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Rainbow Sugar Cookies

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Fun and easy to make, these Rainbow Sugar Cookies are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. With just 30 minutes of chill time, this easy sugar cookie recipe can be whipped up anytime!

If you love rainbow desserts, be sure to check out my pastel rainbow cupcakes or this rainbow sheet cake.

Angled view of rainbow sugar cookies

Easy Rainbow Swirl Cookies

These bright and colorful cookies turn my basic cutout sugar cookie dough into a fun treat that’s perfect for spring, summer, or anytime you want to put a smile on someone’s face. I am so excited about these, they came out even better than I expected!

While these rainbow sugar cookies are sliced quite thick, they are so soft and just melt away in your mouth. And since the original sugar cookies are usually topped with icing, there’s not a lot of sugar in this dough. In my opinion, it’s just the perfect amount of sweetness.

There’s a light vanilla flavor from the extract as well but if you want an even stronger flavor, add an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract or add some almond extract too.

Overhead view of rainbow swirl sugar cookies

Cookie Ingredients

You’ll need just 8 pantry staples plus the gel colors to make these bright and colorful cookies. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredient list.

  • Unsalted butter – At room temperature.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Baking soda & Milk– the baking soda is dissolved in the milk to kick off the chemical reaction
  • Almond or vanilla extract – Either one or both will work, adjust the amount based on how much flavor you want your cookies to have.
  • Eggs
  • All-purpose flour & Salt
  • Gel colors – See notes. I used 7 colors but you can use just 6 if desired.

How to Make Rainbow Sugar Cookies

While rainbow cookies require more hands-on time than regular sugar cookies due to needing to roll out each individual color, they are still easy to make!

Make the Dough

  1. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat the butter and sugar until the sugar is creamy.
  2. Add the Liquid: Add the eggs and extract, beating until well incorporated. Dissolve the baking soda in milk then add to the mixture.
  3. Add the dry ingredients. Add the salt and flour a cup at a time. Mix until stiff dough forms. You may need to kick the mixer up a notch to get the dough to fully combine.

Dye and Shape

Portion it out. Divide the dough into equal-sized balls. If you have a food scale, weighing the dough into equal sizes is best. My dough weighed 1250g, so about 178g per color (7 colors), bigger than a baseball but smaller than a softball. It’s a little more than a 1/2 cup of dough.

Large balls of sugar cookie dough

Dye the dough: Dye each one an individual color. You can do this by hand or with a mixer. I’ve included more tips below, but this is how I did it by hand. But if you flatten it, add the color and smear it around, then use your hands to combine. You may need to add additional gel colors to get the vibrancy you want. Doing this by hand is a bit labor-intensive.

Roll out each color. Roll out each color into a rectangle approximately 12 inches long. You want it to be as thin as possible without ripping the dough.

Stack the dough: Place the first on a piece of parchment paper and stack the rest on top of each other. Once they are all stacked on top of one another, it’s very thick.

Cover with a second piece of parchment and roll it out again until the entire dough is 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. Rotate the dough as you work so you can evenly roll it out.

Roll into logs. Using a pizza cutter to trim any excess dough off the sides and then cut the dough into two halves. Roll each one into a log as tightly as possible.

Chill, Slice, Bake

Chill. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place seam side down in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Slice. Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 1/2″ wide slices. Uses your hands to shape them into a circle if needed. Place 1-inch apart on the baking sheet. These won’t spread very much, so you don’t need to worry about placing them too far apart.

Bake. Bake at 350° for 9 to 11 minutes. The bottoms should be just slightly brown. Cool for 5 minutes on the sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Do I Need To Chill The Dough?

With this sugar cookie recipe, you don’t need to chill the dough before you roll it out as long as you are using two pieces of parchment paper to roll out the dough. If you do find the dough is sticking, you can dust a little powdered sugar over top or on the rolling pin.

It’s important to chill the dough once it’s rolled so that you can easily slice them without damaging the shape.

Tips for Coloring Cookie Dough

If this is your first time working with dyed cookie dough, here are a few helpful tips.

  • Use a stand mixer if possible. Even though I showed this mixing by hand, I recommend using the stand mixer to dye the dough. If using the mixer, start with yellow and gradually work to the darker colors, cleaning the mixer as needed.
  • Always wear gloves. If mixing by hand, be sure to wear gloves. Flatten the dough, add a couple of drops of color, smear with your hands and work the dough between your hands, add additional color as needed. This takes some work to do, and a lot of handling.
  • Don’t worry about streaks. If you have some streaky dough, that’s fine you won’t even notice when it rolled out.
  • Weigh the dough. If you have a food scale, weighing the dough into equal sizes is best. My dough weighed 1250g, so about 178g per color (7 colors), bigger than a baseball but smaller than a softball.
  • What are the best colors to use? I used 7 colors, but you could easily do it with 6 colors. Use color from Americolor or Wilton for best results.
A stack of rainbow sugar cookies with one in front

Serving Suggestions

You can enjoy these rainbow swirl cookies exactly as they are – especially if they’re warm from the oven! They’re the perfect accompaniment to a big, cold glass of milk.

However, since these are a little on the less sweet side, you can also top them with some buttercream frosting if desired!

Can I Make The Dough in Advance?

Like most sugar cookie dough, the dough for these rainbow swirl cookies can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the fridge. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.

You can also freeze the rainbow cookie dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil to prevent freezer burn. Thaw overnight in the fridge.

I recommend leaving the chilled dough on the counter for 10 minutes so it’s a bit easier to work with.

How to Store and Freeze Rainbow Cookies

These rainbow sugar cookies will last for several days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze them for a month in an airtight container and thaw them on the counter.

A stack of rainbow sugar cookies
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Overhead view of a rainbow sugar cookie

Rainbow Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 11 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 11 minutes
  • Yield: 36 to 40 cookies

Description

Fun and easy to make, these Rainbow Sugar Cookies are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. With just 30 minutes of chill time, this easy sugar cookie recipe can be whipped up anytime!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (190g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons (60m) milk
  • 12 teaspoon (5-10ml) almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups (700 g) all-purpose flour
  • Gel colors for dying (see notes)

Instructions

  1. Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the sugar is dissolved and creamy.
  2. Add the eggs and flavored extract to the butter and beat until all ingredients are well incorporated. Then, in a small glass dish, dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add to the mixture, beating until combined.
  3. Finally, add the salt and the flour 1 cup at a time and mix until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Divide the dough into 6 or 7 equal sized balls. Dye each one the individual color using either your mixer or your hands (see notes for additional tips).
  5. Starting with the red, roll each individual color into a rectangular shape, about 12 inches long. Roll between two pieces of parchment paper and lightly dust with powdered sugar if needed to prevent sticking. Dough will be relatively thin when rolled, place the first one on piece of parchment paper and stack each color on top of the other.
  6. Once all the color are stacked, cover with a second piece of parchment paper and proceed with roll out the cookie dough again until it’s about ¼ – ½ inch thick, it should expand quite a bit.
  7. Trim off the excess sides and then cut the dough into two halves. Roll each one tightly into a log, about 9-10 inches long and about 2-inch in diameter at the thickest point. Wrap each log with plastic wrap and place seam side down and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
  9. Remove the dough from the fridge. Using a sharp knife, cut them into ½ inch wide slices. If they are misshaped, gently roll between your hands to shape into a circle. Place about 1-inch apart on the baking sheet.
  10. Bake at 350° for 9-11 minutes just until the bottoms turn slightly brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

  • See blog post for complete step-by-step photos
  • If you have a food scale, weighing the dough into equal sizes is best. My dough weighed 1250g, so about 178g per color (7 colors), bigger than a baseball but smaller than a softball. It’s a little bit more than 1/2 cup of dough. 
  • I used 7 colors, but you could easily do it with 6 colors. Use color from Americolor or Wilton for best results.
Nutrition Information:
1 cookie
135
5.7 g
73 mg
5.6 g
18.9 g
0.5 g
2.3 g
23.9 mg
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: rainbow cookies, rainbow swirl cookies, sugar cookie recipe

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