These Candy Cane Cookies are a delicious holiday tradition! Peppermint or almond flavored sugar cookie dough, twisted into these charming cookies, will put a smile on everyone’s face!
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For me, Christmas time is definitely “the most wonderful time of the year.” I love seeing houses decorated in beautiful lights. I love all of the Christmas trees adorned with all kinds of ornaments. And I love Christmas carols…even when they get played a little too early. These things—and a whole bunch of other awesome Christmas standards like family time, hot chocolate, and big Christmas dinners—mix together into a month of warm smiles and great memories. It’s such a nostalgic time, and I get the chance to look back at Christmases past and examine those memories. In lots and lots of my Christmas memories, I find my family’s old Christmas tradition of making candy cane cookies playing a leading role.
My family loves this recipe. Each December, we make a big batch of peppermint-flavored candy cane cookies. It’s a whole family affair. We’ll make one at the beginning of December to get us through the bulk of the month. (Though we’ve recently had to start making another batch in the middle of the month so we don’t run out!) Then, on Christmas Eve, we make a big batch to eat on the holiday proper.
Recipes are evaluated in lots of ways. Taste is the main one. And these cookies get an “A+” for taste, no question. But the candy canes are also just beautiful. Like any well-decorated sugar cookie, they make an attractive centerpiece and can be arranged in fantastic ways to highlight their appearance. I always get a bunch of compliments about how cool they look, even though they just aren’t that hard to make!
This is a classic Christmas cookie. And your family will have a blast making them…and eating them J
Recipe Notes For Candy Cane Cookies:
Forming the Canes: The actual shaping of the candy cane is perhaps the only part of the recipe that is even remotely difficult. And even this step is pretty darn easy, as long as you remember to make one full cookie at a time. You make think you’re saving time by rolling out five or ten white cords and then rolling out the same amount of red cords. But this will end up drying out your dough, making it unusable. What you’ll want to do is roll out one white cord and one red cord. Twist them together as per the recipe, then start on the next cookie.
I’m guilty of being an overzealous user of flour. When I’m making sugar cookies, I like to use a lot of it! But with this recipe, I try to really reign that in. Using too much flour on the table or on your hands can make it really difficult for the cords to stick together. I try to only use enough flour to help the dough not stick to my hands or the counter.
If the dough becomes too crumbly, just stick it back in the fridge for another 15-20 minutes. The extra chill time will help it to form up better.
The easiest thing to do if you’re having trouble rolling your cords evenly, or if your cookies are breaking apart when removed from the pan, is just to make smaller cookies.
Cooling: You need to let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a full 10 to 15 minutes. This time is critical for your cookies to become stable enough to remove from the pan without breaking.
Variations: The base of this recipe is just really good peppermint-flavored sugar cookie dough. So there are lots that you can do with it. Sometimes I will make wreaths by coloring some of the dough green. That works really well with the peppermint flavor and can be a fun variation to do with your family.
Almond extract can be a good substitute if you want to try a new flavor… or if you’re serving someone who doesn’t like peppermint. My family has always used peppermint and vanilla to flavor the sugar cookies, and I really do think that’s the best flavor for these cookies. But lots of people like the almond extract too! If you want to try that, replace the peppermint extract with ½ teaspoon of almond extract.
Candy Cane Cookies
- 1 Cup 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Confectioner's Sugar Sifted
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 1/4 Teaspoons Peppermint Extract
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Red Food Coloring
- In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in egg, peppermint extract, and vanilla. Add in the flour and salt and mix well.
- Divide the dough in half and stir the red food coloring in half the dough. Shape both doughs into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with silicone cookie mats or parchment paper.
- For each candy cane, pinch off a rounded teaspoon of each dough and roll into a rope, about 4inches long. Place the red and the white ropes next to each other and pinch them together at the top. Twist the two doughs together then gently bend the top into a hook. Place directly on prepared cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven 9-12 minutes or until cookies are set (do not brown or the cookies will be dry). When cookies are cool enough to handle, very carefully (they'll be super fragile) remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
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