Candy Cane Cookies

updated Dec 15, 2023
Candy Cane Cookies Recipe

The easiest way to make these iconic Christmas cookies at home.

Makes24 cookies

Prep30 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 12 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Overhead shot of baked candy cane cookies on white parchment paper.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

Over my years of writing for The Kitchn, I’ve shared almost all of my favorite holiday cookies, from my mother’s famous peppermint cream-filled butter cookies (followed by the much less finicky peppermint cream squares the following year) to rugelach and gingerbread cookies. I’ve saved one of my most beloved cookies for last. These candy cane cookies are the best.

These candy cane cookies are so easy, kids can actually help make them — unlike the more delicate cut-out cookies. The dough is as soft as playdough and easy for little hands to roll into “snakes” and twist into candy cane spirals.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Candy Cane Cookies

  1. Beat the butter and sugar together. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the egg and extracts. Beat in an egg, vanilla extract, and almond or peppermint extract.
  3. Dye half the dough. Set aside half of the dough. Dye the remaining dough red with food coloring.
  4. Chill the dough. This dough is easiest to work with when it’s slightly chilled. Chill it in the fridge for at least an hour before shaping the cookies.
  5. Shape the candy canes. Pinch of pieces of each dough and roll out into ropes. Twist the ropes together, then place on the baking sheet, “hooking” the top to make it look like a candy cane.
  6. Chill the shaped cookies. Chill the shaped cookies for 15 minutes so they maintain their shape during baking.
  7. Bake the cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

What Flavorings Work Besides Peppermint?

My brother wasn’t a huge fan of peppermint flavor as a kid, so my mom sometimes made these with almond extract instead. As grown-ups, we both love that vanilla-mint flavor, but if you or your kids are similarly averse to the strong flavor of peppermint, know that almond is a perfectly acceptable and time-honored substitute!

How Long Do Candy Cane Cookies Last?

One last thing to share about these cookies: they’re better the second day. I don’t know why this is, but I always find it to be true. Just after baking, they’re okay — a perfectly decent butter cookie. But the second day, suddenly I find myself making excuses to walk through the kitchen just so I can break off another nibble.

Candy Cane Cookies Recipe

The easiest way to make these iconic Christmas cookies at home.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 12 minutes

Makes 24 cookies

Nutritional Info


    • 2 sticks

      (8 ounces) unsalted butter

    • 1 cup

      powdered sugar

    • 1

      large egg

    • 1 teaspoon

      vanilla extract

    • 1 teaspoon

      peppermint extract, or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

    • 3 cups

      all-purpose flour

    • 1 teaspoon

      kosher salt

    • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon

      red food coloring


    1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened.

    2. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed until fluffy and frosting-like. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint or almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, beat in 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon kosher salt just until no more visible flour remains.

    3. Use a stiff spatula to mix the dough a few times by hand to work in any last bits of flour. Divide the dough in half and remove half of the dough. Add 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring to the remaining dough in the bowl. Work the color into the dough with the spatula, kneading by hand, or in the mixer on low speed, whichever method seems easiest to you. Add more food coloring as needed until the dough is a bright, vibrant red.

    4. Pat both pieces of dough into 1-inch thick discs and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. This will make the cookies easier to roll out and shape.

    5. When ready to bake the cookies, arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

    6. Unwrap both pieces of dough. Pinch off walnut-sized pieces of the doughs (about 2 tablespoons each). Roll each into a thick rope about 6 inches long. Pinch a red and white rope together at the top, then gently twist them together. Repeat wtih the remaining dough. If the dough starts to break as you roll it or become hard to work with, put it back in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. Transfer the twisted ropes to the baking sheets and gently "hook" the top to create a candy cane shape.

    7. Refrigerate the cookies on the baking sheets for 15 minutes before baking — this helps the cookies hold their shape during baking.

    8. Bake until the bottom edges and the tips of the cookies are just barely starting to turn golden-brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.

    Recipe Notes

    Storage: Store the cookies between layers of wax or parchment paper in an airtight container at room temperature. They are actually best the day after baking (their flavors have time to mellow) and will stay fresh for about 2 weeks.