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Holiday Pinwheel Cookies stacked on a square white plate

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

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These sweet, buttery Holiday Pinwheel Cookies are a fun Christmas cookie to add to your baking list! So festive decked in red and green!

A festive, out of the ordinary Christmas Cookie Recipe will make your holiday treats stand out! These may take a little more work, but your effort will be repaid in rave reviews!!

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies stacked on a small round white plate

Why You Should Make These Slice and Bake Cookies

  • I saw loads of perfect pinwheel cookies on Pinterest last year. Red and green layers in gorgeous spirals. So festive. This is a recipe that is made to impress!!
  • I turned to dessert guru, Gale Gand, and tweaked her vanilla and chocolate pinwheels into these holiday pinwheel cookies. Pretty nice, eh? And the cool part is that you can store rolls of these in your freezer to slice and bake as the need arises.
  • Holiday Pinwheels are perfect for gift giving. I also love this date version or these festive cranberry pecan numbers! There’s a little time involved with rolling and chilling, but the results are worth the effort!
Holiday Pinwheel Cookies on a narrow white ceramic tray

Tips and Tricks for Making Holiday Pinwheel Cookies:

  • After the dough is mixed, use a kitchen scale to divide it evenly in half.
  • One half will stay white and the other will be colored with red gel food coloring. It will take much more food coloring than you’d use for the frosting to get a deep enough color for a red dough.
  • I have a clear plastic ruler which I kept near the dough as I rolled it to help with the measurements.
  • When it was time to roll the strips of dough into 6 x 7-inch rectangles, I used a piece of parchment to mark the same dimensions on the back to aid with the process.
  • Since a plain rectangle of dough is stacked on a red rectangle of dough to roll the pinwheel log, it’s important they’re of similar sizes. Use the ruler and a knife to trim off any excess dough as needed.
  • Keeping the dough cold is imperative.   It will slice better and won’t squish into oblong shapes instead of nice circles. And if your log has a flat side due to its resting time in the fridge, just re-roll it into a perfect cylinder before slicing. These holiday pinwheel cookies are guaranteed to impress!
  • Well-wrapped cylinders of pinwheel dough will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight, then slice and bake.
  • Tip of the Day: Rolls of this frozen cookie dough would make great holiday gifts. Just wrap the frozen logs in parchment paper, twist the ends, and secure them with festive ribbons. Attach baking instructions on a coordinating tag and you’re set.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies stacked on a square white plate

How to Make Holiday Pinwheels

Here are a few shots showing the procedure to roll and cut these pinwheel cookies.

6 process shots of holiday pinwheel cookies
  1. Cut the dough squares into four logs before rolling.
  2. Roll the plain dough into a 6 x 7-inch rectangle. Note the pencil markings of dimensions on the back of the parchment paper.
  3.  Place the plain dough over the red dough and Roll into a cylinder.
  4. Roll the dough log in holiday sprinkles. Use a very lightly dampened finger to make the dough tackier in areas where the sprinkles do not stick.
  5. Slice the chilled log of dough into cookie dough rounds.
  6. Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  7. Bake as directed.

Plus More Holiday Cookies You’ll Love:

This post was originally shared in December 2013. Photos and text were updated in 2019.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies stacked on a small round white plate

The Recipe: Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

Buttery holiday cookies adapted from Gale Gand

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 41 minutes
Yield 80 cookies


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Red food coloring paste
  • Colored sugar or sprinkles of your choice


  1. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and beat on low just until combined.
  2. Divide dough in half (I used a scale). Form 1 half into 4- by 4-inch square, wrap in plastic wrap, and set aside. Return the other half of the dough to the mixer and keep adding red food coloring till you reach the desired color. Form into 4- by 4-inch square and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate both squares of dough 30 minutes.
  3. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut each dough square into 4 strips. Place 3 strips of the red dough and 4 strips of vanilla dough on baking sheet and refrigerate. On lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out a strip of red dough into 6- by 7-inch rectangle (use a ruler to make sure dimensions are exact). Remove 1 strip of vanilla dough from refrigerator and, on another lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out into 6- by 7-inch square. Carefully place one dough sheet (using parchment to flip) on top of the other piece aligning all the edges. Run rolling pin lightly over doughs to adhere. Using parchment to assist with rolling, tightly roll up dough into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Repeat with remaining strips of dough to form 4 logs.
  4. Refrigerate logs 1 hour, then remove from refrigerator and roll each log on the counter several times to prevent the bottom from flattening. Roll in sprinkles of colored sugar. Rewrap. Refrigerate 3 hours more or till very firm.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°and line two baking sheets with parchment. Using a knife, slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until vanilla dough is slightly golden, 9 to 11 minutes.


Total time: 4+ hours, including chilling time

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

2 cookies

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 73mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g


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78 comments on “Holiday Pinwheel Cookies”

  1. They look so cute, Liz, perfect for holidays. My niece would absolutely love if I made them 🙂

  2. LOVE these…adorable!! I’ve always wanted to make pinwheel cookies!!

  3. These are so gorgeous and perfect! Mine will never be as gorgeous as yours!

    Happy day #1!

  4. Great gift tip—I love the idea of giving away rolled dough. You could do the whole thing up right and gift it with a metal spatula or even a baking sheet (or parchment paper). 🙂

    I am into all sort of pumpkiny things now so I would definitely use the giveaway to puree pumpkin!

  5. These are so festive! I’ve never made pinwheels before, but I really want to give them a try.

  6. Very pretty Liz! I love the idea of cookie dough as gifts, so nice to slice and bake on a snowy day in January:@)

  7. Liz, I never thought to hand out frozen cookie logs–genius! These look absolutely perfect.

  8. These cookies look so pretty and festive Liz! I love the pink and swirls in here – these would definitely make great holiday gifts and brighten up any cookie platter 🙂

  9. very pretty I love making pinwheels its my favorite recipe cookie for the trays so festive going to have to try your version. I never thought to roll the end in anything.. great ideas thanks Liz!

  10. Liz these are absolutely gorgeous cookies. Sheer perfection. Nobody bakes a cookie quite like you. You are the cookie queen. Thanks for joining us for Christmas Week again. You know I LOVE working with you on things like this. Now hand me a cookie woman.

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