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Neapolitan cookies are soft butter cookies flavored with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. They’re shaped in a loaf pan and made from just 1 cookie dough. So pretty!

Neapolitan cookies dipped in chocolate

We are almost finished the 6th annual Sally’s Cookie Palooza! Today is day 9 of my annual Christmas cookie countdown. Let’s look back at all the recipes published so far this year:

  1. Peppermint Bark Cookies
  2. Spritz Cookies
  3. Christmas Cookies in a Jar (with free printable!)
  4. Santa’s Whiskers Cookies
  5. Iced Oatmeal Cookies
  6. Gingerbread House (December Baking Challenge)
  7. Easy Lace Cookies
  8. Drop Style Christmas Sugar Cookies

Day 9 is one of my favorites– Neapolitan Cookies with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. These cookies are shaped in a loaf pan and made from just 1 cookie dough.

stack of neapolitan cookies

Neapolitan Cookies from 1 Base Cookie Dough

When I was writing Sally’s Cookie Addiction, my latest cookbook, I tested a basic vanilla butter cookie recipe. I turned this vanilla butter cookie recipe into my pinwheel cookies found on page 62. I LOVE this basic cookie dough and you can flavor it, shape it, and layer it in so many ways like today’s neapolitan cookies. Here’s what I love about today’s recipe:

  • EASY. Made from just 1 cookie dough.
  • SIMPLE TO SHAPE. No ruler or rolling pin needed. Use a loaf pan.
  • BUTTERY AND SWEET. I love their flavor.
  • SOFT. Crunchy crumbly edges and thick, soft centers.
  • FUN WITH FLAVORS. Spruce up the vanilla layer with crushed walnuts or a little coconut extract. Switch out raspberry jam/extract for the strawberry. Add a pinch of espresso powder to the chocolate dough for a mocha flavor. Yum!

Prepare the base cookie dough, then divide it into 3 portions. One portion will be your vanilla dough, so set that aside. The other two portions will be your strawberry cookie dough and chocolate cookie dough.

3 neapolitan cookie dough balls

Flavor the Cookie Doughs

To make each flavor, place the portion of dough back in the mixer along with the flavoring ingredients listed in the recipe below. We’re using melted chocolate and cocoa powder in the chocolate cookie dough and strawberry jam, almond extract, and a drop of red/pink food coloring to brighten up the pink color.

Optional but recommended: a little strawberry extract. Makes a BIG difference.

The strawberry cookie dough also needs extra flour to offset the wet strawberry jam.

Strawberry and chocolate neapolitan cookie dough in glass bowls

The EASY Way to Shape Neapolitan Cookies

Put away your ruler and rolling pin because all you need are your hands and a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Line the loaf pan with parchment paper, then press/layer the cookie doughs in. Any order is fine, but I recommend the following:

  • Strawberry cookie dough on the bottom
  • Vanilla cookie dough in the center
  • Chocolate cookie dough on top

There’s a little more strawberry cookie dough because we added extra flour, so it’s best that it’s the base of the neapolitan cookies. And I find the vanilla cookie dough stands out the most when it’s in the center. Just my opinion!

2 images of pressing cookie dough into loaf pan and slicing cookie dough

2 images of shaped neapolitan cookies before baking

This cookie dough needs to chill. 

Chill the cookie dough inside the loaf pan in the refrigerator or freezer. Once chilled, remove from the loaf pan using the parchment paper overhang on the sides. Slice the “loaf” in half lengthwise, then slice each into 1/2 inch thick cookies. Thicker cookies = softer cookies. 🙂

This is optional– try brushing the shaped cookies with egg white + water and sprinkling with coarse sugar. Adds a lovely sparkle and crunch! See my recipe note below– the cookie dough uses 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, so this is the perfect place to use up that leftover egg white.

Neapolitan cookies on a cooling rack

2 images of baked neapolitan cookies on a baking sheet and dipping a cookie into melted chocolate

Another option to spruce up your layered cookies: a dip in melted chocolate! You need melted chocolate for the chocolate cookie dough layer, so save a little extra for dipping the baked cookies. See my recipe note for instructions.

Aren’t these 3 layered butter cookies gorgeous?! And couldn’t be easier to shape.

We absolutely loved these and I definitely recommend that strawberry extract for the strawberry dough. (You can find it in the spice aisle of most major grocery stores.) Let me know if you make these 1 dough neapolitan cookies!

3 layer neapolitan cookies with corners dipped in chocolate

Stack of neapolitan cookies

What is Sally's Cookie Palooza?

