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Chocolate Christmas Pinwheel Cookies

Santa will be extra jolly after just one bite of these playful Christmas cookies!

Kids and adults alike swoon over these charming Christmas Pinwheel Cookies with swirls of chocolate and peppermint rolled in colorful nonpareil sprinkles! Make multiple batches with red and green dough for a fun and colorful Christmas cookie tray!

What makes these chocolate Christmas pinwheel cookies even more special? Cream cheese in the cookie dough! The cream cheese gives these homemade cookies an extra smooth texture and adds a hint of tanginess.

I’ve wanted to make pinwheel cookies for years, but thought they’d be too complicated. Guess what, I was wrong! This dough is really easy to work with and rolled out easily. If I can do it, so can you!

Looking for more chocolate and mint Christmas cookie recipes? You might like my Peppermint Chocolate Drop Cookies, gooey Mint Fudge Brownies, and these amazing Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies!

chocolate mint pinwheel cookies stacked on a Christmas plate setting on a table.

Key ingredients & substitutions for Christmas Pinwheel Cookies

  • Unsalted butter — Don’t be tempted to use margarine as you will not get the same taste or baking results. The exception would be plant-based baking sticks for a dairy-free version since these are designed to mimic butter.
  • All-purpose flour — Since you do not want these pinwheel cookies to rise or spread too much, avoid self-rising flour. Instead, add in small amounts of baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Cream cheese — The secret to the wonderful texture of these cookies!
  • Extracts — Use both pure vanilla and peppermint extracts in this cookie recipe. Also, you may replace the peppermint with an equal amount of vanilla if you prefer sugar cookies.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder — Unsweetened cocoa powder is natural cocoa and has a very concentrated chocolate flavor. I use either Hershey’s (regular, not Special Dark) or Ghirardelli.
  • Decor — You don’t technically have to decorate these cookies — they make pretty black and white pinwheels if left alone — but for a festive flair, add a few drops of green food coloring (or red food coloring for red dough) to the non-chocolate dough. And, if you roll the dough in sprinkles, make sure to use nonpareils and not sugar sprinkles (which melt in the oven).

How to make Christmas pinwheel cookies?

process steps for making dough for chocolate mint pinwheels; divide dough in half; roll each into a square; stack mint layer on top of the chocolate layer; roll up like a jellyroll.

STEP 1 | Make the dough

Cream together softened butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until smooth with no lumps remaining. Then, add and mix in the sugar followed by the egg and extracts.

Add sifted flour and the leavening agents to the dough and mix on low speed just until the flour is incorporated, then evenly divide the dough in half.

To one half, add the cocoa powder for the chocolate layer. For the other half, stir in more flour and, if you like, add a few drops of red or green food coloring until the desired color is reached.

STEP 2 | Shape into a jelly-roll and chill

One at a time, empty the dough onto a separate piece parchment paper and roll dough into 9-inch squares. With the chocolate square on the bottom, carefully flip the second square of dough on top and peel off the parchment paper.

Use the parchment paper on the bottom of the chocolate layer to gently lift and tightly roll the dough jelly-roll style. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

tips

  • If the dough is too soft to roll out, letting it chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes will help.
  • Here’s my trick for rolling the dough the exact size. For each half of dough, cut a piece of parchment paper larger than you need, then draw a 9-inch square with a marker on one side. Flip the parchment over, and roll out the dough on the clean side, using the drawing as a guide.
  • Also, I can never get a perfect square shape, so I use my bench scraper to trim the dough with straight edges. Press the scraps of dough back onto the square and roll until smooth.

STEP 3 | Slice and bake

When ready to bake, cut the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees, until lightly browned around the edges. Transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool completely.

rolling chocolate and green mint dough up jellyroll fashion in a pan of sprinkles.

tip

  • Save those sprinkles! Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap or a piece of wax paper before adding the nonpareil sprinkles. Roll the dough in the sprinkles until completely covered, then use the paper to pour the remaining sprinkles back into the jar!

chocolate mint pinwheel cookie dough sliced and placed on a baking sheet; then, cookies cooling on a wire rack.

Serving suggestions

Christmas pinwheel cookies make a really pretty cookie gift. Package them in clear cellophane food-grade bags and tie them up with curling ribbon. Use different colors of dough or sprinkles for different holidays and special occasions!

chocolate mint pinwheel cookies packaged in a cellophane bag tied with red and green ribbon on a table with a spool of ribbon and scissors.

Frequently asked questions

Can you freeze pinwheel cookies?

Yes! Christmas pinwheel cookies may be frozen before or after baking. To freeze the cookie dough, prepare the dough and roll it up jelly-roll style, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and seal in a freezer bag for up to 2 months. When ready to bake, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator, then slice and bake as directed.

To freeze baked cookies, cool completely first. Store in a sealed freezer bag for up 2 – 3 weeks.

How long will chocolate pinwheel cookies stay fresh?

Pinwheel cookies will stay fresh for up to a week when stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

What is the best kind of food coloring to use in cookie dough?

Gel food coloring is my first choice because the colors are so vibrant. If using gel, remember a little goes a long way so add a little at a time. That being said, for this batch of cookies I used regular liquid food coloring because I was out of green gel and I thought the results were still very pleasing.

chocolate mint pinwheel cookies stacked on a Christmas plate setting on a table.
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YOU can help fight Kids’ Cancer!

The National Cancer Institute’s budget for childhood cancer is less than 4%. It’s such a small number and that’s why I got involved. And with the ongoing pandemic, children are still being diagnosed with cancer.

I’m proud to join fellow food bloggers in the Sweetest Season Cookies for Kids’ Cancer event, a joint effort to raise money and awareness about pediatric cancer, by sharing today’s recipe for these fun Chocolate Christmas Pinwheel Cookies.

We are doing this because we want to make a difference in the fight against pediatric cancer. Cancer is the #1 cause of death of children by disease in the U.S. There are 40,000 U.S. children actively battling cancer right now.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is in a match window with their friends at OXO, who will be matching every dollar raised through the end of the year, up to $100,000. So whatever money we raise will automatically double!

Will you help us with a donation today? Every little bit helps! Donate here.

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chocolate Christmas pinwheel cookies stacked on a Christmas plate setting on a table.
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5 from 5 votes

Chocolate Christmas Pinwheel Cookies

Santa will be extra jolly after just one bite of these playful Christmas cookies! Make multiple batches with red and green dough for a fun and colorful Christmas cookie tray!
Servings 3 dozen
Course Cookies & Bars
Cuisine American
Keyword baking, chocolate, Christmas, cookies, dessert, holiday baking, peppermint
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 42 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • nonpareil sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and mix well, scraping down the sides as needed.
  • Next, add the egg and vanilla and peppermint extracts; mix until incorporated.
  • Sift 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda into the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated into the dough, then evenly divide the dough in half.
  • To one half, add the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated.
  • Sift the remaining 3/4 cup flour into the bowl with the other half and mix. If desired, add a few drops of red or green food coloring to this batch.
  • One at a time, empty the dough onto a separate piece parchment paper and roll into 9-inch squares. If the dough is too soft, pop it into the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  • With the chocolate square on the bottom, carefully flip the second square of dough on top and peel off the parchment paper. Use the parchment paper on the bottom of the chocolate layer to gently lift and roll the dough jelly-roll style.
  • If desired, roll the cookie dough into nonpareil sprinkles, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight before baking.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (do not grease).
  • Slice the dough 1/4-inch thick and place 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • Pinwheel cookies will stay fresh for up to a week when stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.
  • To freeze the cookie dough, prepare the dough and roll it up jelly-roll style, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and seal in a freezer bag for up to 2 months. When ready to bake, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator, then slice and bake as directed.
  • To freeze baked cookies, cool completely first. Store in a sealed freezer bag for up 2 – 3 weeks.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1g | Calories: 88kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 50mg | Sugar: 6g
Tried this recipe? Tag me on Insta!Mention @lifeloveandgoodfood or tag #lifeloveandgoodfood on your favorite social channel!
sheila thigpen in her kitchen

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

Recipe Rating




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Nikki Lee

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

These look divine! Can't wait to try.

Megan Myers

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Gorgeous! I just made pinwheel cookies for the first time and they're so much easier than I thought. These are great!

Susannah Brinkley Henry

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Sheila, I love how colorful these are! You outdid yourself.

Erin

Wednesday 15th of December 2021

Sheila, these pinwheel cookies are so festive and fun. I can see them flying off any cookie platter and being a smashing success in sharing with friends and family. You've outdone yourself, and I just love the sound of these! I also can't wait to bake 'em with my girls.

Thank you for participating in this year's Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange, sharing this recipe and helping raise some funds for Cookies for Kids Cancer! I am so appreciative of you and hope you and yours have an awesome holiday season!

San

Tuesday 14th of December 2021

How fun with the green food color! I usually don't like artificial color on food but I'll make an exception :)

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