Stained Glass Cookies

Beautiful, festive stained glass cookies. Sugar cookies cut out and filled with hard candy to look like stained glass windows when they are baked.

  • Yield: Makes 2 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on how large you make them.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 30-40 hard candies (such as Life Savers), preferably in several flavors/colors


1 Preheat oven, prepare baking sheets: Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

2 Beat butter, sugars, then add molasses, vanilla, then egg: Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and vanilla extract. Add egg and beat on medium speed until light and smooth.

3 Whisk together dry ingredients, add to wet: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a third at a time, mixing until the flour is just incorporated.

4 Chill the dough: Divide the dough in half and flatten into two disks. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour and up to 2 days.

5 Crush candies: Remove any plastic wrapping on the hard candies. Sort the hard candies by color and place them into separate plastic bags. Crush the candies with a mallet or hammer.


6 Roll out dough: Place one of the dough disks between two large sheets of waxed paper and use a rolling pin to roll out to an even thickness of 1/4-inch.

7 Cut shapes with cookie cutters: Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into forms. Transfer the cookies to a prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1 inch apart from each other. Using a smaller cookie cutter of similar shape or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies. (You can use the centers for extra dough.)

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8 Sprinkle crushed candies into cookie centers: Sprinkle the crushed candy into the empty centers of the cookies, filling them to the edges. Try to keep the candy within the centers. Any candy specks that fall on the cookie will color the cookie.

stained-glass-4.jpg stained-glass-5.jpg

9 Poke hole if using for decorations: If you plan on using the cookies as decoration, to be hung as an ornament, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking.

10 Bake: Bake at 375°F for 9 to 10 minutes. The candy should be bubbly and the cookies just barely beginning to brown. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

Allow cookies to cool on pans at least 10 minutes; otherwise, the candy centers may separate from the dough. When cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container.

String with ribbon if you want to hang as an ornament.

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  • Diane Keyser

    On the heart stained glass Christmas cookies there is the word Noel stamped in small letters? I’m not a crafty so I don’t know how I can do that. Can anybody help me?

  • Nicole Putkisto

    Dear Elise my name is Nicole Putkisto I recently viewed your recipes for the spritz cookies and the stained glass cookies. I was wondering if you think it would be possible to use the stained glass method for the center of the spritz cookie recipe?

    • Elise

      Hi Nicole, well the spritz cookies you push through a press, so I don’t know how you would adjust them so that they would have the stained glass center.

  • Gabrielle

    I had the same issue as Noa with many of the cookies sticking to the paper, although we ate them just the same. We then tried to spray PAM on the tray instead of using parchment paper, but to little avail. I would love to know the secret to not getting the candy filling to stick to the paper or tray!

  • nupur

    Hi Elise
    Thank you for the tip. My cookies turned out nice… well not as nice as ur images. :)
    A tip for anyone in South East Asia/ India : Use poppins, nothing else gives that glazed effect. i tried almost everything.

  • nupur

    Hi Elise
    Thank you so much for this beautiful recipes, I have tried a few of your recipes(lot of your ingredients are not available in India.
    When I tried this recipe, my dough became very sticky and just won’t leave the baking paper. Can I add more flour to it?

    I would try refrigerating the dough first. If that doesn’t help, add a little bit more flour. ~Elise

  • Erica

    Just read one of the other comments–to insure cookie removal with ease: I used parchment paper also and allowed the cookie (namely the candy part) to cool a few minutes before removing.

  • Erica

    I made these mini art pieces this Christmas and hung them in our kitchen window (beneath a real piece of stained glass) and they looked amazing! Loved how glass-like the Jolly Ranchers appeared. I also cheated and used sugar cookie mix, but it still functioned the same way and came out just fine! These were a hit–will definitely make these for gifts again next year.

  • Michelle Petit

    I just made my first batch of these. Last time I made something like this, I was about 13 and in Home Ec class. They are rather involved, but turned out great. I found these awesome candy canes by Wonka called “Original Spree” candy canes, very beautiful. These appear to be only issued during the holidays. Anyway, they melted beautifully without being too hard (came out a little chewy, in fact) and did a true stained glass look, with multi-colored “panes”. I’ll have to blog about this culinary success. YAY! o/

  • Noa Rapoza

    OK, so how do you keep the candy filling from sticking to the paper? I used parchment paper on my cookie sheet, but after it cooled, and I tried to lift the cookies off, the candy part was completely stuck to the paper! We ate around that part because we didn’t want to eat paper :) I would love to know the secret to keep this from happening.

