If you’re looking to up your holiday cookie game, look no further than these stunning Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies!
This old-fashioned holiday classic might appear difficult, but rest assured, the hardest part of this recipe is the waiting. The recipe comes together with just one simple batch of sugar cookie dough! That’s right — two flavors; one dough. A winning combination for both the taste tester and the baker.
Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies are Christmas dessert perfection; they’re breathtaking on a holiday cookie platter and make for a gorgeous homemade gift idea!
HOW TO MAKE PINWHEEL COOKIES
While it’s true Pinwheel Cookies do indeed require patience, they are not a difficult cookie to make! In fact, if you’ve ever made sugar cookie dough, you’ve made Pinwheel Cookie dough. They are one and the same.
The steps that follow might be new to you, but again, rest assured — it’s not rocket science. Just seriously delicious, gorgeous cookies!
- Make the Cookie Dough
- Divide the Dough and Add Chocolate
- Chill Both Sets of Dough
- Roll Out Into Rectangles
- Stack Rectangles and Roll Into a Log
- Chill the Cookie Log
- Slice and Bake
Above is a brief overview of how these gorgeous cookies come together. Any questions you may have are going to be answered below. Let’s talk cookie details!
1. MAKE THE DOUGH
While it appears there is both a chocolate and a vanilla cookie dough for these swirly delights, the cookie begins with just one dough. Here’s how you make it:
- Mix Dry Ingredients – Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl and set aside.
- Mix Wet Ingredients – In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together. Then, add the egg followed by only half of the half-and-half, as well as the vanilla and mix until combined.
- Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients – Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed. Stop mixing as soon as the dough has formed!
2. DIVIDE THE DOUGH AND ADD CHOCOLATE
At this point the Pinwheel Cookie dough is pure vanilla — now we’re going to make half of it chocolate!
You’ll start by removing half of the dough from the mixing bowl and setting it aside on a floured work surface. Then, you’ll add the remaining half-and-half, as well as the cocoa powder. Mix until the dough appears chocolate and then
Pat each portion of dough into a square and wrap in plastic wrap.
If you want your cookies to stay totally vanilla, see the below instructions entitled Christmas Colored Pinwheel Cookies!
Here is where the patience comes in: You have to chill the dough for Pinwheel Cookies not once, but twice. Wamp, wamp, wamp. Transfer the dough portions to the refrigerator and allow to chill for about one hour, or until firm to the touch.
4. ROLL INTO LARGE RECTANGLES
For this task, you will need four large sheets of parchment paper. Parchment paper is a nonstick paper used often in baking. It is thicker and less flimsy than wax paper and is therefore much better suited for this recipe.
Place the vanilla dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out into a rectangle about 1/4″ in thickness. Repeat this process with the chocolate dough, rolling it out to match both the thickness and size of the vanilla dough.
Now it’s time to bring the vanilla and the chocolate dough together to create that signature Pinwheel Cookie swirl!
Remove the top sheet of parchment paper from both sets of the dough. Carefully transfer the chocolate on top of the vanilla so that the bare sides meet. Gently press to adhere and (once again) remove the [now] top sheet of parchment paper.
Want sprinkles on your cookies? You’ll need to add them now. See the section below entitled How to Decorate Pinwheel Cookies.
With the long side of the dough facing you, tightly roll it into a log, and then, wrap the cookie log in plastic wrap. Make sure you roll it around on the counter a few times so your Pinwheel Cookies have a nice, round shape to them!
Note, you can divide the dough into two logs if desired to make wrapping easier.
6. CHILL (AGAIN)
Transfer the cookie log to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. This step is important and ensures your Pinwheel Cookies will slice clean and beautiful!
7. SLICE AND BAKE
Remove the log from the refrigerator and slice the cookies into scant 1/2″ rounds using a sharp knife.
Place the cookie slices on a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, spacing each one about 1″ apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F.
CHRISTMAS COLORED PINWHEEL COOKIES
If you’re Team Festive Christmas Colors over Team Chocolate when it comes to pinwheel cookies, we’ve got you covered!
How to adjust the recipe:
- Nix the cocoa powder and the last two tablespoons of half-and-half from the recipe.
- Divide the dough as directed, but instead of adding the cocoa powder and half-and-half, add food coloring instead.
- Mix until the food coloring is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
- Then, proceed with the recipe as directed!
We recommend using gel food coloring as the colors will be much more vibrant! But, because the pigment is so strong and vivid, it’s best to add only a 1/4 teaspoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired color!
HOW TO DECORATE PINWHEEL COOKIES
These swirly gems are gorgeous enough on their own, but if you wanted to take them to the next level, a little egg wash and decorative sparkling sugar or nonpareil sprinkles will do the trick!
What you’ll need:
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 3/4 to 1 cup of nonpareils or white sparkling sugar
How to apply the sprinkles:
Once you have your cookies log formed, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the exterior of the log with egg wash.
Add the sprinkles to a rimmed baking sheet and roll the log in the sprinkles until it is coated with sprinkles to your liking. Wrap and refrigerate as directed and proceed with the recipe from there!