Sally’s Cookie Palooza is a tradition since 2013. Every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row. Over the next two weeks, I’m publishing 10 brand new cookie recipes as well as giveaways, the December Baking Challenge, Christmas cookie video tutorials, and so much more. This is the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Sign up for instant updates and you’ll receive a free email alert whenever I publish a new recipe. 🙂

Click to see Sally’s Cookie Palooza over the years!

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Neapolitan cookies dipped in chocolate

1 Dough Neapolitan Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 32 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Neapolitan cookies are butter cookies with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. These easy cookies are shaped in a loaf pan and made from 1 cookie dough. Read my recipe notes before beginning.


Ingredients

Scale

Base Cookie Dough

  • 2 and 1/2 cups (313g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (230g; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200ggranulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature* (see note)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon water and coarse sugar for sprinkling on top*

For the Strawberry Dough

  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (12gall-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon (20gstrawberry jam
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract*
  • pink or red food coloring*
  • optional: 1/4 teaspoon strawberry extract for extra flavor*

For the Chocolate Dough

  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (8g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (or dutch process)
  • 1 ounce (28gsemi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be thick and sticky. Remove from the mixing bowl. No need to rinse out the mixing bowl.
  4. Divide the dough into 3: There’s about 30 ounces of dough (1 lb, 14 ounces). Divide into three equal portions, about 10 ounces each. One portion is your vanilla dough. Nothing will be added to it. Set vanilla dough aside. The other two portions will be your strawberry dough and chocolate dough.
  5. Make the strawberry dough: Place one portion of dough back into the mixing bowl. Add all of the strawberry dough ingredients. I recommend starting with 1 drop of red or pink food coloring. Beat on low speed until dough is combined. Add another drop or 2 of food coloring until you reach the pink color desired. For the pictured cookies, I only used 1 drop of dusty rose gel food coloring. Remove from the mixing bowl. No need to rinse out the mixing bowl.
  6. Make the chocolate dough: Place last portion of dough back into the mixing bowl. Add all of the chocolate dough ingredients. Beat on low speed until dough is combined.
  7. Shape and chill cookie dough: See step-by-step photos above showing this following step so you have a better understanding. Line a 9×5 inch loaf pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to lift the chilled cookie dough out. I recommend layering the cookie dough into the pan in the following order: strawberry dough on the bottom, vanilla dough in the middle, chocolate dough on top. Using your hands, press each dough layer firmly and evenly into prepared loaf pan.
  8. Cover loaf pan tightly and chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (and up to 4 days) or 1 hour in the freezer. (See make ahead tip if you wish to freeze longer.)
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  10. Slice and bake: Lift dough out of the pan using the overhang of parchment paper on the sides. You’ll have a 9×5 inch block of dough. Slice in half lengthwise so you have two 2.5 x 9 inch rectangles. Use a sharp knife to trim off the ends so the rectangles are 8 inches long. Slice each into 16 cookies. Each cookie is 1/2 inch thick. Trim the cookie edges to make neat rectangles, if desired.*
  11. Arrange cookies 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheets. If desired, brush each lightly with egg wash (see recipe note) and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  13. Once cool, enjoy cookies or dip in melted chocolate. See recipe note.
  14. Cookies without chocolate coating will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week. Cookies with chocolate coating will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Baked cookies, with or without chocolate coating, freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving. You can make/assemble the cookie dough in the loaf pan and chill in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (see step 8). If desired, you can freeze the cookie dough in the loaf pan for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 9.
  2. Eggs: You need 1 egg plus an additional egg yolk for the cookie dough. Save the extra egg white and mix it with 1 Tablespoon of water to make a simple egg wash. Brush this over each cookie as directed in step 11, then sprinkle with coarse sugar before baking. This gives the cookies a little extra crunch and sparkle!
  3. Food Coloring: I recommend using gel food coloring in the strawberry dough instead of liquid food coloring. Liquid food coloring may alter the texture of the finished cookie. Start with 1 drop as directed in step 5, then add another drop or 2 if desired. For the pictured cookies, I only used 1 drop of dusty rose gel food coloring.
  4. Almond Extract: Almond extract adds a lovely flavor to the strawberry cookie dough. If desired, you can leave it out.
  5. Strawberry Extract: Strawberry extract is highly recommended for added strawberry flavor. You can find it in the spice aisle of most major grocery stores.
  6. Freeze-Dried Strawberries Instead? Many readers have asked about adding freeze-dried strawberry powder to the strawberry cookie dough. I don’t suggest this. When I tried it, the strawberry cookie dough spread all over while the other layers stayed put. The cookies were very lopsided. It’s the texture of the ground freeze-dried strawberries. So, unfortunately, it doesn’t work as nicely as the jam/flour/strawberry extract.
  7. Neat Rectangles: In step 10, I recommend trimming the sliced cookie edges to make neat rectangles. This is completely optional. You’ll have some leftover cookie dough scraps. Discard or roll it out using a rolling pin and cut into shapes. Bake as directed in this recipe.
  8. Dipped Neapolitan Cookies: You need 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate for the chocolate cookie dough and most baking chocolate is sold in 4 ounce bars. I recommend Bakers or Ghirardelli brands, both sold in the baking aisle. Melt the remaining 3 ounces of chocolate from that bar, plus an extra 4 ounce bar for a total of 7 ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolate. Make sure you chop the bars before melting. Melt in a double boiler or in the microwave in 15-second increments, stopping and stirring after each until completely smooth. Dip the corner of each cooled cookie into melted chocolate. Allow chocolate to set completely in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  9. Fun with Flavors: Spruce up the vanilla layer with 1/2 cup crushed walnuts or 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract. Switch out raspberry jam and extract for the strawberry. Add a pinch of espresso powder to the chocolate dough for a mocha flavor.

