 114Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 85mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 2g
This recipe first appeared on The Salty Marshmallow where I am a contributor.