These pretty Candy Cane Cookies are fun to make, and eat! Classic sugar cookie dough is flavored with mint and twisted into cute little Christmas candy canes. These are sure to be a hit, especially with kids!
Fun & Easy Candy Cane Cookies
This recipe really is a delight. The sweet, soft sugar cookie dough smells heavenly even before it bakes, thanks to the vanilla, mint and real butter. It comes together with no hassle, and then you simply color half of it a pretty red shade, twist, and bake!
Why I Love These Christmas Cookies
Christmas cookies are a huge part of the holidays around here. They’re such a fun tradition! And these are especially fun, partly because they are so simple and low-maintenance. I mean, I love gingerbread houses and tinted icing as much as the next gal, but elaborate cookie-decorating can be a bit time-consuming… and messy.
So these simple cookies, with their minty flavor and striking design, are a fun, hands-on, and delicious alternative!
- Butter and Shortening: This recipe uses half a cup of each, at room temperature.
- Powdered Sugar: You’ll need 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar to make this smooth dough.
- Egg: One large egg, room temperature for best results.
- Vanilla Extract and Peppermint Extract: These delicious flavorings give the candy cane cookies their signature flavor and scent.
- All-Purpose Flour: You can substitute your favorite gluten-free APF blend here, keeping in mind that the texture may vary as a result.
- Salt: Just a pinch!
- Red Food Coloring
How to Make Candy Cane Cookies
Cream Butter, Shortening & Sugar: In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, shortening and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add Wet Ingredients: Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the egg, vanilla and peppermint. Mix together well.
Add Dry Ingredients: Next, mix in the flour and salt on a low speed, until just combined.
Dye Half the Dough Red & Chill: Divide the dough in half and place each half into two separate bowls. Add the food coloring to one of the bowls and mix together well. (You can add 1/4-teaspoon extra food coloring, if you prefer a brighter shade!) Form both pieces of dough into 1-inch thick disks and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Shape the Cookies: Unwrap the disks of dough and take a 2-tablespoon piece of dough from each. Roll each piece of dough into a thick, 6-inch long rope. Pinch the red and the white ropes together at one end and gently twist to create a red and white spiral rope. Bend the top of the twisted rope to form a candy cane shape, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Chill and Bake: Refrigerate the shaped cookies for about 20 minutes before baking them. Then, bake at 375°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
Tips for Success
- Don’t Skip the Shortening: You might be tempted to use all butter for this recipe, and I mean, I can’t blame you. Butter is delicious, after all! But the shortening in this recipe serves an important purpose. Its high melting point allows the cookies to keep their shape and height. Butter alone would melt faster and cause the cookies to spread.
- Make sure that the butter, the shortening, and the egg are room temperature.
- Try More Flavors: Really, peppermint is kind of a starting point with these yummy cookie-canes! You could use spearmint flavoring and green food coloring, rum flavoring and a bit of yellow or orange food coloring, or just experiment with flavors and colors that sound good to you!
- Make a Wreath: You can also make these delicious cookies into other shapes. I like making twisted green and red wreaths, with glitter or pearl sprinkles!
How to Make the Dough In Advance
- It’s so easy to make this dough in advance! Just follow the recipe to the point of chilling the disks of dough in the refrigerator. Make sure to wrap the disks well in plastic wrap.
- From there, you can store the wrapped disks in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before rolling and baking them.
Can You Freeze Candy Cane Cookies?
- Yes! You can freeze these cookies for up to one month. First let your cookies cool completely, then wrap each one in saran wrap before placing it in a freezer safe bag or container.
- When you’re ready to eat the cookies, just let them thaw out on the counter or in the fridge.
- You can also freeze these cookies before baking. To do this, assemble your candy cane twists then freeze the shaped cookie dough on a baking sheet in a single layer. Once the cookies have hardened, wrap each on in plastic wrap and place in a freezer safe container.
- Thaw overnight in the fridge on single layer before proceeding with the baking step. You may need to add a minute or two of baking time, depending on how cold your dough is and how much it has thawed out before baking.
Candy Cane Cookies
- In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract. Continue to mix until well incorporated.
- Add the flour and salt; mix together on low speed until just combined.
- Remove dough from mixing bowl and divide the dough in half; place each half into its own bowl.
- Add the red food coloring to one of the bowls and mix together well. You can add extra food coloring if you prefer a brighter shade.
- Form both pieces of dough into 1-inch-thick disks and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Unwrap the disks of dough and pinch off 2-tablespoons piece of dough from each disk. Roll each piece of dough into a thick, 6-inch long rope.
- Pinch the red and the white rope together at the top, and gently twist and braid them together. Form a bend at the top of the twisted rope to make a candy cane shape; then, transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining dough.
- Refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
- Remove from rack and serve.