Red and green Christmas crinkle cookies are an easy way to infuse holiday cheer into any cookie tray. Soft and chewy like a sugar cookie, these festive 'Kris Krinkles' are bursting with vanilla and almond notes but can be flavored however you like. Simple tips ensure these from-scratch cookies remain soft and picture-perfect for days.
Always up for a good pun, these red and green Christmas crinkle cookies are known as Kris Krinkles in my house thanks to my husband. Cute and festive for the holidays without requiring any artistic skill? That's the name of my game. (See also this Grinch cocktail and gingerbread spritz cookies).
These cookies are similar in texture and flavor to chewy sugar cookies. Rolled in a duo of sugars, these crinkle cookies are made from scratch (no cake mix) but are really very simple to mix together. Red and green food coloring provide all of the seasonal flair you need!
Why This Recipe Works
- The double roll. Rolling the cookie dough in granulated sugar first ensures that the confectioners' sugar will stick and remain until the last cookie has been eaten.
- It's designed to bake up chewy and stay chewy. A blend of granulated and brown sugars balances cookie spread and thickness, with cream of tartar bringing softness to the dough. Cream of tartar is the classic ingredient that provides chew in snickerdoodle recipes (we love these orange ginger snickerdoodles).
- The flavor. These Christmas crinkle cookies taste similar to a chewy sugar cookie, but with the addition of almond extract to provide a bright flavor that makes them something special. This second extract (besides vanilla) can be substituted with any flavor you like.
- Granulated Sugar: Used in the cookie dough as well as a first roll coating.
- Brown Sugar: Used in the cookie dough to help encourage a chewy, denser texture. Brown sugar is more acidic than granulated sugar and will react with the baking soda.
- Butter: Ensure the butter is softened to room temperature so it most efficiently and effectively combines with the sugars in the creaming step.
- Extracts: In my testing an equal blend of vanilla and almond extracts provided optimal flavor. That said, you can replace the almond extract with the extract or bakery emulsion of your choice.
- Baking Soda: Make sure it's not expired or old as there's no baking powder in this recipe and we rely on it to work well!
- Cream of Tartar: Classically used in snickerdoodle cookies, cream of tartar prevents sugar crystals from hardening, which helps keep cookies soft and chewy. It also reacts with the baking soda to provide lift. You can find cream of tartar in the baking aisle near the baking powders and sodas.
- Food Coloring: Gel coloring is preferred over traditional liquid food dyes as you'll need less gel coloring to form a boldly colored cookie dough. Achieving a vibrant color with liquid dyes runs the risk of adding too much moisture to the dough, which can lead to sticky cookies that spread too far as they bake.
- Confectioners' Sugar: This is rolled on the cookies last to form the signature "crinkle" appearance. Roll a generous coating for the most pronounced sugary spots.
- Cream butter and sugars - Beat softened butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes until light and creamy.
- Wet ingredients - Beat in the egg and extracts.
- Dry ingredients - Whisk all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add to the bowl with the wet ingredients.
- Combine - Mix until just combined (no dry streaks remain).
- Divide, dye, and chill - Divide the dough between two bowls and dye one green and one red. Cover bowls with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly, at minimum 3 hours and up to overnight.
- Roll twice - Scoop cookies and roll into a ball. Roll each Christmas crinkle cookie in granulated sugar, then into confectioners' sugar. Place cookies at least a few inches apart from one another on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake - Bake Kris Krinkles at 350°F for 11-12 minutes, or until the edges have set but aren't overly browned. The top surface may still appear soft but that's okay. Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack before storing or serving.
Tips and Tricks
- Flavor variations. Replace the almond extract with peppermint extract, orange extract, Fiori di Sicilia (a lovely citrus/vanilla combination), etc.
- Don't skip the double roll. The first roll in granulated sugar allows the powdered sugar to stick onto the surface for the long haul and not bake away or absorb into the cookies.
- Keep a close eye. The big appeal of Christmas crinkle cookies is the red and green coloring. You'll want to pull these cookies from the oven just before (or just as) the edges begin to turn golden.
- Feeling Grinch-y? A different seasonal twist would be to dye the whole dough green, and adorn each cookie with red heart sprinkle(s) for a Grinch themed cookie. You can also press a red candy heart into them when they're still warm right out of the oven.
- Make ahead. This dough can be chilled overnight, or can be wrapped in plastic wrap, sealed in an air-tight freezer bag, and frozen for up to several months. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator completely before rolling, coating, and baking.
Room Temperature: Once cooled, store these Christmas crinkle cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week. A small amount of the powdered sugar may transfer when they're handled, but nearly all of it should remain on the cookies. Place parchment paper (you can reuse the sheets from baking) between layers to keep all of the cookies looking in tip-top shape.
Freezer: Once the Kris Krinkles are cool, layer between parchment in an air-tight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Any longer and they can begin to take on a stale/freezer burnt flavor. Thaw at room temperature just prior to serving.
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Kris Krinkles (Christmas Crinkle Cookies)
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (see note)
- 1 ⅔ cups (205g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Green gel food coloring
- Red gel food coloring
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
- Cream together softened butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until combined and no dry streaks remain.
- Divide the dough into two equal halves between the two mixing bowls. Mix one half of the dough with green food coloring and the other with red food coloring. Cover bowls snugly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, up to overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Pour 3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar and ¾ cup confectioners' sugar separately into two small bowls.
- Working with one color dough at a time (leave the other refrigerated), scoop roughly 1 ½-Tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball with your hands.
- Roll each ball of dough into the granulated sugar to coat it completely, then roll it in the the confectioners' sugar until it is generously coated. You want a thick layer of confectioners' sugar. Place balls on the lined baking sheets, leaving at least 2 - 2 ½ inches between them as they spread.
- Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 11-12 minutes, or until the edges have set but aren't yet brown. The centers may still look a bit soft but that's okay.
- Cookie Dough - Wrap dough in plastic wrap and seal in an air-tight freezer bag before freezing for several months. Thaw dough in the refrigerator before scooping, rolling, and baking.
- Cookies - Baked cookies can also be frozen. Freeze in a sealable freezer bag or air-tight container with parchment paper between layers for up to 3 months (longer and they can take on a stale flavor). Thaw at room temperature shortly before serving.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer