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 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.

Bake according to recipe directions.  Voila!  Pretty, swirly cookies!

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  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

  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. 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

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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 :)

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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?


  29. 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 :-)

  30. 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?

  31. 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.

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  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 .

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  35. 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!

  36. 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!!!

  37. 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!!!

  38. 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!

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