Basic Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Basic Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

Total Time
Prep: 15 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch
Impress your guests with these visually appealing pinwheel cookies. Our easy-to-follow recipe combines classic vanilla and rich chocolate doughs into a beautiful, swirled treat that requires just 15 minutes to prep.

Updated: Jul. 08, 2024

Combining the classic flavors of vanilla and chocolate, these pinwheel cookies are a surprisingly simple treat to whip up that never fails to impress. Whether you’re baking for a special occasion or just want to elevate your everyday cookie game, this recipe requires just 15 minutes to prep over six dozen cookies.

The key to perfect pinwheel cookies lies in the chilling process—you need to allow the dough to firm up in the fridge for a smooth rolling and slicing process. The result is cookies that not only taste great but also make a stunning addition to any cookie platter or gift box.

Ingredients for Pinwheel Cookies

  • Butter: A cup of softened butter adds richness and helps create a tender cookie. Here’s how to soften butter quickly.
  • Sugar: A combination of white and brown sugars provides sweetness and a hint of caramel-like flavor.
  • Eggs: Two large eggs provide structure and help bind the ingredients together. Make sure they’re at room temperature before baking.
  • Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract helps enhance the overall flavor of these pinwheel cookies.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour forms the base of the cookie dough and gives it structure.
  • Baking powder: Two teaspoons of baking powder contributes to the light texture of these cookies and helps the dough rise slightly while it bakes.
  • Baking cocoa: Baking cocoa in half of the dough creates the chocolate portion of the pinwheel.


Step 1: Cream the butter and sugars

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with white and brown sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.

Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add this dry mixture to the creamed butter mixture and mix well until fully combined.

Step 3: Create the chocolate dough

Divide the dough in half. Add the cocoa powder to one portion and mix well to create the chocolate dough. Divide each portion (plain and chocolate) in half again.

Step 4: Roll the dough

On a baking sheet, roll out each portion between sheets of waxed paper into a 12×10-inch rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up the dough.

Editor’s Tip: For perfectly even rectangles, use a measuring mat to measure and trim the edges of your dough.

Step 5: Create pinwheels

Remove the waxed paper and place one chocolate rectangle over a plain rectangle. Starting from the long side, roll the dough tightly in a jelly-roll style to create the pinwheel effect. Wrap in plastic and repeat with the remaining dough. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm.

Step 6: Slice and bake

Unwrap the chilled dough logs and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 10 to12 minutes or until set.

Step 7: Cool the pinwheel cookies

Allow the pinwheel cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Pinwheel Cookie Variations

  • Add a vanilla glaze: Once the pinwheel cookies have cooled, drizzle a simple vanilla glaze over the cookies for visual appeal.
  • Incorporate chopped nuts: Mix 1/2 cup of finely chopped walnuts or pecans to the vanilla dough for added texture to this pinwheel cookie recipe.
  • Add a coffee twist: Mix a tablespoon of instant espresso powder into the chocolate dough for a subtle coffee flavor that enhances the chocolate pinwheel.
  • Roll in colored sugar: Before baking the cookies, roll them in colored sugar for a colorful twist.
  • Make it zesty: Add a teaspoon of freshly grated lemon zest to the vanilla dough for a bright flavor that complements the chocolate pinwheel.

How to Store Pinwheel Cookies

Store cooled pinwheel cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. You can also store them in the fridge for up to two months.

Can you freeze pinwheel cookies?

Yes, you can freeze pinwheel cookies. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags. They will keep for up to eight months in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Pinwheel Cookies Tips

How do you achieve perfect swirls in pinwheel cookies?

To achieve perfect swirls in these pinwheel cookies, make sure that each layer of dough is even—you can use a ruler or measuring mat to measure out the sizes of the plain and chocolate rectangles. Rolling the dough tightly from one end to the other will also result in perfect pinwheels.

Can you use different colors in pinwheel cookies?

For a festive twist, add a few drops of red or green food coloring to the plain dough. For a seasonal variation, substitute peppermint extract for the vanilla extract.

How do I prevent pinwheel cookies from spreading too much while baking?

Making sure that the pinwheel dough is well-chilled before baking is key to preventing the cookies from spreading as they bake. You can also chill the sliced cookies on the baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes before putting them in the oven.

How to get clean slices when cutting pinwheel cookies?

A sharp, thin knife will help you achieve clean pinwheel slices—wipe it clean between cuts. If the dough is too soft, chill it for a few more minutes before cutting. You can also use unflavored dental floss to cut the dough for perfectly clean slices.

Basic Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 10 min
Yield 6 dozen


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa


  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  2. Divide dough in half; add cocoa to one portion. Divide each portion in half. On a baking sheet, roll out each portion between waxed paper into a 12x10-in. rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove waxed paper. Place one chocolate rectangle over a plain rectangle. Roll up tightly, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; wrap in plastic. Repeat with remaining dough. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Unwrap and cut into 1/4-in. slices.
  4. Place 2 in. apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Nutrition Facts

2 each: 153 calories, 6g fat (3g saturated fat), 25mg cholesterol, 87mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (14g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.

This recipe evolved from several different recipes that I combined into one. I've never received so many compliments on my baking!—Denise Hufford, Midland, Michigan
Recipe Creator