Swirled Sugar Cookies

swirled cookies

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I use my basic sugar cookie recipe to make all sorts of treats.  From frosted, to tea infused to swirled, it’s a great recipe to have on hand and modify to suit your needs.  Follow along for a quick tutorial on making these colourful swirled cookies using this sugar cookie recipe for the dough (and baking instructions), sure to please the kids in your life, big and small!

Make up a batch of sugar cookie dough, divide and place in two separate bowls.

Knead food colouring into one of the parts of dough.  I made one half deep blue and left the other half as is.  Chill the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough separately to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Using a pastry brush, apply a little water to the darker layer of dough.  Roll the lighter colour of dough around the rolling pin and transfer it on top of the darker coloured layer of dough.  The little bit of water will help them stick together.

Trim the edges so you end up with a neat and tidy rectangle.  Save the scraps!  You can still bake the scraps up into yummy cookies!  They’ll just look ‘marbled’.

Gently start rolling your dough from one of the wider ends, brushing a we bit of water on the dough as you roll it up.  Once it’s rolled up, you can work the ‘log’ to even it out if the middle is thicker then the ends, and to work out any gaps.
Spill out some sprinkles onto the counter, brush the outside of the dough ‘log’ with a bit more water and roll it in the sprinkles.  I used an entire large container of sprinkles to coat the outside.  Finally, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.  You could also freeze the dough at this point to bake at a later date.
Once chilled, slice the dough into rounds to your desired thickness.  I like them a little over 1/4 inch thick.  The thinner the blade used to slice them, the better.  A thick blade will tend to squish the dough.  Non minty dental floss will also do the trick.
Bake according to recipe directions.  Voila!  Pretty, swirly cookies!
 Update, try these four layer swirl cookies for Christmas!  The layers were, uncoloured, green, uncoloured, then red.  I used holly berry sprinkles, but some festive jimmies would work great too!  Why four layers?  The red and green look much better if separated by the uncoloured dough.  Enjoy!
christmas swirl sugar cookies

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    • Debbie Trumpie says

      These cookies are a master they look awesome so pretty going to make for our christmas they will be a hit with everyone thank you

  1. Stephanie Michaels says

    wow, great idea. Maybe I will do orange and black for our party tomorrow! I wonder how black will hold up. Great job, the color combo’s are endless! Thanks for sharing on Super Sweet Saturday

  2. Heidi says

    These cookies look beautiful and delicious. What a creative idea to layer the dough and then roll it in sprinkles. Fantastic. Pinning!

    • Rebecca Mckinnon says

      hey just want to know if you. did make the cookies and if you did did they turn out good I would like to make them myself

      • JESS says

        I made these for my kids’ “Dreamworks Home” inspired birthday party. I used purple and plain on one batch, and lime green and plain on the other. I was really worried during the rolling and cutting part because they weren’t turning out as perfect as I wanted, but after baking they turned out magical! The adults and kids loved them and they looked fantastic on the whimsical food table spread I was going for!

  3. says

    These look fantastic! I’m trying them right now! One question…do you chill the dough twice? Once before rolling it out and then again after you have it in the log shape? Or is it just once? Thanks!

  4. lavendarrose29 says

    We just made these for out Christmas cookies and totally used up the extra dough for some way cool mottled cut out cookies as well. They are delicious.

  5. says

    Do you make up the original cookie dough recipe, chill it, then separate the batches & and food coloring. Or do you add the food coloring as you make the original recipe?? These look great. I think I’m going to try red, & roll in blue sprinkles for a 4th of July get together this weekend.

  6. says

    I don’t know How you did to roll the dough, I was adding flour every 10 seconds because it was very sticky and I wasn’t able to do anything with it. It’s like it wasn’t as much firm to be rolled. Had to throw it away and was frustrated. :-( My dough looked like yours in your green bowl, I don’t understand :-(

  7. says

    I’m about to make these this afternoon, I didn’t realize how many sprinkles I would need. By “one container” did you use a big plastic container or the long tube like containers?

