These fun candy cane cookies are made of sugar cookie dough wrapped together like a candy cane then sprinkled with sugar! They’re fun to make, fun to eat, and make fun Christmas gifts or favors!
I’ve been a bit candy cane obsessed this year and I’m not just talking about things like these peppermint chocolate thumbprint cookies, I’m talking real candy canes.
So it’s only fair that I share these candy cane cookies. They’re perfect for serving at a candy cane olympics, a Christmas gift exchange, or adding to a holiday treat plate!
While they look really fun, they’re actually pretty easy to make – as long as you know how to make sugar cookie dough, you can make these holiday treats!
Plus, kids love them. I mean how often do you get to eat a candy cane that’s actually a cookie!?!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Festive – it doesn’t get much more festive than candy canes for Christmas! Everyone will love the fun shape of these cookies.
- Soft – these cookies include cream cheese (much like my cream cheese sugar cookies), which keeps them super soft!
- Fun – not only are these fun to eat, they’re actually fun to make! Grab the kids and get them to do the rolling, twisting, and sugaring!
- Butter – I recommend using softened unsalted butter in this recipe but if you don’t have unsalted, omit 1/4 tsp of the salt in the recipe.
- Cream cheese – use full-fat cream cheese that’s soft. I like to take it out about an hour before I’m reading to make the cookie dough.
- Red food coloring – you’ll need about 40 to 50 drops of red liquid food coloring. If you’re using something else like gel, you’ll likely need less.
- Coarse sugar – you can either use white sprinkles or coarse sugar (also called decorating sugar) to top the cookies and give it that sparkle effect.
How to Make Candy Cane Cookies
If you’ve ever made cut out sugar cookies before, this is going to be similar except instead of rolling and cutting out the cookies, we’ll be rolling and twisting.
The beginning process is pretty much the same though!
1 – make the sugar cookie dough
Start by creaming the softened butter and cream cheese together until smooth, then add the sugar and beat for three minutes or until light and fluffy. You really want the color to change to a lighter, pale yellow.
Once that’s ready to go, add the egg and vanilla and mix well until those are both completely combined.
Add in the flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix until fully combined to finish off your sugar cookie dough.
Divide the dough in half and place into two large bowls.
Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red food coloring (40-50 drops) the dough half in one bowl and mix until well incorporated and the color you want.
The other dough will just stay the regular color of the sugar cookie dough.
You can also just leave the half you’re coloring red in the bowl of the mixer and mix the color in the bowl, but I don’t necessarily love washing food coloring off my mixer, so I prefer to move it to a separate bowl that’s a little easier to clean.
Starting with the regular colored cookie dough, make cookie dough balls with a small cookie scoop (about one tablespoon of dough) and place in a line on a baking sheet.
Repeat with the other red ball of cookie dough as well.
Place the dough in the fridge and refrigerate dough balls for 30-60 minutes to make the dough easier to roll into your candy canes.
If you need to chill them for longer, I recommend letting them thaw slightly before trying to roll because the dough can be a little tough to work with when chilled for a long time.
2 – Make the Candy Canes
After the dough is sufficiently chilled, it’s time to turn those cookie dough balls into those candy cane cookies!
Start by preheating your oven to 350° F and lining two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Remove red and some white dough balls from the refrigerator a couple at a time. Leave the others in the fridge so they can stay chilled while you’re twisting your candy canes.
Roll each ball into a log about seven inches long (about the length of a standard sized fork), then place one red log and one white log side by side on a piece of parchment paper.
Gently pinch the ends of the two logs together at the top and bottom to connect the two logs together.
Next, hold the top of the joined logs and twist the logs together to create the stripes. After twisting the red and white dough together, bend the top over into a hook to form a candy cane shape.
Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets at least an inch apart and sprinkle with sprinkles or decorating sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 8-9 minutes.
After baking, allow cookies to cool for 15-20 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely. This will help prevent the cookies from breaking.
Once they’ve cooled for a bit, you can move them to a wire cooling rack if you’d like to cool completely.
Let your candy cane cookies cool completely then enjoy immediately or store to enjoy later.
Use 1 teaspoon peppermint extract in place of one teaspoon of vanilla for a peppermint flavor. Or make these with regular vanilla and try out these peppermint sugar cookies for your peppermint kick!
Keep cookie balls in the fridge until ready to roll, work with a few at a time so they stay chilled. If they start to thaw as they sit out, put them back in the fridge and try again.
Make sure to chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes to make it easier to roll the dough into candy canes. I don’t recommend chilling for much longer or if you do, let them thaw slightly before rolling out.
Press any cracks out of the candy cane before baking.
Get kids or other extra hands to help roll dough and form candy canes! This will make the process faster and is fun for everyone to be involved!
Try different types of garnishes on the candy cane cookies like crush candy canes, decorating sugar, and white crystal sprinkles.
If you’d like to garnish with candy canes, they have bags of already crushed peppermint you can use. If you want to crush candy canes yourself, unwrap candy canes and place them in a plastic zipper bag. Run the candy canes over with a rolling pin until they become small candy cane pieces.
More Easy Christmas recipes
If you like these candy cane cookies, you should definitely try out these other fun Christmas treats!
- Cherry cheesecake cookies – these sugar cookies taste like a combination of cherry pie, cheesecake, and sugar cookies!
- Soft molasses cookies – these are the best ever ginger molasses cookies I’ve ever had! Soft, spicy, and delicious!
- Sugar cookie bites – these mini sugar cookies are so fun to make and even more fun to eat! Just pop one in your mouth for a quick sweet treat!
- Orange sugar cookies – a citrus infused sugar cookie that’s a classic Christmas cookie recipe!
- Sugar cookie fudge – white chocolate fudge that tastes just like a sugar cookie!
Candy Cane Cookies
- ½ cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 4 ounces full fat cream cheese (softened)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2 TBS cornstarch
- ½ tsp salt
- 40-50 drops red food coloring
- coarse decorating sugar or sprinkles optional garnish
- Cream the softened butter and cream cheese together until smooth, then add the sugar and beat for three minutes or until light and fluffy.1/2 cup unsalted butter, 4 ounces full fat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar
- Add egg and vanilla and mix well.1 egg, 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Mix in the flour, cornstarch, and salt until fully combined, then divide the dough in half.2 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, 2 TBS cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt
- Add 40-50 drops of red food coloring to one half of the dough and mix until well incorporated and the color you want.40-50 drops red food coloring
- Make cookie dough balls using about 1 tablespoon dough for each ball from both the red and white dough and place on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate dough balls for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350° F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove both red and white dough balls from the refrigerator a couple at a time.
- Roll each ball into a log about 7" long, then place one red log and one white log side by side and pinch the ends together to connect the logs at the top and bottom.
- Hold the top of the joined logs and twist the logs together to create the stripes. After twisting the red and white dough together, bend the top over into a hook to form a candy cane shape.
- Place cookies on prepared cookie sheets and sprinkle with sprinkles or sugar then bake for 8 minutes.coarse decorating sugar or sprinkles
- After baking, allow cookies to cool for 15-20 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack. This will help prevent the cookies from breaking. Let cool completely then enjoy!