These candy cane cookies are an absolute treat! They’re rich, dense, and bursting with the flavors of butter and peppermint. Red and white cookie dough flavored with peppermint extract twist together to make these Christmas treats. They’re easy to make and a complete crowd-pleaser!
The classic candy cane shape of these cookies instantly gives them a festive look. Top that off with red food coloring and a delicious peppermint extract flavor, and you have classic Christmas candy cane cookies. They’re the perfect holiday twist on a regular shortbread cookie.
Plus, they’re dense cookies, which means you can hang them on your tree as edible ornaments! If you’re looking for other easy holiday treats, try these homemade peanut butter cups and these make-ahead Christmas cookies!
This recipe comes from the vintage Better Homes and Garden 1985 book titled “Cookies for Christmas”. The candy cane recipe comes with inspiration to hang the cookies on your Christmas tree!
Table of Contents
Why I Love This Recipe
- Quick: You don’t need to spend all day in the kitchen with this recipe. From mixing the dough to shaping the candy canes, and finally baking them in the oven, the total time required is minimal. Plus, the dough only needs to chill for a short half-hour before you can start creating your candy cane shapes.
- Family favorite: The peppermint flavor of these cookies, combined with the fun of twisting the red and white dough into candy cane shapes, makes this recipe a hit with kids and adults alike. It’s a great activity for the whole family to enjoy together during the Christmas season.
- Delicious: These cookies aren’t just fun to make, they’re also incredibly tasty. The combination of the buttery cookie dough with the subtle hint of peppermint creates a sweet treat that’s hard to resist.
- Festive: The red and white twists of these cookies make them a visually appealing addition to any Christmas cookie platter. The use of red food coloring in half the dough gives them a vibrant, festive look that’s perfect for the holiday season.
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- Butter: The butter, being the fat in this recipe, gives your candy cane cookies a delicious buttery flavor.
- Powdered Sugar: Sifted powdered sugar brings a smooth sweetness to your cookie dough, guaranteeing that there are no lumps in your mixture.
- Egg: A large egg acts as the binding agent in this recipe, helping to hold all the ingredients together.
- Vanilla: A hint of vanilla adds a classic, sweet aroma to your cookies, enhancing their overall flavor.
- Peppermint Extract: This is what gives your candy cane cookies their distinctive, refreshing peppermint flavor. It is a twist that makes these cookies a Christmas favorite.
- Salt: A pinch of salt is added to balance the sweetness of the cookies and enhance their flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour: The backbone of your cookies, all-purpose flour provides the structure, helping them hold their candy cane shape.
- Red Food Coloring: This is used to color half of the dough red, creating the iconic candy cane twist. The type of food coloring you use can greatly impact the taste of your cookie. Red food coloring can have a bitter taste, so I recommend using Wilton’s Food Coloring. It has no taste and gives a beautiful red.
- Large Mixing Bowl – This is where you’ll be doing most of your work, from beating the butter and sugar together to mixing in the egg, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt. It is also where you’ll divide and color the dough.
- Electric Mixer – An electric mixer is ideal for beating the butter until softened and guaranteeing that the powdered sugar is well incorporated. If you don’t have one, a hand whisk will still get the job done, but it might take a bit more elbow grease.
- Baking Sheet – You’ll need a baking sheet to place your candy canes on before they go into the oven. No greasing is necessary, which makes cleanup super easy.
How to Make Candy Cane Cookie
Start by preheating your oven to a temperature of 375˚ F. This will make sure that your oven is at the right temperature when you’re ready to bake your cookies.
Step 1 – Prepare the Dough
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter using a mixer until it is softened. Then add powdered sugar and continue beating until the mixture is fluffy. Now, add the egg, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and salt into the bowl and mix them in. Scrape down the side of the bowl until the egg is fully absorbed. Finally, add flour and beat the mixture until it forms a dough.
Step 2 – Color the Dough
Divide the dough into two equal parts. Remove one half of the dough from the bowl and set it aside. With the remaining half in the bowl, mix in the red food coloring until it is well incorporated into the dough. Cover each half of the dough and let them chill in the refrigerator for about half an hour.
Step 3 – Form the Candy Canes
Take one teaspoon of red dough and one teaspoon of white dough. Roll each piece into a rope about four inches long. Place the red and white ropes side by side and twist them together to create a candy cane shape. Place your candy cane-shaped cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.
Step 4 – Bake the Cookies
Bake your cookies in the preheated oven for about eight to ten minutes, or until the edges start to turn slightly golden brown. Once done, remove your cookies from the oven and let them cool on a rack.
