Raspberry Pinwheel Cookies

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Delicious jam filled raspberry pinwheel cookies are an old fashioned Christmas tradition! Raspberry jam and walnuts are rolled up inside a rich, buttery dough. The cookie log is then sliced and baked for a delicious and pretty raspberry swirl cookie.


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Making cookies is fun, and not something that should happen just for the holidays. Nothing beats the taste of warm cookies, fresh out of the oven!

My family are all huge fans of chocolate cookies, like chocolate crinkle cookies and Andes Mint cookies, but sometimes it is nice to change things up and make cookies that aren’t chocolate.
These raspberry pinwheel cookies are a perfect choice, because they are old fashioned sugary cookies filled with jam.

Pretty & Easy to Make

One of my favorite things about these cookies is that it is easy to make them look good. There is no complicated decorating for these cookies.

You just roll them and slice them and they come out round with swirls of jam topped off with sparkling sugar. The only thing you need to make these cookies look good is some patience, because making them does involve some waiting while the dough chills.
 

Ingredients

The ingredients for these cookies are fairly standard. The dough is made from:
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Cream cheese
  • Butter
ingredients for raspberry pinwheel cookies - flour, salt, butter, cream cheese, jam and nuts
The combination of the butter and cream cheese makes the dough rich and flakey. This dough is less sticky and easier to work with than the dough in my colorful pinwheel cookies recipe.
The cookies are finished with:
  • Jam
  • Walnuts
  • Sparkling sugar

Sparkling Sugar

There is no sugar this cookie dough. The sweetness in the recipe comes from the jam and the sparkling sugar that is sprinkled on the cookies. Because of this you probably don’t want to skip the sugar on top.
Sparkling sugar is very pretty and makes the cookies look more decorative. The crystals are larger than standard sugar and it really does sparkle in the light. I like to sprinkle it on my pie crusts too, so they look extra elegant.
But if you don’t have sparkling sugar just use regular sugar! Multiple readers of this recipe have done that since I first published this recipe 5 years ago and it works fine and the cookies are still delicious.

How to Make Pinwheel Cookies

1. Make the Dough

This dough will come together best if you let the cream cheese and butter come to room temperature before making it. So about an hour before you want to make the cookies get the butter and cream cheese out and put them on the counter.
I have always made this dough in a food processor. I think a stand mixer would work though, although it would be even more important to have room temperature ingredients if using a stand mixer.
ingredients for dough in the food processor
Start by putting the flour and salt in the food processor and pulse it a few times to mix it. Then add the butter and cream cheese.
dough ball in the food processor
Process the dough until it forms into a ball. The dough ball should incorporate almost all the ingredients and leave only crumbs behind. Then take the ball of dough out of the food processor and wrap it in plastic wrap.

2. Chill the Dough

Put the dough in the refrigerator and chill it for at least 2 hours. This is where the patience becomes important!
If you don’t chill the dough it will be too sticky to roll out and work with. If you want to make this ahead of time you can chill the dough for up to 2-3 days before making the cookies.

3. Roll out the Dough

You need a lightly floured surface for rolling out the dough. A cutting board or marble counter works well, and so does the kitchen table.
 
ball of dough on a cutting board with flour and a rolling pin
Spread a small amount (1/4 cup) of flour over the surface. If the dough starts sticking add more flour as you roll.
Then put the ball of dough on the surface and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle about 1/4 inches thick and 14 x 12 inches. If you prefer you can also roll the dough on lightly floured parchment paper.
rolling out the dough for raspberry swirl cookies
Once the dough is rolled out cut the edges to make them straight, so you have a rectangle shape. This makes rolling up the filling much easier.
cutting the dough into a square shape

4. Roll up the Filling

Once you have a nice rectangle shape spread the jam on top of the dough, leaving about 1/4 inch jam free on each side.
spreading the jam on the dough
Then take the finely chopped walnuts and spread them on top of the jam. I like to use the food processor to get the walnuts nice and small. You really want them reduced almost to a fine paste for these cookies.
 
adding walnuts to the cookies
Roll the dough up on the longer side to create the raspberry swirls. It should be rolled tightly, but you also don’t want jam squishing out from everywhere. Use firm consistent pressure as you roll.
rolling up the raspberry pinwheel cookies

5. Slice and Bake

Now you have a nice log of cookie dough. I always proceed immediately to slicing and baking the cookies.
But if the dough seems sticky or it took you a while to get a good rectangle shape you can chill the log of dough before cutting. So if the outside of the dough log seems sticky wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it for another hour.
slicing the cookie log
Once you are ready to slice and bake the cookies use a sharp knife to cut the log into 1/2 thick slices. I find a steak knife works well.
 
Dipping the cookies in sugar
Take each slice as it is cut and dip it in a bowl of sparkling sugar, then place it on a cookie sheet, with the sugar side up. An ungreased cookie sheet is fine for these cookies.
pinwheel cookies on a tray before baking
Some of the cookies will have gaps between the layers, but the dough will expand during baking and fill those in. Similarly my cookies always look more round after baking, so don’t worry if they look a little squished at this point.
Bake them for about 15-20 minutes in a preheated 375 oven, until they are just a little bit brown on the edges. Then let cool on a wire rack or eat them warm!
stack of raspberry pinwheel cookies in front of a baking rack

Storing the Cookies

This recipe makes only about 20 cookies. So if I am making it for a party or big family gathering I will make two batches.
You can store the cookies in a plastic container or bag at room temperature for 2-3 days. The dough is very flaky and it will soften as they are stored. But with only 20 cookies and a family of five they don’t last that long anyway!

Can I Make These Ahead?

These are great cookies for making ahead of time. You can store the dough in the refrigerator for 2-3 days after making it.
Or you can store the rolled cookie logs in the refrigerator for 2-3 days after rolling them and slice and bake them another time. I wouldn’t store the dough for more than 2-3 days total though, so if you store it before rolling don’t also store it after rolling!
 
You can also freeze the logs of dough for 2-3 months. When you are ready to make the cookies let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then slice and bake.
The cookies themselves don’t freeze that well. They will still be edible, but the texture of the cookies will be better if you freeze them before baking.
top view of a bunch of pinwheel cookies

Variations

You could easily use a different type of jam in these cookies. Strawberry or blackberry jam would be equally delicious.
Just make sure you actually use jam! A few years ago I tried to make these with strawberry jelly and it was a mess, with jelly running out all over the cookie sheets.
You need to use something with the same consistency as jam, so not jelly and not preserves. You can also substitute pecans or almonds for the nuts, or leave the nuts out entirely if you prefer.
top view of a bunch of pinwheel cookies

Raspberry Pinwheel Cookies

yield: 20
prep time: 2 HOURS 10 MINUTES
cook time: 15 MINUTES
total time: 2 HOURS 25 MINUTES
These holiday cookies are pinwheels with jam and walnuts rolled up into buttery dough.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sparkling sugar
 

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  2. Add the butter and cream cheese and process until a ball a dough forms. It will form fine crumbs first, and then as you continue to process it will clump together into a ball.
  3. Chill the dough for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  5. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 14 x 12 inches. I cut the edges off my rectangle to make it straight.
  6. Spread the jam on the dough, and then spread the walnuts on top.
  7. Roll up from the long side and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  8. Dip one side of each slice in coarse sugar.
  9. Bake sugar side up for 15 - 20 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned.