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rugelach cookies on a purple plate

Welcome to day 2 in Sally’s cookie palooza!

Today I’m partnering with King Arthur Flour. 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.

rugelach cookies on a purple plate

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.

(Ok, 6.)

rugelach cookie dough ingredients in a food processor

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.

2 images of rugelach cookie dough in a food processor

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.

hands wrapping up a disc of rugelach cookie 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.

hands spreading rugelach filling onto circle of cookie dough

hands rolling up triangles of rugelach cookie dough

Roll up!

Bake!

rugelach cookies on a silpat baking mat before baking

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.

hands holding a purple plate of rugelach cookies

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.

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rugelach cookies on a purple plate

Rugelach

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 24 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: European

Description

Homemade rugelach is buttery and flaky with a light and crisp pastry dough and sweet cinnamon filling.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Filling

  • 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

Instructions

  1. For the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times to blend.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  6. 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. 
  7. 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.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. Special Tools: Food Processor | Rolling PinPizza Cutter | Pastry Brush | Silicone Pastry BrushSilpat Baking Mat | Baking Sheet
  3. 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.
  4. In partnership with King Arthur Flour.

Keywords: homemade rugelach, rugelach

Did you miss yesterday’s cookie palooza recipe? Red velvet whoopie pies.

cookie palooza logo image

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. 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!

  2. If it’s a hot summer day, do not even try to prepare these rugelach.

  3. 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.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Linda. How sweet to know that this recipe holds a special place in your family!

  4. Are you saying that they can be frozen for up to 2 months after they have been baked?

  5. 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).

    1. 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.

  6. 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. 🙂

  7. 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.

    1. Hi Jackie, yes, that substitute should work just fine.

    1. Hi Sarah, jelly or jam would be delicious as a filling here. Let us know what you try!

  8. These are my sister’s favorite, but she has celiac. What alternative flour would you reach for to substitute the gluten in these?

    1. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Does freezing the cookies change the texture? They sound amazing and I would like to make them ahead of time…

    1. Hi Andrea, freezing will not change the texture of the cookie. Hope you enjoy them!

  11. Hey there and thank you for the recipe! What size food processor do you use?

  12. 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!

  13. Sally,
    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!!!!!!!!

  14. 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.
    *Empanada style!*
    This way my filling doesn’t seep out the sides 🙂

  15. 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.

  16. Hi Sally,
    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.

    1. 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.

  17. Can you also make this recipe wirh store bought puff pastry?

    1. 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.