Santa’s Whiskers Cookies

The merriest of all Christmas cookies! Santa’s Whiskers Cookies are soft slice and bake cookies flavored with almond, studded with cherries, and rolled in coconut.

Santa's Whiskers Cookies are slice and bake butter cookies with sweet cherries, almond flavor, and are rolled in coconut. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Can you believe it’s already day 4 of 2018 Sally’s Cookie Palooza? If you’re just joining us, here are all the recipes published so far this week:

Today I’m sharing an adorably named slice and bake cookie known as Santa’s Whiskers Cookies. My sister-in-law told me about these cookies last Christmas and I waited all year to bake them. Rolled in coconut, these almond flavored cookies are bejeweled with festive cherries and baked until golden around the edges. Aren’t they pretty?

Plate of Santa's Whiskers Cookies

Let’s talk about Slice and Bake Cookies. There are many cookies I obsess over, but if one type of cookie were to win 1st place… it would be the slice and bake cookie.

Slice and Bake Cookies

I love baking slice and bake cookies because sometimes I don’t feel like rolling 2 dozen cookie dough balls. Who’s with me? Instead of rolling each individual cookie, you roll the cookie dough into logs, then slice the logs into discs. These discs are your cookies. It’s literally so easy. Here are some you can try:

Today’s version is my new favorite!

Santa's cookie dough

Slice and bake cookie dough rolled in coconut

All the Good Stuff about Santa’s Whiskers Cookies!

  • Easy ingredients: sugar, flour, butter, egg.
  • There’s no leavener, so the cookies are extra dense and buttery.
  • 1 bowl recipe.
  • Since you’re slicing the dough, you control the thickness.
  • Soft and thick in the centers!
  • So festive with cherry and almond.
  • Crunchy crumbly toasted coconut edges = coconut is Santa’s “whiskers” 🙂
  • Make ahead. Make the dough, roll into logs, chill for up to 5 days, slice then bake.

I have some success tips for you. First, divide the cookie dough in half and roll into 2 logs. Smaller logs are easier to roll in the coconut. Chilling the cookie dough logs is imperative to the recipe. The cookie dough is very buttery and without time in the refrigerator, the cookie dough will spread all over the cookie sheets. Remember that chilling is the #1 guaranteed tip to prevent overspreading. You could even shape this cookie dough into logs and freeze. Simply thaw in the refrigerator for an hour or two before slicing and baking.

*Santa Claus does not have whiskers. The whiskers = his beard and mustache!*

Santa's Whiskers Cookies with cherries, almond, coconut, and white chocolate

I used maraschino cherries and green candied cherries– I found the green cherries in the holiday section of my regular grocery store. If you can’t get your hands on green cherries, just use red maraschino cherries or add some pistachios or green sprinkles. At the very last minute, I decided to garnish the cookies with melted white chocolate. Optional, of course, but since this is a Christmas cookie– it made for an extra special accessory!

Santa's Whiskers Cookies

Could these cookies BE more jolly? Cue Chandler Bing’s voice.

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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Santa's Whiskers Cookies are slice and bake butter cookies with sweet cherries, almond flavor, and are rolled in coconut. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Santa’s Whiskers Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 2 dozen cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

The merriest of all Christmas cookies! Santa’s Whiskers Cookies are soft slice and bake cookies flavored with almond, studded with cherries, and rolled in coconut.


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (133g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (63g) finely chopped maraschino cherries (I used a mix of green and red)*
  • 1 cup (80g) sweetened shredded coconut, for rolling
  • optional: one 4-ounce white chocolate baking bar and extra coconut for topping

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until combined and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, and continue to beat until fully combined. On low speed, beat in the flour and salt until combined. The cookie dough will be thick and slightly sticky. Switch to low speed and beat in the cherries *just* until combined. Too much beating will turn the cookie dough pink. (Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!)
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and, with floured hands, divide or cut into two. Shape each half into an 8-inch log, about 2.5 inches in diameter. The measurements don’t have to be exact. Roll each log in the shredded coconut. Tightly wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 5 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough. I prefer to chill mine for 4 hours or even overnight– the colder the dough, the thicker the cookies.
  3. 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.
  4. Slice each log into 12 equally thick cookies and place cookies on baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake the cookies for 13-14 minutes or until brown 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.
  6. If desired, drizzle the cooled cookies with white chocolate. Melt the chopped white chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 15-second increments, stopping and stirring after each until completely smooth. Drizzle on the cookies. Sprinkle with extra coconut, if desired. Allow chocolate to set completely in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  7. Cookies without chocolate will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 1 week. Cookies with chocolate will stay fresh covered at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Baked cookies 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 logs and chill in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (see step 2). Cookie dough logs freeze well too, up to 3 months. Allow the logs to thaw overnight in the refrigerator then continue with step 3.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Baking Sheet | Silpat Baking Mat | Cooling Rack | Shredded Coconut
  3. Cherries: I used maraschino cherries and green candied cherries– I found the green cherries in the holiday section of my regular grocery store. If you can’t get your hands on green cherries, just use red maraschino cherries or add some salted or unsalted pistachios or green sprinkles. Dried cranberries or dried cherries are a wonderful substitute for the red cherries too! Stick with around 3/4 cup – 1 cup total add-ins. If using maraschino cherries packed in juice, lightly blot before or after chopping.
  4. Nuts: Santa’s Whiskers Cookies typically contain nuts, but I skipped the nuts in this recipe. If desired, use half chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pistachios and half chopped cherries. Stick with around 3/4 cup – 1 cup total add-ins.
  5. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Santa's Whiskers Cookies with cherries, almond, coconut, and white chocolate

88 Comments

  1. Hi Sally! These look so good, but would I be able to roll them in something other than the coconut? My boyfriend loves cherry, but isn’t a fan of coconut. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Lydia! Another reader just asked this too and I’m trying to think of fun alternatives to the coconut. I’m thinking white sprinkles! Or crushed nuts, coarse sugar… let me know if you try anything!

