Twist candy cane cookies are a must-make for Christmas! Red and white peppermint shortbread cookie dough is twisted together to look like candy canes.

three twist candy cane cookies on white round plate next to glass of milk

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Aka, baking season 🙂 I’m getting a kickstart on my Christmas cookie list and baked twist candy cane cookies. These cookies are made with shortbread dough flavored with peppermint extract. Each bite has buttery peppermint flavors that melt away in your mouth!

Why this recipe works: The shortbread cookie dough does not spread easily so the candy cane cookies keep their shape. The addition of peppermint extract makes the cookies taste like candy canes!

photo collage demonstrating how to make twist candy cane cookie dough in a mixing bowl
photo collage demonstrating how to dye and chill twist candy cane cookie dough

How to make twist candy cane cookies

  1. Make the cookie dough: Mix butter and confectioners’ sugar, then add egg, vanilla and peppermint extract. Mix in flour just until combined.
  2. Dye cookie dough: Divide cookie dough in half. Mix half the cookie dough with red food coloring.
  3. Chill the cookie dough: Separately wrap the plain cookie dough and red cookie dough in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.
  4. Shape cookies: Measure about 2 tablespoons of regular dough and 2 tablespoons of red dough. Roll into 6-inch long ropes. Pinch the ends together, then twist the two ropes together. Hook one end to look like a candy cane. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Chill cookies: Place baking sheet with cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. While the cookies chill, preheat oven to 375 F.
  6. Bake cookies: Bake cookies at 375 F for 12 minutes. Cool and serve.
photo collage demonstrating how to twist and shape twist candy cane cookie dough
twist candy cane cookies on wire cooling rack next to glass of milk and candy canes

Make ahead tips

  • Option 1: Freezing the cookie dough is the best long term option. After dying the dough, wrap the two discs in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months before defrosting and shaping cookies.
  • Option 2: Chill cookie dough for up to 1 day before shaping cookies.
  • Option 3: Chill shaped cookies for up to 6 hours. Be sure to cover cookie sheet with plastic wrap to prevent cookie dough from drying out.

‘Tis the seasons for baking! I have so many holiday recipes, but I’ll share just a few of my favorites for now. If you’re looking for more peppermint recipes, I suggest making homemade peppermint bark with white chocolate and crushed candy canes. Another option that is great for gifting is peppermint fudge. I personally love Christmas cookies. One of my most popular holiday cookies are these secret kiss cookies made with walnut cookie dough and a hidden chocolate kiss. Another shortbread cookie recipe to try are butter spritz cookies.

red and white twist candy cane cookies on black wire cooling rack

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cookie dough falling apart?

The dough is easier to shape when it’s chilled so it’s likely the cookie dough got too warm. Chill again in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. If you’re still having trouble, it’s likely you used too much flour. Add 1-2 Tablespoons milk to make the dough less dry.

Can I make regular cookies with this dough?

Yes, scoop a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Use a fork to press dough ball down and create a criss cross pattern. Bake at 375 F for 8 to 10 minutes.

How to store twist candy cane cookies

Place cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to a week.

Can you freeze candy cane cookie dough?

Yes, wrap dough in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before shaping cookies.

twist candy cane cookie hanging off glass of milk next to plate of cookies on wire cooling rack

Candy cane cookies are perfect for gifting around the holidays. They’re also a fun cookie to make with kids (it’s like playing with play dough). Be sure to read the make ahead tips in the blog post above so you can get a head start on the holiday baking! If you tried this recipe, leave a review below and tag @ifyougiveablondeakitchen on social media.

red and white twist candy cane cookies on black wire cooling rack

Twist Candy Cane Cookies

Twist candy cane cookies are a must-make for Christmas! Red and white peppermint shortbread cookie dough is twisted together to look like candy canes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red food gel

Instructions 

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the batter looks soft, about 90 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg, vanilla, and peppermint. Mix until combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour and salt. Mix just until combined (avoid overmixing).
  • Remove half the dough from the mixing bowl and set aside. Add 1/2 teaspoon of red food coloring to the remaining dough and mix on low speed. Add additional food coloring as needed until the dough is a bright, vibrant red.
  • Form each doughs into 1-inch thick discs, wrap each separately in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Remove both pieces of dough from the fridge and unwrap. Pinch off roughly 2 tablespoons and roll each into a thick rope about 6 inches long. Pinch the two ropes together at the top and gently twist them together. Transfer the twisted ropes to the baking sheet and gently "hook" the top to create a candy cane shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • When all the cookies have been shaped, chill both sheets of cookies for 15 minutes before baking — this helps the cookies hold their shape during baking.
  • While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 375° F.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges and tips of the cookies are just barely golden. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Notes

Crumbly dough breaking: If the dough starts to break as you roll it or become hard to work with, put it back in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. If that doesn’t work, add 1-2 tablespoons milk to the cookie dough. It’s likely there was too much flour added to the dough (remember to weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale!)
Store twist candy cane cookies in an airtight container for up to a week.
Freeze cookie dough wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before shaping cookies.
Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 148kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 53mg, Potassium: 22mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 246IU, Calcium: 6mg, Iron: 1mg
Inspired by The Kitchn.

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