Gluten Free Celebration Pinwheel Cookies

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Make any holiday or occasion special with these gluten free celebration pinwheel cookies. They’re much easier than they look!

Plate of white and green striped and white and red striped pinwheel cookies

Let’s have some holiday fun!

I rely on fun holiday cookies, like these celebration pinwheels, to dress up a cookie plate every year. This recipe is for everyone who wants a little fun, and can have food coloring.

If you must avoid food coloring, then I hope you’ll let the rest of us have some fun. I’m afraid you can’t use natural food colorings, because they just aren’t vibrant enough.

The colors don’t change the taste of these dressed-up, shaped sugar cookies, of course. But you can match the color to the flavor using flavoring oils, if you want to go all in.

Green and white pinwheel cookies on a small plate

The (easy, I promise) method for making pinwheel cookies

The cookies are most tender when you beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy before adding the remaining ingredients. You can make the cookie dough by using the reverse-cream method (dry ingredients, whisked together, with wet ingredients mixed in after), but I don’t recommend it.

Once you see how the spiral is shaped, the steps in the recipe below won’t seem overwhelming, despite the sheer number of them. So watch the how-to video first.

You’ll see that you add food die to one half of the dough, pat each half into a rough flat rectangle, wrap tightly, and proceed with the recipe from there.

Red and white raw pinwheel cookie dough cut partially into slices

Tips for keeping the round shape of pinwheel cookies

The cookie dough will be quite soft when it’s first made, since we make it with softened butter. The trick is to shape the dough in stages.

When the dough first comes together in the mixer, you’ll divide it in halves. One half stays plain, the other has gel food coloring mixed in.

Each of the halves is then pressed into a rough square, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then chilled until firm (but not hard). If at any point you chill the dough so much that it becomes brittle, just let it warm up at room temperature for a bit.

Then, roll out each piece into a tidy 10-inch square, layer the squares, and roll them together into a cylinder. The cylinder will be beautifully round, but when you chill it next, it will likely flatten a bit.

When you finish chilling the cylinder, just rock it back and forth on the counter to return it to its proper shape. If any of the slices flatten a bit when you cut by cross-section, reshape them gently by squeezing flat in one clean palm.

Individual raw red and white pinwheel cookies on white paper

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

In place of the butter in this recipe, I recommend trying vegan butter. My favorite brands are Miyoko’s Kitchen and Melt.

Egg

Since there is only one egg in this recipe, I think a “chia egg” should work fine. Just place 1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds in a small bowl and mix it with 1 tablespoon lukewarm water. Mix and allow the mixture to gel.

Since even white chia seeds do have brown flecks of color, even when ground, you will end up seeing some flecks in the finished cookies. To camouflage them, try adding different colors of gel food coloring to each half of the dough, rather than keeping one plain.

Food coloring

I always use AmeriColor brand gel food colorings. They’re reliably gluten free, very vibrant, and don’t affect the taste of baked goods. I have a set of small squeeze bottles in lots of colors, and they last forever.

Do not try to use liquid food coloring in this recipe. You’ll need to add way too much food coloring to get a vibrant color, and it will affect both the taste and the performance of the dough.

For a dye-free version, try our chocolate and vanilla classic gluten free pinwheel cookies. No artificial colorings needed!

Flavoring

In place of the vanilla extract in this recipe, you can use your favorite flavoring oil. I like LorAnn brand flavoring oils.

Try pairing the color with the flavor you might expect to go along with it. For the red color, try cherry flavoring. For the green color, try mint. But resist the urge to add too much, as these oils tend to be potent!

Overhead image of raw red and white pinwheel cookies on white paper and on lined baking tray

Celebration pinwheel cookies raw on baking sheet, overhead baked, and closeup of baked cookies

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