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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 cookies and royal icing recipes.

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 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!
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!
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 1x
  • 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. Read my tips and tricks on how to freeze cookie dough.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Stand Mixer or Handheld) | Baking SheetsSilicone Baking Mats | 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. 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.
  5. 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 Questions and Reviews

    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!

  1. 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.

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

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

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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!

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

  9. 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. 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.

    2. Mine came out a bit cakey too but because I know I measured my ingredients correctly I could only assume that I most likely over beat the the butter& cream cheese with the sugar but my family doesn’t mind; they actually love it.

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

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

  11. 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!

  12. This is a perfect recipe. I followed it exactly, and it turned out great. It was a perfect choice for a cookie baking day; I set up a little assembly line where three people could participate and all keep chatting. They also look amazing on a holiday cookie plate. Definitely a keeper, and I’m looking forward to my baby son helping with these in the future as he grows up. Thank you!

  13. Great cookie. On my save recipe must keeps. Takes a lot of sprinkles. well worth it. Used green. red and Gold

  14. These cookies are so good and so pretty! Mine came out just like yours pictured on the site (that doesn’t usually happen to me)! Thank you for the great recipe and these are going into my holiday cookie tins!

  15. I want to make three batches of these. Can I double this recipe?

    P.S. I already know your cookies are real good just by the picture.

    1. Hi Sarah, doubling these should be fine, just make sure the added volume is not too much that it overwhelms your mixer. Hope you love the cookies!

      1. Thanks! I was planing to gift normal sugar cookies but then I felt lazy on having to do the 5 steps of sugar cookie making ( making the dough, cookie cutting, baking, frosting making, and decorating which can be tricky), but when I found this recipe it saved my day because its both festive and easy to make. God bless you.

  16. Hi! I love this recipe!
    I got some cool cookie stamps recently for my birthday. Would this recipe work if i pressed the dough ball with the stamp after rolling in sugar? Thx so much!
    Merry Christmas

    1. Yes, this dough should work with a cookie stamp – let us know if you try it!

  17. So there really is a cream cheese shortage. Is there anything I can substitute? Or another sugar cookie recipe that I can still use the sanding sugar with?

  18. Can I use the regular sugar cookie recipe and instead of cutting into shapes I roll in the sugar? Since the classic recipe makes 24 cookies I want to make sone different. Thanks

    1. Hi Jennifer, we don’t recommend it. The sugar cookies are best meant for cutouts. If used for these Christmas Cookie Sparkles, the won’t spread correctly. You could always halve the recipes if you don’t want as big a yield!

  19. Hi Sarah, We have never tested these cookies with an egg substitute so we are unsure of the results if you use one. Let us know if you give anything a try!

  20. Hi Sally
    These cookies look amazing! Can you use this cookie dough in a cookie press? I would like to make your spritz cookies as well (rainy day kids activity) but don’t want to make two types of dough 🙂
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Jennie! We haven’t tested it, but this dough is likely too thick to use with a cookie press. Best to stick with the spritz dough recipe!

  21. Wow, these were amazing and I’m sure your secret ingredient, cream cheese, made all the difference. Thank you! For the holidays, I bake cookies, bars and fast breads to share with neighbors and family. And to keep it interesting, I never make the same cookie twice, often experimenting on them (though they don’t know it!). So my question might be tough for you (kind of like picking your favorite children) and without knowing which of your amazing cookies I’ve made before, can you give me a list (maybe 4 or 5) of your favorite cookies? That way, next year I won’t spend a few hours agonizing over which ones to make. Thank you for sharing your amazing and delicious recipes!

  22. Can’t tell you how many times I have made this yummy cookie! I just made them for Easter using the pastel-colored sprinkles. They look so darn cute. Haven’t found a recipe of yours that I haven’t liked. Thank you.

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