- Choose your red food coloring wisely: The type of food coloring you use can greatly impact the flavor of your cookies. Some red food colorings can have a bitter taste, so I recommend using Wilton Food Coloring. It is tasteless and gives a vibrant red color to your dough.
- Watch the bake: Keep a close eye on your cookies as they bake. Remove them from the oven as soon as the edges start to turn golden brown. This will guarantee your cookies are baked perfectly and not overdone.
- Colorful Twists: Add a fun twist to your cookies by using different food colorings. You can divide the dough into several parts and color each one differently. Then twist them together for colorful and festive Christmas cookies. Just remember to use high-quality gel food coloring to avoid altering the flavor.
- Icing and Decorations: You can even add icing to your candy cane cookies in white and red, and then sprinkle some edible sugar on top or some finely crushed peppermint candy to make it look festive. Alternatively, some edible glitter or crushed candy cane would look great too. Try my two-ingredient icing for a delicious and easy option.
- Other Flavors: You can also make a white chocolate glaze to go on top of your delicious Christmas cookies. It will make your cookies taste even better. Alternatively, you can add some almond extract to the cookie dough as well.
What to Serve With
- For a delicious breakfast surprise, serve these candy cane cookies with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa. The warm drink compliments the peppermint flavor, making it a great way to start your Christmas morning!
- Candy cane cookies can be a sweet and festive side dish for your holiday dinner. They pair well with savory dishes, offering a refreshing peppermint twist.
- These cookies are a perfect addition to your afternoon tea party during the holiday season. The peppermint flavor pairs wonderfully with a robust Earl Grey or a fragrant Chai tea.
- Candy cane cookies are a fun and festive snack for your holiday movie night. Enjoy them while watching your favorite Christmas flicks!
- If you’re looking for a unique dessert to bring to a holiday potluck, these candy cane cookies are a great choice. They’re not only delicious but also add a festive touch to the dessert table.
- These cookies also make a fantastic edible Christmas decoration. Hang them on your tree, they’ll add a charming festive touch and can be enjoyed straight from the tree!
Candy cane cookies are a delicious twist on a regular shortbread cookie. They contain no baking powder or baking soda, resulting in a dense, sweet cookie with a hint of peppermint flavor from the extract. The dough is divided into two, with one half colored red, then twisted together to form the perfect candy cane shape.
To avoid lumps in your cookie dough, make sure to sift the powdered sugar before mixing it into the dough. This will help guarantee a smooth and even consistency in your cookies.
Chilling the dough makes it easier to work with when shaping the candy canes. Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator and only pull out a small portion to work with at a time.
It’s important to choose your red food coloring wisely since it can greatly impact the taste of your cookies. Some red food colorings can leave a bitter taste, so I recommend using Wilton Food Coloring. It has no taste and provides a beautiful red color.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigerate: Once your candy cane cookies have cooled down, you can store them in an airtight container and pop them into the refrigerator. They’ll stay fresh and delicious for up to three days.
- Freeze: If you want to make your cookies last even longer, you can freeze them. However, do note that the texture may change slightly upon thawing. To freeze, place your cooled cookies on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Once solid, transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be stored this way for up to three months.
- Thawing Instructions: If you’ve frozen your candy cane cookies, you’ll need to let them thaw before serving. Simply remove the desired number of cookies from the freezer and let them sit at room temperature for about an hour or two. They’ll be ready to enjoy it in no time!
What to Expect: This candy cane cookie recipe yields about 40 Christmas cookies, each with a unique twist of red and white dough.
How to Scale: If you’re planning a big Christmas party or simply want to have more of these delicious cookies, you can easily double the recipe. Just ensure to use a larger bowl to mix the ingredients and a bigger baking sheet to accommodate the increased quantity of cookie dough. Follow the rest of the instructions as directed.
Candy Cane Cookies
- 1 Cup Butter softened
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar sifted
- 1 Large Egg
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
- 1/8 teaspoon Salt
- 2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Red Food Coloring
- Preheat oven to 375˚ F.
- In a large bowl using a mixer, beat the butter until softened. Add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt and mix in. Add flour and beat until it forms a dough.
- Divide the dough in half. Take 1/2 half of the dough out of the bowl. With the remaining half, mix in the red food coloring until well combined. Cover each half and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, take 1 teaspoon of red dough and 1 teaspoon of white dough. Roll each into a 4-inch rope. Place both ropes beside each other and twist together. Form into a cane—place canes on an un-greased baking sheet.
- Bake in a preheated 375˚ F oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges start to slightly turn golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.