My cinnamon cookies are infused with a gorgeous brown sugar cinnamon swirl. They look and taste gourmet but are so easy to make with NO chilling required!
Swirled & Spiced Cinnamon Cookies
Sugar, spice, and everything nice–that’s what cinnamon cookies are made of! With their swirls of buttery, spiced brown sugar goodness, these cookies are gorgeous and oh so tempting. They’re a bit of a cross between a cinnamon roll and a snickerdoodle, and they’re so much fun!
What you’ll love about this recipe:
- Buttery, not too sweet taste with a subtle tang from cream of tartar.
- Pillowy-soft, thick texture that melts in your mouth (If you’re looking for something cinnamon-sugared and thin and crispy, see my sand tarts instead!).
- Gorgeous, brightly flavored cinnamon sugar ripple — makes them the most unique-looking cookie on your Christmas cookie tray!
- Quick & easy to make with NO chilling required.
I was tempted to add a vanilla glaze on top of these cookies, but it made them a bit too sweet for my taste. It’s still good though, so if you love all things sweet, give it a try!
What You Need
I love these cookies because they are so flavorful without any complicated or fussy ingredients. Here’s what you need:
- Butter. We’ll start this recipe with softened butter, and then we’ll need some very soft butter for the brown sugar cinnamon ripple. This butter should almost be melty–similar to the butter you need to make a filling for cinnamon rolls, but you don’t want it to be too warm or it will melt the sugar and be too difficult to work with.
- Egg + egg yolk. Adding an extra egg yolk to the dough makes these cookies super soft and tender. If you don’t want to throw away your egg white, use it to make candied pecans or candied walnuts!
- Sugar. We’ll use granulated sugar in the cookie dough base and brown sugar in the cinnamon swirl. I like to use light brown sugar, but you could use dark brown sugar if that’s all you have on hand.
- Cream of tartar. This adds a subtle tang, similar to the tang in snickerdoodles (and also found in my snickerdoodle cake. A funny sounding ingredient, you can read more about cream of tartar and its role in baking in my “What is Cream of Tartar?” post.
- Salt. This balances the sweetness and rounds out the buttery flavor in these cinnamon cookies. If you happen to use salted butter instead of unsalted, you will need to omit the salt in the recipe.
SUBSTITUTION TIP: If you don’t have any cream of tartar, you can use 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder instead.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Cinnamon Cookies
- Cream the butter and sugar together until combined, then add the eggs and vanilla and stir well.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then gradually add them to the wet ingredients until everything is combined.
- Make the cinnamon sugar swirl: whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and mix until you have a paste.
- Drop the swirl into the dough by large spoonfuls then, carefully, fold it into the dough, mixing until you have a distinct ripple (do not over-mix, or you will lose the ripple! I am very careful when combining the paste and the dough).
- Scoop and roll 1 ½ tablespoon portions of dough between your palms, then place 2″ apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
- Bake for 10-11 minutes. When finished baking you may notice some very light browning around the edges, but the cookies shouldn’t get too dark or they may be dry. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets before enjoying.
SAM’S TIP: Your cinnamon cookies will be fragile while warm, so let them cool completely on the baking sheet before trying to remove them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can make this dough up to 3 days in advance. Just make sure to wrap it well and store in the fridge. If it’s too firm to scoop after chilling, let it sit at room temperature until soft enough to do so (usually 10-20 minutes does the trick).
While they do have similar ingredients, my cinnamon cookies have a buttery cinnamon and brown sugar ripple, while snickerdoodle cookies have cinnamon sugar coating. This results in a different flavor experience, with pops of buttery sugar and spice as opposed to an even coating of cinnamon and granulated sugar.
To achieve a soft and chewy texture, we’ll slightly underbake our cookies in the oven and let them finish cooking on their baking sheets outside the oven. Baking all the way through in the oven would create crisp, overdone cookies. We want them soft and chewy!
I’d love to hear how you like these cookies compared to my snickerdoodle cookies!
- ½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter very soft/barely melted
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until well combined.1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until well combined.1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon table salt
- Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, stirring until completely combined. Prepare the cinnamon ripple.
- In a separate, medium-sized bowl, prepare your ripple by whisking together sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Add butter and toss together until mixture resembles a paste.½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon table salt, ¼ cup (57 g) unsalted butter
- Gently fold the paste/ripple into cookie dough using a spatula, careful not to mix too much so you still have a distinct ripple (I dollop several spoonfuls of the paste over the cookie dough and then fold briefly and gently with my spatula).
- Scoop dough by level 1 ½ Tablespoon-sized scoop and (optional) roll gently between your palms to create a smooth ball.
- Place cookie balls on prepared cookie sheet, spacing at least 2” apart and transfer to center rack of preheated 350F (175C) oven to bake for 10-11 minutes.
- Allow cookies to cool completely on baking sheet before enjoying.
StoringStore in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Cream of tartar substituteYou may substitute the cream of tartar with 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.