  • Juliette

    For those outside the US, hard candy is equivalent to boiled sweets in the UK (e.g. pear drops, rhubarb and custard, Fox’s glacier fruits) or boiled lollies, e.g. barleysugar in NZ and Australia.

  • Kayla

    I made these and they were so fun! The one thing I did have a problem with was that the Lifesavers candies didn’t cook clear like the Jolly Ranchers did. I will exclusively use Jolly Ranchers from now on they give the best “glass” look. And they didn’t bake as long, but other than that they were fantastic.

  • Sharlene

    Be careful what shapes you use for this. I have a small gingerbread man cookie cutter but not much else so I cut a small hole in each and filled with candy. While cooking, the candy bubbled over the edges of the middle circle. The green Jolly Ranchers didn’t have much colour, but the red ones made the little men look like they had gaping gunshot wounds right in the middle of the chest. Tasty but frightening.

  • Desirae Debellis

    Love these! I’ve been making these for over 30 years.. They were great fun when I was a kid. Now as a mom, I cheat and use frozen cookie dough, still taste the same. I did notice that I had to make sure the rolling pin and cutting board were well floured prior to working with the dough or it was a sticky mess. Otherwise, I’m sure this is one of those recipes that my own kids will teach their kids, and so on…

  • Ana

    I used honey instead of molasses and it turned out great! Very delicious cookies! But the “glass” part not so well… Wax paper sticks to it, and there is nothing you can do about it. And there are bunch of tiny bubbles on the glass, so it doesn’t look perfect at all. I tried to zoom in the original picture from the recipe – looks like there are bubbles there too. Great idea but very hard to make it perfect:-(

  • Condor

    Is it okay to use honey instead of the molasses?

    You could try it that way. I haven’t made the substitution so don’t know how it would turn out. ~Elise

  • C

    Can I use refridgerated store bought sugar cookie mix?

    No idea. But if you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  • Megan

    I am new to Christmas cookie baking – these were easy, came out beautifully – thanks so much. The hardest part was finding cookie cutters that fit inside of each other – I used two different stars – I will look for trees for next year.
    I used Lifesavors and the red came out the best!!!
    Thanks again.

  • Ivy

    Egads! These are beautiful and the recipe seems very simple. Somehow I was wrong though. I’ve been waiting for two weeks to make these for Christmas and made them today. My cookies stuck to the paper so horribly I had to use flour.. which created more monster problems. Also I was so careful with the filling not to stray any out of the little cutouts.. but they bubbled all over anyway. I was intending to use these hanging from a small tree as the center piece on the food table.. now I cannot, they look like a tot made them and we don’t have children yet!

  • Karen

    This is a great recipe. INSTEAD of jolly ranchers or life savers I bought a box of Satin Hard Candy mix ( the kind they sell at christmas) and used the red, green, orange and peppermint ones from the box. I liked the spicy flavors for the christmas cookies as apposed to the fruit flavors. Worked great!

  • Tina

    How long do you think these will last sitting on the tree? I plan to just use them as ornaments, but not actually eat them. Well.. I might eat a few after they’ve cooled on the rack. =)

    I don’t know. A few weeks? As long as the environment is dry, they should last a while. ~Elise

  • Jessica

    I was so disappointed. I LOVE baking and trying new recipes. I’m having a “cookie exchange” party and thought these would make the perfect favors. The lifesavers only melted right on half the cookies and there wasn’t any rhyme or reason as to which turned out. I followed the directions carefully and even tried adjusting the baking time and the thickness of the cookies. I guess I’m no Martha Stewart with this particular recipe :-(

  • Bill Poole

    Awesome cookies they work great

  • cindy

    Can you make this with sugar cookies? I, nor my family, likes molasses or gingerbread. I thought the stained glass look would look beautiful with the sugar cookie with maybe some colored sugar sprinkles.

    I haven’t tried it with sugar cookies, but if you do, please let us know here how it turns out. ~Elise

  • Abby Izor

    I love these cookies! I made them yesterday and they turned out great! My daughter will be giving these to her 1st grade teacher as a Christmas gift. Thanks, Elise!

