Christmas cookie sparkles are classically soft sugar cookies rolled in sugar sprinkles. They’re incredibly festive and you’ll love the texture of the crunchy outside with the smooth inside!
These are my cookie SPARKLES. A classically soft sugar cookie rolled in sparkles, aka sanding sugar sprinkles. Not only are the sprinkles adorably festive, they give the cookies a delicious crunch on the outside, which contrasts wonderfully with the soft centers. They may even look familiar to you—it’s the sugar cookie sparkles recipe from Sally’s Cookie Addiction all dressed up in holiday colors!
Also pictured: Christmas tree sugar cookies using my favorite sugar cookies and royal icing recipes.
Christmas Cookie Ingredients
We’re using all of the usual sugar cookie ingredients today. In fact, this recipe is the same as my cream cheese sugar cookies (without the frosting)! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flour: Sturdy all-purpose flour is the base of these cookies.
- Baking Powder: Baking powder helps them rise.
- Salt: Salt adds flavor.
- Butter: Butter adds creaminess and lots of delicious flavor. A sugar cookie staple! Make sure you have proper room temperature butter before beginning.
- Cream Cheese: A little cream cheese turns these soft sugar cookies into SUPER soft sugar cookies.
- Sugar: We use all granulated sugar in this sugar cookie recipe.
- Egg: One egg binds everything together.
- Vanilla + Almond Extracts: Use both for the best flavor! I love the addition of almond extract in these cookies.
- Sanding Sugar: This is the same sugar we use for our almond butter sparkle cookies. Use your favorite colors for rolling. Or skip the crunchy sugar for super creamy sugar cookies!
How to Make Christmas Cookie Sparkles
I love that these are simple drop style sugar cookies—no rolling out cookie dough like we have to do when making my classic sugar cookies. If you don’t have a rolling pin or don’t feel like messing with cookie cutters, these sugar cookies are for you. We’ll roll the cookie dough into balls and you don’t need any special tools for that. YAY!
- Combine the dry ingredients together.
- Cream the wet ingredients together.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. The dough will be thick.
- Chill the cookie dough. This sugar cookie dough doesn’t need to chill in the refrigerator very long– only about 1 hour. It’s a very sturdy dough that won’t overspread in the oven, so chilling for 3+ hours just isn’t necessary. It’s difficult to always plan ahead, so quick cookies are always welcomed.
- Roll cookie dough into balls. Use about 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough for each.
- Dunk the cookie dough balls into sanding sugar. This is what makes them sparkle! Place them onto your baking sheet.
- Press down on the sugar cookie balls before baking. This is crucial! The cookies will hardly spread unless you give them a little nudge in the right direction. I simply do this with the back of a measuring cup.
The Secret Ingredient!
This cookie dough is made from typical sugar cookie ingredients like butter, sugar, egg, and flour. I also add a little secret ingredient that turns these soft sugar cookies into SUPER soft sugar cookies. What a difference a couple ounces of cream cheese makes! Not only does this addition produce softer sugar cookies, it creates a wonderfully creamy tasting cookie as well. The texture is unlike any other sugar cookie I’ve tasted.
To Sparkle or Not to Sparkle
If a delightful crunch on the exterior doesn’t seem, well, delightful at all… leave the sprinkles off. Instead, bake the sugar cookies plain and frost them, just like my cream cheese sugar cookies. It’s the same cookie recipe, but I decorate with cream cheese frosting on top. So if you’re all about a super soft and creamy sugar cookie, but want nothing to do with the colorful sparkle, try them that way. Delicious with frosting!
Look how creamy and soft they are inside!
If you need more holiday baking inspiration, here are 75+ Christmas cookies with all my best success guides & tips.Print
Christmas Cookie Sparkles
- Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours
- Yield: 32 cookies
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Super soft and creamy cream cheese sugar cookies rolled in sprinkles!
- 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks; 230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 ounces (56g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract*
- 3/4 cup (150g) sanding sugar, red and green or assorted colors*
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together on high speed until relatively smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until combined and creamy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. The dough will be thick. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 3-4 days. If chilling for longer than 2-3 hours, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking because the dough will be quite hard and the cookies may not spread.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside.
- Pour sanding sugar in a bowl or, if using multiple colors, a few separate bowls.
- Roll balls of cookie dough, about 1 Tablespoon of dough per cookie, then roll each ball in the sanding sugar to coat. Place each dough ball 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Using the back of a measuring cup or drinking glass, gently press down on each dough ball to slightly flatten. Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes or until very lightly browned on the edges.
- 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.
- Cookies will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week.
- Make Ahead Instructions: You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. 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 sanding sugar coating) will freeze well for up to 3 months. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, pre-heat the oven, then roll in sanding sugar. Bake as directed. Read my tips and tricks on how to freeze cookie dough.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Stand Mixer or Handheld) | Baking Sheets | Silicone Baking Mats | Cooling Rack
- Almond Extract: Almond extract adds a wonderful flavor to the cookies. You can leave it out. No need to replace with anything.
- Sanding Sugar: I find sanding sugar sprinkles at my regular grocery store. You can usually find them in the baking aisle. I like Wilton brand. If you’re shopping for sanding sugar online, I like (affiliate links) the sugars from this holiday set, these multicolor, these green, and these red. I’ve also used this gold pearlized sugar.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.
Keywords: Christmas cookie sparkles
Reader Comments & Reviews
I could not twist this recipe and loved it so much. To make a chocolate version what do you recommend?
Hi Veronica, I’d have to test it. Likely play around with the amount of flour and add some cocoa powder, but it’s not a 1:1 swap. Let me know if you try anything. I love these cookies too!
Discrepancy in recipe. It says 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter or 240 grams. 2 sticks of butter is 226 grams. Which do you recommend.
