Candy Cane Cookies

Candy cane cookies are twists of red and white cookie dough flavored with peppermint extract. They’re such a fun Christmas cookie recipe to make for the holidays, or whenever you want!

Candy Cane Cookies
Irvin Lin

Practically everyone has lived through one of those crazy roommate situations — the kind that provides fodder for endless stories over cocktails. These stories are amusing in retrospect, but never fun when they are actually happening. (One of mine actually involved a missing python snake in our apartment.)

But every now and then, something decent comes from all the insanity. One of my favorite memories from an otherwise mismatched roommate situation is learning how to make candy cane cookies.

Candy Cane Cookie Dough on Baking Sheet
Irvin Lin
Hand Sprinkling Sugar on Candy Cane Cookies
Irvin Lin

What Are Candy Cane Cookies?

Though I have always loved to bake, my family wasn't really into it — and the holidays were no exception. Holiday cookies were pretty much nonexistent in my home, and it wasn’t until I moved out that I discovered that holiday cookies were a thing.

So, these cookies weren’t even on my radar until that fateful roommate pairing. We were still in our "honeymoon" period when he suggested we make candy cane cookies.

I had no idea what he meant and thought they must be cookies made with crushed candy canes. But my roommate showed me the magic of rolling red and white cookie dough into ropes, twisting them together, and then shaping them into canes.

Finished Candy Cane Cookies on Baking Pan
Irvin Lin

I was enchanted and have never looked back.

Eventually, our roommate situation grew toxic, and I moved out. I have no regrets about living with him, though. The rent was cheap, the apartment was spacious, and I have the forever gift of these candy cane cookies.

How to Freeze Candy Cane Cookies

These cookies freeze quite well, either unbaked or baked, for about a month.

If unbaked, shape the cookies and arrange them close together on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking mat. Freeze until the cookies are solid, then transfer to a freezer-safe, zip-top bag or other airtight container. No need to thaw; just bake from frozen and add an extra minute or two to the baking time.

If baked, allow the cookie to cool completely, then package in foil and then in a freezer-safe, zip-top bag or other airtight container to protect them from freezer burn or from picking up freezer odors.

Troubleshooting Tips

  • Refrigerate the unused dough as you shape the cookies to keep the dough from warming up between batches.
  • If your dough keeps breaking, let it some to temperature before working with it.
  • If your dough is too dry, sprinkle some cool water over work it into the dough until it comes together.
  • If your cookies spread too much in the oven, chill the shaped, unbaked cookies in the fridge (or better yet, freezer) for a few minutes before putting them in the oven.
  • Let the cookie sheets cool completely before putting in the next batch. Hot cookie sheets can cause the butter in the dough to melt and leak out, resulting in misshapen cookies.

Storage Tips for Candy Cane Cookies

  • After baking, these cookies will keep for 1-2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Freeze the baked cookies, well wrapped, up to 2 months.
  • Refrigerate the dough, wrapped tightly in plastic, for up to 3 days.
  • Frozen shaped cookies can go straight from the freezer to the oven (you'll likely need to add a couple more minutes of baking time).
  • For make-ahead baking, shape the cookies and freeze them in a zip-top bag until ready to bake. Freeze the shaped cookies on a lined tray until firm, then bag up.

Looking for More Cookies for Your Cookie Tray?

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Candy Cane Cookies

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 24 mins
Chilling 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 44 mins
Servings 36 servings
Yield 36 cookies

These cookies are easier to make than they look. Make one simple dough, split it in two and add red food coloring to one half. Roll two different ropes of dough, twist them together, and shape into "candy canes."

A lot of recipes tell you to sprinkle crushed candy canes (real ones!) over the cookies right out of the oven. You can certainly do that, but I prefer to brush the cookies with an egg white wash and sprinkle them with sparkling sugar instead. The sugar sticks to the cookie because of the wash and makes the finished product more enticing than the average candy cane cookie.


  • 2 sticks (227g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 cup (200g) sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 3/4 cup (385g) all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring

To finish

  • 1 egg white

  • 2 tablespoons sparkling sugar

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer


  1. Make the dough:

    Place the butter, sugar, peppermint, vanilla, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of stand mixer. Beat until a paste forms and clings to the side of the bowl.

    Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the egg until it is absorbed. Add the flour and beat until just combined and no more dry streaks of flour remain.

    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
  2. Color half the dough:

    Divide and remove half the dough from the bowl. Carefully add the red food coloring to the remaining dough. Mix on low until the color is evenly distributed.

    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
  3. Chill the dough:

    Pat each piece of dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
  4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF:

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

  5. Shape the cookies;

    The chilled dough should be firm, but still easy to shape straight from the fridge. If not, let it warm for just a few minutes until malleable. Don't let it warm too much or it will be too soft to work with again.

    Pinch off a 1-inch round piece of the white dough and roll it out to a 5-inch rope. Do the same with a piece of the red dough (make sure the ropes are the same length).

    Place the ropes next to each other and twist together. Transfer to the baking sheet and curve the top of the dough into a candy cane shape.

    Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart.

    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
    Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
    Candy Cane Cookie Dough on Baking Sheet
    Irvin Lin
  6. Top the cookies with sparkling sugar

    Make the egg white wash by beating the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water until foamy. Brush the top of each cookie with the egg white wash and then sprinkle with the sugar.

    Hand Sprinkling Sugar on Candy Cane Cookies
    Irvin Lin
  7. Bake the cookies

    Bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just barely brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

    These cookies will keep for a week or two in a sealed container at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
111 Calories
5g Fat
14g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 36
Amount per serving
Calories 111
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 36mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 17mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.