  8. says

    I made these with my daughter the other day and they looked fantastic!! We had purple pink and yellow swirls. My husband loved the raw dough more then cooked, but then he also prefers raw cake batter.
    I have never eaten a sugar cookie so can’t compare the taste of mine to anything but the fact that they only lasted a day says they were pretty good.
    Will make them again for morning tea a church I think. :-)
    Thanks for posting such a fun twist on cookies!! :-)

  9. Rachel Mckelvie says

    Thanks for the amazing recipe, I have made some of these for a bake off at work. I just have one question, I have put the dough in the freezer so do I need to defrost it before I bake the cookies or do I just cut and cook them from frozen?

  10. Jennifer Alford says

    I’m really excited to make these for a kid’s birthday party this weekend! I have a question about the food coloring integration… do you use your hands to knead the food coloring in? If so, how do you keep them from turning blue?

    • says

      Hi, sorry for the late response! I just knead it in by hand. If you put some dye in the middle and fold the dough over before kneading, you don’t really touch the big ‘blob’ of dye.

  11. jessica hall says

    Hopefully they work out for me ! Just made the two batters and they are in the fridge ! :) wish me lucckk ♡

  12. Han Chan says

    Hi, my daughter and I have just made the coockie dough and food coloured one half..however the half not coloured seems not to be sticking together very well, its slightly crumbly…would you recommend more butter or water? I dont want them to fall apart when rolling them out x Thanks

  13. Bekah says

    I love this recipe! I didnt realise I should chill the dough before rolling it out so mine were a bit saggy and didnt hold their shape well. But otherwise great snd next time ill chill twice :)

  14. Jen Blunt says

    I’m looking forward to making these for the weekend! How many cookies would you say you got out of one recipe, cutting them the 1/4″ thick? Thanks!

  15. says


    This technique is crazy cool. I’m doing it for my Doctor Who party later this month.

    May I ask what kind of food coloring you used (gel?) and how much? I seem to never be able to get my colors to be this dark. I’m doing the same exact colors you did, so I want it to be that really deep blue. Any suggestions?


    • Amber says

      Seriously… you HAVE to show a pic of that party! Awesome! The swirled cookies would work great!

      I used gel colouring (Wilton’s, ‘royal blue’). I start with dipping a toothpic into the colouring and adding that to the dough. If it’s not dark enough, you can add a bit more. It will darken a wee bit more as it sets. Also, if you end up adding a lot of colouring, you may find the dough gets a bit soft…. so be sure it’s nicely chilled when you work with it.

      Have fun!

  16. Lisa says

    Thank-you for such a great idea. I made these this morning as part of a colour blue themed week I am doing with my twin boys, and they got to make their own biscuits from the off-cuts which was fantastic! (They are only 18 months old so making the swirly biscuits with them would have been way too ambitious…maybe next year!)

    • Amber *SaltTree* says

      Hi Gail, I just used regular grocery store bargain variety sprinkles… sorry I don’t recall the brand. I have made these many times though and have not had issues with the sprinkles melting personally.

  17. Melinda says

    When you chill the two halves the first time how long do you chill then for? because when I was rolling out the dough it all fell apart…Also how do you roll it out the way you did without the dough NOT falling apart and sticking to everything. I used a lot of flour and they still fell apart.

    • Amber *SaltTree* says

      I usually chill my dough for about 1 hour. You do have to work it a bit once it comes out of the fridge so that you can actually roll it. If you find it’s too crumbly, it could be your dough is too dry. You could try sprinkling it with a bit extra water. If you find the dough is sticking to your work surface, you could try rolling it out onto parchment paper or wax paper.

  18. Julia says

    I tried to make these but the dough was crumbly so I wasn’t able to put it on the other dough. but instead I just mashed purple dough and plain and made marble cookies and impressed some people. haha.
    I will try again maybe just adding more water..?

    • Amber *SaltTree* says

      Lol… I do that with the off cuts! I mash them together and make marble cookies. Still super yummy! As for crumbly dough, I would say adding a touch more water should do the trick. Also, make sure when you are chilling the dough, that it is covered well with the wrap touching the surface of the dough. If it’s not covered properly, that can cause it to dry out as well.