  • Karey

    A friend and I just finished making these – although we kept calling them “lollipop” cookies – Delicious, fun, and easy! If anyone ever wants to try out cutout cookies for the first time, I would reccomend this recipe. This is the first cookie recipe for cutout cookies that I have truly liked. The cookies could actually be picked up and transfered to the cookie sheets for baking even after they were warm and were rolled out 4 times! Maybe it’s the molasses… Thanks Elise!

  • Anna

    These are so pretty! But I just tried to make them and the dough spread onto the glass part. Is there a way to keep it from getting it messed up?

    Make bigger openings? You might try chilling the prepared cookies before baking them. ~Elise

  • Jess

    Wow! This recipe was so amazing–and so beautiful. I saw the pictures and just had to try it, and it turned out wonderfully! I will definitely have to try some more of your recipes…if they are half this good I know they’ll be a smash hit with my family. Thanks so much!

  • Amanda K.

    I made these today and they were fantastic. Couple things that might help others… first, I could not make the transfer from rolled cookie to the cookie sheet without breaking the dough. I solved this problem by rolling the dough on parchment paper, doing my cutouts and stained glass on the same parchment, then I just picked up the whole thing and placed it on the cookie sheet to bake. You can’t make as many at a time, but they cooked so fast, it didn’t really matter. Second, my cooking time was about 6-7 minutes – not 9-10 as indicated.

  • Massie

    I am planning on making these cookies either tomorrow or the day before xmas. Where can you find some really good cookie cutters?

    I found some good cookie cutters at a local cake decorating and baking shop. You might be able to find some online, or at your local grocery store. ~Elise

  • Heidi

    We made these cookies today, but they were so hard to remove from the parchment paper. How did you get them off after they were cooled without leaving the paper stuck to the back of the candy?

  • Kelly Geddes

    I used glasier fruits they worked great.

  • Amanda

    Well — after years of decorating with fondant, I tried these, and found out that:

    1) large cutout shapes work best
    2) keep tiny candy shrapnel from flying when you crush by wrapping your plastic baggie in a kitchen towel
    3) I tried to cheat and substitute decorating sugars with a few — only to find out they don’t melt like the lifesavers and ranchers do
    4) a silpat mat is a godsend for a project like this… they don’t stick at all!

  • Elena

    These cookies are so beautiful…
    I’m an italian girl and I didn’t understand very well what you mean for hard candies (also beacause there isn’t the brand Life Savers in Italy). We have big round fruit candies that are “hard” but I think they’re not the same.
    Can you post a photo of the candies so I can find something similar here?
    Thank you

    Hello Elena, here is a flickr photo I found of hard candy. The candy is hard, not chewable. They come in different colors and flavors. ~Elise

  • Summer D

    -9-10 minutes was a bit long for me, some of the candy discolored by 9 minutes.
    -Big holes are definitely better, at least 1″
    -Try making large cookies with several holes (we did big gingerbread men with faces and buttons in different colors)

  • janvoddy

    What are lifesavers? We have fisherman’s friends but I dint think they are the same and no idea about a jolly rancher? Maybe a fruit polo but I think they are too hard.

    LiveSavers and Jolly Ranchers are brands of hard candies sold in America. ~Elise

  • Liz

    Made these this past weekend with my 19 yr old home from College. Came out terrific. Remembered them from when I was a child will make again. So pretty, thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Vivian

    I made these yesterday for my son’s class party today and they came out beautiful AND tasty. So often beautiful cookies only look beautiful.

    One word of warning, we tried to make some xmas trees with small circles cut out to look like decorations, but larger cutouts seem to work much better. The small holes didn’t hold the candy as well and you couldn’t really get the same stained glass effect, they looked more slightly burnt.

  • SJK

    Elise, thanks for another great recipe (many of our family favorites have come from your site)! My husband and I made these tonight and they are beautiful and delicious. You rock! :)

  • Lindsey

    Could I make chocolate cookies and put candy cane bits in the middle? (I Still have leftover candy canes from the peppermint bark :-D )

  • Elise

    Speaking of gingerbread, Garrett, you can make this style of cookie with gingerbread dough too. That would be kind of fun, wouldn’t it?