Today I’m partnering with King Arthur Baking. You know I am a total fangirl for KAF, so imagine my excitement when we began working together on their Holiday Table. The other week, we discussed what we’re grateful for. Working with such a well respected company who consistently puts forth quality products is on my list.
Have you ever made rugelach before? I know it looks ultra fancy and maybe a little intimidating. Truth is, it’s just a matter of mixing up a dough, chilling it, and rolling it up with filling inside. Like cinnamon rolls, but without any yeast. A traditional Jewish treat, rugelach tastes like buttery, light, and flaky croissants, but aren’t nearly as fussy.
Did you read that?!
Easy homemade croissant-like delights!
Rugelach happily accommodates any sort of fillings from jam and chocolate to dried fruit and nuts. You can roll the dough up into different shapes, slicing pinwheels or spirals, there’s pull-apart or logs, wreaths, twists, you name it. But it all begins with just 1 dough and 1 filling. Here’s how to make rugelach cookies in 1 million photos.
Today we’ll make a traditional rugelach dough in the food processor and fill it with a sweet brown sugar cinnamon filling that will melt inside the dough as it bakes. The contrast between the salted dough and warm, sweet filling is just about as mouthwatering as cookies get.
The food processor lends a giant helping hand. It’s preferred because it helps create the light and tender pastry; a mixer creates a tougher pastry. The food processor will cut the various fats into the flour and salt mixture. We’ll be using cream cheese, butter, and sour cream in the dough. Health food? These are not.
You can use a pastry cutter if you prefer– and what I always prefer when making pie crust— but rugelach requires the teeniest, uniformly sized pieces of fat and flour. There’s wiggle room in pie dough, but not so much here. A food processor makes the job 150% easier and cuts time down to… maybe… 1 minute? Yup, about 1 minute to make this dough.
Flatten the dough into discs and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Or you can pop into the freezer to enjoy homemade rugelach another day. That’s another beautiful thing about rugelach besides being crazy versatile. It’s patient; bake it later if you want!
But if today’s the day for rugelach (um and it should be), roll out the doughs after they’ve chilled, spread the filling on top, and cut into triangles like you would a pizza. And use a pizza cutter… like you would a pizza. The filling should be prepared in the food processor as well because we’re pulsing brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and raisins together to make a moist dried fruit/nut paste of sorts. Heavy on that cinnamon because… holidays.
Press it down onto the dough so it has staying power.
The filling gets all melty and warm, the pastry is buttery, uniquely crisp, light, and flaky. Some filling may spill out and a little butter may drip out of the dough as the rugelach bakes. But this is all OK! That butter dripping out will “fry” the bottoms into a crispy phenomenon. And there’s still plenty of good stuff hiding inside, too.
A blizzard of confectioners’ sugar adds a finishing touch.
PS: Let’s talk about savory versions, maybe for any appetizers you need this holiday season? I’m thinking pesto and parmesan or a sweet/salty rendition with jam and fine goat cheese crumbles. With rugelach, the options are deliciously endless.Print
Rugelach Cookies with Cream Cheese Dough
- Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 24 cookies
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: European
Homemade rugelach is buttery and flaky with a light and crisp pastry dough and sweet cinnamon filling.
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (16 tablespoons; 230g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces; 170g) block cream cheese, cold and cubed
- 1/3 cup (75g) sour cream, cold
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup (115g) chopped walnuts (chopped pecans work too)
- 1/2 cup (85g) raisins (or dried cranberries for some color!)
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- water for brushing dough
- optional for topping: confectioners’ sugar
- For the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times to blend.
- Add the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream. Pulse until crumbly; this will take 30 seconds or so. Pulse until there are pea-sized crumbs throughout. See photo above for a visual.
- Divide the dough into three equal portions and gently flatten into a disc shape. Wrap in plastic wrap, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day. Or freeze for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
- For the filling: Pulse the brown sugar, walnuts, raisins, and cinnamon in the food processor until very finely chopped and well combined. The filling will feel a little moist. You’ll have a little over 2 cups total.
- Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Working with one disc of dough at a time and on a lightly floured work surface, roll into a 10-inch circle (roughly 1/4 inch thick, give or take) and brush it lightly with water. Spread about 1/3 of the filling on top. Gently press the filling down into the dough so it’s compact.
- Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 equal wedges. If you’re cutting on a silicone mat, be careful not to cut the mat. Roll each wedge up, beginning with the wide end and ending with the narrow end. Place the rolls point-side down onto the baking sheets, 8 on each. Repeat with the remaining two discs of dough.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Bake the rugelach for 25 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown. As the rugelach bake, the butter will lightly fry their bottoms, giving them a super crunchy crust.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature. Cover leftovers and store tightly at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare the dough up to 1 day ahead of time as noted in step 3 or freeze for up to 3 months, also noted in step 3. You can prepare the filling 1 day in advance. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature until ready to use. Baked rugelach freezes well for up to 2 months; simply place in freezer bags. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
- Special Tools: Food Processor | Rolling Pin | Pizza Cutter | Pastry Brush | Silicone Pastry Brush | Silpat Baking Mat | Baking Sheet
- No Food Processor? Use a pastry cutter for the crust. Do not use a mixer. For the filling, simply chop it up very fine and use a pastry cutter again to combine it all.
- In partnership with King Arthur Flour.
Keywords: homemade rugelach, rugelach
Did you miss yesterday’s cookie palooza recipe? Red velvet whoopie pies.
Reader Comments & Reviews
This little bundles of joy are just delicious. My dough, like that of many other bakers here, went from dry crumbs to one big blob in the blink of an eye. There didn’t seem to be a stage between. Nonetheless, I divided and chilled it and it baked up like a dream. Flaky, tender, with a little crispness on the bottom. I used craisins instead of raisins because raisins are too cloying, IMO. I liked the little pop of tartness. These little twists are gorgeous, absolutely delicious, and look like they came right from a bakery instead of my home oven. I am so impressed with myself, Sally! Thanks for another winner!
I’m so obsessed with this recipe that I’ve made it three times this past week with slight variations. My favorite: I used almonds rather than walnuts, omitted the cinnamon, and added a good-sized piece of marzipan to each cookie before rolling them up. Absolutely delicious!
These rugelach are tied for best tasting with the chocolate ones from Marzipan. Definitely the best raisin based filling I’ve had. The texture of the pastry is delicate and so tasty. Try one warm. You’ll thank me later.
These are absolutely delicious!! I used apricot jelly instead of water and they did not disappoint!
I’ve made these several times, and I’ve tried different recipes , but I like yours the best. This time I forgot to put a bit of water on the dough before I added the filling. They are in the oven now, but Now I see why they were more messy than before to roll. Ha ha , live and learn I’m sure it will not effect the end product much
These are amazing. Better than the best bakery rugalach and much more cost effective. The dough is buttery and flaky and the filling is delicious. I must admit, I had a few spoonfuls of the filling just to test it out! I used a big silicone mat to roll out the dough and it was super easy. This recipe is absolutely the best. Thank you
I would love to try these but living in the UK I can’t get the block cream cheese so unless you have an alternative to the cream cheese I won’t be able to make them. So sad cos all your recipes I have tried (except for the cream cheese ones) have turned out lovely. It would be great if you could sell the block cream cheese so us poor souls in the UK can experience your delicious cakes.
Hi Julie, yes, we know this is an issue and it’s very frustrating! Look for a soft white cheese with around 33% fat content. Not sure how easy it is to get, but you could try this one, or look for something similar: https://longleyfarm.com/collections/cream-cheese
It’s easy to make your own cream cheese! I’ve made it from my homemade greek-style yoghurt then just drained it and pressed it.
Can’t wait to try this recipe! Can I make the rugelach up to Step 7; freeze and then bake them off another day?
Hi Del, Yes you should be able to freeze the shaped cookies before baking. Bake from frozen (do not thaw) and add a few minutes to the bake time.
The recipe looks great but it’s not what traditional rugelach are. The traditional ones are actually a yeast dough and chocolate filling (but other flavours are popular as well) and take much more work. But I do look forward to trying these as I’ve never yet been disappointed by one of your recipes!
So good! This is absolutely a shorter version when using the cream cheese dough. The recipe is from King Arthur Baking; I did a little partnership with them years ago and I just loved how the rugelach turned out. Would love to know if you try it!
I tried making the dough as written and it was so crumbly it wouldn’t roll out at all. I refrigerated it for 3 hours, but even as I was trying to get it into 3 disks it fell apart. I threw most of it out. I am an experienced baker. Where did I go wrong?
Hi Margie, thank you for giving this recipe a try! How did you measure the flour? Make sure to spoon and level (instead of scooping) to avoid packing in too much flour into your measuring cups – or use a kitchen scale. You can read more about properly measuring baking ingredients in this post.
Can you also make this recipe wirh store bought puff pastry?
Hi Tania, store bought pastry dough (or even croissant dough) should work in a pinch, but you’ll lose a bit of tenderness without the cream cheese and the sour cream that the homemade version provides.
I followed the directions as followed but my dough did not come together as pea sized clumps as described. It did come together but in just one big ball – tacky but not sticky, reminds me of bread dough. I’ve put it in the fridge to chill overnight. Do you think it will still turn out? I am planning on filling and baking tomorrow for an event on Monday.
