Rainbow Pinwheel Cookie Recipe

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This Rainbow Pinwheel Cookie Recipe is the perfect sweet treat for St. Patrick’s Day, unicorn parties or just some rainy day fun! With beautiful, bright colors and a delicious sugar cookie taste, these rainbow cookies are as much fun to make as they are to eat!

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Rainbow cookies up close in bowl

There’s something about bright rainbow colors that always seems to make people smile and this rainbow pinwheel cookie recipe is no exception. Also called pinwheel cookies, these colorful confections are as beautiful as they are delicious.

They have all the buttery sweet flavor that everyone loves in a sugar cookie, but with an extra fun and fancy design. And with endless ways to adapt and modify this recipe for different occasions, these are sure to be one of your new favorite cookies!

Despite their impressive appearance, pinwheel cookies are also super easy to make, but shhh…keep that to yourself! Just bring a batch to your next school bake sale or party and everyone will think you’re a professional pastry chef.

Get a personalized letter from your leprechaun! Customize it with your child’s name for a fun St. Patrick’s Day surprise!

Easy: These easy pinwheel cookies only require a few basic ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand. There are no complicated techniques and no fancy equipment needed. The dough comes together quickly, and then all you need to do is flatten it, roll it together, and slice.

Versatile: Change up your dough colors to fit the theme of any holiday season or special occasion. Try pastels for Easter red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July or red and white for Christmas pinwheel cookies (you can even add a few drops of peppermint extract). Shades of pink and red would be pretty for Valentine’s Day. The possibilities are almost endless!

Kid-Friendly: This is a great recipe for involving the kids in the baking process. It’s really fun to make and kids can help with mixing the food coloring and rolling out the dough. You can even put them in charge of designing the cookie and selecting their favorite colors. 

Ingredients 

Ingredients for rainbow pinwheel cookies
  • 3 cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Powdered sugar for rolling
  • Food coloring – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple

How To Make Pinwheel Cookies

Step 1: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Flour in mixing bowl

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy. You can use the bowl of a stand mixer for this if you have one.

Sugar and butter in mixing bowl

Step 3: Add egg and milk to the butter and sugar mixture. Continue to mix until combined.

Whipped butter for rainbow cookies

Step 4: Using the low setting and the paddle attachment on the mixer, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Continue mixing until the dough pulls away from the bowl. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a regular electric mixer will work too.

Adding flour to the batter mixture

Step 5: Divide dough into six pieces.

Balls of dough to make into cookies

Step 6: Squeeze a few drops of red food coloring into the first ball of dough. Mix until the red coloring is evenly distributed. Repeat this process with the remaining colors and pieces of dough.

Pink dough for rainbow cookies

Step 7: Wrap each piece separately in wax paper and let the dough chill in the refrigerator for two hours.

Step 8: Sprinkle powdered sugar on rolling surface. Use a rolling pin to roll dough pieces into circles about 12 inches in diameter.

Blue dough for rainbow cookies

Step 9: Place the red layer down first, and then stack the other dough circles one on top of the other. Use the following order from bottom to top: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red dough.

Layers of dough for cookies

Step 10: Carefully roll the dough layers up together to form a log shape. Wrap the log in wax paper and chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes

Cookie dough layers rolled into a log shape

Step 11: Line a baking sheet with piece of parchment paper. Using a sharp knife (I’ve found that the easiest way is with a serrated knife), slice the cookies and place on prepared baking sheet.

Sliced rainbow cookies

Step 12: Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, serve, and enjoy!

Tips & Tricks

Coloring: For the best and most even color, try using gel coloring. It’s easier to work with than liquid food coloring and you should be able to find it at your regular grocery store.

Chilling: You might be tempted to skip the dough chilling step to get to the cookie eating step as quickly as possible. I understand the temptation, but don’t do that. This is one of those cases where chilling the dough really makes a difference. Not only does it improve the texture of your cookies, but it also makes the dough easier to slice.

Rolling: Be sure to roll the dough log as tightly as possible after you put your colored circles together. This will help ensure that your spiral cookies don’t fall apart when you cut them. And don’t forget to sprinkle your cutting board or countertop with powdered sugar before you roll. This will prevent your dough from sticking.

Make Ahead: The dough can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two. When you’re ready to use it, take it out and slice it immediately, and then bake.

Inside of pinwheel cookie
How do I store these cookies?

You can store the rolled dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for one to two days. Avoid storing for longer than two days, as your colors may start to blend. Once baked, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Can these pinwheel cookies be frozen?

You can freeze the dough, but I don’t recommend freezing the baked cookies, as sugar cookies tend to dry out in the freezer. The rolled dough can be frozen for up to three months, so feel free to double the recipe next time you make these and save an extra batch for another time. When you’re ready to use the frozen dough, just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then slice and bake.

Rainbow cookies in metal bowl

Having a rainbow themed party? Why not serve this rainbow sherbet punch and these rainbow sandwiches too!

More fun cookie recipes

If you loved this pinwheel cookie recipe, you might want to check out some of these other delicious cookie ideas!

Rainbow Cookies in bowl
5 from 3 votes

Rainbow Pinwheel Cookie Recipe


Course Desserts & Sweets
Cuisine American
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
This Rainbow Pinwheel Cookie Recipe, with swirls of beautiful, bright colors and a delicious sugar cookie taste, makes the perfect cookie for St. Patrick’s Day, Unicorn parties or just some rainy day fun!

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
    3 cups all purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • In a large mixing bowl bowl, (you can use the bowl of a stand mixer for this if you have one) beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
    1 cup unsalted butter
  • Add egg and milk to the butter and sugar mixture and continue to mix until combined.
  • Using the low setting and the paddle attachment on the mixer, gradually add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and continue mixing until the dough pulls away from the bowl. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a regular electric mixer will work too.
  • Divide the dough into six equal pieces.
  • Squeeze a few drops of red food coloring into the first piece. Mix until the color is evenly distributed. Repeat this process with the remaining colors and pieces of dough.
    Food coloring – red
  • Wrap each piece of dough separately in wax paper and place in the refrigerator to chill for two hours.
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar on rolling surface and roll dough pieces out into circles of about 12 inches in diameter.
    2-4 tablespoons powdered sugar for rolling
  • Place the red layer down first, and then stack the other dough circles one on top of the other. Use the following order from bottom to top: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
  • Carefully roll the dough layers up together to form a log shape. Wrap the log in wax paper and chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife (serrated knives work best), slice the cookies and place on prepared pan.
  • Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, serve, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use gel food coloring, as opposed to liquid, for the best and most even color.
  • Chilling the dough makes a big difference. It improves the texture of your cookies and makes them easier to slice as well.
  • Roll the dough log tightly so the cookies don’t fall apart as you slice them.
  • This recipe makes 12-16 cookies, depending on how thick you make them.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 57mg | Potassium: 71mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 495IU | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 2mg
The nutrition information provided is an estimate and can vary based on cooking methods and ingredients used.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for the nice recipe! Will try it for my baby girl. I have a doubt, why roll dough pieces out into circles and not rectangles? The patern will look different? Just asking. Thank you!

    1. You can roll them either way 🙂

  2. Thanks for recipe. I am going to make these for granddaughters birthday. I thought I’d use shapes to cut them as its a frog, tropical rainbow party. Should be ok shouldnt it

    1. I haven’t tried that but I would think it would be okay! Let me know how it turns out 🙂

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