These festive and colorful cookies will be the star of the holiday cookie swap. Candy cane-shaped cookies are always a favorite with their buttery and tender texture.
Candy cane cookies are a holiday staple in our house. Their tender, buttery texture and festive look makes them a crowd favorite. While shaping the cookies takes a little patience, the end result is well worth the effort!
- Butter - I recently updated this recipe to be made with all butter. The original recipe was made with equal parts butter and shortening. The flavor of butter is unmatched. This all butter cookie dough does require chilling. This is necessary for the cookies to keep their shape during baking.
- Powdered sugar - The fine consistency contributes to the tender, delicate texture of these cookies.
- Almond extract - This is the traditional flavor in this family recipe. If you prefer to use peppermint extract, start by substituting ½ or ¼ of the amount, since peppermint extract is very strong.
See recipe card for detailed instructions and amounts.
- Add the butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together until well blended and creamy.
- Add the egg and extracts and mix until well combined.
- Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.
- Remove ½ of the dough. To the remaining dough in the bowl, add food coloring and mix until fully incorporated.
- Separately wrap the plain dough and the red dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
Shaping the candy cane cookies >>
- Portion the dough into balls approx. 1 tablespoon each. A cookie scoop works well for this.
- Roll 1 tablespoon of red dough into a log 5-6 inches long. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of plain dough. Do this on a floured surface to prevent the dough from sticking.
- Place the logs side-by-side. With two hands, gently roll in opposite directions to create the twisted look.
- Transfer the shaped cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake the cookies for 8 minutes or until just set. The cookies should not start to brown.
- Cool the cookies on the pan before gently removing. These cookies can break if moved while warm.
- If desired, dust the candy cane cookies with powdered sugar.
- Store in an airtight container.
Tips for making
- Start with room temperature butter and egg so all of the ingredients blend together smoothly.
- Use food coloring gel for more intense color.
- Chill the dough before and after shaping the cookies. This greatly helps to prevent them from spreading and losing their festive shape.
- Use parchment paper on the baking sheets to prevent the cookies from sticking. It's also makes clean-up a breeze.
- Cool the cookies on the baking sheet before moving. These cookies can break easily if moved while warm.
Subscribe to My Casual Pantry to get the latest recipes and ideas sent directly to your inbox.
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature (Note 1))
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 drops red food coloring gel (or ½ teaspoon liquid red food coloring (Note 2))
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg and almond and vanilla extracts until well combined. Mix in flour and salt until just combined.
- Remove half of the dough and set aside. To the remaining half of dough, add red food coloring and mix until incorporated.
- Separately wrap the plain dough and red dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.
Shaping the candy canes
- Portion the plain dough into 1 tablespoon-sized balls. A cookie scoop is useful for this. Repeat with the red dough.
- Roll a red dough ball into a log about 5-6 inches long. Repeat with the plain dough. Place the logs side by side and gently roll each end in opposite directions to create the classic twist shape.
- Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake for 8 minutes, but do not brown. Cool completely on the baking sheet. (Note 3)
- If desired, dust the cookies with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.
- This recipe has been updated to be made with all butter. The original recipe used equal parts butter and shortening. Butter has superior flavor, but this dough does require chilling. Don't skimp on the chilling time, since this is important to help prevent the cookies from spreading and losing their shape.
- Use food coloring gel for more intense color.
- Cool the cookies completely before removing from the baking sheet. These cookies are tender and break easily if moved while warm.
Nutritional information is an estimate and will vary depending upon the exact amounts and specific ingredients used.
This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated.