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Roly-Poly Santas

I tuck one of these fanciful Santas into every gift cookie tray I make. They're a guaranteed hit with kids—young and old. And I like that they're not too difficult to assemble. —Andrew Syer, Oak Ridge, Missouri
  • Total Time
    Prep: 1 hour Bake: 15 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    1 dozen


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Red paste food coloring
  • Miniature chocolate chips
  • ICING:
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk, divided
  • White nonpareils, sugar pearls and Red Hot candies
  • Additional miniature semisweet chocolate chips, melted


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla; mix well. Add flour and mix well. Remove 1-3/4 cups dough; tint red. Shape white dough into 12 balls, 3/4 in. each, and 60 balls, 1/4 in. each. Shape red dough into 12 balls, 1 in. each, and 60 balls, 1/2 in. each.
  • Place the 1-in. red balls on two ungreased baking sheets for the body of 12 Santas; flatten to 1/2-in. thickness. Attach 3/4-in. white balls for heads; flatten to 1/2-in. thickness. Attach four 1/2-in. red balls to each Santa for arms and legs. Attach 1/4-in. white balls to ends of arms and legs for hands and feet.
  • Shape remaining 1/2-in. red balls into hats. Attach remaining 1/4-in. white balls to tips of hats. Place inverted chocolate chips for eyes and buttons.
  • Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes or until set. Cool for 10 minutes; carefully remove from pans to wire racks (cookies will be fragile).
  • For icing, combine shortening and vanilla in a small bowl; mix well. Gradually add 1-1/3 cups confectioners' sugar; add 1 tablespoon milk. Gradually add remaining sugar and milk.
  • Pipe a band of icing on hat, cuffs at hands and feet, and down the front and at bottom of jacket. Pipe swirls of icing on tip of hat and for beard. Sprinkle nonpareils and sugar pearls over icing on hat and beard. Place a Red Hot candy for mouth. Spread melted chocolate for boots. Let stand until set.
Editor's Note: Remaining dough may be shaped into balls and baked.
Nutrition Facts
1 cookie: 422 calories, 24g fat (12g saturated fat), 41mg cholesterol, 124mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate (32g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein.
Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links.

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  • JaculinU
    Dec 7, 2015

    in a time crunch, use a bag of the little store bought gingerbread men and then using those frostings in a tube or bag add the decorations/details. Those called Cookie icing in the bags,( the plastic bottle are sooooo runny) do harden, but not as much as royal, but enough that you can stack them after 20-30 minutes.

  • ronniellen
    Jul 25, 2013

    No comment left

  • Truk
    Feb 19, 2013

    No comment left

  • swtpea416
    Dec 16, 2011

    I have been making this cookie for 3 years. It taste great, looks great. You get tons of complaments. This year i am hosting a cookie swap, and i making 4 dozen of them :)

  • snartietoot
    Dec 12, 2010

    The Santas take a long time to make (lots of balls to roll!) but they're SO worth it. The recipe is delicious and they're absolutely adorable. You can't beat the WOW factor. I've made them for three years in a row now and everyone I give them to loves them. I'd recommend using SALTED butter, though. If you use unsalted, the flavor comes out a bit flat. I also use my own icing recipe rather than one that calls for shortening. I've used this same cookie dough to make LOTS of different holiday shapes (wreaths, reindeer, even teddy bears!) and they all come out perfectly! I've tried adding mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the cookie dough and made plain chocolate-chip shortbread cookies out of them which were inhaled by my family immediately. I even substituted 1/4 cup of cocoa for 1/4 cup of the flour and made cocoa-flavored cookies. YUM!

  • Alecia0801
    Dec 21, 2009

    I made these for my daughter's preschool class. They turned out really cute, but they took a lot of time to make.

  • lucyloo6
    Dec 20, 2009

    No comment left

  • n2nicole
    Dec 21, 2008

    No comment left