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

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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. Christmas cookie sparkles look amazing. I will definitely be making these for Christmas. They look so yummy.

  2. Andrea @ Cooking with a Wallflower says:

    I love how festive these cookies are! Seriously, how can I resist all that sparkle?

  3. Cream cheese is such a good idea. They look super delicious and can’t wait to make them. 

  4. I made these from the cookbook and they are wonderful. They look adorable and have a wonderful texture. I am just loving Sally’s Cookie Addiction. I need to get going on making the Christmas cookie chapter. This book makes the perfect gift for the baker in your life.

    1. Thank you so much Rachel! I’d love to hear about any cookbook recipes you try.

  5. Patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    My mom makes these every year and their one of my favs.  Well I basically love anything with sprinkles 🙂

  6. These were on my list of christmas goodies last year and again this year. They’re delicious!

  7. Joanne Schaefer says:

    Hi Sally,

    I plan to make these for Sunday church fellowship time. They look so festive!! I do have a general cookie cooling question: I normally cool my cookies on the counter lined with freezer paper- would using cooling racks be a better idea for best results?

    1. Honestly, you can do it both ways. But I prefer to use cooling racks so the bottoms of the cookies get a little air and crisp up. They also cool much quicker when exposed to air on all sides.

  8. I put these on my list to make for my trays when I got your cookbook – but my list keeps getting longer with each post you make (and from Shelly at Cookiesandcups)…. I’m going to have cookies everywhere – and I don’t have a problem with this! Haha!

    1. So many cookies!!!! Not a bad problem to have. (Well, maybe… haha)

  9. Yours are so perfect! I made these last night and some came out shaped just right, but others looked more like blobs. Ah well, they still taste yummy!

    1. Were some chilled, others not? Some baked on one rack, others on another rack? Trying to figure out why only some cookies turned out alright!

      1. I made two batches of dough. The first batch came out shaped better. The second batch may have sat out too long (I didn’t take it out of the fridge until I put the first trays in the oven, but they still were out longer than the first). And although I thought the pans were cool enough, it is possible they were too warm. I may have been a bit too energetic in my flattening, as well. But they were still yummy, and my coworkers didn’t care about the shape and happily ate 42 of them. 🙂

  10. I love how thick these cookies are. Yum and so festive too!

  11. You seriously always have the BEST recipes! And I’m loving the videos also! …Off to add these ingredients to my shopping list 🙂

    1. Thanks Lindsey! I really appreciate that.

  12. Hi Sally,

    I hope you  and Kevin are savoring these first days of the Christmas season with your precious little Noelle.I hope Franklin and Jude are into and enjoying  this holiday season with their little sister, too.

    That said I have a question about sprinkles and who better to ask! I have  purchased sprinkle mixes that have pieces other than sugar in them…little glittery stares or whatever…and I am wondering if those pieces are oven stable. Often the package does not give the information. So far, I have not tried to use them on cookies that will need baking…I have opted to sprinkle them on iced cookies/cupcakes only.
    Also, I just recently stumbled upon a company selling on Amazon…Bakery Bling… that has a really fun assortment of sprinkles but some have glittery pieces missed in. The product is a bit more expensive…6.99 for 2 oz but seriously…Unicorn Confetti sprinkles are hard to resist.
    Thanks for any insight you can offer.

    1. Hi Nancy! I know exactly which glittery stars you are referring to and they are edible AND survive baked in and on cookies. I use them all the time. They are in a lot of sprinkle mixes I purchase and use for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, decorating etc. I agree… hard to resist them!

  13. One more thing…I want to purchase new storage containers for my flour/sugar/ brown sugar.
    I remember that you posted a number of months back info about containers your have and like.
    Could you direct me to that post and/or  let me know the name of the product and where they can be purchased.
    Thanks, Sally!

    1. Here they are! I swear by them. Best purchase I’ve made for my kitchen in a long time.

      1. Thanks so much for your help with sprinkles and the storage container info.
        I can’t wait to bake with  glitter sprinkles .

  14. I will make these cookies for sure. I love sugar cookies but don’t love the extra mess that comes with rolling them out. These are festive (different colors for different holidays). I’m excited about this recipe. Thanks Sally!!

