How to Make the Best Rugelach Cookies for the Holidays
Rugelach cookies are a big part of many holiday traditions. Learn how to make these cinnamon-sugar treats for your cookie tray.
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For many, Hanukkah isn’t the same without a few sweet treats—especially rugelach. These crescent-shaped cookies are filled with different flavors and are a great treat to serve alongside tea or coffee (or to eat by the handful!).
Like babka, rugelach has Jewish origins but has gained popularity in other communities as well. It’s not uncommon to see rugelach at a Hanukkah celebration and then on a Christmas cookie tray. And when a cookie is so tasty and pretty—it’s really no surprise. This holiday season, we think you should give these treats a try.
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How to Make Rugelach Cookies
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These rugelach cookies look impressive but they only use a handful of ingredients—how great is that? Grab these ingredients and get started:
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter, melted, divided
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
Tools for Making Rugelach
- Rolling pin: Rolling pins are a must for holiday baking—from rugelach to gingerbread to cutout cookies. Make sure you’ve got a good one like this straight rolling pin from Williams-Sonoma.
- Ground cinnamon: Cinnamon is a big part of this rugelach recipe, so make sure you’re grabbing a variety that you enjoy. Saigon (or Vietnamese) cinnamon is the spiciest of the cinnamon varieties and is a great contrast to the mellow, buttery flavor of these cookies.
- Pastry brush: You’ll need a pastry brush to give these cookies their buttery flavor. They get a brush of butter on the inside and outside!
Step 1: Make the dough
Before you even begin making rugelach cookies, make sure that your butter and cream cheese are both softened. You need these ingredients to be ready to blend together and that just won’t happen if they’re straight from the fridge.
Once softened, beat them together in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add in the salt and gradually mix in the flour until you have a dough.
Step 2: Divide and chill
After making the dough, divide it into quarters. Wrap each section up in plastic wrap or reusable food wraps and stash them in the fridge for an hour—until the dough has firmed up and is easy to handle.
Editor’s tip: You can keep the dough in the fridge for longer if you’d like. You can prep this dough a few days in advance and roll it out whenever you’re ready.
Step 3: Roll out the dough
After chilling, it’s time to roll out the rugelach dough. Grab your favorite rolling pin and roll each portion of dough out into a 12-inch circle.
You’ll want to roll the dough out between two pieces of waxed paper or parchment paper. Now is not the time to flour your work surface since extra flour can make this dough dry and tough.
Step 4: Brush with butter
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Once you’ve rolled out your circle, take melted butter and brush over the round of dough. A tablespoon of butter should be right for each portion of dough.
After buttering, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of cinnamon-sugar and 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans over the top, leaving about a half-inch of dough uncovered at the edge.
Editor’s tip: To give the cookies more flavor, toast the pecans before sprinkling over the top. It only takes a few minutes and adds a lot of flavor.
Step 5: Divide into wedges
Next, grab your pizza cutter (or just a sharp knife) and slice this circle of cookie dough into 12 wedges.
Step 5: Roll ’em up and bake
Now it’s time to shape the cookies. Starting on the wide end of each wedge, roll up the cookies (try to keep as much of the filling inside as possible). Pop onto an ungreased cookie sheet, pointed side down. Curve the cookies into a crescent shape.
Bake in a 350ºF oven for 24 to 26 minutes—until they look golden brown.
Step 6: Give the rugelach a finishing touch
After baking, move the cookies to a wire rack. While the cookies are still warm, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. This will give the cookies extra-buttery flavor and a bit of crunch—yum!
Add Rugelach to Your Cookie Tray
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Sweet, buttery and crispy rugelach are a great addition to any holiday sweet spread. If you make these cookies in advance, be sure to keep them in an airtight container so they stay fresh.
If you want to make them more than a week before your celebrations, you can stash them in the freezer. They’ll stay good for months. This is a good tip for leftover cookies, too! Stash extras in the freezer and take them out when you’ve got a craving for one of these treats.