HOW TO KEEP PINWHEEL COOKIES ROUND
Slice-and-bake cookies are notorious for having one side that’s not so round. If you’re a stickler for Pinwheel Cookie perfection, there are a few ways you can go about keeping your dough log round.
The first is to turn the cookie log frequently in the fridge. The second is by enlisting either a baguette pan or the cardboard from an empty paper towel roll. If you’d like to use the paper towel hack, just cut the cardboard center in half lengthwise and you’ll end up with two cardboard troughs perfectly sized for your cookie logs!
CAN I MAKE THESE COOKIES IN ADVANCE?
This is an excellent make-ahead cookie recipe! The dough can be made and kept in the refrigerator for up to two days in advance.
You can do this either after the dough has been portioned into squares and wrapped in plastic (the first chill), or after it has been rolled into a log (the second chill). Just make sure the dough is tightly wrapped in plastic to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
You could also break the recipe over the course of two to three days if you’d like! Make the dough on day one, roll it out and form into a log on day two, and bake on day three!
WANT FRESH COOKIES AT MOMENT’S NOTICE?!
Another option is to cut out the cookies and refrigerate or freeze them so they’re ready to bake at a moment’s notice!
To do this, place your cut-out Pinwheel Cookies in a food-safe storage container, separating each layer with a sheet of wax paper. Make sure you put wax paper on the bottom too so the cookies don’t stick to the container! Then, seal and refrigerate for up to two days. You can also freeze the cookies this way for up to 2 months.
HOW TO STORE PINWHEEL COOKIES
Pinwheel Cookies keep extremely well and can be left at room temperature in an airtight container for four to five days. If you’d like to keep them fresh for longer than this, freeze them!
These cookies freeze extremely well. Keep them stored in either an airtight, freezer-safe container or a freezer-safe zip-top bag for up to two months.
8 TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST PINWHEEL COOKIES
- It is very important that your butter is at room temperature when making the cookie dough. Otherwise, your butter and sugar will not cream properly and the texture of the cookie could be negatively affected.
- Be sure not to add all the half-and-half in at one time. You will need a separate portion to make the chocolate dough come together!
- As tempting as it may be to skip one of the “chilling” stages of the recipe, don’t! Not chilling the dough will affect both how the dough rolls out and how the cookies appear once baked!
- Before refrigerating your cookie log, roll it around on the counter a few times to help get it nice and round!
- If you’re adding sprinkles, be sure to do it before the second chill!
- To keep your Pinwheel Cookie swirls extra pretty, take care to [carefully] clean the blade of your knife as needed throughout the cookie slicing process.
- Make sure your oven is properly preheated before your cookies put them in the oven!
- If you like soft cookies, be sure to pull them from the oven as soon as you see the bottom, outer edges tinging golden brown!
5 MORE CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Haystack Cookies
- Red Velvet Cookies
- Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
- Thumbprint Cookies With Jam
Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies comes together with just one simple batch of sugar cookie dough and they are Christmas dessert perfection. They're breathtaking on a holiday cookie party platter and make for a gorgeous homemade gift idea!
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup half and half (divided)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside until ready to use.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and the sugar together on medium-high speed once again until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. If you don't have a stand mixer, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix briefly once again. Add the egg and mix on medium speed until well incorporated. Add only 2 tablespoons of the half and half, along with the vanilla extract, and mix once more.
With the mixer on low, gradually add in all of the flour. Stop mixing as soon as the dough has formed.
Remove half of the dough from the mixing bowl and transfer it to a floured work surface.
Return to the remaining dough, and add the last two tablespoons of half-and-half and the cocoa powder to the mixing bowl. Mix on low until the cocoa is evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough. Transfer the chocolate dough to the floured work surface as well.
Using floured hands, pat each portion of dough into a square shape. Wrap with plastic and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for about 1 hour, or until cool and firm.
Place the chilled vanilla dough in between 2 large sheets of parchment paper and roll out into a rectangle about a 1/4" thick. Do the same with the chocolate dough.
Remove the top sheet of parchment paper from both sets of the dough. Carefully transfer the chocolate on top of the vanilla so that the bare sides meet. Gently press to adhere and (once again) remove the [now] top sheet of parchment. With the long side facing you, roll the dough into a log. See notes below if you'd like to add sprinkles to the exterior of your cookies.
Then, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350° and have ready cookie sheets lined with either parchment paper or a Silpat. Slice the dough into scant 1/2" slices using a sharp knife, carefully wiping the blade clean in between cuts as necessary.
Transfer the cookies to the baking sheet, placing them about 1" apart. Bake until the outer, bottom edges are tinged with golden-brown, about 10-12 minutes.
WANT TO ADD SPRINKLES?
If you'd like to have sprinkles surrounding the exterior of your Pinwheel Cookies, you'll need to do so before you chill them for the second time. Here's what you'll need:
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 3/4 - 1 cup of nonpareils or white sparkling sugar
- Once you have your cookies log formed, in a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the exterior of the log with egg wash.
- Add the sprinkles to a rimmed baking sheet and roll the log in the sprinkles until it is well-coated to your liking. Wrap and refrigerate as directed and proceed with the recipe from there.