  19. Miranda says

    I have just made the doubt to these cookies, and I followed the recipe, but my dough was all crumbly and would not hold at all.. I am not sure why, but maybe you could explain it to me?

    • Amber *SaltTree* says

      If it’s crumbly, it sounds like you may have needed a bit more water. Was the dough covered with plastic wrap directly onto the surface when it was being chilled? If it’s not covered that way, it can also cause it to dry out.

  20. says


  21. Sharon Meadows says

    I seen the sugar cookies that are blue and would like the recipe I have 20 grandkids and I make a lot of cookies and that would add another to the rest .thank you Sharon

  22. Shirley says

    Hi, thanks so much for sharing the Swirley goodness. I have one question, after rolling the dough into a logg I plan to freeze it so I was wondering…can I cut the frozen roll into cookies pieces and bake immediately or do I have to let it thaw a little bofore cutting and baking? Thanks again

  23. Teddi says

    I made these in pink and white with pink sugar crystals on the outside for a baby shower. I used your sugar cookie recipe, too. They were a huge hit! :)

    • Amber *SaltTree* says

      That’s great Teddi! I love the idea of the sugar crystals! Thanks for taking the time to leave feedback!

  24. Laurie says

    These are very pretty and different! I am going to make some tomorrow in red and green for Christmas. Thank you for the idea! I love it!

  25. Noelle says

    I made these tonight using your sugar cookie recipe and red and green colors and they taste and look AMAZING! They were super easy and all the ingredients I had around the house (making them perfect for a snowed in day) Thank you so much for sharing the recipe so far everyone loves them!

  26. natalia says

    I am planning on making these beautiful sugar cookies for my son’s pre-school christmas party and I am going to use old school food coloring (that’s what I have on hand) any suggestions on how to keep it from getting to “wet” ? Should I add some flour?

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe :)

  27. Morgan says

    Just finished making a batch with red and green swirls for a Christmas Eve party – that was one of the most difficult baking jobs I’ve ever done, but so worth it! I had to chill the dough multiple times to keep the log shape, but they turned out great. I’m sure everyone will love them :) Thanks!

  28. J says

    I just made these yesterday and impressed the socks off everyone :) Thanks for such an easy-to-follow post! The key is definitely making sure the dough is well chilled both prior to rolling out and slicing.

    Beautiful cookies – can’t wait to make them again!

  29. Kayla says

    Some questions I have are:

    About how much cookies can you make in a log?
    What kind of food coloring did you use? Liquid or Gel? Or, which would be better? I plan on making one part a blue/teal color and another part black.
    Lastly, when you said you used the entire container of sprinkles, about how big was the container?


  30. says

    Just through a batch in the oven. don’t look quite as amazing and had to make a few adjustments, but had fun doing it with my 2.5 year old.
    had to use raw sugar as the ants got into the white, which didn’t discover until started making them :-)

  31. Renee says

    I just made these and they taste AMAZING! They look pretty good too although I had trouble getting the sprinkles to stick to the dough…so I added a little water as suggested and then the color on the sprinkles started to run. Now I wish I would have just left off the sprinkles or chosen a single colored sprinkle. Oh well! Any other tips for getting the sprinkles to stick? I chilled my dough over night…do you think that might have been the problem?

  32. jan says

    I made these today. What a disaster! The mixture was gluggy and the only thing i could do with it was drop blobs onto the baking tray and hope for the best. I used very low fat whipped margarine, so that may have been the problem. I’ll give it another go though because they look so pretty. They did taste nice though.

    • Rikka Martin says

      Jan, Sorry that you had trouble with the dough. for the recipe it needs actual BUTTER. Margarine has too much oil in it and it will make it too goopy. If you make it again with unsalted sweet cream BUTTER it should come out much better. Hope this helps

  33. jenny says

    I just made these today for a practice run for my daughters baby shower. I wanted to have the colour blue and white, like yours, but I could only make green not blue. I added blue colour gel into my dough with no success, I thought because the dough was yellow and by adding blue == green ?? Any suggestions. They did turn out great though .

  34. phyllis says

    Hi there!

    Your cookies looks positively sublime! I’ll definitely be trying this recipe for Halloween soon.

