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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.

stack of Santa's whiskers cookies

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?

Santa's whiskers cookies with white chocolate drizzle on a white plate

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:

2 images of Santa's whiskers cookie dough in a glass bowl and cookie dough add ins in bowls
2 images of 2 logs of slice and bake cookie dough rolled in coconut on a white plate and a log of cookie dough cut into slices

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 tip for how to prevent cookies from spreading. 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!*

slice and bake Christmas cookie with white chocolate drizzle

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.

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stack of Santa's whiskers cookies

Santa’s Whiskers Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 2 dozen cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


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.


  • 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


  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.


  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.

Keywords: Santa’s whiskers cookies

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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  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. 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…?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. Hi Liz! Yes, absolutely! Replace the cherries with dried cranberries and chopped pistachios. See my recipe note. 🙂

    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!

  6. Are green candied cherries the same cherries that people use to make fruitcakes? Thank you!

  7. 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. 🙂

  8. Sally, could these be made with crainsins and pistachios? These cookies look so pretty 🙂

  9. Do you use candied red cherries too or just maraschino red cherries and candied green ones?

  10. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of cherries…. is that one jar? Or more than one jar of cherries?

  11. I just have to say I am not a big coconut fan – while my husband is! These cookies were easy to make and in spite of coconut – they were simply yummy! I will be making these again!

    1. Hi Cathy! I recommend increasing the vanilla extract. You could also use coconut extract instead!

  12. Hi Sally! I read your baking tip bout how these cookies (sans chocolate) will stay fresh at room temp for a week. If I wanted these to keep until after Christmas, would you recommend waiting to bake and freezing the dough? Or would they be okay if baked, stored and chilled in an airtight container?

    1. Hi Rachel! For BEST taste, I recommend making the cookie dough and rolling into logs as instructed. Freeze the logs, then thaw, slice, and bake when you’re ready. Best tasting cookies that way!

  13. These look delicious. Can I use red cherries and mini chocolate chips instead of green cherries?

  14. Hey Sally! Did you measure the cherries before or after you chopped them? I gave my maraschino cherries a spin in the food processor to chop them up and then measured out 3/4 cup. I drained out the extra liquid but my dough is too wet and sticky to shape. I’m going to go ahead and make a second batch (without cherries) to combine with the first batch and hope that will at least help with the consistency. I was just wondering if I measured the cherries incorrectly or if I should just have faith and chilling will fix the problem. Thanks!

    1. Hey Kristen! I chop the cherries before measuring. Chilling the cookie dough in the logs stiffens them up, so they’re super easy to cut.

  15. Baked half a batch this weekend and the other half this morning. The flavor of these cookies is so delicious! I love the cherry and hint of almond. There was a nice crunch from the coconut on the outside but not too overpowering. The dough held up in the fridge for 4 days. Would make again and use green and red cherries instead of just red for a more festive look.

  16. Sally, thank you for this recipe! I made them with dried cherries and they were a huge hit at my party! Even my chocolate-devoted friends loved them. These now have a permanent spot on my baking list. Happy New Year/Hauʻoli Makahiki Hou!

  17. I made these for Christmas, and I’m getting ready to make them again: sooooo yummy! I used pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries (not craisins, no sugar added) instead, and it was pretty and delicious! This is a keeper.

  18. Thanks Sally! I made these for a meeting, a great easy simple recipe (pretty too!) to pull together the night before, refrigerate and bake while eating breakfast 🙂 I didn’t have almond extract so I used 1.5Tsp Vanilla extract – they were tasty and a hit with everyone! Love baking slice and bake cookies especially yours.

    1. Absolutely! But you may want to slightly reduce the amount because coconut can make the dough a little crumbly. 🙂

  19. Could you replace the maraschino cherries with festive red and green sprinkles? I don’t really like maraschino cherries that much so would prefer to do a Christmas-y funfetti version 🙂

  20. Another WINNER! These are gorgeous, easy and taste delicious! The flavors and textures are perfect together. I normally am not a big fan of cookies with whole maraschino cherries but these are the perfect touch. Even my Dad, who doesn’t like coconut, loved these.
    The most time I spent was in chopping up the cherries- next time I’d pulse with a food processor for a second or two.
    They are going to be a part of our Christmas cookies for many years, I’m sure.
    Thanks, Sally!

  21. Omg, I just made these with Orange craisins and they are amazing. Wow they are a huge hit.

  22. I have been making these since the 70’s! Our favorite Christmas cookie. They last in the fridge for weeks. I usually make them at Thanksgiving and have freshly baked cookies anytime I have company over the Holidays. I drain the cherries and pat with a paper towel…otherwise the dough will be pink or green or …ugh…both! One variance in our recipes…. I use pecans and vanilla. I am not a big fan of candied cherries, but when these are in the cookies they don’t stand out…you really only taste a delicious shortbread cookie.

  23. Hi, Sally. I want to make-ahead and freeze. Do I roll the log in coconut and then freeze, or freeze plain and roll just before baking? As always, thanks for your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Michelle, You can roll the log in coconut and then freeze. See the make ahead instructions in the recipe notes for details!

  24. These look so fun for Christmas! Can I substitute frozen cherries for the maraschino cherries? Thanks!

  25. These are so wonderful! I chilled mine for a couple days and then popped right into the oven. So thick and soft and perfect.

  26. I have cannot have butter at all but I can cheat some but not 3/4 worth of butter in a recipe. I was thinking I can add 3/4 of one stick and maybe a substitution for the rest? Do you have any suggestions? Thank you. I love your recipes and the things you make.

    1. Hi Lesa, You can try a vegan butter substitute (like the Earth Balance brand) but we have not tested it so can’t be confident in the end results. Let us know if you try anything!

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