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These candy cane cookies are the star of Christmas cookie trays and deserve the spotlight! Bright red and white dough twists together to make these festive cookies.

Candy cane cookies on a rack.
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Turn on some Christmas songs, it’s time to bake the tastiest and most fun Christmas cookies

Everyone will love how the red and white dough swirls together to create iconic holiday shapes. Forget about hard peppermint candy canes because today, it’s all about candy cane-shaped cookies! 

Why This Recipe Works

There is nothing quite like the cheery colors of these peppermint candy cane cookies!

  • Fun to make! Twisting the red and white ropes of dough together will remind you of playing with playdough. So, get the kids involved!
  • Easy ingredients.  All of the ingredients are easy to find, pantry staples. Even the vanilla, almond, or peppermint extracts can usually be found in your local grocery store.
  • Perfect for Christmas cookie trays. The colors and the shape fill your cookie tray with holiday cheer and their red and white stripes stand out among the Christmas sugar cookies and chocolate crinkle cookies.

Recipe Ingredients

This simple candy cane cookie recipe uses common ingredients that are easy to find at the grocery store. 

Candy cane cookie ingredients on the counter.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Fats. Use both salted butter and shortening. This is what helps the cookies maintain their shape. 
  • Sugar. Sweeten the cookies with sifted powdered sugar so that it incorporates completely into the dough. 
  • Flavors. I used both vanilla and almond extract to give the cookies their full-bodied flavor. 
  • Flour & egg. Two remaining baking staples that make up the dough. Remember to measure your flour correctly!
  • Food coloring. You’ll need red food coloring for this recipe. Use either gel or liquid, it’s up to you.

Substitutions and Variations

There is nothing quite like the taste and flavor of a red and white candy cane cookie. Here are a few ways that you can change it up if you would like. 

  • Dip: Add a bowl of cream cheese glaze to the table and dip the candy cane cookies into it for a little extra fun. 
  • Flavor: Replace the almond extract with peppermint extract for a minty flavor like Betty Crocker does!
  • Toppings:  Brush the cookies with an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar overtop before baking. You can also sprinkle crushed candy canes on top immediately after you pull them out of the oven. 

How to Make Candy Cane Cookies

This candy cane cookies recipe lets you roll, mold and create something fun. It’s even more fun to make them together with someone you love. 

Showing how to make candy cane cookies in a 4 step collage.
  • Mix the cookie dough. Use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix the butter, shortening, and sugar until it is smooth. Then, stir in the wet ingredients, scraping the side of the bowl. Finally, mix in the flour and salt. 
  • Divide and color.  Split the dough into two parts. Add red food coloring to one half of the dough and mix that half until it is bright red. Wrap them separately in plastic wrap and chill them in the refrigerator overnight. 
  • Shape the cookies. Dust your surface with flour. Roll an inch of dough into a rope. Do this with each color separately. Twist them together and shape them into a candy cane shape. 
  • Bake. After shaping all of the cookies and placing them on the baking tray, bake them until the edges are barely starting to brown. 
Candy cane cookie on the counter.

Expert Tips for the Best Cookies

It’s important to follow this recipe exactly. This candy cane cookie recipe could be difficult if you make any changes. Here are some tips that will help you prevent some common mishaps. 

  • Chilling the dough. Do not skip this step. You want to chill it for at least 3 hours or even overnight. Keep the dough cold so it is easier to work with. 
  • Dying the cookie dough. Gel food coloring is more concentrated than liquid food coloring, so fewer drops will give you a more vibrant color.  
  • Shaping the cookies.  Keep the dough cold. If you notice it’s getting too warm or sticky, just pop it back in the fridge for a bit.
Candy cane cookies on a cooling rack.

Recipe FAQs

What are candy cane cookies?

Christmas candy cane cookies add jolly charm to your Christmas cookie basket. However, as much as you’d expect them to taste like candy canes, they don’t!

If you love the mild flavor of ricotta cheese cookies then you will enjoy how these taste. They are sweet but not as rich or bold as ginger molasses cookies. They are a simple-tasting cookie with festive red and white color.

What do candy cane cookies taste like?

If you’ve checked out the ingredients list, you have probably noticed there are no candy canes to be found! So, unless you swap the extract, these cookies are not minty like my chocolate peppermint cookies, but, crispy, tender, buttery, and slightly sweet with hints of vanilla and almond.

How do you give cookies as a gift?

Cookies make excellent handmade Christmas gifts. To give them as a gift, just place the candy cane sugar cookies in a decorative tin and add a bow! It’s that easy!

My cookie dough is too dry – what should I do?

If your dough is too dry, very carefully sprinkle just a tiny bit of water on top. It won’t take much for the dough to come back together again.


Keep the candy cane cookies in an airtight container or aluminum foil for up to 1 week at room temperature.

You can even make the dough now, freeze it, and then make the cookies when it’s closer to Christmas time. Knowing how to freeze cookie dough can save you a lot of time later on!

Candy cane cookies on a plate.

More Christmas treats we love to make include old-fashioned hard candy, butter cookies, eggnog cookies and Grinch cookies!

More Holiday Cookie Recipes

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Candy cane cookies on a rack.

Candy Cane Cookie Recipe

5 from 8 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
These candy cane cookies are the star of Christmas cookie trays and deserve the spotlight! Bright red and white dough twists together to make these festive cookies.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Chill Time + Cool Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 34 minutes
Servings: 36



  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter , barely softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt , or 1/4 tsp salt
  • Red food coloring


  • In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter, shortening, and sugar on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract on low until just combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl and mix in the flour and salt on low until flour is no longer visible.
  • Divide the dough in two parts. Place one half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Mix red food coloring into the other half on low speed until combined and bright red. Shape dough into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 375℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • On a floured work surface, place chilled red and white dough. Using your fingers, pinch a 1-inch ball of the white dough and roll it into a 5-inch rope. Repeat with the red dough, keeping the ropes the same length. Place the ropes side-by-side and twist the pieces together to make a swirl. Transfer to the baking sheet and curve the top into a candy cane shape. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  • Bake 9 to 10 minutes, or until edges are barely starting to brown. Let cool on baking sheet 10 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.


  • Swap the almond extract for peppermint for a more minty flavor.
  • Divide the dough into smaller portions and add different food coloring to each to create a rainbow candy cane.
  • Brush an egg wash (1 egg + water beaten together) over the cookies and sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking.
Storage: Keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. 
Recipe from Michelle Wilson.


Calories: 95kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 55mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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