    I really appreciate all of the pictures you added into this post; the image of the finished product in the beginning really caught my attention and all of the step-by-step pictures that went along with the instructions also made it super simple to follow. The links were also a great source of help too- I found myself clicking through some of your other creations as well!

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  35. JEnna says

    I found this cookie website a while ago and pinned it for later. I’m just now baking these swirly cookies and they turned out perfect! The first batch still looked a little ‘wet’ so I cooked them 2 minutes longer. Then they started to brown on the edges and the bottoms. Still good but a little too crisp for my liking. So the next batch got pulled out of the oven at exactly 8 minutes and they were perfect!!! So glad I tried this recipe since I’d sworn off sugar cookies because I could never find a good recipe. This ones a keeper for sure! Thanks again!!!

  36. JEnna says

    Also I used a cake leveler/”torte maker” to get my perfect non-squished cuts. I got about 3 dozen swirled cookies and 2 dozen more cookies from the scraps. I probably could have done more swirls and less scraps if I had sized up my two layers better. Enjoy!!!

  37. Louise says

    I made these this weekend for a friend’s child’s christening and they went down a treat.
    I’m in the UK but managed to translate the measurements pretty well and the recipe was written so well.
    My colours were not as vibrant thought, they came out mostly pastel colours but still had many comments.
    I think next time i will play around with different flavours but will certainly make these again.

    • Ti says

      Natalie: I don’t think she “stole” anyone’s idea if that’s what you’re implying. This recipe isn’t anything “new”.

      Can’t wait to make these this weekend though!

  38. MICHELE T says

    I do these all the time and they are wonderful, I have even taken the scraps rolled up (marbled like) into a rope the length of the flat dough, put it on the edge and rolled it up like you say to. It makes a swirl in the center of the cookie. Thanks fir sharing.

  39. lance says

    made these 2 times came out great, as you said as long as dough is chilled.
    a though for bakers out there if your kitchen is too hot and you keep dough out
    too long it can get soft so keep the kitchen on the cold side, just an idea.

  40. ladonna hall says

    Think about doing them in red and white or red and green. For Christmas cookies for Santa! What an awesome idea this would be to do with small children.

  41. Natalie says

    Dough is way too sticky. Was in the fridge overnight. I keep having to add flour to make it not stick to my hands but with no avail. This was a disaster.

  42. amber says

    I made these today, and although they taste heavenly, I couldn’t make them look so perfect. So, they’re a jumbled mess of red and green, and that’s okay! Haha, I’ll need to prefect it at a later date :)

  43. Diane says

    I just made these cookies and they look fantastic! They were chilled in between making the dough, rolling it together, and after cutting. The dough is sticky when rolling, so my trick was to roll it on parchment paper, and use the paper to transfer the dough. I cut them after they were in the freezer for about 45 minutes. Can’t wait to share these beauties!

  44. Becky Wierzbici says

    I am going to make them in white an pink, shabby chic em up…roll the edges in pink sugar. I have a sugar cookie recipe that makes 20 dozen cookies thanks to my late Italian Mother-in-law who had 11 children. These are going to be beautiful! Thank you for posting them! XO Becky

  45. Megan says

    Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe! I tried these tonight with red and green spirals in the same cookie as a test run for Christmas cookies. They actually turned out really cute, but I think it’d be cuter if I were to stick with one color as the white layer really seems to make the colors pop. It was a little hard to get my dough to cooperate in rolling it out, but I think that may be attributed to the temperature of the dough. It all worked out well though, and the marbled cookies I made with the excess dough looked really cool! That was a great idea too!

  46. mECHELLE says


    Is the icing sugar another name for powdered sugar?? I’ve never heard of icing sugar and if it’s not powdered sugar…where do I gind it??

  47. utcwife says

    My sister sent me a link to these beautiful cookies! I think they’re worthy of two occasions…. my sons preschool Christmas party and a cookie exchange with friends (dough is currently in the fridge)! Thank you for a festive fun cookie recipe.

