Rugelach is a delectable cookie formed by rolling buttery dough around a rich filling made with fruit preserves, pecans, cinnamon-sugar, and chocolate. This step-by-step tutorial will show you how it’s done!
Homemade Rugelach: Two Ways!
Rugelach originated in the Jewish communities of Poland, but it’s become a popular treat all over the world—which means there are now a lot of different versions! Some are made with nuts; some are shaped like crescents, while others are rectangles. But no matter how you make them, they are delicious.
Rugelach starts with a buttery dough that’s a little bit like a mash-up between pastry crust and cookie dough, and they’re rolled up with a sweet filling. The combination of cinnamon, fruit preserves, and chocolate (or raisins, if you prefer) might seem like a lot on paper, but they all complement each other in the final product.
If you’ve never made rugelach before, the recipe is involved, but it’s not hard—in fact, rolling up all the cookies is pretty satisfying! The dough itself is simple and easier to work with than a pastry dough, so you don’t have much to worry about on that front. Once the dough is done, it’s just a matter of rolling and baking!
What You’ll Need
For as elaborate as rugelach looks, the ingredient list is surprisingly short! Here’s what you’ll need.
- Unsalted butter – Both the butter and the cream cheese need to be softened, so let them sit on the countertop a bit before you start working on the recipe.
- Cream cheese
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Raspberry or apricot preserves – Apricot has a hint of bitter flavor which is a nice balance to the sugar and chocolate, while raspberry delivers more sweetness.
- Chocolate chips – You can substitute raisins if you like.
- Pecans – Or use any other nut you like or have on hand.
How to Make Rugelach
Below, I share the basic instructions for rugelach, then two different methods for rolling it up. You can choose one or the other or make them both ways, which looks pretty on a cookie platter.
Cream the butter and cream cheese. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat them until blended and smooth.
Finish the dough. Add the flour to the mixing bowl—no need to be gingerly about it, just dump it all in at once! Beat until the dough comes together.
Prep and chill the dough. Divide the dough into three equal balls. For rectangular rugelach, flatten each third into a 6×4-inch rectangle. For crescent rugelach, flatten into a 6-inch circle. Wrap the dough pieces in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
Get ready for baking. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Lightly flour your work surface.
Make the cinnamon sugar. Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, then set aside.
How to Make Rectangular Rugelach
Roll each portion of dough into a 16×10-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust off any excess flour.
Spread 1/4 cup of preserves onto the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border on all sides. On the long edge of the preserves, make a line of chocolate chips or raisins. Sprinkle the rest of the dough with about 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon sugar and about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the nuts.
Starting at the chocolate chip (or raisin) end, roll up the dough, tucking and tightening gently as you go. Turn the seam side facing down, then cut the log into 1 1/2-inch slices. Repeat with the remaining dough.
How to Make Crescent Rugelach
Roll each portion of dough into a 14-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick.
Spread 1/4 cup of the preserves on the rolled out dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Sprinkle the entire surface with 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (or raisins), cinnamon sugar, and 2 1/2 tablespoons nuts.
Cut the circle into triangles like a pizza, making either 8 or 16 slices, depending on the size of cookie you’d like. Roll up the dough starting from the wide end, then tuck the point underneath. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake. Place the rugelach on the prepared pans and sprinkle each with about 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden. Cool on the baking sheets on a wire rack until the cookies firm up a bit, then transfer them back to the wire racks to finish cooling.
Tips for Success
Here’s how to make perfect rugelach every time:
- Working with the dough. The dough is easier to work with when chilled, so I recommend taking one portion out of the refrigerator at a time. Once you’ve finished with one, take the next portion out, and so on.
- Cutting the dough. You can use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into rectangles or triangles. If you have a pizza rocker, that works even better!
- Rolling rugelach. Whether you make crescent shapes or rectangles, it’s important to roll up the cookies tightly. This keeps the filling in place and ensures a nice shape.
How to Store
Rugelach can be stored in an airtight container on the countertop for 3 to 4 days.
Can This Recipe Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze rugelach—and there are several ways to do this!
- First, you could make the dough and freeze it, then let it thaw in the fridge and assemble the cookies.
- You can also assemble the cookies and then freeze them unbaked. Let them thaw in the fridge, then bake them according to the recipe instructions.
- Finally, you can freeze baked rugelach in an airtight container for up to 2 months.