These multi colored pinwheel cookies are perfect for spring! They are soft and delicious and fun to make and eat. Swirls of colored sugar cookie dough topped off with sparkling sugar make a pretty, colorful cookie.
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I love these cookies because they are so bright and colorful! The are little sugar cookie pinwheels sparkling with sugar and spreading cheerfulness. And make sure you check out my jam pinwheel cookies, another variation of this popular classic cookie and these simple sugar cookie bars for more easy spring baking ideas.
Another great thing about pinwheel cookies is that it is simple to make pretty cookies. I don’t have to decorate them with icing or complicated designs. They are just slice and bake.
Sugar Cookie Pinwheels
The dough for these cookies is just a basic sugar cookie dough. It is made with all the standard cookie ingredients staples – flour, sugar, butter, an egg, salt, and baking powder.
For this recipe I used lemon extract to give the cookies a subtle lemon flavor, which is ideal for spring.
Chilling the Dough
Now while these cookies are easy to make they aren’t quick to make. Baking these cookies doesn’t require baking or decorating talent, but it does take patience.
There is a fairly good time investment because the dough has to chill multiple times, for 30-60 minutes each time. Here are the chilling requirements:
- After mixing the dough and adding the food coloring.
- After rolling the dough into squares.
- After rolling the mulitcolored dough squares up into a log.
This means that this is an excellent cookie to make when you have some time at home. You can even extend the chilling time and spread it out over multiple days if you’d like.
The result of all that chilling is that the cookies come out nicely circular and very pretty. So don’t be tempted to rush through the chilling times, follow the directions and the results will be spectacular.
Making the Dough
Making the dough for these cookies is very similar to making any sugar cookie.
1. Cream Butter and Sugar
Put the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream at high speed until they are well combined and fluffly. Then add the vanilla and egg and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
2. Add Dry Ingredients
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and mix. Then add to the butter mixture, making sure it is well mixed.
3. Color the Dough
Once the dough is made divide it into three equal pieces. Decide what colors you are going to use to color to each piece of dough. It works best if you mix the lightest color first, so in this case – yellow, then orange, then green.
Make an indentation in one of the dough balls with your thumb and add the desired food coloring. Put it back in the mixer bowl and mix until the color is well distributed.
I used 2-3 drops of liquid food coloring for these cookies. It is best to start with a small amount of food coloring and see how it looks before adding more. For spring cookies you want pastel colors, but for something like Christmas you might want more vibrant colors.
Once the dough is colored to your liking make it into a rough, flattened square and wrap in plastic wrap. Then wash the beater for the mixer quickly and repeat with the other dough balls. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
Making the Pinwheel Cookies
1. Roll into Squares
Then do the same with the other two colors. Put the three flattened squares of dough, still sandwiched in parchment paper, back in the refrigerator. Let it chill for another 30 minutes.
2. Layer the Dough
Take the dough out and remove the parchment paper from the yellow dough. Put it on a cutting board or marble pastry board. Take the parchment paper off the green dough and lay it on top of the yellow. Finally take the parchment paper off the orange dough and put it on top.
3. Roll the Dough
You should now have three layers of dough, yellow, green and orange. Start at one end and slowly roll the dough up into a log. Pinch the seam together to hold it in place and trim the edges as necessary.
Wrap the log of cookie dough in plastic wrap and put back in the refrigerator for another hour.
Baking the Pinwheel Cookies
Once the log has chilled take it out and unwrap it. Use a sharp knife to slice the log into 1/4 inch pieces. Either dip the cookies in sparkling sugar or sprinkle some on top.
The cookies might have gaps between the colored dough or be more oval than circular. But as the cookies bake they will spread a little bit and all those imperfections will disappear.
Put them on a cookie sheet and bake them for about 13 minutes, until they are firm. If you bake them too long they will start to brown on top which will make them not as pretty.
The final cookie will be firm and soft in the middle with crispy edges.
Pinwheel Cookie Variations
Vary the Colors
One of the fun things about these cookies is how easy it is to vary them for different occasions or seasons. Different colors of pinwheel cookies can celebrate different things.
- Red, white and blue for July Fourth
- Red and green for Christmas
- Black and orange for Halloween
- Green and white for St. Patrick’s Day
- Your favorite team’s colors for a big game
Vary the Flavor
You can also change them up just by switching up the flavoring extract used. I used lemon for a citrusy spring cookie. But you could use peppermint for the holidays or maple extract in the fall. And regular vanilla extract or almond extract works for almost any occasion.
Another fun variation is to roll the log of dough in sprinkles or colored sugar before the final chilling. That gives the cookies a nice ring of color all around the outside.
This is a great recipe to experiment with and make your own. The basics of the recipe are simple, and with some patience and creativity you can make lovely swirl cookies for everyone to enjoy.
Find More Cookie Ideas
- 12 Tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- food coloring
- sparkling sugar
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Add vanilla and egg to bowl and mix well, being sure to frequently scrape sides of bowl.
- Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Add the flour mixture to butter mixture and combine well.
- Remove dough and split into 3 equal pieces
- Decide on food coloring choices. I used 2 drops yellow for yellow, 2 drops yellow and one red for orange (or if you have orange food coloring, use 2 drops) and 2 drops green for green. Use more food coloring for more vibrant colors.
- Place one piece back into mixer bowl. Make a thumb indentation in center of dough and place one color into center. Mix well until color is fully incorporated into dough. At this time you can add more color if desired. Repeat this step with the remaining two pieces of dough, washing the beater in between colors.
- Form each piece of dough into a rough, flattened square with your hands.
- Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Remove dough from refrigerator.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on flat surface. Place one dough square in center of parchment sheet and cover with another sheet of parchment.
- Roll dough square into a 10 in. square.
- Repeat with remaining two dough squares.
- Leave parchment paper on and chill, flat, for ½ hour.
- Remove dough from refrigerator. Carefully remove parchment paper from the yellow dough and place on flat surface. Place green dough on top of yellow and finally, add orange on top of the other two.
- Starting at one end, carefully roll dough stack into a log shape. Pinch seam together and trim ends of the log.
- Wrap dough log in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Remove dough from refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a sharp knife, cut log into ¼ in. pieces.
- Place cookies on parchment covered cookie sheet, approx. 2-1/2 in. apart.
- Sprinkle tops of each cookie with coarse sugar or dip them in a bowl of sugar.
- Bake for approx. 13 min. until firm but not browned on top.
- Cool on wire rack.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 156Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g
Nutrition facts are estimates.