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!
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:
- Peppermint Bark Cookies
- Spritz Cookies
- Christmas Cookies in a Jar (with free printable!)
- Santa’s Whiskers Cookies
- Iced Oatmeal Cookies
- Gingerbread House (December Baking Challenge)
- Easy Lace Cookies
- 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
Base Cookie Dough
- 2 and 1/2 cups (310g) 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 (200g) granulated 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 (12g) all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon (20g) strawberry 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 (28g) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
- Make the dough: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- 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 eggs 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- 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.*
- 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.
- 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.
- Once cool, enjoy cookies or dip in melted chocolate. See recipe note.
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Loaf Pan | Parchment Paper | Pastry Brush | Food Coloring | Strawberry Extract | Almond Extract | Sparkling Sugar | Silpat Baking Mat | Baking Sheet | Cooling Rack | 2-cup Glass Measuring Cup
- 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!
- 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.
- Almond Extract: Almond extract adds a lovely flavor to the strawberry cookie dough. If desired, you can leave it out.
- Strawberry Extract: Strawberry extract is highly recommended for added strawberry flavor. You can find it in the spice aisle of most major grocery stores.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.