  48. Gretchen says

    I think the key to these cookies is to have a TON of time for chilling the dough. If it warms up at all it gets so hard to work with. Mine didn’t look like the photo at all, but I was on a deadline to get them done and didn’t have all the time I wanted to chill them. You definitely can’t get them done in one day. But, however they look, they still taste great!

    • utcwife says

      I found it took more than one day to make them and keeping the dough chilled is also important, you’re right! I baked them on parchment paper, too. But, they are amazing….in looks and taste.

  49. Erin says

    Just made these tonight for Christmas – I used my own sugar cookie recipe and made the dough green and white, with red, white, and green non pareils. They turned out really cute and very Christmassy, but definitely expanded much more than yours and ended up on the huge side! Will tweak and make again. 😀

  50. Ashley says

    Made these tonight for my pregnancy reveal. I made them pink and blue. Some of the spinkles melted and combined on some cookies, but otherwise they turned out perfect. I also made pink and blue marble ones with the edges, which turned out great. I followed recipe to a t, and they turned out great. Can’t wait to bring them to work tomorrow!

  51. says

    Okay!!! I am gonna make this in a minute for my stepdaughter!! Her favorite cookies are SUGAR COOKIES!!! Hope they come out as pretty as yours!!

  52. RLK says

    I tried making these; what a mess! I used a lot of flour and yet my dough still stuck to the cutting board. I ended up having to scrape at the dough to get it up, resulting in some misshaped, lumpy swirl. I used the trimmed pieces and just mushed it together into a log, using the flat side of a knife to make the sides flat, which resulted in a rectangular shaped log/cookie. The marbled ones came out much better than the swirl ones, simply because they didn’t have to look perfect. The cookies were delicious (I had to leave them in longer than the time specified), but they were fugly. Next time I won’t bother trying to swirl, I’ll just marble it or leave it plain and call it a day.

  53. Rikka Martin says

    I loved making these! I left my dough in the fridge overnight to chill and rolled it out and made the log AND 2 sheets of cutouts. I have the log in the fridge chilling again before I cut it and bake it. The real trick to these is the BUTTER. using anything else will result in a goopy mess. NOT chilling it for the proper amount of time will also do it. The dough will get sticky and goopy if too warm. I made red and green swirled for Christmas. I am going to make goody bags and hand them out to neighbors :) Thank you for such an awesome recipe!

  54. helenr says

    Just finished the log part of this recipe! It’s looking alright (especially considering I thought it would be a total mess). I used so so so much flour though, more than the recipe said, probably close to 4 and a half cups in the cookies mixture and another cup or so to roll them out.
    I’ve frozen mine to cut and and cook on Christmas eve (as I was unsure if the dough would last for 3 days in the fridge).

  55. Katie says

    Hi, what a great project! I read all the reviews and followed the suggestions (using the recipe from scratch not store bought sugar cookie mix, using flour to make the dough less sticky, chilling the dough for an hour +, transferring rolled out dough by wax paper, and using a pizza roller to slice the roll) for the most part, these came out so great! However, my roll was not much of a perky circle but sagged down and became narrow, causing the cookies to be long and rectangular. Any suggestions? I did the Christmas ones so with four layers….perhaps they dough was out if the fridge too long when rolling and layering, I worked as fast as I could! Also, I would recommend when making marble cookies from the scraps to flatten then, don’t just roll into a ball and stick in the oven, they do not spread out! Mine stayed as balls which ended up being pretty dry since each cookie was so thick. Thanks again! Messy kitchen was well worth it, will be making these again!

  56. brandi says

    for the 4 layer swirl cookies, would you double the amount of ingredients? just wondering if it would make a difference?

  57. Valerie says

    I tried to make these today and for some reason I couldn’t get the dough onto the other color because I made it to thin. Eventually I got mad and mixed them together and baked them. They are good though

  58. marymo says

    I just made these and, while it required quite a bit of effort, they came out totally awesome! Fun times. Thanks for sharing. :)

  59. Angela Armke says

    My Grans loved these we have made these all thru the holidays. I am on my way to go and visit next week and am planning on another baking session! So much fun. They are 2 and 5 and have the greatest time. Truth be told I think I have more fun than they do. Thanks for the recipes!!!

  60. says

    Asking questions are actually nice thing if you are not understanding something completely, however this
    piece of writing presents nice understanding yet.

  61. Cyndi says

    This may have been addressed already but i don’t have time to read through the comments. I adore these cookie and the sugar cookie recipe is PERFECT. This is exactly what I have been looking for . I want to make sugar cookies with my son (he’s 21 months old). The part on freezing the dough though, how does that work. You froze it now what? let it thaw slice and bake or slice while it’s still frozen? how long will the dough keep in the freezer?
    thanks so much for the great idea i can’t wait to go home and try these with my son!

  62. Jennifer says

    The first time I made these, they came out a little wonky because I ended up using WAY too much flour because the dough got so squishy and difficult when I went to roll it out and layer it. More like fun house swirled rocks. Whoops!

    SO. The next time I did them (I would not be defeated by a sugar cookie!) I chilled the dough again after I had my two separate colors and rolled it out chilled. Huge difference. Now I love making them…my favorites were green/blue and maple flavored. Mmmm! Thank you!

  63. Kristi-LEigh says

    Where did you find the gel food colouring for this? I made this at xmas time using red and green and the green wasn’t as nice as I’d like. The only gel colouring I’ve found is the icing ones. Are those safe for regular baking? I’m so new to this. The ones I made for xmas turned out great and everyone loved them. I was thinking of making a ton for my wedding and want to use yellow and blue for it. I used regular food colouring and it turned out, but want more colour variety. Any help would be great!!

  64. Yvonne Crozier says

    I didn’t really find it helpful to chill the dough, it came out of the fridge all dry and crumbly. I had to let come back to room temperature before I could even roll it out. However they did look pretty decent when the two colors were rolled together. Overall the recipe turned out great! thanks so much!

  65. Dianne L. says

    I was wondering if you experimented with different baking surfaces…Do you prefer Parchment paper, Silpat, Airbake or directly on a baking sheet??

  66. Monique says

    I made theses with the kids yesterday, followed recipe and times exactly and they came out perfectly AND they taste amazing, the kids love them! This will be a oft requested cookie I can see! Thank you.

  67. A says

    I made these using basic colors; red, blue, green and yellow. I inserted some cake pop sticks near the edge where the seam is. Baked as stated and then served them like lollipops stuck in Styrofoam (covered in foil). Perfect for my “Willy Wonka” party!

  68. Honey says

    Thank you for the tutorial! I had some leftover sugar cookie dough and it made up perfectly. I need to leave a little overhang on the blue to start rolling next time to get a better swirl in the middle but they turned out great. They were way easier than royal icing sugar cookies. Posted my pic on instagram @honey2two (cause I don’t know how to do it on here)

  69. C says

    I think I may have rolled my dough too thin. It was not easy for me to work with and kept falling apart. They were a mess but tasted great .
    The rolled out log blue with rainbow sprinkles looked like what could only be described as unicorn poop. I will be trying again because I will not be defeated.

  70. Kirsty McKeown says

    Mine failed so badly :(

    The rolling was a little difficult but I added a little more flour and it went fine after that. Making them in the log was fine, adding the sprinkles was fine (albeit messy :P), I chilled it for an hour , cut it carefully, spaced them out on my tray, cooked them in a pre-heated oven at the right temperature and … then this …


    When I baked them they spread SO MUCH and went really porous, and the sugar sprinkles I used just regular store bought) melted and when they cooled they hardened into a sugary film >.< I used butter like the recipe said and chilled it for an hour and now I have a sad!

    What did I do wrong??? U_U

  71. TiffFANY says

    I baked these tonight, to take to a work party tomorrow afternoon. What’s the best way to store them so they don’t get too hard/too soft and fall apart?

    They turned out perfectly btw! I did one batch with red swirls, and one batch with green.


  1. […] Más información: Salt Tree […]

  2. […] Simplicity is the solution to many problems, the lack of enthusiasm when baking included. Sugar cookies are easy to make, which means that you can tag your children along to help you in the kitchen. Bribe them further by setting on the table the many colorful sprinkles and ingredients you’re planning to blend into a very Willy Wonka-y swirl design. Full recipe here. […]

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