Rainbow Spiral Cookies

Hello March! No other month mixes me up like this one does. The roller-coaster temperature fluctuations guarantee I'll be inappropriately dressed wherever I go, and my circadian rhythm gets totally out of sync (thanks Daylight Savings Time). But there are reasons to revel in this time of year. The first day of Spring is fast approaching, and St. Paddy's Day will arrive on the 17th with much merry-making and rainbow-inspired treats.

Remember these cookies I made a long time ago? They seem to be everywhere now! It's been a delight to see them ripple throughout the food blogosphere and beyond. I decided it was time to give them a rainbow makeover, just in time for Saint Patrick's Day.

These cookies are absolutely eye-popping (and a little psychedelic-looking, too!). They have the benefit of slice-and-bake convenience, so I'm making a few batches to store in my freezer. I plan to gift them to friends and family in goodie bags along with a few gold-wrapped chocolate coins.

I hope you enjoy these cheerful cookies as much as I have! They are buttery beyond words, so use the best quality butter you can find. I'd even look to those Irish specialty butters for superior flavor and extra St. Paddy's Day flair.

Rainbow Spiral Cookies
[click for printable version]
Yields about 3 dozen cookies
Author: Heather Baird

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ pound plus 4 tablespoons (2½ sticks) butter, cut into pieces and kept very cold
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon each color gel food coloring: red, orange, yellow, green, violet (I like Wilton brand)

Combine 2 cups of the flour with the baking powder, salt and sugars in a food processor, and pulse
briefly to mix.
Add the cold butter in pieces; process with short bursts until the mixture has a crumbly consistency.
Add the vanilla extract and process in 3­second pulses until a dough ball forms.
Divide the dough into 6 equal portions.  Add one portion of dough to the bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) and tint with the red food color. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix to combine. The dough should not be sticky and resemble the consistency of soft play-doh. Add more flour if needed. Repeat process with remaining dough pieces, food color and flour.

Roll out each portion of dough between sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper to form a rectangle, to about 1/8 inch thickness.
Peel off the top sheet of wax paper from the red piece of dough.
Using the wax paper, lift the orange dough and flip it over onto the red dough so they are stacked. Gently press the two dough pieces together and remove the top layer of waxed paper.
Continue to stack the dough pieces on top of each other. The order should be red, orange, yellow, green, blue and lastly, the violet dough.  When the dough is stacked, flip it over on a large piece of waxed paper, so that the red dough is facing upward, and roll it thinner, to about 1/4-inch thickness.

Remove the top sheet of wax paper and trim the edges of the dough square.
Roll the dough along the longest side like a jelly roll.
Gently curl the edge with your fingertips so you don’t get any air pockets as you roll the dough into a
log. While rolling the dough, the violet portion (which will be on the outside of the roll) may want to
tear; pinch tears together as they happen and keep rolling. It’s okay if a few tears remain; it doesn’t have to be perfect.
After forming the dough into a log, dispose of the wax paper.

Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, about 3 hours.
Note: Cookie dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator until soft enough to
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Slice the dough into ¼­ inch­thick cookies, cutting carefully and avoiding the nonpareils, and bake on
parchment­lined baking sheets for 12 to 15 minutes.
When done, cookies should be slightly puffed and no longer be shiny on top.

Heather's tip: I often skip refrigeration and opt for a chill in the freezer. The cookies slice more cleanly when slightly frozen. 

link Rainbow Spiral Cookies By Published: Rainbow Spiral Cookies Recipe


  1. Heather, these are so sweet! I'm planning a themed "Oh the places you'll go" graduation party for T & these would fit right in!

  2. So pretty! I actually thought about doing the same thing as I have done it with only 2 colors before.

  3. Amazing, love them so much :)

  4. Those are so adorable!

    I DO remember the color pinwheel cookies, in fact, I made a variation of them around christmas time where I marbled the inside in white, green and red with silver dragées on the outside! they were so cute and I had so many compliment on a very good cookie!

    My blog is not a cooking one, and it is in french, but I did post a picture of them because they are so pretty. After all, that kind of creation is fit for a visual arts blog!

  5. So pretty Mel Ann - thanks for sharing!


  6. These are STUNNING! I love your original rainbow swirl cookies, but these pop even more!

  7. Wow I love these! Such a cool idea! :)

  8. Oh my...these are just perfect!!!! I do not know how you have the patience...but these are gorgeous!

  9. These are hypnotizing! I am dying to know where you purchased the Goodies bags from.

  10. My newphew would adore these!! What a great idea!


  11. I love the rainbow spiral!! So festive for St. Patty's Day!

  12. Just out of curiosity, what size food processor do you have? I currently only have a mini, and I'd like to upgrade to a full size, but I'm not sure what size would be most useful for things like this. Thanks!

  13. Hi! Would it be the same if I used liquid food coloring instead of gel?

    1. Hi Mia!

      I don't recommend liquid food color because the end result would no be as vibrant. Also, it tends to make the cookie dough too sticky. Gel is the way to go here! Thanks for your question!


  14. These are gorgeous! I was wondering if you add the gel for all the colors in the same bowl? Is there residue leftover from the previous color that will tint the following color? (Hope my question is coherent! For example, if you first tint the dough with red color, then go on to blue, could you add the blue color in the same bowl?)

    Thanks so much, excited to make these!

  15. These look fabulous, but its been a real headache converting everything to metric. Im still not sure if Ive calculated correctly. Stressed Brit in Japan, trying to please an 8 year old.

  16. My 8 yr old daughter and I just made these today and they came out pretty great. We used the Betty Crocker cookie mix for cut out cookies and colored the dough into 6 colors of her choice. We wish I knew how to link a photo cause these are really pretty. But thanks for the ideas!! Loved it. And they taste pretty good too.

  17. You mention when cutting be careful of non parials...I do not see a step or ingredient for that. Help?.


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