    1. Let me know when you bake them!

  15. Hey Sally! These cookies look the most-Christmas-y yet (after perhaps the Snowmen cookies…). Just wondering, I notice there’s a little bit of cream cheese in them. What’s the purpose of that? Curious because I’ve never made a cookie before where there’s cream cheese IN the actual cookie!

    1. It creates a super smooth and creamy texture!

  16. …and here I have a block of cream cheese that I don’t remember what I bought for…I know it was something out of your cookie cookbook but who knows what I was looking at when I made my list? lol!

    1. Hahahaha it could be a number of things. You definitely need to try these though!

  17. Susanna Furfari says:

    I’m hosting 3 holiday parties this weekend and have been trying to pick a sugar cookie recipe to make. This is going to be the one! Thanks so much for the fantastic recipe!

    1. Busy weekend!! Have so much fun hosting. Hope you can save some cookies for yourself!

  18. These cookies are beautiful! You did an amazing job!


  19. Hi Sally! These look terrific! I am hosting a party and am going to make “earth cookies”- green and blue dough mixed together to look like continents and oceans. Do you think this dough would work for that? 

    1. I can’t see why not! Those sound so so so cute.

      1. Thank you for the reply! I’m excited to make these!

      2. This dough worked perfectly for my “earth cookies!” My kids and I had to do some “quality control” before the party, and we all agreed that they are delicious! Definitely a new favorite!

  20. Melissa Griffiths says:

    So fun! My kids would love these fun Christmas cookies!

  21. Just finished making my first batch of these beautiful and delish cookies! While this is the first type of sugar cookie (of this kind) I have made, it won’t be the last.

    I was surprised by how quickly the sprinkles/sparkles went, but they turned out beautifully and smelled great. 

    Can’t wait to try another recipe; thanks for sharing! 

    1. I’m so happy you tried them, Lindsey!

      1. I have to tell you, Sally, the cookies were a hit! They didn’t even last one day in my office, which happens to be in a hotel.   I even managed to share a few with our Chef who ally enjoyed them and said how great they were.
        Thank you again for sharing! Looking forward to the other cookies this month!

      2. So good to hear 🙂 Thanks Lindsey!

  22. Hi Sally. Just printed the recipe and plan to make with my granddaughter. Sugar cookies are always a hit with my family.

  23. Hi Sally, I love your cookie recipes (and so does my husband who has begged me to make some of your chewy choc chip ones along with my Christmas cookies) and am excited to try these ones. I know you have a separate recipe for Candy Cane Kiss cookies, but the texture of these cookies sounds amazing. So I wondered if this recipe would also work with the kisses and would I need to make any adjustments to cooking if I wanted to do that?

    1. Hi Jane! As I made these cookies, I even thought about sticking a kiss in them like my candy cane kiss cookies. You can absolutely use this cookie recipe for that!

  24. I just finished making these and they turned out perfect!  I just had to make a few high altitude adjustments, but they turned out delicious!  I love the texture and flavor.  I will making them again to take to my parents house for Christmas.  Thanks! 

  25. I just making big these off your recipe and realize I didn’t bring have vanilla extract on hand. Will they turn out ok? Thx!

  26. My phone has a mind of its own. Sorry for the gibberish of previous comment! 

  27. Can I omit the vanilla if I don’t have it on hand? Thanks!

    1. You’ll lose a lot of flavor, so I don’t suggest skipping it.

  28. Hi Sally, this may be an off-topic question, but I love the mix of sprinkles you use on the Christmas Tree sugar cookies here. Is it a specific brand? Thanks!

    1. Hi Molly! The sprinkle mix is by Sweetapolita and it’s called Jingle of Joy. 🙂

      1. Ah, Sweetapolita has the best sprinkles. Thank you!!

  29. I made these this week and loved them! The green and red colors are so vibrant and festive. They made a great presentation as a gift to the nice people at doggie day care.

  30. I want to bake something like this for Christmas! Do these come out chewy and dense, or kind of cakey?

    1. They’re pretty dense. Not cakey at all.

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