These Pinwheel Cookies are a favorite in our family! My grandma makes them for every gathering and they disappear in moments!
Christmas Pinwheel Cookies
This is one of those homemade cookie recipes that I feel like I’m going to have to convince you a little to try, and then once you have the recipe you will go bonkers because you all will be hooked. It’s a recipe that all of the grandkids wanted the moment we entered Grandma’s house, but these days we are mostly making them on our own.
Pinwheel cookies are unsuspecting little stinkers. They look like such a simple cookie and yet you cannot resist them after the first bite!
Grandma has so many fabulous recipes and in an effort to keep them alive we’ve been sharing them here on the site with little stories about her. I hate that we had to miss out on her birthday party in Idaho this year. It just wasn’t a good idea so close to delivery for me to travel, but boy did I miss out. And I happen to know that at over 90 years old she still made these pinwheel cookies for the party. She is incredible.
I remember standing in her kitchen watching her cook and she always let me pour in the vanilla. Now as a mom I’m aware that a little bottle of vanilla is just asking to be accidentally dumped into the dough, but it perfectly is her that on the part that could easily be messed up she took the time to trust her little ones in the kitchen to learn and try it for themselves. I can’t smell vanilla in my baking without thinking of her.
Oh please will you take the time to leave us a comment below and tell us your favorite family recipe and then go make it with one of your kiddos. I know it takes patience, but pass that recipe down and make sure you tell them stories about you and your family while you do. McCormick Vanilla and I go way back and I hope it brings back wonderful memories for you too.
Pinwheel Cookies Ingredients
This easy cookie recipe has two parts: the cookie dough and the raisin pinwheel filling. I’ve seen recipes online for date pinwheel cookies, but my family has always made the filling with raisins.
Here’s what you’ll need to make pinwheel cookies:
- Granulated sugar
- Brown sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Vanilla extract
How to Make Pinwheel Cookies
Don’t let the pretty pinwheel pattern fool you into thinking these cookies are tough to make! These Christmas pinwheel cookies require little prep work and are super simple to shape and bake.
Here are the basic steps to how we make Grandma’s pinwheel cookies:
- Add the raisins, water, sugar, and vanilla to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes.
- Stir together the pinwheel cookie dough, then roll it out into a large rectangle.
- Spread the raisin mixture over the dough, then roll the dough up like you would cinnamon rolls.
- Slice the roll of dough into cookies, then bake on parchment paper-lined baking trays.
How to Store Pinwheel Cookies
If stored in an airtight container, these pinwheel cookies will keep 3-5 days at room temperature.
Can I Freeze Pinwheel Cookies?
Yes, you can freeze these pinwheel cookies once they’ve had time to cool completely. You can freeze them in freezer bags or in a freezer-safe container. When you’re ready to eat them, place them on your counter to thaw.
Can I Add Chopped Nuts to the Filling?
Some pinwheel cookie recipes use chopped nuts in the filling. We’ve only ever made this recipe as written, so I’m not sure how the addition of chopped nuts would affect the end results. If you add nuts to the filling, please leave us a comment down below telling us how the cookies turned out!
Tips for Making Pinwheel Cookies
If desired, you can use half shortening and half butter in the cookie dough. We prefer using all shortening, but I know not everyone loves baking with it. Don’t try to sub all butter for the shortening though, I have no clue how that’d turn out!
Before making the cookie dough, make sure both the shortening and butter are at room temperature. If they’re too cold, the dough will be crumbly when you mix it together.
If your dough isn’t coming together, add a splash of water to see if that helps. We’ve never had an issue with this whenever we’ve made these pinwheel cookies, but it’s something to note!
More Easy Cookie Recipes:
- The Best Soft Gingerbread Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
- Sweet Glazed Lemon Cookies
- Kitchen Sink Cookies
- The BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
- White Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread
- …All of our cookie recipes!
Grandma's Famous Pinwheel Cookies
- 1 Cup Shortening, or half butter half shortening
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
For the Filling
- 3 Cups Raisins
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 1/2 Teaspoon McCormick Vanilla Extract
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a blender, combine the raisins, water, sugar and vanilla, mix until smooth and pour into a small saucepan.
- Boil for 5 minutes and set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the shortening and sugars for 1 minute.
- Add the eggs and mix again.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and add into the wet ingredients until a thick dough forms.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough in a big rectangle.
- Spread the raisin mixture all over the dough and roll the dough like pinwheels or cinnamon rolls.
- Slice into cookies and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, and allow to cool for 2-5 minutes on the pan then remove to a cooling rack.
I have had a recipe like this for years. I make it with 1 1/2 cups chopped raisins & 1 cup chopped walnuts. Mix raisins, walnuts, 1/2 cup water & 1/2 c white sugar & cook low till thicken. The rest of the recipe is about the same. I mix 1 cup brown & white sugar with 1 cup butter, add 3 eggs & then your flour mixture.
Thank you so much Jane! It’s such a classic cookie! I need to make them more often!
My Grandmother made these for us when we went to see her for Christmas. We would get to eat one cookie on our way home..4 hour journey each way . We were a family of 6 and the December Missouri days/nights were sooo cold!
The only difference between your recipe and hers was an additional 1 cup of chopped nuts.
I myself decided to kick it up a notch this year and soaked the raisins in spiced rum for a few days. (gave it a nice touch if I do say so myself!) I added only a bit of water when I boiled it.
My older brothers were grateful for a taste of memory lane when I mailed it them.
Mary! You have no idea how happy reading this made me! This is exactly why we do what we do…the memories and traditions that food brings. Thank you so much for taking time to leave a comment and share a piece of your heart with us!
This recipe didn’t work for me. It didn’t form a thick dough. It was more like pastry dough and there was no way you could roll it. I ended up making bars, pressing half dough on bottom of pan with a layer of raisin and crumbles on top. Suggestions?
It should be a roll-able dough with the flour to fat ratio. Are you sure all your measurements were correct and nothing was forgotten? I’m sorry it didn’t work out!
We make Apricot Pinwheels. Our family love them.
Yummmm! I love apricot everything! Thanks for taking time to leave a comment!
this recipe doesn’t work. the dough is crumbly and useless
Update: added water (1/4 cup) then mixed to dough consistency. Then I refrigerated the dough, after rolling and spreading the raisin sauce, for about an hour
I’m sorry you had some problems with the dough! Be sure your shortening (and butter if you used half and half) are room temperature and that you are using large size eggs. If it still seems too dry, you could add water or milk a tablespoon at a time until it is a good consistency.
Julianne @ Beyond Frosting
I love recipes that are passed down through generations.
That rich center inside those buttery cookies look amazing. Gotta love McCormick. It’s a staple in our kitchen. I live close to their factory in Maryland. The surrounding area smells like vanilla when it’s vanilla day at the factory. It’s magical.
There is almost nothing better than a good family recipe for tradition – these cookies look so good!
Oh, I wish we could get the recipes mentioned in the comments, too! Family heirloom recipes are the best! Merry Christmas, everyone!
Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
My husband is the baker in our family and we always make his mother’s famous hermit bars !! They smell like ginger and molasses and cloves and they are perfection.
Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet
I love family recipes! They are so precious! These cookies look s festive and delicious!
My mom’s recipe for sugar cookies is always a standout. Or her fudge. I can’t decide which is the more essential Christmas treat!
My mom always made Date Nut Pinwheel cookies but ONLY at Christmas…never any other time of the year. We loved them! Thanks for bringing back the memory! My mom just passed away last January at age 95!