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. I made these yesterday and, as always with any of your recipes, they were delicious. I got 30 cookies out of the recipe. I ate six and the rest are going to a friend. I definitely will be making these again not only at Christmas but throughout the year with different colored sanding sugar. Thank you for another great recipe.

  2. I just finished baking these festive cookies. I think the size is just right and the cookie is not overly sweet. They are perfect! Thank you for such a great recipe. I love your directions, they are so easy to follow.

  3. Hi, Sally. Thanks for such a great recipe! I just took mine out of the oven and it seems that there’s a crust formed on the bottom from the sanding sugars. I do not have silicone mats and used a baking sheet. Do you think this is the culprit? Any advice for the future? They taste great but just look burnt on the bottom.

    1. Hi Sabrina! Can you try baking them on parchment paper next time? That should help prevent the burnt crust on the bottoms.

  4. These cookies are so much easier to make than your standard sugar cookie and so tender and yummy. I rolled my cookies in colored sugar as well as sprinkles (non pareil) and they turned out fantastic! Thanks for a keeper!

    1. I love how easy these cookies are! Glad you are enjoying them 🙂

  5. I baked 3 batches of these! They taste great, however I found that they puffed up quite a bit in the oven, and the middle deflated after it cooled. Do you have any idea what I did wrong? 

  6. After getting happy reviews from my husband’s coworkers, I made these festive cookies as gifts for my coworkers; but left some without sanding sugar. Neither batch had almond extract and they loved them! Thank you!

  7. My new favorite Christmas cookie to eat with my coffee! They were easy to make & delicous. I’ll make them again for sure. Thanks for your great recipes.

  8. Hi Sally!  I absolutely loved these cookies. It’s been so cold here in Minnesota that my cookie dough takes so long to get to room temperature. I was wonder how to tell if these have been undercooked?  I over cooked the first batch but they were not golden brown or anything to indicate they had been baked too long. I like a soft cookie but don’t want them to be underdone for folks. Any tips? Thank you so much. I only made cookies from your blog this year and each where a hit.

    1. Hi Al! For this size cookie (1 Tbsp of dough in this particular recipe), I always bake for 12-13 minutes. The bottoms are light brown. If yours taste a little too hard, I would reduce down to 11 minutes and see how you like that. Stay warm!!

  9. I mentioned on one of your other cookie posts about experimenting trying to find new recipes that would be festive for a cookie buffet in December. This was another recipe that I tried, and I loved these! They are so pretty with those sugar sprinkles, and so soft and yummy. Mine turned out just like the pictures (which I always strive for). I made one small change. I really don’t like almond extract at all, so instead, I added butter emulsion. It had a great butter and vanilla flavor. For those who haven’t made these yet, definitely follow Sally’s instructions about pressing down the dough balls with a glass or they won’t spread much.

  10. Will nonpareils work with this recipe?

    1. Yep! In fact, I make them often with 3/4 cup nonpareils instead.

  11. I just made these for fall. I used orange sugar and poked half of a pretzel stick into the ball before flattening to make little pumpkins. What fun!

    1. That sounds so adorable!!!

  12. I love this sugar cookie recipe… I’m wanting to make a peppermint sugar cookie… wondering if I can roll these in finely crushed peppermint candy canes instead of the sugar? I’m thinking I’d leave out the almond extract (even tho I generally love the flavor it gives). Maybe I’ll try it both ways and see!

    1. Hi Sarah! Candy canes, unless they are inside cookie dough, have the tendency to melt all over the cookie sheets when they are a coating. I suggest trying my peppermint white chocolate cookies. 🙂
      Or you can make my peppermint bark cookies. If desired, replace the chocolate cookie dough with my regular sugar cookie dough.

      1. Thanks so much!! I did make them exactly as recipe is and rolled them in finely crushed candy canes… It wasn’t too melty/messy and they are really yummy. (Not very peppermint-y tho, but still delicious ). I will definitely try your other peppermint cookie recipes too! I can’t wait to make the peppermint bark cookies!

    2. Maybe add peppermint extract instead of almond extract?

  13. These turned out great! Very pretty addition to the cookie tray. Nice texture inside and delicate crunch outside.

  14. Karen S Moore says:

    I made these cookies today and they are going to the church after glow next week after our Christmas play. Thank- you for sharing the recipe.

  15. Theresa and Sarah (mother and daughter) says:

    these cookies are perfect! Easy to make and DELICIOUS . We will definitely make them again and again.

  16. Can you roll these in rainbow sprinkles too? Thanks!

    1. Yes, definitely!

  17. Hi Sally, these look absolutely delicious. I have green sparkling sugar, would that work instead of sanding sugar?

    1. Yes yes yes! They’re very similar.

  18. I made a batch of these last week and they turned out great! I added a Hugs to the top of the cookies so that they were even more festive. This is the first time I have added cream cheese to a cookie recipe and it was such a great add. Thanks for the recipe!

  19. As with any recipe I’ve tried of yours, these were fantastic! I bought a Christmas cookie jar on the whim and got home and realized I needed to put cookies in it or else it just looked kind of sad and lonely. I wanted to make some sugar cookies and was thinking of making the snowmen and trees but honestly I was feeling very lazy and the thought of breaking out the piping bags seemed a little much. I’m so glad I made these instead. They were easy, only an hour chill time and SO FLUFFY. I was really surprised when I bit into the first one; the texture really is unlike any other sugar cookie I’ve had. Thanks Sally and Merry Christmas.

  20. Can I omit the cream cheese or will that affect the texture and set up of the dough?

    1. The texture will change, yes. I recommend leaving it in. 🙂

  21. Jennifer Campbell says:

    These are a permanent addition to my holiday baking lineup! My family loved them and they are so pretty. The sanding sugar gives them a sweet crunch and I love the almond flavor.

  22. These were delicious

  23. I made these for neighbors for Christmas & one of them commented again last week how good they were. Thanks for the simple, yummy recipe.

  24. Sally,

    Can reduced fat cream cheese be used in the dough? Or does it need to be full fat cream cheese?

    1. Hi Deb, full fat is best but reduced fat would work in a pinch.

  25. Growing up, we usually made like 6 dozen spritz cookies but I don’t have a cookie gun and decided on these instead. They taste incredibly similar to what I remember of spritz! Now in your picture, your cookies inside looks a little darker more yellow than mine and more tender. I used store brand butter, what butter do you use? I also used imitation vanilla, I used extract in a simple butter cookie before and you could taste the alcohol. I would like to try these again using Kerrygold butter, quality vanilla, and making sure I don’t over measure the flour.

    1. Hi Rebecca! I actually use store-brand butter most of the time in my baking, not European butter. I hope you enjoyed these!

  26. Hi Sally! First off, just want to say I love your blog and your recipes! I’m making cookie packages to mail cross country to friends for the holidays, and was wondering if you think these would be good candidates for keeping fresh for a few days in the mail? Thanks so much!

    1. Yes, definitely! Typically cookies without chocolate, glaze, or liquid-y filling ship beautifully, including these. Here’s my suggestions for shipping cookies. 🙂

  27. These look amazing! Can they be made to be gluten-free?

    1. Hi Beth, I haven’t personally tested these with gluten free flour but let me know if you do!

  28. Made these so many times and love them! Just wondering if I can freeze the cookies once baked with the sugar coating?

    1. Sure can! See recipe notes.

  29. Sally, we loved these.they were delicious

  30. Isn’t 1 cup of butter 227g?

    1. Usually anywhere between 230-240g.

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