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Our most delicious rolled Rugelach Cookie recipe
Rugelach is well known around the world and is a favorite in Jewish bakeries.
Recipes for Rugelach have been around for ages and have Jewish (Polish) origins. The Yiddish word rugelach means “little twists.”
A highly enriched cream cheese dough is rolled up with sweet fillings in layers that may include preserves, nuts, chocolate, raisins, marzipan, poppy seeds and cinnamon. The finished pastries are often dusted with powdered sugar.
How to make Rugelach cookies:
Tools you’ll need to make the best Rugelach:
- to make the cookie dough you’ll need an electric mixer or food processor;
- a rolling pin for rolling out the dough into rounds;
- a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into wedges; and
- a ruler.
Overview: ingredients needed for this Rugelach recipe:
For the cookie dough:
- unsalted butter – if making the cookie dough in a food processor the butter should be cold. If using a mixer, the butter can be room temperature
- cream cheese – this ingredient should also be cold if using a food processor and room temperature if preparing with a mixer
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract
- salt – omit if using salted butter
- all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- finely ground walnuts
- granulated sugar
- light brown sugar
- Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
- apricot jam or preserves
For topping the unbaked cookies:
- egg and water – you can omit brushing on the egg wash if desired. I’ve made these cookies both ways but prefer the golden sheen the egg wash provides. The egg wash also helps the coarse sugar topping stick on the baked cookies.
- coarse sugar for topping – this is also optional but highly recommended. The crunchy sugar topping creates a lovely sweet textural contrast to the soft cookie.
How to make Rugelach cookies:
1. Prepare the cookie dough using a food processor or mixer. Divide the dough into three disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Once chilled, roll out one disk of dough into a 14-inch round.
2. Spread 2 tablespoons of apricot preserves in a thin layer on the dough round keeping a clean edge around the outside and a clean 2-inch circle in the center.
3. Combine ground walnuts, granulated and brown sugars, cocoa and cinnamon. Sprinkle 1/3 of the walnut cinnamon sugar mixture over the apricot preserves.
4. Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into four wedges.
5. Cut each quarter into three equal pieces.
6. Starting at the wide end of one dough wedge, fold over the corners.
7. Next, fold over the outer edge of the clean dough toward the center, covering the folded corners.
8. Finally, roll the dough towards the center taking care not to push too hard or wrap too tight. You don’t want the filling to ooze out while baking.
Carefully transfer the rolled cookie to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bend the tips/ends inward to form a crescent shape. Repeat with the 11 remaining wedges.
Just before baking the Rugelach:
Working with 3 or 4 Rugelach at a time, brush the tops with an egg wash and immediately sprinkle with sugar. If you allow the egg wash to dry the sugar will not stick properly. Work quickly and do a few at a time.
Bake the cookies for 22 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. While the first batch is baking roll out the remaining two disks of dough and repeat steps 1 through 8.
Can you freeze Rugelach cookies?
These cookies freeze beautifully! My husband and I both have been known to eat them while still frozen. Place the fully baked cookies on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the cookies to an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months.
Once cut, rolled and shaped, the unbaked Rugelach cookies can be frozen and baked later. Wait to add the egg wash and sugar topping until just before baking.
Remove the frozen, unbaked cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet and allow them to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
Brush with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake until golden brown.
Can Rugelach cookies be made ahead?
Can you use other fillings?
There are many options for filling Rugelach cookies so feel free to experiment. As written, this is my favorite flavor combination of apricot preserves, walnuts, a little cocoa powder and a hint of cinnamon.
Raspberry jam is another great choice for these cookies especially when using cocoa powder.
You can omit the nuts, cocoa and cinnamon filling and use jam or preserves only.
There are many that say Nutella makes an incredible filling for Rugelach. Sounds pretty great to me!
Another fun filling can be found in our Chocolate Babka Recipe. Semi-sweet chocolate, butter, powdered sugar, egg whites and cocoa powder combine to make a very nice stay-put filling!
Rolling out the dough
If I had to pick one thing I loved about these cookies, I’d say it’s the incredibly forgiving cream cheese dough. It’s very easy to work with, doesn’t melt into a mess while making the cookies and has a delicious tangy flavor. If you’re new to using a rolling pin this may be a great dough to start with.
Also, if you’re a frequent flyer here at SRFD, you may have noticed I have a “thing” going on with my rolling pin. I’m weirdly attracted to recipes that require rolling dough into a circle or rectangle.
Thanks for PINNING!
For the cookie dough:
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (284g)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces cream cheese cold cut into 4 pieces
- 1 cup unsalted butter cold cut into ½-inch pieces (226g)
For the filling:
- ⅓ cup walnuts finely ground (35g or 1-¼ oz)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar lightly packed
- 1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup apricot preserves
- 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
- coarse sugar for sprinkling
To prepare the cookie dough in a food processor:
- Combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the vanilla and cream cheese and pulse briefly, in 5 or 6 quick bursts. Add the butter and process until the dough forms little clumps that hold together when pinched with your fingers, about 20 seconds. The dough may appear crumbly. (Skip to Instruction No. 4 below)
To prepare the cookie dough using a mixer:
- If using a mixer the butter and cream cheese should be room temperature before you begin.
- Whisk together the flour and salt.
- Cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Blend in the sugar and vanilla. Add half the flour and mix until almost incorporated. Add the remaining flour and blend until it starts to form a cohesive dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured, clean work surface. Gently form the dough into a ball and divide into three equal parts. Form each piece into a 4-inch disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.
To prepare the filling:
- In a small mixing bowl combine the walnuts, sugars, cocoa and cinnamon. Set aside.
To prepare the rugelach:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove one disk from the refrigerator and roll out onto a lightly floured counter to a 14-inch round, about ⅛-inch thick. Spread 2 tablespoons of the apricot preserves on the dough round keeping a clean edge around the outside and a 2-inch clean circle in the center. Sprinkle 2½ tablespoons of filling over the preserves.
- Cut the dough into quarters using a pizza cutter. Cut each quarter into three equal pieces. Starting at the wide end fold over the corners and about ¼-inch of the dough. Roll the rugelach toward the small end taking care not to use too much pressure. If you push too hard, the preserves will squeeze out. Curve the ends inward to form a crescent shape and place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Working with 3 or 4 rugelach at a time, brush the tops with the egg wash then immediately sprinkle with coarse sugar. Continue until all are brushed and sprinkled with sugar.
- Bake for 22 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar, if desired. Store in an airtight container.
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Originally posted December 2011, updated November 2020