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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!

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies stacked on a small round white plate

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

I saw loads of perfect pinwheel cookies on Pinterest last year. Red and green layers in gorgeous spirals. So festive. As Christmas grew near, I knew I wanted to tackle this recipe.

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 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!
  • 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 with festive ribbons. Attach baking instructions on a coordinating tag and you’re set.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies stacked on a square white plate

Used in This Recipe:

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies photo and text collage

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. The dough squares sliced into four logs before rolling.
  2. The plain dough rolled into a 6 x 7-inch rectangle. Note the pencil markings of dimensions on the back of the parchment paper.
  3.  The plain dough placed over the red dough and rolled into a cylinder.
  4. The dough log rolled in holiday sprinkles. Use a very lightly dampened finger to make the dough tackier in areas where the sprinkles do not stick.
  5. Slicing the chilled log of dough.
  6. Placing the slices on a baking sheet to go into the oven.

Plus More Holiday Cookies You’ll Love:

This post was originally shared in December 21013. Photos and text were updated in 2019.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

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: 106 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 22mg Sodium: 73mg Carbohydrates: 14g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 1g


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76 comments on “Holiday Pinwheel Cookies”

  1. How exciting!

  2. Perfect round-red Perfection!


  3. I just attempted this recipe for the first time and a, in general, pleased. I added a few drops of heavy whipping cream as the dough was crumbly. My aren’t as perfect here but are still yummy. One piece of equipment to use is a carpenters right angle. I measured it all up just about perfectly.

  4. Can these pinwheels be frozen after they’ve been baked and sprinkled?

    • You should be able to freeze them, though I haven’t tested this out. The sprinkles could possibly bleed a bit if any moisture develops when defrosting. Hope you enjoy!

  5. those would delight at any age! so pretty!

  6. Maybe I can do this…..Today I just finished making a Gingerbread Cake Roll with Eggnog filling. It turned out better than I expected and was good enough to share with neighbors here in Anthem Country Club. Will need to read your very clear directions another time or two but think I could pull your Holiday Pinwheel Cookies off. Just beautiful, Liz.

  7. When you bake these, are you baking them with the decoration on the edges? I was curious is they would melt…Your picture seems like they did not melt! I am going to try these cookies this Christmas!

  8. These are so fun and festive! A bit hit for the Christmas cookie platter every year!

  9. this gets me in the mood for Christmas! such a fun recipe i  could make w my girls

  10. Love making these every year- the prettiest holiday cookie!

  11. These are so fun for the holidays! The kids love helping out to make them!

  12. Your pinwheels are so perfect! I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t get mine looking so even, but thanks for the tips to help with that. I’d love to try them – maybe for when my granddaughter comes to visit at Christmas. She loves to bake and cook – and this would be fun to do together.

  13. These are gorgeous!!! Everything you bake always looks so perfect! I am not worthy!

  14. Could these cookies be any more perfect? I don’t th..i…..nk so. You’re an amazing baker. I met Gale Gand at a local food swap, and traded some of my chocolate chip cookies with her. She’s amazing.

  15. Liz, such beautiful cookies! So pretty and so festive! Love how you can slice and bake on short notice.

  16. Such lovely cookies; that’s a simple yet elegant recipe. And while I am not a huge fan of sprinkles, the addition of red and green against white looks so festive. Very nice and neat job!

  17. Absolute cookie perfection! I’ve always thought about making these beautiful cookies, and now I have the perfect recipe. Have a blessed holiday Liz 🙂 Pinned!

  18. It’s cookie season! Well, starting on the day after Thanksgiving. 🙂 Haven’t had pinwheel cookies in ages. And it’s been longer than that since I’ve made any — years and years. These look great. Thanks. And Happy Thanksgiving!

  19. Liz, these cookies are so festive and fun — and I’m sure super tasty! Look like a fun baking process to make them, too. Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂 ~Valentina

  20. These striped pinwheel cookies look absolutely gorgeous, so colorful, so festive and oh, so delicious! The step-by-step pictures are very helful – these cookies can be a bit tricky at first try – years ago I made some chocolate-vanilla-pinwheels, so I know first hand that all the advice you gave will surely be much appreciated!

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