The eye-catching swirls of classic Pinwheel Cookies combine the tender sweetness of sugar cookies with rich cocoa flavors to make a standout treat. Not only are they a visual delight, but they also promise a melt-in-your-mouth experience that’s simply irresistible!
Chocolate and vanilla – a classic pairing that never fails to delight! In these exquisite swirl cookies, you’ll savor the perfect balance of both. We layer two easy-to-make doughs, then roll, slice, and bake them into cookies that are guaranteed to turn heads. For an added touch of charm, dip them in silky chocolate and sprinkle with festive sprinkles, making them irresistibly eye-catching!
Why You’ll Love This Pinwheel Cookie Recipe
The classic charm of chocolate and vanilla are swirled together with a festive twist. They’re perfect for Christmas or any occasion that calls for a touch of sweetness and style!
- Visually stunning. The swirls of chocolate and vanilla in these cookies make them a feast for the eyes. Perfect for impressing guests or adding a special touch to your family’s cookie jar.
- Versatile classic. The traditional combination of chocolate and vanilla appeals to all ages, making these cookies a crowd-pleaser.
- Simple yet impressive. While they look intricate, these cookies are surprisingly easy to make, which means you get to enjoy the look of a complex cookie without all the fuss.
- Festive and fun. Dipping them in chocolate and adding sprinkles brings a festive flair, making them ideal for holidays, celebrations, or just a fun baking day.
- Great for gifting. These cookies package well, making them excellent for gifting during the holidays or as a thoughtful homemade treat for friends and family.
What You’ll Need
For ingredient quantities and full instructions, see the recipe card below. Here’s a look at the ingredients required to make your pinwheel cookies as well as a few notes you may find helpful.
- Unsalted butter – Let the butter soften before mixing. Learn more: How to Soften Butter
- Granulated sugar
- Eggs – Set these out along with the butter to let them come to room temperature. I recommend baking with large eggs.
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour – Measure accurately, either by weight or the spoon and sweep method. Learn more: How to Measure Flour
- Baking powder
- Milk – I prefer whole milk in baking, but 2% should work well enough.
- Cocoa powder – Use a good quality unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Espresso powder – This is optional but nicely complements the chocolate flavor.
- Chocolate – Melted dark chocolate is an easy way to dress up these cookies.
- Sprinkles – Adding sprinkles makes them even more festive!
How to Make Pinwheel Cookies
Despite the number of steps in the recipe, these cookies are actually easy to make. Here’s what you’ll need to do to make them:
Make the Cookie Doughs
- Start mixing. With an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a heavy-duty hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and lightened in color. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt just until combined. The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when pinched.
- Divide the dough. Make two equal portions of the dough.
- Finish the vanilla dough. Place half of the dough back into the mixing bowl. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the milk, and mix just until combined. Turn the dough out onto the counter, and shape into a thick rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
- Finish the chocolate dough. Place the remaining dough into the mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the milk, the cocoa powder, and the espresso powder, if you’re using it. Mix just until combined. Turn the dough out onto the counter, and shape into a thick rectangle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
- Chill the dough. Refrigerate both doughs for 30 minutes.
Roll, Assemble, and Bake
- Roll out the doughs. Place each dough on a piece of parchment paper that’s roughly 9″ x 13″. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll each dough to a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Use the parchment sheet as a guide to try to make the doughs similar in size and shape.
- Assemble the dough. Carefully and gently place one dough on top of the other. Line up the edges as best you can, and work out any air bubbles. Starting on one long end, tightly roll the doughs into a log about 3 inches in diameter.
- Chill the dough again. Refrigerate the log of dough for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. (See my note in the tips section below.)
- Prepare for baking. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
- Slice the cookies. Use a sharp knife to slice the cookies into 1/4-inch slices. Place the sliced cookies on the prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.
- Bake. Place one pan at a time in the heated oven, and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown.
- Cool. Place the pans on a wire rack, and allow the cookies to cool completely before decorating.
- Add chocolate and sprinkles. If you like, partially dip each cookie in melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles. Allow the chocolate to set before serving.
Tips for Success
This recipe may seem complicated, but it’s completely doable with a bit of attention to detail. Here are some tips to help ensure pinwheel cookies success:
- Don’t over-mix. Too much mixing can lead to tough, dense cookies.
- Chill the dough. That helps the cookies keep their shape and not spread too much.
- Be patient rolling the doughs together. Go slowly and use the parchment paper to maneuver the roll to keep it tight. Small cracks forming in the dough is common in this step. You can simply use your fingers to warm and press the dough back together to repair the crack as you go. If your dough is not cooperating well, let it sit at room temp for about 10 minutes until it becomes more pliable.
- Make in advance. The rolled cookie log can be tightly wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before slicing and baking. After that extended time in the refrigerator, you may find that you need to let the cookie dough sit at temperature on the counter for 10 minutes before slicing.
Want something a bit different? Here are some ideas for varying this pinwheel cookie recipe:
- Change the extract. Try peppermint extract or almond extract in the dough instead of vanilla.
- Add some color. Use gel food coloring to tint the vanilla dough to suit the occasion. Think red or green for Christmas, pink for Valentine’s Day, or orange for Halloween.
- Go with white chocolate. Dip some or all of the cookies in melted white chocolate.
- Add a citrus kick. Forego the dip in melted chocolate in favor of a simple glaze made with confectioners’ sugar and a squeeze of fresh orange of lemon juice. Drizzle it over the cooled cookies before serving.
How to Store Pinwheel Cookies
These pinwheel cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Layer the cookies between sheets of parchment paper to prevent them sticking together.
Can These Cookies Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze these pinwheel cookies either unbaked or baked. To freeze the cookie dough, chill and slice the cookie log as the recipe states. Then place the unbaked rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for an hour before transferring to a freezer bag. Properly stored, you can keep the dough in the freezer for up to 3 months. To bake, place the cookie rounds on a lined baking sheet while still frozen, and let come to room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes before baking.
To freeze the baked cookies, place them in an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag. Separate layers of cookies with parchment paper. They should keep in the freezer up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before serving.