Everyone will ask for the recipe when you serve these candy cane cookies at your holiday party. These whimsical cookies are shaped like candy canes, flavored with vanilla and almond extract, and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy.
They’re perfect when you’re on the hunt for cookie exchange recipes or a new treat in your holiday cookie assortment.
Candy Cane Cookie Ingredients
- Shortening: Shortening has a high melting point and traps more air bubbles than butter. This helps baked goods hold their shape better, which is imperative for these cookies’ iconic shape.
- Butter: Butter adds fat to these cookies for a rich taste.
- Confectioners’ sugar: Confectioners’ sugar dissolves easily when creaming with fats, while still adding sweetness.
- Egg: An egg binds the ingredients together so the cookies do not fall apart.
- Extracts: Almond and vanilla extracts add a sweet, nutty flavor to these cookies.
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour gives these cookies their structure and ability to roll and twist into the candy cane shape.
- Red food coloring: Red food coloring is used in half the dough so the twisted dough resembles a candy cane.
- Peppermint candy: Crushed peppermint candy is a beautiful finishing touch on these cookies. It imparts the candy cane flavor while not overpowering the overall taste.
Step 1: Make the dough
In a large bowl, use a hand or stand mixer and cream the shortening, butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy, three to four minutes. Beat in the egg and extracts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the shortening mixture until just combined.
Step 2: Color and refrigerate the dough
Divide the dough in half. Beat the food coloring into one portion. Cover each dough portion with storage wrap, and refrigerate until the doughs are easy to handle, about two hours. During the final 10 minutes of cool time, preheat your oven to 375°F.
Step 3: Shape the candy cane cookies
Shape 1 teaspoon of the plain dough into a 4-inch rope. Shape 1 teaspoon of the red dough into a 4-inch rope. Place the ropes parallel to each other; lightly press together, and twist. Place the twisted dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Curve the top of the cookie down to form the handle of the candy cane. Repeat process with the remaining plain and red dough, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
Editor’s Tip: Make your cookie sizes consistent by measuring one rope with a ruler and using that rope as a guide for shaping the rest of the ropes.
Step 4: Bake the candy cane cookies
Bake the cookies until set, eight to nine minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the crushed candy and sugar. Sprinkle the warm cookies with the crushed candy mixture. Transfer the cookies to wire racks, and let cool to room temperature.
Candy Cane Cookie Variations
- Use a different garnish: If you don’t love the taste of peppermint, omit the crushed peppermint candy, and finish the cookies with festive Christmas sprinkles.
- Sprinkle on edible glitter: Once the cookies are finished baking, dust them with a food-safe edible glitter. The sparkle and shine will add to the cookie’s festive look.
How to Store Candy Cane Cookies
To store, allow the cookies to cool to room temperature, then place them in an airtight container. If you’re stacking them in the container, lay down a piece of parchment or waxed paper in between each layer. Store them at room temperature for up to one week, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to three months.
To store unbaked candy cane cookies, make the dough and shape the cookies, then arrange them on a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze them for one hour, then place the unbaked cookies in an airtight container for up to three months. Bake according to the instructions. There’s no need to thaw the cookie dough before baking, but do add an additional minute or two to the bake time.
Candy Cane Cookies Tips
How do you make crushed candy canes?
To make crushed candy canes, place candy canes in a resealable bag, and seal the bag. Place the bag of candy canes on a kitchen towel on a very stable surface. Using a meat mallet or hammer, carefully hit the candy canes until they’re broken into small pieces.
How do I make these candy cane cookies smaller?
To make these candy cane cookies smaller, use 1/2 teaspoon each of white and red dough for each cookie, and roll each rope to 2 inches long. Reduce the baking time to six to eight minutes. Finely crushed peppermint candy adheres well to the warm cookies.