For many, Hanukkah isn’t the same without a few sweet treats—especially the cookies from a rugelach recipe. These crescent-shaped cookies are filled with cinnamon-sugar and chopped pecans. They’re a great treat to serve alongside tea or coffee (or to eat by the handful!).
Like babka, rugelach has Jewish origins but has gained popularity in other communities as well. It’s not uncommon to see rugelach at a Hanukkah celebration and also on a Christmas-themed cookie tray. When a cookie is this tasty and pretty, it’s no surprise why! This holiday season, learn to whip up rugelach recipes for Hanukkah, Christmas or any holiday gathering you attend.
- Butter: If you forgot to bring your butter to room temperature before starting, learn how to soften butter quickly.
- Cream cheese: The high fat content of cream cheese is key in rugelach dough. Make sure your cream cheese is softened before starting this recipe.
- Cinnamon and sugar: The classic sweet-treat combo of cinnamon and sugar gives these cookies their cozy filling.
- Pecans: Pecans add a nutty flavor and crunchy texture to the rugelach.
Step 1: Make the dough
In a large bowl, use a hand or stand mixer to beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, and gradually add to the cream cheese mixture. Beat everything together well.
Step 2: Divide and chill
Divide the dough into fourths, and shape each into disk. Wrap each disk in storage wrap. Refrigerate the dough until it’s easy to handle, about one hour.
Editor’s Tip: You can keep the dough in the fridge for longer if you’d like. Prep this dough a few days in advance, and roll it out whenever you’re ready.
Step 3: Roll out the dough
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Roll out each portion of dough into a 12-inch circle between two sheets of waxed paper. Remove the top sheet of the waxed paper.
Editor’s Tip: Don’t substitute flour for the waxed paper! Doing so would make your dough tough and dry.
Step 4: Add the filling
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Brush each dough circle with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle each circle with 3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar (leaving about a 1/2-inch border of dough uncovered around the edge), and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons pecans.
Editor’s Tip: To give the rugelach cookies more flavor, toast the pecans before sprinkling over the top. It only takes a few minutes and adds a lot of flavor. Nuts can be finicky to toast since they start off slow and then suddenly brown rapidly, so get familiar with how to toast nuts the right way.
Step 5: Divide into wedges
Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut each circle into 12 wedges.
Step 6: Roll ’em up
Starting on the wide end of each wedge, roll up the cookies (try to keep as much of the filling inside as possible). Pop them onto an ungreased cookie sheet, pointed side down. Curve each cookie into a crescent shape.
Step 7: Bake and finish the rugelach
Bake the rugelach until golden brown, 24 to 26 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks. Brush the warm cookies with the remaining butter, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. This will give the rugelach cookies an extra-buttery flavor and a bit of crunch!
- Stuff the filling with dried fruit: Raisins, dates and cranberries all make excellent dried fruit fillings for rugelach. Our date-filled rugelach recipe is a contest winner for a reason!
- Make an irresistible chocolate rugelach: Chocolate makes everything better. Sprinkle chocolate chips into the filling, or make our chocolate rugelach recipe instead.
- Outfit them for fall: Omit the cinnamon-pecan filling for a pumpkin one instead. Finish them off with a cream cheese icing—yum!
- Spread in jam: If you’re into fruitier fillings, omit this rugelach recipe’s cinnamon-pecan filling, and spread in your favorite jam. Raspberry is best here! Drizzle a quick vanilla glaze over the baked rugelach for a finishing touch.
How to Store Rugelach
To store, allow the rugelach to cool to room temperature. Place them in an airtight container, and keep them in a cool, dry spot at room temperature for up to five days.
Can I freeze rugelach?
Yes, you can freeze rugelach. Once the rugelach are cooled to room temperature, place them in an airtight container, and store them in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, and let them hang out at room temperature for a couple of hours before serving. This makes prepping for your holiday gathering a whole lot easier!
Can I make rugelach with a food processor?
Yes, you can make the rugelach dough with a food processor. Using this appliance will make your rugelach dough flakier, like pie dough! Before starting, make sure your cream cheese and butter are cold instead of softened. Place your flour and salt in the food processor’s bowl, and pulse it a few times to blend. Add your cold butter and cream cheese, and pulse until the dough looks crumbly. Continue with our rugelach recipe above, starting at Step 2.
Can I make my rugelach larger?
Yes, you can make your rugelach cookies larger. Simply cut fewer dough wedges in Step 5. Also, you may need to extend the baking time a touch.