Candy Cane Cookies

from 3 votes

Buttery sugar cookies get a holiday upgrade with a festive recipe for Candy Cane Cookies.

Candy Cane Cookies on a dark surface

Christmas cookie season is in full swing around these parts! While I’ve been busy whipping up my holiday classics (hello, Marshmallow Christmas Wreaths!), I have a whole bunch of brand-new Christmas cookie recipes coming your way, and I’m kicking things off with Candy Cane Cookies!

Cookie dough in a stand mixer bowl with a paddle attachment

How to Make Candy Cane Cookies for Christmas

My go-to sugar cookie dough stars in this festive recipe, which twists white and red versions of the dough into the classic candy cane shape.

The key to this recipe is to refrigerate the dough after mixing it so that the butter has a chance to re-solidify before you begin shaping the cookies.

Red cookie dough in a stand mixer bowl with a paddle attachment

What’s the Best Food Coloring for Cookies?

The rich red color you see here is the result of gel food coloring, which is much more concentrated than regular (water-based) food coloring. You also need much less gel food coloring to achieve a vibrant red candy cane color.

Red colored and plain cookie dough cubes and logs

How to Shape Candy Cane Cookies

I will admit that this recipe requires a bit of time and patience to shape the cookies. It’s important to try to handle the dough as little as possible so that the heat from your hands doesn’t soften the dough too quickly.

Pro tip #2 is to generously flour your work surface during the rolling and twisting process to prevent the dough from sticking.

A red cookie dough log twisted together with plain cookie dough

How to Get Cookies to Keep their Shape After Baking

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to refrigerate (or even freeze) the cookies after you shape them into candy canes and before you bake them. This important step will prevent the butter in the dough from melting too quickly in the oven, which is the prime culprit for cookies turning into shapeless blobs!

Long story short: Chill, chill, chill that dough!

Unbaked Candy Cane Cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet

These beautiful, buttery cookies are an absolute showstopper! Imagine them on your holiday dessert display or tucked inside cookie boxes for gifting. They’re the perfect treat to leave out for Santa Claus!

Homemade Candy Cane Cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet
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Candy Cane Cookies

Buttery sugar cookies get a holiday upgrade with a festive recipe for Candy Cane Cookies.
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 3 votes
Candy Cane Cookies on a dark surface
Prep Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 18 cookies


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Red food coloring


  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, then add the vanilla.
  • Turn the mixer off. Add the flour and then beat just until combined. 
  • Remove the dough and divide it in half. Shape one piece of the dough into a square, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. (This will be the white portion of the candy cane cookies.)
  • Return the remaining dough to the stand mixer bowl, and with the mixer on "low," add in the red food coloring until it reaches your desired color. Remove the dough, shape it into a square, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. (This will be the red portion of the cookies).
  • Refrigerate both pieces of the dough for 30 minutes.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour your work surface.
  • Divide each piece of dough into 18 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll each ball into an 8-inch rope. Twist one white and one red rope together. Transfer the cookie onto the baking sheet then bend the top slightly to form the candy cane shape. If desired, trim the edges of the candy canes. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, re-flouring your work surface as needed. (See Kelly’s Note.)
  • Place the baking sheets in the freezer for 20 minutes or in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until pale golden, and then transfer them to a wrack to cool completely.

Kelly’s Note:

  • Because this dough has so much butter, it’s important to handle it the least amount possible so the heat from your hands doesn’t soften it. Flour your work surface as needed to avoid any sticking. 
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!


Calories: 232kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 74mg, Potassium: 44mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 342IU, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg


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  1. 5 stars
    Perfect! I always made theses at Christmas time with my mom, but the canes would spread and get messy during baking. I don’t think we chilled the dough. It was key! Thanks so much for bringing back this fun family memory!

  2. 5 stars
    I absolutely love these cookies! My mom used to make them every year and they were the first to be eaten! I haven’t checked out this recipe yet, but my Mom used to put cream cheese in hers.