Sweet peppermint sugar cookies shaped into red and white swirled candy cane shapes are a must this holiday season! This easy recipe makes the best Candy Cane Cookies you’ve ever tried.
For me, baking Christmas cookies is a different experience than baking a batch of cookies on any other day.
Baking classic Christmas cookies like candy cane cookies, gingerbread cookies, and thumbprint cookies is a sacred tradition, filled with happy memories, holiday music, and time in the kitchen with loved ones.
If you’re looking to create or update your own Christmas cookie-baking tradition, You should definitely add this Candy Cane Cookie recipe to your list! They are just slightly more difficult than making a standard round sugar cookie and will be beautiful on your holiday cookie trays.
Why You Will Love This Candy Cane Cookie Recipe
- It’s a Classic! In some families, it just isn’t Christmas without these molded peppermint candy cane sugar cookies on the table. If you haven’t had these before, make them this year and start a new delicious tradition.
- A Fun Cookie Recipe: Molded cookies like this one let you get your hands dirty, and making candy canes out of cookie dough is a lot like playing with modeling clay! Kids will love helping you with this part too.
- Sweet Peppermint Flavor: Just like candy canes, these cookies are flavored with peppermint extract and vanilla to make them minty, but not so minty that it’s overwhelming to the buttery sugar cookie flavors of the dough.
- Soft, perfect texture: These cookies are tender and soft to bite into. Just like a classic sugar cookie, but a little bit firmer so that the candy canes hold their shapes.
Candy Cane Sugar Twists Ingredients
Complete list of ingredients with quantities and instructions is located in the recipe card below
- Flour, Cornstarch, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and Salt: The dry ingredients! A carefully tested blend of cornstarch, baking soda, and baking powder gives these cookies the perfect texture.
- Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is our sweetener here. We’re also using coarse sugar sprinkles to decorate.
- Butter: I recommend unsalted butter for almost all of my cookie recipes. It’s easier to control the amount of salt in the recipe this way. Be sure to let the butter come to room temperature before starting.
- Egg: Just one whole egg is needed for this easy cookie recipe. Let the egg come to room temperature too so that the cookie dough is well-mixed.
- Vanilla Extract and Peppermint Extract: These two work together so well to make cookies that taste like candy canes! Or you can use almond extract if you prefer.
- Red Food Coloring: Use gel food coloring to easily tint the dough a dark red color.
How To Make Candy Cane Cookies
- Cream Butter and Sugar: In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer. Mix until smooth, then add the egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract and mix for an additional minute or so until well combined.
- Add Dry Ingredients: Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) together in a separate mixing bowl. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
- Mix: Mix with the electric mixer until just combined. Avoid overmixing this dough.
- Tint Half Red: Split the dough into two equal halves. Remove half of the dough and place it in a separate, clean bowl. To the other half, add 1 teaspoon of red gel food coloring, and mix it in. Add additional food coloring if needed to get to your desired shade of Christmas red.
- Chill: Form each bowl of dough into a ball and then flatten gently with your hands into a disc about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. After the dough is properly chilled and you’re ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll Balls: Cut each dough disk into small cubes that are about an inch in size. Keep them on the small side. If you don’t pay attention these cookies can very easily get too big! Roll each piece of dough into a ball.
- Make Ropes: Roll each dough ball into a dough rope that is 5 or 6 inches long. Be sure that all of the ropes are about the same size and the same length.
- Twist: Place one original dough rope and a red dough rope side by side and begin to twist them together until one rope forms. Place the twisted rope on the cookie sheet and bend the top forward creating a candy cane shape.
- Bake: Bake the cookies for 5-7 minutes, or until the bottoms are just starting to brown. Sprinkle with coarse sugar as soon as you pull them out of the oven. Let the candy cane cookies cool on the trays for a few minutes, then carefully transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.
Top Candy Cane Cookie Tips
- Be Sure to Measure Your Ingredients Correctly. The wrong ratio of flour to butter in this recipe could make all of your hard work spread all over the tray. You can use a kitchen scale to measure the flour if you want to be very precise. Otherwise, be sure to scoop the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a knife, rather than scooping the cup into the container of flour.
- Use Peppermint Extract. At the grocery store, you’ll find “mint” extract and “peppermint” extract. Mint extract will not give you the flavor you want for this recipe, so be sure to grab the right kind.
- Chilling is Very Important. Keeping the dough cold will ensure that it’s easy to work with. You’ll need to touch this dough quite a bit to make the candy canes, so it will warm up as you go. You can always pop it back into the fridge for a bit if you find it getting too soft.
- Playing With the Dough Too Much will also make it hard to work with, and could make the baked cookies extra fragile.
- Be Very Careful with These! The long thin shape of the candy cane cookies makes them easily breakable.
- Decorations: I love the sparkly snowflake effect that coarse sugar sprinkles (aka “Sparkling Sugar“) give to these cookies, but you could also use colored sugar sprinkles or crushed-up candy canes instead. Candy cane cookies are totally delicious without any sprinkles too.
TWIST TIP! After your rope is twisted, pinch the top and bottom together gently and twist slowly from both the top and bottom once you’ve placed it on the parchment paper. This will give you a couple of added twists!
How to Store Candy Cane Cookies
Keep in mind that these cookies can be a bit fragile due to their shape. Just be careful moving them around for storage!
To store baked cookies, pack them in an airtight container and store them at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
To freeze baked cookies, wrap them well and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
How to Make the Dough Ahead of Time
Freeze the unbaked cookies. The best way to make candy cane cookies ahead of time is to make the entire recipe, all the way up to shaping the cookies and putting them on a sheet pan. Freeze the unbaked candy canes on the pan, then remove them and place them in a zip-top bag for up to two months.
When you’re ready to bake these Christmas cookies, bake per the recipe instructions. You don’t even need to thaw them out!
How To Ship Candy Cane Cookies
Getting a package in the mail with fresh Christmas cookies is the best thing ever! It’s so wonderful of you to do that for your loved ones.
These cookies can be shipped, but I’ll caution you that you’ll need to pack them really, really well to keep them from breaking in transit. Because of the thin, long shape of the candy cane cookies, they are more easily broken. Round cookies are usually easier to ship, but you can make a care package happen with these candy canes!
I suggest wrapping each cookie individually in multiple layers of plastic wrap. Then place all of the cookies in a tin or sturdy box, with plenty of bubble wrap or paper padding all the spaces in between each cookie. Then place that box in a larger box that is also well-padded with packing material.
The key is to keep the cookies from moving around too much in their box and give them lots of cushioning to shield them from any impact.
Make These Other Fun and Easy Christmas Cookies Too!
- Stacked Christmas Tree Cookies are just as impressive as these candy cane cookies, and are filled with layers of creamy buttercream frosting.
- You’ll love our recipe for Classic Gingerbread Cookies. Cut them out to look like little people and add simple icing decorations.
- You’ll also see traditional Rugelach and Stained Glass Cookies here too.
- Wait, there’s more! Go check out our whole list of Christmas Cookies, or skip right to these super simple Cake Mix Crinkle Cookies if you’re looking for an easy one.
Of course, you can! Make green and white candy canes if you like, or skip the white dough and make the canes red AND green.
Yes, I’m sure. It takes quite a bit of red liquid food coloring to make a color dark enough to be true red. Typically, anything dyed with red liquid color will end up pink. The gel color is thicker and more concentrated so you don’t need to add much, and it won’t affect the consistency of the dough.
This is the best recipe for peppermint Candy Cane Cookies! I’ve tested it and I know that your family is going to love it as much as mine does. Don’t forget to Pin the recipe, and stop back to let us know how you liked it!