Swirl Sugar Cookies

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Swirl sugar cookies are a cute, easy way to make festive cookies for Christmas or other holidays. Customize colors and sprinkles with an easy dough and you’ll have beautiful cookies to enjoy and share.

red and white swirled sugar cookies on a white plate

It’s not a big secret that I don’t love the decorating aspect of baking. A dusting of powdered sugar, a sweep of frosting with a spatula, and I’m good. Flavor is generally all I’m really worried about. 

Which is why I love creating easy, but still cute desserts like my pumpkin cupcakes or mummy cupcakes for Halloween. So easy! These Santa swirl sugar cookies are my latest addition to the blog.

I LOVE them because instead of filling a piping bag and trying to pretend I’ve got the skills of a food network decorator, they come straight out of the oven, already cute. 

Bonus is they’re really easy too. I’ve got all the tips, tricks, and tools you’ll need to whip up a batch whenever you’re ready. Heck, even though I made them Christmas swirl cookies, you could easily change the colors and sprinkles for whatever holiday or event you like.

Supplies for Swirl Sugar Cookies

There are a few things I definitely recommend if you want to make Christmas pinwheel cookies as easy as possible. 

  • Sugar Cookie Dough – I’m not gonna tell you not to use premade dough, it will certainly work, but I’m using a half batch of my Crisco Sugar Cookies, which is my go-to recipe for all things sugar cookies all year long. 
  • Food Coloring – I highly recommend either a high-intensity dye or gel food coloring rather than the standard easter egg dye. They require less to color the dough well, which means the texture of the cookies are less likely to be affected. (I used 8 drops of the high intensity to get the red I liked)
  • Slipmats or parchment paper – It’s much easier to layer the colors if you use a movable, nonstick surface. I used my large baking mat and a small silicone mat to sandwich the two colors together. 
  • Sprinkles – in order to make perfect spiral cookies with sprinkles, you’ll need to get yourself some festive non-pareils in whatever colors and shapes you like. The smaller they are, the easier slicing will be. Use Christmas colors, rainbow sprinkles, or whatever color you like!

In addition to these four essentials, you’ll also want to get out your rolling pin, a long rimmed bowl or pan (a rimmed baking sheet will do), a cutting board, sharp knife, and cling film (I use this compostable kind).

swirl sugar cookies process steps
These are supposed to be easy (and fun) don’t get worked up if they’re a little oval, or imperfect. They’ll be adorable anyway!

  Baking Tips

You can get the step-by-step directions in the recipe card below but I wanted to share some key tips for making your swirl sugar cookies perfect every time. 

  • Split your dough in half by weight using a kitchen scale to help make sure your layers will be the same size. 
  • Work the dyes by hand. I would avoid the mixer. It might be easier, but you’ll be working the dough too much and that can lead to dry, poor tasting cookies.
  • Roll tightly, using parchment or cling film to help it move without cracking. 
  • Wrap it in cling film and shape into an even circle, then chill for at least 1 hour. The longer you spend on this step, the more likely yours will be circles. (I got impatient.)
  • Roll it in sprinkles after you chill it, they’ll come off when you unwrap it anyway. 
  • Slice into ¼” to ½” slices. Too much larger and they’ll crisp before being baked in the center, too thin and you’ll have crunchy cookies. 

For my christmas swirl cookies, it took 8 minutes at 350°F to get a perfect soft cookie. If you use a store bought or different dough than I did, it may need adjusting. 

Sugar cookies are done when the middle no longer looks wet in the middle, and before the edges turn brown. Let them cool for just a few minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack to keep them soft.

red and white swirled sugar cookies

FAQ’S

I’ve tried to answer any question that a home baker might have about this recipe. If I missed yours, feel free to ask in the comments!

Can I use different colors to make swirl sugar cookies?

Yes of course, you can use whatever color you like. Using half regular sugar cookie dough and half colored dough is an easy way to create a swirl, but you could split it into thirds to create more colors.

How do I make rainbow swirl cookies?

Making a true rainbow, with all the colors, would require thin layers of dough. First separate your dough into 7 parts and work the dyes into them. Then layer them the same way you would 2 colors. concentrated or gel dyes are highly recommended for this kind of project especially – traditional dyes can affect flavor when used in high amounts.

Whether you decide to make santa sugar swirl cookies or gorgeous pinwheels for other events, this is an easy way to have a decorated, presentable dessert that doesn’t take a ton of extra effort. I hope you love them, and be sure to check out my other cookie recipes on the blog!

a swirled sugar cookie

Swirl Sugar Cookies

Print Recipe
Colored sugar cookie dough rolled, dipped in sprinkles, and sliced for an easy festive cookie.
Prep Time:25 mins
Cook Time:8 mins
Chill time:1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1 batch Sugar cookie dough*
  • 8 drops concentrated food dye*
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles

Instructions

  • Divide dough in half and add coloring to one half.
  • Work the dough gently until the color is even.
  • Roll dough out into a thin 8×11 rectangle on parchment paper or a silicone mat. Repeat with the second dough.
  • Sandwich them together and use the edge of your mat or parchment paper to roll it up tightly along the short edge.
  • Wrap dough in cling film and roll on a firm flat surface to make it into an even, round log.
  • Chill for 1 hour.
  • After that remove the cling film and arrange the sprinkles on a rimmed sheet or pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Roll the log gently in the sprinkles.
  • Slice into thin slices, around 1/4" thick and arrange on a baking sheet 1/2" apart.
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes, just until the middles don't look wet. Don't bake until the edges are brown or they'll be crunchy when cooled.
  • Let cool on sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.

Notes

* I used my Crisco sugar cookies, half a batch, to make this. You can use dough of choice, but the yield of dough will be different. 
*I recommend gel or concentrated dyes, normal food coloring requires a lot to get good color, and can affect the flavor and texture of the dough.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 9kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 1mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked goods, baking, cookies, dessert, sugar cookies
Servings: 18 cookies
Calories: 9kcal
Author: Mikayla M

Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.

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