Hi Jakie, The dough should be crumbly. Were the butter and cream cheese both very cold? Make sure you’re using 6 ounces of block cream cheese (not the whole block and not the spread). Did it look like the photos above? We hope it turns out ok for you.
I love this recipe
Love the recipe, however, I highly recommend chilling the prepared rugelach before baking for 15-20min. The first batch I made I didn’t chill and they turned into a greasy mess in the oven.
I roll out the dough and then using using a 2″ flour rimmed glass press down and make perfect circles.
I spread my filling on one half of circle, then fold dough and press with a floured fork.
This way my filling doesn’t seep out the sides 🙂
I am 71 and have tried many a Rugelach recipe, but I just made these Tues. morning Dec. 20 for my guests that are arriving this afternoon.
I have to tell you this is the best dough recipe I have ever used!!!!
They turned out moist , flakey, and best of all delicious!!
I am having two already this morning with coffee. I hope my husband and I leave some for our guests!!!! LOL !!!! Outstanding.
Wishing you and yours a fabulous healthy holiday!!!!!!!!
I only have a mini food processor, so I used my kitchenaid even though it says not to—I left the butter out for ~30 minutes so that it was just soft enough for the mixer. Maybe the dough would have been even flakier if I’d used a food processor, but they came out DELICIOUS and are pretty flaky. I also do not like raisins, so my filling was nuts/brown sugar/melted butter/cinnamon (found the filling from another recipe online) which worked great as well. Don’t be afraid to use your stand mixer if you don’t have a (large) food processor!
Hey there and thank you for the recipe! What size food processor do you use?
Does freezing the cookies change the texture? They sound amazing and I would like to make them ahead of time…
Hi Andrea, freezing will not change the texture of the cookie. Hope you enjoy them!
I have never written a review before. I was determined to try a recipe that used the cold butter/cream cheese instead of the room temperature methods. Seemed to make sense because I find doing pie dough turns out best with cold ingredients. I also liked the idea of the food processor. I followed the directions as written, however the food processor(0.8L)could not handle all of the ingredients so it did not turn out pea size balls but one big unmixed clump. So unless you have a larger food processor don’t even try this recipe.
These are my sister’s favorite, but she has celiac. What alternative flour would you reach for to substitute the gluten in these?
Hi Kristine, we haven’t tested these with any gluten-free alternatives, so we’re uncertain of the outcomes. But let us know if you give any a try!
Hi! I tried this with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF flour and it didn’t turn out well. The dough was “dry” and crumbly. It cracked when I rolled it. Thye taste ok, but look rough. I ended up tossing the third disc of dough out.
Can you fill with jelly instead?
Hi Sarah, jelly or jam would be delicious as a filling here. Let us know what you try!
Can you substitute greek yogurt for sour cream?
Hi Jackie, yes, that substitute should work just fine.
Excellent dough! In our family I’ve been making this for nearly 40 years. Sometimes I use an apricot-raspberry jam or chocolate/brown sugar (just a little) with chopped pecans.
First time trying a rugelach recipe and this one is great! Easy, quick and delicious! For one batch, instead of brushing with water, I added apricot preserves and then the filling and it was delicious too! Fun recipes for little ones to help with too – my daughter had fun rolling, filling and then rolling them up. 🙂
These are hands down my favorite cookie. I like mine rolled up like cinnamon rolls. Do you have alternative instructions for doing that? Dimensions of the rolled out dough, etc? (I also brush them with an egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar- total game changer).
Hi Melissa, We are so happy you enjoy this recipe! You can certainly shape these in rolls instead of triangles (and I actually do often!). We don’t know the exact dimensions of the rectangle but as long as your dough is roughly 1/4 inch thick it should be just fine.
Can I prepare the dough in a vita mix?
We haven’t tested that!
Are you saying that they can be frozen for up to 2 months after they have been baked?
Hi Rebecca, yes that’s correct.
This is the recipe my late sister used and made them for our family picnic. They never lasted to the picnic as soon as the coffee was made! Wonderful recipe and memory.
Thank you so much for sharing, Linda. How sweet to know that this recipe holds a special place in your family!
If it’s a hot summer day, do not even try to prepare these rugelach.
Delicious. The cream cheese and sour cream in the dough adds a nice tartness and balances it out with the brown sugar walnut filling. It’s not overly sweet and the dough ends up being this beautiful flaky buttery pastry. Also love how easy this recipe is!
These are amazing — way better than bakery rugalach and much more economical. The crust is super buttery and flaky and the filling is absolutely delicious. Highly recommend. These are a 10/10.