Hi Elle, thank you for catching that. I actually use 230g in this recipe. Most sticks of butter (1/2 cup) are 113-115g. There won’t be a big difference, even when going up to 240g. There is enough flour in this dough to hold up to it all. But, for best results, 226-230g is great.
Not only were these cookies super easy to make, but they were FESTIVE! I used red, green and silver sanding sugar and they really were just so pretty. The flavor is FANTASTIC. Our kids LOVE baked goods and our (almost) 5yr old has already requested I bake these every Christmas AND for his birthday.
Not only has this recipe made it into our Christmas baking day, but quite honestly….we will be using it year round (with different colors of sanding sugar)!
We followed the recipe exactly and wouldn’t change a single thing!
This is one of my favorite recipes! The recipe states you can refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. I have had the dough in my fridge for a week because I didn’t have time to make the cookies. Can I still freeze or use the dough?
Hi Katie! We recommend refrigerating the dough for a max of 4 days, but, as always, do what you’re comfortable with! For longer storage, it’s best to freeze the dough (see recipe notes).
These were easy to make and so delicious! I just adore the almond extract in them. Excellent recipe!!!
Wonder how these would work with some lemon juice or zest
Hi Debra, you could try a bit of lemon zest — start with about a teaspoon and then adjust to your liking in future batches.
This looks a lot like the King Arthur flour recipe I use. I once accidentally doubled the cream cheese and they were even better. They always turn out so delicious! Yours look great!
The cookies are good. But mine turned out to have a cake like texture inside.
Hello, I plan to make these beautiful looking cookies for Christmas. I just read the grams/cups comments, so I don’t know whether to go by weight or volume. What kind of flour do you use, Sally? I think that would be the easiest for me.
Hi Carol, We test all of our recipes multiple times using both metric weights and cups (since that’s standard where we live). While spooning and leveling our flour does get us 125 grams per cup, we always say that “A cup isn’t always a cup, but a gram or ounce is always a gram or ounce!” Basically, when in doubt go by the weight!
Hello, I’m getting ready to make these and realize I only have regular sprinkles , will that work?
Hi Melissa, Yes, definitely!
I fell in with this recipe the first time we tried it, and has become a requested cookie ever since! I bake goodies for work to share as well as family & friends, and they all have asked for these cookies every year. I have adjusted the almond to suit given tastes, but other than that, have changed nothing. Thanks for such a great recipe that I use year round. They look amazing in Red, White, & Blue for 4th of July..big hit! Love your site, and have enjoyed everything I have made.
Bonjour, Merci pour toutes vos recettes qui sont incroyables et excellentes!!! Elles sont faciles à réalisées!!
Pour cette recette, quand vous parlez de fromage à la crème, cela correspond à quoi? Fromage type Philadelphia? Mascarpone?
Je vous remercie.
Salut! J’utilise un traducteur donc mon français n’est peut-être pas parfait. Oui, je parle du fromage à la crème Philadelphia.
I make these every year for gifts and to enjoy at home! I realized I don’t think I’ve ever left a review, so just wanted to pop in and say they’re easy, delicious, and consistently turn out great. The only change I ever make to the recipe is switching up the sugar colors to blue/silver for one of my co-workers who celebrates Hanukkah. Thank you for another wonderful recipe! I always know I can trust what I bake from your site to turn out. 🙂
Thank you so much for the kind review, Katie! We’re so glad you love this recipe.
Absolutely delicious and so easily festive looking! Loved them and will definitely be making them again.
Much better than the hard, crunchy sugar cookies. They really are soft and aren’t overly sweet. The sugar on the outside is a must. That little bit of sweet crunch really makes these great cookies even better. Excellent recipe!
These cookies are delicious! Everything I have made from this website is amazing. I appreciate your detailed instructions, too.
For those of us who prefer to weigh our ingredients, it is essential that the weights in the recipes be accurate. King Arthur Flour states that 1 cup of flour is 120 grams, however in the above recipe, and also in the Christimas Cookie Cut-Outs recipe, your flour weights are off. 3 cups of flour should be 360g, not 375g, 2-1/4 cups of flour should be 270g, not 281g. So which is it? 3 cups OR 375g of flour; 15g makes a big difference. Likewise with the 2nd recipe, is it 2-1/4 cups or 281g of flour? You can’t have it both ways, and as an influencer, I would expect accuracy.
Hi Jennifer, thank you. I consistently weigh 1 cup of spooned and leveled flour to be 125g. 120g is always just shy of 1 cup, and would not translate well in my recipes. My recipes are tested with 125g per 1 cup so that’s why they are written like that.
Hi Jennifer, The weight of flour in grams will differ depending on the brand of flour your using. Variation in milling processes and wheat composition cause flours to have varying density. King Arthur is stating the weight of only their flour.
It is such a shame that people feel the need to be so sparky on a public forum, as opposed to reaching out with questions in private. I would try to become educated on how different brands differ in weight, how to translate that into different recipes, etc. Doing so might prevent the stress that you’re clearly feeling in regard to not understanding completely about how to adjust accordingly. Sparky comments are not necessary. I’ve personally never had a problem with any of the weights/measurements with her recipes.
My cookies turned out great. I spoon flour into measuring cups and only weigh if the directions leave no option. I do however put the baking powder and or soda through a hand cranked sifter. Sometimes there are small clumps no one should have to bite into.
I don’t have any baking powder but I have baking soda. Is there a way I could use it with this recipe????
Hi LexiAnn, it’s best to wait until you have baking powder to make this recipe.
Going to store for ingredients. Can you freeze the cookies after you make them?
Hi MC, sure can — cookies (baked or as dough) can be frozen for up to three months. See recipe notes for more freezing details. Enjoy!
Thank you. will be baking these this week for gifts