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These almond butter cookies sparkle with a roll in coarse sugar or colorful sanding sugar sprinkles! They’re deliciously thick and the crunchy sugar coating contrasts perfectly with the pillow soft centers.

almond butter cookies rolled in white coarse sugar and red and green sanding sugar on cooling rack

This recipe is part of my annual Christmas cookie countdown called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. Every year since 2013, I work on a handful of new Christmas cookie recipes and publish the 10 best ones for readers to enjoy! You can browse dozens of recipes on the Sally’s Cookie Palooza page.


Tell Me About These Almond Butter Sparkle Cookies

  • Flavor: Enjoy almond butter, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla all in one– a medley of humble, yet flavorful ingredients.
  • Texture: If you love a good texture contrast, these cookies are for you. The coarse crunchy sugar coating acts as a crust for the soft almond butter crumbs inside. The cookies are NOT cakey– just very soft. The chopped almonds in the cookies slightly soften during bake time so don’t worry, you won’t be biting into break-your-teeth almond chunks.
  • Ease: This recipe is great for beginners because it uses basic ingredients and doesn’t require complicated shaping. And bonus! That pretty sugar coating is basically built in festive decoration without the need for icing or other garnishes.
  • Time: Chilling the cookie dough is imperative, but the great news is that the dough only needs about 30 minutes to thicken up in the refrigerator before rolling and baking. This quick chill time is enough for you to preheat the oven and get the coarse sugar/sprinkles ready for rolling. The recipe moves pretty quickly.

thick almond butter cookies rolled in sugar and sparkling sugar sprinkles

The Consistency of Your Almond Butter is Important

Nut butters have a range of thickness. For example, processed store-bought creamy peanut butter such as Jif creamy is much thicker than natural-style oily thin peanut butter. Or, in today’s case, the start of a fresh jar of almond butter is thinner than the bottom of the jar. The difference in consistency between brands or even within the same jar will change how your cookie dough looks, feels, and bakes.

If you want crinkles and cracks in today’s almond butter cookies, pour out excess oil from the jar and stir it up very well before measuring. And don’t forget to chill the dough for 30 minutes before baking.

Look At The Difference

I always love a good cookie comparison and you can find other comparisons in my brownie cookies and coconut lime cookies recipe testing processes. Pictured next you can see the difference between using a runny almond butter (left, more spread) vs a thicker almond butter (right, less spread and more crinkles). Both cookies use the same dough, taste identical, and are certainly pretty, but if you wonder why your cookies don’t have crinkles/cracks– thin almond butter could be the culprit!

almond butter cookies side-by-side comparing the cracks and crinkles on surface

The almond butter pictured next on the left is pretty thick and what I used for the crinkled cookies. It’s hard to tell, but the almond butter pictured with the other ingredients is thinner and produced cookies with fewer cracks.

almond butter jar and other ingredients needed for cookie recipe

Overview: How To Make Almond Butter Sparkle Cookies

You need 10 main ingredients for these almond butter cookies including all-purpose flour, brown & white granulated sugars, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, egg, almond butter, salt, and butter. Some advice:

  • Use creamy almond butter
  • Add optional chopped almonds: For more flavor, add chopped roasted, salted, raw, or unsalted almonds. I like using roasted salted almonds because their flavor pairs nicely with cinnamon and sweet brown sugar.
  • Sugar coating: You have some options for the coarse sugar coating. I like using white “sparkling sugar” and it’s usually sold as sprinkles in the baking aisle. I use this ingredient often for recipes like shortbread cookie wedges, stained glass window cookies, and even jumbo chocolate chip muffins. The red and green cookies are coated in sanding sugar sprinkles. If you’re shopping online, I like (affiliate links) these multicolor, these white, these green,and these red. You can also use turbinado sugar or just regular granulated sugar, a convenient ingredient already in the cookie dough.

The cookie dough is soft after it comes together. Chill it for 30 minutes before rolling into balls, coating in sugar, and baking.

almond butter cookie dough in bowl and rolled into ball in sugar

almond butter cookie dough balls on lined baking sheet

Can I Skip or Use Other Nut Butters?

  • For a nut-free version of this recipe, make these Christmas Cookie Sparkles or swap the almond butter for sunflower seed butter or Biscoff spread.
  • And you can replace the almond butter with peanut butter, cashew butter, or other nut butter of choice. I have not tested this recipe with chocolate hazelnut spread such as Nutella.

thick almond butter cookies rolled in coarse sugar sprinkles

Sally's Cookie Palooza

This recipe is part of my annual Christmas cookie countdown called Sally’s Cookie Palooza. Every year since 2013, I publish 10 new cookie recipes in a row. It’s the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Browse dozens of Christmas cookie recipes over on the Sally’s Cookie Palooza page including:

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almond butter cookies rolled in white coarse sugar and red and green sanding sugar on cooling rack

Almond Butter Sparkle Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes (includes chilling)
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These almond butter cookies sparkle with a roll in coarse sugar or colorful sanding sugar sprinkles! They’re deliciously thick and the crunchy sugar coating contrasts perfectly with the pillow soft centers.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (210g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (128g) creamy unsalted almond butter, at room temperature*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (about 105g) chopped almonds* (optional, see note)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) coarse sugar or colored sanding sugar sprinkles*

