Make these fun and festive candy cane shaped cookies this holiday season. These buttery treats taste like a mixture between Danish cookies and shortbread, with the same melt-in-your-mouth goodness that we know and love!
Can you get anymore festive than candy cane cookies?? These cookies will add a beautiful pop of color to your holiday table, and not to mention they're pretty darn delicious!
These cookies are also really great to bake and send to loved ones. What makes them ideal for sending is the fact that they have a really good shelf life (more on storage below). Plus, who wouldn't want cookies for Christmas?
And hey? Who's to say the loved one that receives these cookies can't be yourself? You deserve some cookie love too!
Given the fact that I absolutely LOVE cornstarch, I obviously had to add it into this cookie. But other than my love for cornstarch, there are 2 very good reasons for adding it into this dough:
1) it makes the cookies almost shortbread like, with a crumbly, crispy, sandy texture that is just ah-may-zing! and ...
2) it absorbs moisture, so it helps the cookies keep their beautiful candy cane shape, and reduces spreading!
Candy cane cookie ingredients:
• flour: for the dough. You shouldn't need any extra flour for shaping the candy canes - as long as it's cold, the dough should be super easy to work with
• cornstarch: I already bored you with why I add cornstarch above, but just as a quick recap: it gives it a crispier, melt-in-your-mouth texture AND helps control spreading
• baking powder: not so much for lift, but more so because it helps crisp up the cookies
• salt: to balance the sweetness
• butter: what's a cookie without some butter?
• sugar: pretty standard cookie ingredient!
• egg: also standard
• peppermint and vanilla extract: for flavor! You can skip the peppermint if you don't like it - I know most people are either love or hate it. There's not much in between
• red food coloring: you can use liquid or gel. Liquid is less concentrated than gel, so you would need to add more. I usually just eyeball it. Make sure to add a tiny bit at a time - you can always add, but you can't subtract! Start with a ¼ teaspoon if using gel or 1 teaspoon if using liquid, and gradually add more until you get a bright red color
How to make candy cane cookies:
1. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk together and set aside.
2. Cream together butter and sugar. Mix until light and creamy.
3. Add egg and extracts. Whisk into your butter/sugar mix.
4. Add dry ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients to form base dough.
5. Split dough and dye half. Wrap half of the dough in plastic wrap, and set aside. Dye the remaining half of the dough red, then wrap in plastic wrap.
6. Chill. Chill both doughs until firm.
7. Shape candy canes! Pinch off about 1 tablespoon sized portions of the red dough and the white dough. Roll the two portions of dough into ropes that are about 5 inches long (one red and one white). Twist the ropes together to create a spiral and curve the top into a candy cane shape. Arrange on your baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
8. Bake! You're going to need to do 2 or 3 batches in the oven, so keep any dough you're not working with stored in the fridge until you're ready to shape / bake it. If using the same baking sheet for your batches, make sure to let it cool completely to room temperature before arranging the next batch of cookies on it!
9. Cool & enjoy! Cool the cookies on your baking sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Candy cane cookie storage:
Like I mentioned above, these cookies make great gifts because of their amazing shelf life! Keep these stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks at room temperature or up to 3 weeks in the fridge!
If you find your cookies have gone soft, you can crisp them back up by popping them into a preheated 350°F for 3 to 5 minutes to dry them out slightly. They'll come out of the oven soft, but they'll crisp up as they cool down.
More Christmas cookie recipes for you!
Candy Cane Cookies Recipe
- 2 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- red liquid or gel food coloring * see notes
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment or with a wooden spoon by hand, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined and slightly pale in color. It should take about 2 minutes on medium speed with a mixer or 5 minutes by hand.
- Add the egg, and peppermint and vanilla extracts to the butter mixture. Mix together until combined. Add in your dry ingredients and mix until your dough starts to stick together.
- Portion out half of the dough, and wrap in plastic wrap. Set aside. Dye the remaining half of dough red (start with about ¼ a teaspoon of gel food coloring or 1 teaspoon liquid, and gradually add more if needed, until you reach a bright and vibrant shade of red). Wrap the red dough in plastic wrap as well. Chill both halves of the dough in your fridge for 2 hours, or until firmed up.Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Take your 2 doughs out of the fridge, and unwrap. Pinch off a piece of white dough and a piece of red dough (about 1 tablespoon each). Roll each color dough into a 5 inch rope. Twist the two colored ropes of dough to create a spiral, and curve the top to create a hook. (See above for photos)
- Transfer the shaped candy cane cookies to your parchment lined baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining dough. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of space between each cookie to allow for expansion in the oven. You'll need to bake these cookies in 2 or 3 batches (depending on the size of your baking sheet), so keep any unused dough stored in the fridge. If baking your batches on the same baking sheet, then allow the pan to cool completely to room temperature before adding your next round of cookies onto it.
- Bake your cookies in the center of a preheated 350°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned along the edges and bottoms. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely to room temperature.