  2. I am so excited to try these, Santa’s Whiskers were a childhood favourite, the addition of the almond with the cherries will be soooo good.

  3. Sally, i know of course you don’t bake off all your cookie dough from your palooza at once. But during the holidays will you take it off and give it to your family as gifts?

    1. Hi Iram! When testing and photographing the Cookie Palooza recipes (usually in October and November), I give most of it away. I bake Christmas cookies in December and gift that as well! My freezer is always stocked with frozen cookie dough too. It’s like 2-3 months of cookies. By January, I’m ready for a cookie break haha.

  4. Hi Sally! My family loves when I make any of your cookie recipes!! I’d love to add this one to my holiday cookie platter but my son detests coconut. Is there anything else I can use for the “whiskers” effect? I was wondering if white sprinkles might work? Thanks!! Can’t wait for the rest of cookie palooza lol!!

    1. YAY! I’m so happy you’re just as excited about cookie palooza. I’m trying to think of “whiskers” alternatives. What about crushed almonds, walnuts, coarse sugar, white sprinkles…?

  5. Do you mean maraschino cherries packed in liquid in the jar, or candied cherries packed dry (and very sticky 😉 in a plastic tub?

    1. Hi Christine! Either type of maraschino/candied cherries work! I use maraschino cherries in liquid and the sticky green cherries.

  6. Sally–your recipe instructs the reader to roll the cookie log (before slicing as I read it) in coconut yet the final picture shows coconut on the inside (top) of the baked cookie.

    At what point in the the baking or cooling cycle do you suggest adding coconut on top of the sliced cookie? Thanks for the guidance.

    1. Hi Vicki! You can top the white chocolate (before it dries) with a little extra coconut if desired. That’s what I did in these photos. Or, if not using white chocolate, sprinkle the tops of the unbaked cookie slices with coconut.

  7. I’d love to make these for my son’s cookie exchange at school. What could I use instead of Almond Extract as there is a tree nut allergy in his class?

    1. Hi Julie! Use extra vanilla extract in place of the almond extract. Coconut extract would be great too. Ask about the coconut though. I’ve read that the FDA classifies coconut as a tree nut, even though it is considered a fruit. But I’ve also read that most people who are allergic to tree nuts can eat coconut.

  8. I love the name of these cookies. Plus that flavor profile sounds SO good! I am having an almond extract moment right now. YAY! for cookies. This is by far my favorite tradition of yours!

  9. would this recipe work with cranberries and pistachios?? I am not a cherry lover, but I love the green and red color in the cookies.

  10. I made this cookie over 30 years ago from a recipe in a magazine, same name and everything. They were fun and delicious. My recipe did not use white chocolate on top. Thanks for reminding me how much I enjoyed these cookies.

    1. Dried cherries are a wonderful substitute. I can’t see why the dried cherries soaked in liquor wouldn’t work as well. Let me know how they turn out!

  11. First made this easy cookie from a Better Homes & Gardens cookie cookbook back in the early 1980s. It called for red or green candied cherries. It is so easy but very showy cookie that always impressed—what ever party I took it to. Like the addition of a drizzle of white chocolate.

  12. These are sooo cute!! I love coconut but alas, I am not supposed to eat nuts.

    Would you consider posting a video showing how to roll dough into logs? I struggle with it really badly. My logs come out misshapen, instead of a nice even thickness like yours. Please, pretty please??

    1. That’s a great idea for a future video, Laura! Thanks for the suggestion. One tip: after you wrap the logs in plastic wrap, you can roll them against the counter to smooth out the logs. And after the logs chill, give them another roll on the counter so they’re perfectly round again.

  13. Please please pretty please can you make a video showing how to roll dough into logs? Please?? It sounds so simple but I really struggle with it!

    Beautiful looking cookies by the way! I love coconut but am not supposed to eat nuts. Sigh…

    1. Hi Laura, I don’t have any videos of my slice and bake cookies!! That’s going on the list – thanks for the suggestion!:) You can skip the coconut and either leave the edges plain or even roll them in course sugar instead!

  14. I had difficulty getting the coconut to stick to the logs while rolling , I tried patting it on and rolling. I assume lots of coconut needed on outside of cookie so Santa will have a full beard why won’t mine stick?

    1. Are you using sweetened shredded coconut? That stuff is pretty sticky, so it should stick if you’re applying enough pressure when rolling. 🙂

  15. Sally, these are absolutely gorgeous! And I love the flavor combination of cherry and almond. These are definitely going on the list of cookies to be made!

  16. Browsing through your site today and trying to decide which Christmas cookies to make this year. Seriously just added over 10 to my list. I better start baking haha! These sound delicious!

  17. Hi Sally! Recently found out I can’t eat gluten (I’m crying over here)-any suggestions? I do your cookie palooza every year and don’t want to miss out!! My faves are the almond cherry shortbread so this recipe is right up my alley!

    1. Hi Cara! I really wish I could help, but I don’t have much experience baking gluten free. Many readers use a “cup for cup” gluten free flour blend that translates nicely into cookies. Give one of those a try!

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