Keywords: cookies, icebox cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Love these! I made extra dough so they would be thicker and it turned out extremely well. I also used 2 tbsp of jam instead of 1, and they are extremely flavorful.

  2. Hi Sally,
    I wondered if the strawberry puree from your strawberry cake would work in these cookies? I made these as directed and didnt get much strawberry flavor. So, I want to make them again and either add more jam or try the puree. What would you suggest?

    1. Hi Kelsey! You can try the reduced strawberry puree from Strawberry Cake, though I haven’t tested this to be certain it works well. For more strawberry flavor, I recommend strawberry extract. It’s found in the baking aisle of most major grocery stores!

  3. Hello Sally! I wanted to ask if I can use strawberry essence instead? I can’t seem to find strawberry extract anywhere in my local grocery stores. Thanks!

    1. That should be fine. I believe it may be more potent than extract, so you may need to slightly reduce the amount.

  4. I made these, and while they were cute, the strawberry flavor was too subtle for me and the vanilla only tasted like a butter cookie. The chocolate turned out nicely. To enhance the strawberry flavor next time I’ll use more extract and more jam, but for this time, I dipped half the cookies’ strawberry side in strawberry flavored candy melts. The other half I dipped in chocolate.

  5. Hi Sally, I made these recently and they turned out great! They were, however, a little large. I followed your cutting instructions and my squares looked great, albeit a bit thick. While baking, the squares flattened out into a few v large and surprisingly oval-shaped cookies! Do you have any recommendations for maintaining the cookies’ form into some modicum of a crisp edge? Please and thank you!

    1. Hi Kat, be sure that your cookie dough is completely chilled. If they seem to warm up after cutting them you can place them back in the refrigerator for a bit so that they go in the oven cold. I also like to trim each cookie into neat rectangles – see recipe note #8 🙂

  6. Since it’s Halloween time, I used orange marmalade and orange extract in lieu of the strawberry. Chocolate and orange. Yum! They’ve been a big hit!

  7. Sally, what is the brand of strawberry extract you used. I am having a hard time finding it in Canada and if I order it online I would like to make sure I get the correct one. Your help would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Sandra, I’m a big fan of McCormick spices and extracts. The exact one I use is linked in the recipe note “special tools”. Enjoy!

  8. These look amazing! I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried a pistachio or something green instead of chocolate. I thought it would be pretty with the red and white for Christmas, but not sure how to best get the flavor in there.

    1. Pistachio would be delicious. You can add finely chopped pistachios and a bit of pistachio extract if you would like. Or You can simply color the vanilla portion with green food coloring without adding any additional flavor. Let me know what you try!

      1. For pistachio flavor…commercial products such as pistachio pudding and ice cream actually use almond flavoring (extract). If one uses green good color, almond extract, and some finely chopped pistachios everyone will taste pistachio.

  9. DO you think that this recipe could be doubled and put into a 13×9 inch baking pan instead of the loaf pan? I just need to make a lot of cookies!
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Andrea, you can certainly try but my suggestion– for best results– is to make the cookie dough twice and use your loaf pan twice.

  10. Is it possible to add more cocoa powder and not use the semi sweet chocolate?

    Thanks

  11. I’ve made these twice and they’ve been a real hit… I’m wondering if there’s a way to do a blueberry version with ombre blue to white for chanukah — (any thoughts about what the third flavor could be besides blueberry and vanilla?)

  12. First time making these cookies, absolutely love the taste I left out the almond extract due to allergies but they still taste delicious! My cookies spread in the oven (I put the dough in the freezer for 1 hour) could this be because the dough wasn’t cool enough?
    I will definitely be making them again as soon as possible though!

  13. These came out perfectly for me! I’m not a cookie gal but they’re so irresistible & yummy!! The chocolate dip adds an extra decadence. I didn’t have strawberry essence at home so only used strawberry jam. Hope to make them again with the essence when the lockdown is over!

  14. I don’t have a lot of strawberry jam left; not enough. Could I add some crushed up freeze dried strawberries to the dough? (would be sifted to be like a powder)

  15. Do you think I could omit the strawberry and make pinwheel cookies with this? (divided to be chocolate and vanilla)

  16. Made these to drop off at a friends house for her birthday yesterday, and they were a hit! Recipe is very easy to follow and the cookies are a lot simpler to make than they look! I just used strawberry jam in the pink dough, since I didn’t have any strawberry flavoring, but they still tasted amazing. These cookies are delicious, pretty, and out of this world!

  17. Hi Sally,

    Great cookies. Went over big with my family. I decided to add a finish of Fleur de sel to the freshly dipped chocolate before it hardened. Really loved the combination of flavors. Thanks for the recipe and all your tips.

  18. Hi! I have just made these for my niece’s birthday. I have to admit I liked them just from seeing the photo, but having tried one, I’m glad to say they’re delicious too. I made one slight alternation – I added shredded coconut to the vanilla layer as I didn’t have the coconut extract, and I’m quite happy with the end result. You can taste all of the flavours, but none of them is overpowering.
    Thank you for sharing a detailed recipe with amazing tips. 🙂

  19. These were literally heaven. I ate 6! The almond extract gave the strawberry part a nice flavor

  20. I followed this recipe as well as possible (except that I left out red food coloring), but the cookies spread quite a bit! I was surprised since every recipe I’ve ever made from this site has turned out magnificently!

    1. Maggie Mae, if you didn’t already do this, try freezing the dough (in the pan) before baking. This really cut down on the “spread” and my cookies turned out very uniform and neat.

  21. These tasted great!! Thanks sally! I did add the espresso powder which tasted amazing. I used Americolor gel colour for the pink but my dough didn’t look as nice and pink as yours even after mixing thoroughly. I’ll have to practice that 🙂 agree with the others that the strawberry flavor wasn’t strong enough- I’ll add more of the extract next time. The shape did turn out well for me – it did puff up but still remained rectangular and tasted great. I didn’t add the egg wash but they were still pretty

  22. This recipe was AMAZING!!! I have been baking with your recipes for about 6 months, and every single one has turned out AWESOME. I especially loved your butter cookies, and your macarons. They turned out beautiful

  23. We absolutely love these cookies and have made them several times in various flavors. I was curious if you’ve ever thought of adding a little freeze dried strawberry powder to these like you do for strawberry cake?

  24. Hey Sally! I make these every year as one of my family’s Christmas cookies and they absolutely love them. This year I was hoping to make them early and was wondering if there is any difference between freezing them in the loaf pan or if you can slice them after refrigeration and then freeze the already sliced cookies? Just works better for my limited freezer space!

    1. Hi Karli, Yes you can freeze the dough after it’s been sliced. No need to thaw before baking – just pace the frozen squares onto your baking sheet and add a minute or two to the bake time.

  25. Hi there! If I froze the cut squares of dough, can I brush them with the egg wash/sprinkle with the coarse sugar while still frozen, before popping them in the oven?

    Thank you for what I am sure will be another amazing recipe! We make huge cookie trays for our friends and family every holiday season and every year include at least 3-4 of your recipes. I really appreciate your blog!

  26. Delicious cookie and so fun to make. Since the pink dough has almond extract, I wonder if I can cut up jarred cherries to add and leave out the strawberry extract(which I didn’t have). I’m going to have to try next time.

  27. These took me back to my childhood and neopolitan ice cream on the patio at my Nana’s in the summer! The flavors are perfect and made me think of my Nana. They are a new favorite of mine and, as a surprise to me, my husband as well. He’s a chocolate chip and date cookie only guy. Thanks Sally for another new favorite!

  28. These cookies are yummy. I made them again at Christmas time and added some ground freeze-dried strawberries to that layer, along with the strawberry jam. It upped the strawberry flavor. Delish

  29. You can’t go wrong with a butter cookie but these are AMAZING. I got a little creative and split the strawberry layer in half before flavoring it and did half as-written and the other half with homemade lemon marmalade, lemon extract, and orange extract. I love lemon and chocolate together and they turned out amazing. I’m excited to try out different flavor combinations! I do feel like the almond extract overpowers the strawberry in that layer and next time I’ll use less almond and more strawberry. Also, HOW did you get your chocolate so dark? It is the cocoa you use? Mine turned out pretty light, like typical chocolate ice cream. I just love the contrast in the chocolate layer in your photos!

  30. This looks AMAZING! I am so gonna try this someday. I’ll tell you what were my results.

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