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 cookie recipe.
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!
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.
Watch how they’re made:
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!
Super soft and creamy cream cheese sugar cookies rolled in sprinkles!
- 3 cups (360g) 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*
- 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. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Fun Spatula, Green Sanding Sugar, Silpat Baking Mat, Baking Sheet, and 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. 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.