Old-Fashioned Pinwheel Cookies Recipe

Here at Mashed, we love discovering flavor-packed dishes courtesy of our team of recipe developers. When the recipe in question happens to be just as aesthetically pleasing, we're even happier. Kristen Carli is a registered dietitian, owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness, and recipe creator for Mashed. This old-fashioned pinwheel cookies recipe is her take on a classic holiday cookie. Pinwheel cookies can made with a number of filling combinations including dates and nut, according to We are not Foodies, but Carli's rendition skips both and is made with chocolate and vanilla, an iconic pairing that's easy to love. 

What's also easy to fawn over is their dazzling appearance. Carli enthusiastically notes, "They came out so cute. I'm obsessed." Sure, visuals aren't always an indication of taste, but these cookies are equally delicious. 

The recipe makes four dozen cookies, which might seem like a lot, but they can easily be frozen. While the recipe is not extremely advanced, it does take a bit more effort than the average cookie, so you're better off making a large batch to have on hand. 

Gather the ingredients for these old-fashioned pinwheel cookies

These old-fashioned cookies call for basic ingredients that will be familiar to most bakers. To start, the bulk of the dough is made using all-purpose flour. Since you'll be rolling the dough flat and then into logs, flour substitutions with different textures aren't suitable for this recipe. Next, you'll need a bit of baking powder to help the dough inflate, creating an ideal consistency. Salt is added to enhance and balance the flavors; however, stick to unsalted butter (you'll need two sticks, or one cup) so that you can control the amount of salt used. Butter will add some fat and moisture to the cookie dough, contributing to a heavenly melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Let your butter soften a bit before using it to facilitate creaming.

You can't have cookies without sugar! Regular white granulated sugar works just fine for this recipe. Eggs will give your cookies a deep, rich taste and they'll also help the dough bind together, making it easy to roll out. A splash of vanilla extract does wonders for baked goods, infusing warm and sweet aromas. Finally, to make half of the batter chocolate, Carli mixes in some unsweetened cocoa powder. Since the dough already contains plenty of sugar, avoid using sweetened cocoa. 

As for trying other combinations of flavors, Carli remarks, "I have never but that would be fun." We recommend starting with this classic chocolate and vanilla pairing and exploring from there. 

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together

First things first, place a large mixing bowl on your countertop or table. Measure out three cups of all-purpose flour and pour them into the bowl. Add half a teaspoon of baking powder and one teaspoon of salt to the flour. Using a whisk, mix the dry ingredients together so that the baking powder and salt are evenly distributed throughout the flour. This will help the dough rise uniformly when it bakes. 

In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar, then mix in the eggs and vanilla

Next, set out a stand mixer and add the softened butter to the bowl along with the sugar. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, mix the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Next, crack the two eggs into the mixture and splash in the vanilla extract on top. Mix the eggs and vanilla into the butter mixture until the ingredients are smoothly combined. You can also do this with a hand mixer.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture

Now that both the dry and wet mixtures have been separately prepared, it's time to mix them together to make the dough. Combine the dry ingredients with the contents of the stand mixer bowl. Once again using the paddle attachment, mix everything together until the dry ingredients are properly incorporated. 

By the time you're done mixing, you should no longer see any streaks of flour in the cookie dough.

Divide the dough in half and mix the cocoa powder into one half

Remove the cookie dough from the stand mixer bowl and divide it into two equal parts. Place one half of the dough back into the stand mixer bowl — it's about to become the chocolate part of the pinwheel. Add half a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to the stand mixer bowl and, using the paddle attachment, mix it into the dough until it has fully combined.

Roll out the vanilla and chocolate dough into squares

Now it's time to roll! Set out a large piece of parchment paper and place the vanilla dough on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a square shape. It doesn't have to be perfect since you'll be cutting it straight in the following step, but aim for a square-like, 5x5-inch shape. Once you've finished with the vanilla dough, repeat the same procedure for the chocolate dough, rolling it out onto another piece of parchment paper. 

Now, place both dough squares into the refrigerator to chill for one hour. Cooler dough will be easier to work with once you get to the following step. 

Stack the two doughs and cut off the excess to create straight sides

After one hour, remove the two doughs from the refrigerator. Next, stack the chocolate dough on top of the vanilla dough and line up the sides. (You can discard the parchment paper attached to the chocolate dough now). Using a bench scraper or a knife, trim the edges of the dough to form a perfect square. Then, cut the dough square in half.

Roll the stacked dough into logs and refrigerate them overnight

Carli remarks that the trickiest part is rolling up the dough and forming it into a log, so you'll want to be careful with this step to make sure that you don't crack the dough as you tightly roll it up into a log shape. 

Repeat the step with the second half of the stacked dough so that you have two identical rolled dough logs. Cover the dough logs with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight. If you plan to bake these in the same day, Carli recommends refrigerating them for a minimum of six hours.

Slice evenly-sized cookies out of the logs, and bake them in a preheated oven

Once the dough logs have spent sufficient time cooling down and you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice each log into quarter-inch thick slices. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Then, place the cookies an inch apart on the baking sheet. 

Once the oven has reached temperature, bake the cookies for 10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool, then dig in

When the cookies finish baking, remove them from the oven and let them cool down for 10 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack or plate. There's no need to spell out the next step — dig in! Carli says, "These are great alone or dipped in milk." 

Since you're making a big batch, Carli says, "You can freeze the baked cookies in an airtight zip plastic bag for up to three months." If you've got a good appetite or a full house, she recommends that you "store cookies in an airtight zip plastic bag at room temperature for up to 10 days." 

Old-Fashioned Pinwheel Cookies Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
This old-fashioned pinwheel cookies recipe is a chocolate and vanilla take on a classic holiday cookie. These cookies are as delicious as they are cute.
Prep Time
Cook Time
plate of pinwheel cookies
Total time: 45 minutes
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ⅓ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Set it aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar, and mix until the contents are light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract, then mix to combine.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the contents of the stand mixer bowl and mix to combine.
  5. Remove the dough from the stand mixer bowl and divide it in half.
  6. Place half of the dough back in the stand mixer and mix in the cocoa powder until it is combined.
  7. Set out some parchment paper and roll out the vanilla dough into a roughly 5x5-inch square.
  8. Repeat the step with the chocolate dough, rolling it out onto a piece of parchment paper until it forms a similarly sized square.
  9. Refrigerate both doughs for 1 hour.
  10. Remove the two doughs from the fridge and place one on top of the other.
  11. Using a bench scraper or a knife, trim the edges to make a perfect square and cut the stacked dough in half.
  12. Roll up the dough tightly into two logs, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate them overnight, or for a minimum of 6 hours.
  13. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 F.
  14. Remove the dough logs from the fridge and slice them into ¼-inch slices.
  15. Grease a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and place the cookies on the tray, 1 inch apart.
  16. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes.
  17. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the baking sheet.
Calories per Serving 89
Total Fat 4.2 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 16.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.1 g
Dietary Fiber 0.5 g
Total Sugars 5.6 g
Sodium 48.9 mg
Protein 1.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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