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This recipe makes the most delicious buttery, flaky Rugelach filled with cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins! Rugelach is such a unique, fun treat to make and share during the holidays and is perfect for a cookie exchange!

If you enjoy nutty desserts like this, you might also like my favorite Greek Baklava or Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies

An image of cinnamon walnut rugelach on a wire cooling rack.

I’ve been meaning to make rugelach for years and I’m so glad I finally did! A couple years ago we were at a farmer’s market just outside of Joshua Tree National Park where there was a booth selling a bunch of rugelach varieties like apricot, cinnamon raisin walnut, chocolate, and raspberry.

We bought a few flavors and enjoyed them the rest of the trip, and I’ve wanted to recreate some of them at home ever since.

An image of homemade rugelach with apricot, cinnamon, walnut filling. 

What is rugelach?

Rugelach is a cross between a pastry and a cookie and it is made with a simple dough rolled around a filling. The dough is made with cream cheese, which gives it a really wonderful flavor and texture that contrasts with the sweet fillings.

Rugelach originated in Jewish communities in eastern Europe and I’ve seen it attributed to both Poland and Russia. I’ve heard you can buy it all over in Israel, although I haven’t been there yet.

When I took my DNA test a few years back, my results indicated that I have a small amount of Eastern European Jewish heritage that was previously unknown to me. I’ve been interested in trying more Jewish recipes ever since then. Some of my other favorites are challah bread recipe and slow roasted oven beef brisket.

How to pronounce rugelach

I’ve been trying to figure out the correct pronunciation for rugelach, which is a Yiddish word, and it looks like the two most common are either “RUG-uh-luh” or “ROO-guhl-ekh”.

An image of rugelach cookies on a wire rack.

How to make rugelach

1. Make the rugelach dough: In a large food processor, pulse the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and flour until the dough forms chunks that clump together when you squeeze them, about 30 seconds or so.

2. Chill: Divide the dough into three equal amounts and shape into discs, wrapping each disc in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 60 minutes in the fridge or up to 1 day.

A collage of images showing how to make rugelach dough in a food processor with cream cheese.

3. Make the filling: Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon to food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a separate bowl. Add the apricot preserves to the food processor, if using, and puree.

A collage of images showing how to make rugelach with apricot, walnut, cinnamon, raisin filling.

4. Prep and preheat: When ready to assemble, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Assemble and shape the rugelach: Roll out 1/3 of the rugelach dough at a time on a lightly floured surface to form a 10-inch circle. Brush with 1/3 of the pureed apricot preserves, if using, or brush lightly with water if you opt not to use the preserves.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the filling mixture evenly over the rugelach dough, spreading it all the way to the edges of the circle. Pat down so the filling is somewhat compact.

Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut slice the dough into 12 equally-sized wedges, just like cutting a pizza.

An image of a batch of homemade rugelach dough that is filled and cut into twelve wedges to be rolled up and baked.

Roll up each wedge from the wide end into the center of the dough, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, placing the point-side down. Repeat with the remaining dough, preserves, and filling.

An image showing how to roll up rugelach dough into crescent cookies. An image of rolled rugelach on a baking sheet ready to go in the oven.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rugelach is a golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Some of the filling might ooze out, but it caramelizes the bottom of each piece of rugelach, giving it a wonderful texture. I just break off any unsightly puddles of filling after the baked rugelach have cooled for 10 minutes or so.

7. Serve! The rugelach can be served warm or at room temperature. Store uneaten rugelach in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

I don’t actually think the rugelach needs to be finished with anything else on top, but you could brush the tops with a little cream or milk and sprinkle them with coarse sanding sugar before baking. Or you could dust the cookies with powdered sugar after they have cooled a bit.

An image of cinnamon walnut raisin rugelach on a baking sheet.

Rugelach Fillings

The cinnamon, walnut, raisin filling that I used in this batch of rugelach cookies is the most popular approach, but I’ve had lots of other delicious rugelach with interesting filling ideas.

Chocolate rugelach: In my experience, this is probably the second most popular type of rugelach. It’s made with finely chopped chocolate sprinkled over the rugelach dough and it’s so delicious!

Apricot rugelach: You could skip the cinnamon raisin filling and just use apricot preserves to fill your rugelach. For that matter, I think almost any kind of preserves could work well. 

Cranberry pecan rugelach: You can just the recipe as written below and easily sub in equal amounts of dried cranberries for raisins and pecans for walnuts. Up the flavor even more by adding some orange zest to your filling!

Raspberry rugelach: I’ve seen different approaches from just using raspberry preserves for the filling to mixing raspberry preserves with brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon.

Poppy seed rugelach: I haven’t tried this option, but it certainly looks and sounds delicious! This recipe looks like a good approach.

An image of homemade cinnamon raisin nut rugelach.

How long does rugelach keep?

Rugelach will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to 5 days before it starts tasting stale. I don’t recommend storing it in the fridge.

Can you freeze rugelach?

  • FREEZING OPTION 1: The rugelach dough can be made in advance, then shaped into discs and frozen for 2-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge and let sit out on the counter at room temperature for 20 minutes before using.
  • FREEZING OPTION 2: Alternatively, you could completely make and shape the rugelach and freezer before baking. Transfer to a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. The frozen, unbaked rugelach can be baked without thawing. You may just need to add a few minutes to your bake time in the oven.
  • FREEZING OPTION 3: Fully baked rugelach can be stored in freezer-safe ziploc bags and frozen for up to 2 months, then thawed at room temperature before serving.

 Another image of homemade rugelach cookies. 

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Rugelach
Yield: 36 Rugelach

Rugelach

This recipe makes the most delicious buttery, flaky Rugelach filled with cinnamon and walnuts! Rugelach is such a unique, fun treat to make and share during the holidays and is perfect for a cookie exchange!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large food processor, pulse the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and flour until the dough forms chunks that clump together when you squeeze them, about 30 seconds or so.
  2. Divide the dough into three equal amounts and shape into discs, wrapping each disc in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 60 minutes in the fridge or up to 1 day.
  3. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon to food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a separate bowl.
  4. Add the apricot preserves to the food processor, if using, and puree.
  5. When ready to assemble, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Roll out 1/3 of the rugelach dough at a time on a lightly floured surface to form a 10-inch circle.
  7. Brush with 1/3 of the pureed apricot preserves, if using, or brush lightly with water if you opt not to use the preserves.
  8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the filling mixture evenly over the rugelach dough, spreading it all the way to the edges of the circle. Pat down so the filling is somewhat compact.
  9. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut slice the dough into 12 equally-sized wedges, just like cutting a pizza. Roll up each wedge from the wide end into the center of the dough, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, placing the point-side down.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough, preserves, and filling.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rugelach is a light golden brown. Some of the filling will ooze out, but it caramelizes the bottom of each piece of rugelach, giving it a wonderful texture. I just break off any unsightly puddles of filling after the baked rugelach have cooled for 10 minutes or so.
  12. The rugelach can be served warm or at room temperature. Store uneaten rugelach in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Notes

  • FREEZING OPTION 1: The rugelach dough can be made in advance, then shaped into discs and frozen for 2-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge and let sit out on the counter at room temperature for 20 minutes before using.
  • FREEZING OPTION 2: Alternatively, you could completely make and shape the rugelach and freezer before baking. Transfer to a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. The frozen, unbaked rugelach can be baked without thawing. You may just need to add a few minutes to your bake time in the oven.
  • FREEZING OPTION 3: Fully baked rugelach can be stored in freezer-safe ziploc bags and frozen for up to 2 months, then thawed at room temperature before serving.
  • For the filling, dried cranberries, dried apricots, or other dried fruit can be substituted for the raisins or currants. Pecans or other nuts can be substituted for the walnuts.


Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

36

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 163Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 94mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 2g