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. Add the almond butter and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, pour in the chopped almonds if using, and beat on low speed until combined. The dough will be soft and thick. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes and up to 3 days. I recommend just a quick 30 minutes. (Note: If chilling for longer than a couple hours, let dough sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to slightly soften. Otherwise cookie dough balls may not spread.)
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  5. Pour coarse/sanding sugar in a bowl or, if using multiple colors, a few separate bowls.
  6. Roll balls of cookie dough, about 1 heaping Tablespoon of dough per cookie, then roll each ball in the coarse/sanding sugar to coat. Place each dough ball 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes or until edges appear set. (Note: If cookies are not spreading by the 8-9 minute mark, remove baking sheet from oven and gently drop/bang baking sheet on the counter a few times or gently press down with back of a spoon. This helps initiate a bit more spread.)
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. See step 3. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving. Unbaked cookie dough balls (without sugar coating) will freeze well for up to 3 months. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, preheat oven, then roll in sanding sugar. Bake as directed. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.
  2. Almond Butter: If using a new jar of almond butter, pour out excess oil and stir it well to fully combine the thinner top layer and thicker bottom layer. Use creamy almond butter. If you decide to use crunchy almond butter or if your creamy almond butter is particularly thick, the cookies may not spread as much– but gently pressing the coated cookie dough balls down (like we do with the sugar cookie version) before baking would help.
  3. Almonds: You can use roasted, salted, raw, or unsalted almonds. I like using roasted salted almonds because the sweet/salty contrast is delicious here and a roasted flavor pairs nicely with cinnamon and sweet brown sugar. The almonds will slightly soften in the baked cookies– they do not stay hard/crunchy.
  4. Sugar Coating: You have some options for the coarse sugar coating. I like using white “sparkling sugar” and it’s usually sold as sprinkles in the baking aisle. You can also use sanding sugar sprinkles, which is what I used in the pictured red and green cookies. If you’re shopping online, I like (affiliate links) these multicolor, these white, these green,and these red. You can also use turbinado sugar or just regular granulated sugar, a convenient ingredient already in the cookie dough.
  5. Gluten Free/Almond Flour: We have not tested this recipe with almond flour instead of all-purpose flour. For a gluten free version, I recommend these almond butter chocolate chip cookies. You can leave out the chocolate chips and roll the cookie dough balls as best you can in sugar/sanding sugar sprinkles. If you love almond flour, try these almond butter coconut macaroons.

Keywords: almond butter sparkle cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. hi sally this looks really good but can we use pecans or pistachios or any other nut?

    1. The chopped almonds are optional and you can absolutely replace with another chopped nut if desired. Enjoy!

  2. I haven’t made these yet, but I wonder if subbing almond flour for the APF would work. I hate to waster ingredients, but am interested in knowing this. If I used almond flour, do you think I need to add any xanthum gum?

    1. Hi Ginny, since almond flour has such different baking properties than all-purpose flour, it would take some recipe testing to ensure results (it’s unfortunately not always a 1:1 swap). If you decide to do any experimenting, let us know how it goes.

  3. Could I add a little almond extract to give the cookies even more of an almond flavor. Id so how much? I love anything almond flavored:)

    1. Absolutely! I recommend 3/4 or 1 teaspoon when you add the vanilla extract. No need to reduce the vanilla unless you’d like to.

  4. Your regular sparkle cookie recipe is my favorite Christmas cookie so I can’t wait to try these!

  5. Hi! Should the almond butter be the regular salted kind or should it be unsalted? Just trying to figure out which one to buy so that I can make this 🙂

  6. I have never purchased almond butter.
    Do you have a recommended brand?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Carol, We have used many different brands such as Justin’s, Jiff, or even our local store brand. The most important thing is that it’s creamy (not chunky) and that no matter which brand you use, you pour out excess oil and stir it well to fully combine the thinner top layer and thicker bottom layer.

  7. I made these yesterday to add to my cookie gifts – they are so delicious it’s difficult to give them away! The textures and flavors are perfect.

  8. Fantastic and easy recipe. It is amazing how well Sally’s recommendation of what to do if they are not spreading works. I will do this for all non-spreading cookies going forward! They come out great and fancy looking with the sprinkle coat. A new fave!

  9. Hi Sally! I was wondering if I could make it with almond paste as well since I don’t have almond butter.

    1. Hi Evalyn! Almond paste has very different baking properties and wouldn’t be a 1:1 swap. If you don’t have almond butter, you could try these Christmas Cookie Sparkles instead – enjoy!

  10. I have tried four of your outstanding delicious cookie recipes! You are the Mother Lode of cookie baking! Family loved them all and they sure disappear quickly. I really appreciate your tips and have read many of the reviews to see what other baker’s like or have problems with. I find that in totality very helpful. Simply delicious and going forward I make minor adjustments based on how the first batch does. Grateful for the help and the delicious cookies! Can’t wait to try more of the cakes and pies as well! Many thanks

    1. Thank you so much for the positive feedback, Richard! We’re so glad you’re enjoying our cookie recipes.

  11. hi Sally,
    The cookies were great!
    I was wondering if I could substitute peanut butter for the almond butter. I know almond butter isn’t as thick or sticky as peanut butter, but would it still work?

    1. Hi Maddison, You can replace the almond butter with peanut butter.

  12. This recipe looks great as is, but my kids tend to boycott things w/o chocolate. Do you think mini chocolate chips would go well in this recipe or would it lead to something that is way too sweet? THanks!

    1. Can’t see why not – sounds delicious! Let us know if you give it a try, Julie 🙂

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