Christmas Cookie Sparkles

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!

stack of Christmas sprinkle sugar cookies

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 cookie recipe.

drop sugar cookies rolled in green and red sprinkles and sugar cookies decorated like Christmas trees

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 it’s at the proper room temperature 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: Use your favorite colors for rolling. Or skip the crunchy sugar for super creamy sugar cookies!

drop sugar cookie dough balls with bowls of red and green sprinkles

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!

  1. Combine the dry ingredients together.
  2. Cream the wet ingredients together.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. The dough will be thick.
  4. 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.
  5. Roll cookie dough into balls. Use about 1 Tablespoon of cookie dough for each.
  6. Dunk the cookie dough balls into sanding sugar. This is what makes them sparkle! Place them onto your baking sheet.
  7. 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.
  8. Bake.
  9. Enjoy!

Watch how they’re made:

drop sugar cookies rolled in red and green sprinkles

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.

Christmas sugar cookie dough rolled in green and red sprinkles and a measuring cup flattening down the top of a dough ball

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!

Christmas sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles

Look how creamy and soft they are inside!

drop sugar cookies rolled in green and red sprinkles and sugar cookies decorated like Christmas trees

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Christmas sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles

Christmas Cookie Sparkles

  • Author: Sally
  • 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; 240g) 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*


  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour sanding sugar in a bowl or, if using multiple colors, a few separate bowls.
  6. 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.
  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 will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week.


  1. 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. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Fun Spatula, Green Sanding Sugar, Silpat Baking Mat, Baking Sheet, and Cooling Rack
  3. Almond Extract: Almond extract adds a wonderful flavor to the cookies. You can leave it out. No need to replace with anything.
  4. 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. I’ve also used this gold pearlized sugar.
  5. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.


  1. Julie Netterlund says:

    Can you use regular red & green colored sugar?

    1. You want a course sugar – which is often sold as sanding sugar. You can definitely make your own colors with this sugar and a drop of food coloring!

  2. Will this recipe work if used in a cookie cutter and decorated after?

    1. Hi, Melissa! I’m afraid this dough wouldn’t hold its shape for cookie cutters. I would recommend my Christmas Sugar Cookies instead.

  3. Erin Henderson says:

    I followed this recipe exactly and they turned out perfectly… if anything I wish I would’ve pushed them down a bit more the dough is perfect! I altered this recipe for a batch and added a few DROPS of mint chocolate lorannes candy oil instead of vanilla extract AND a drop of green food coloring for a mint chip version. Amazing staple recipe for sugar cookies. I chilled my dough for about 2 hours before balling them up and coating with sprinkles.

  4. My new go-to rolled sugar cookie! These are amazing! Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  5. Can I do any substitute for the cream cheese? I’m not a fan of The flavor ofcream cheese.

    1. Hi Sierra! You can’t really taste its flavor, though it does add a bit of tang. Instead, use my drop style sugar cookies and leave the sprinkles out of the dough (if desired) and roll in sprinkles instead.

  6. Josh Hadwiger says:

    Hi sally,

    I don’t have any cream cheese on hand and was wondering if i could sub it for anything. Maybe sour cream? Thank you 🙂

    1. Sour cream could work, but in this case, I recommend just using my drop sugar cookies recipe instead.

  7. Hi Sally,

    I made sure to make these using a tablespoon to measure out each cookie, but I ended up with close to 40 cookies…should I have done 1/5 tablespoons instead?
    Thank you!

    1. There’s no issue there! Tablespoon measures can be off by a few grams and that can add up over 32-40 cookies. Same bake time with yours.

  8. Made these tonight with my kiddos and YUM!!! Kids had fun helping too This recipe is definitely a keeper!! Thanks Sally!

  9. Oh my goodness! These are easy, festive and delicious. I made them a few days ago, froze the balls of dough (per your recipe tip) and baked them today. They could not be better!

  10. I used coconut extract in place of almond in a pinch & it was delightful!

  11. So delicious! My son keeps mentioning how good they are. I can’t wait to make them for Easter in pretty pastel colors.

  12. Hi! Mine came out a bit cakey, is there something that I missed?? I love all your recipes, and was really disappointed these didn’t come out the way they should’ve

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Briana, They should be pretty dense and chewy, not cakey. Did you make any ingredient substitutions at all? Be sure that you spoon and level (not scoop) the flour – or weigh it – to be sure you are not using too much.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! We made them tonight and they are amazing. We will definitely be making these again!

  14. Hi sally, I only have “whipped spreadable” cream cheese. Will this work?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Shawna! Whipped cream cheese will be much too wet for these cookies. You need block style cream cheese for best results.

  15. Another holiday baking hit! Sally, your spin on a sugar cookie in this recipe without the roll-out process was spot on! The cookies hold up so nicely, and I love the almond flavor.
    I made the cookies rolled in red sanding sugar, and then I ran out and was too lazy to get more sanding sugar. Seeing how thick the cookies were after a slight push down with a measuring cup, I rolled the rest of cookies in granulated sugar, and used your brown sugar cookie recipe idea of stamping the cookies on the remaining dough. It came out PERFECT! Plus it looked like I had two different types of cookies! For the stamped cookies, I dipped 1/2 a side into melted dark chocolate, and on a few I put some sliced almonds to give it a gourmet look. My mother in law thought I purchased the cookies from a bakery!

1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love



Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe. Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally