Soft and chewy Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies made from scratch. These fudgy cookies are part chocolate, part vanilla and are rolled in a sweet sugar coating. They’re the perfect, festive treat for the Christmas holidays.
Red Velvet Crinkles for the win ❤️
These soft and chewy cookies have a fudgy centre, and a crisp, sugary crust. Throw in some chocolate chips, and you have the ultimate Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies.
These festive cookies are part vanilla, part chocolate, and 100% delicious.
why you will love this recipe
- You can expect and chewy cookies with a fudgy middle
- They’re easy to make – no weird ingredients
- They boast a festive sugar crust
- Perfect for Christmas and the holidays!
what are red velvet crinkle cookies?
If you’re familiar with Red Velvet Cake, you’ll know that not only is it famous for its striking colour but also for its soft, velvety texture. It’s part vanilla, part chocolate – soft, sweet, delicious.
Meanwhile, a crinkle cookie is one that is rolled in icing sugar or powered sugar before baking. Once it spreads in the oven, the cookie develops a crinkly white sugar crust. They’re a festive treat often enjoyed around the holiday season.
For this recipe, I wanted a soft and fudgy red velvet cookie with that signature decorative sugar crust.
So I couldn’t wait to tackle Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies next. But it was trickier than I thought. Here’s how the recipe testing process went.
Test 1: I started by launching from my existing Chocolate Crinkle Cookie recipe and my favourite Red Velvet Cookies. I used all caster sugar, both baking soda and baking powder and added a little white vinegar. Why vinegar you ask? I wanted to see if I could replicate that signature tang that exists in typical Red Velvet Cake. But alas, my cookie didn’t spread much as I added too much flour. They also lacked flavour and I couldn’t taste the vinegar at all.
Test 2: So for test 2, I reduced the amount of flour to solve my cookie spreading issues. I also doubled the amount of vinegar and added white chocolate chips. While the cookie was better in shape and form, I still couldn’t taste the vinegar.
Test 3: I kept everything the same as test 2, except I exchanged vinegar for lemon zest. And doubled the chocolate chips. This cookie was awful! The lemon made it taste very bitter, but at the same time, the cookie itself was too sweet. I had veered away from the subtle chocolate and vanilla flavours that usually accompanies anything red velvet.
Test 4: This time I decided to shake things up. Overall, I was finding the cookies too sweet since there’s so much sugar on that crust. So I exchanged part of the caster sugar for brown sugar. I doubled the vanilla extract and swapped white chocolate chips for dark chocolate chips. Instead of using both baking powder and baking soda, I chose only baking soda to keep things simple. And the result was SO much better. I finally had a tasty Red Velvet Cookie with a soft, fudgy middle.
Test 5: I was still curious if I could add a little tang to these cookies, so I added a little cream of tartar, just like we do in our Snickerdoodle Cookies. I also slightly reduced the flour and tested chill times – as crinkle cookie dough that’s chilled tends to get a better sugar crust. But these cookies spread a little too much – and I couldn’t really taste the cream of tartar.
Test 6: So for the final test, it was back to test 4. I chilled the cookie dough for a little longer, but kept everything else the same. These cookies were definitely the best in flavour and texture.
what you will need
Here’s a rundown of all the ingredients you’ll need to make these Red Crinkle Cookies, including any substitutions you can use.
- Unsalted butter
- Brown sugar
- Caster sugar: Or granulated sugar.
- Vanilla extract
- Plain flour: Or all purpose flour.
- Cocoa powder: Use a natural 100% cocoa powder (unsweetened).
- Baking soda
- Red food gel: Make sure you use an oil-based food colouring for best results. More on food colouring below.
- Chocolate chips: You can use any chocolate chips you like, but I prefer dark chocolate chips in this recipe. It helps to enhance the chocolate flavour.
- White sugar: Or granulated sugar.
- Icing sugar: Or powdered sugar.
what makes red velvet cookies red?
Red colouring gives these Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies their amazing red colour. You need to use a good quality oil-based food gel, rather than a standard water-down food colouring. Not only will they add too much liquid to the dough, but you’ll struggle to get that striking red colour.
I used Colour Mill red food gel in this recipe. For a more vibrant red, I recommend using 1/2 teaspoon of red food gel and 1/2 teaspoon of pink red gel.
the double sugar roll
It can be a little tricky to make crinkle cookies that actually have that snow-white crust. And let’s be real, each cookie is going to be unique – some more crusty than others – but they will all be delicious. Through my recipe testing and copious amount of crinkle cookie-making, I’ve discovered a few simple tricks to ensure your cookies come out of the oven looking as a crinkle cookie should.
- Chill the cookie dough. It’ll be easier for the sugar to stick to a slightly firmer dough. This will also help prevent the cookies from over-spreading.
- Roll the cookie dough in white sugar (or granulated sugar) first. This helps create a barrier to stop the icing sugar from soaking into the cookie.
- Immediately roll the cookie dough in icing sugar (or powdered sugar). And coat them VERY generously. Don’t shake off the excess sugar.
- Use 100% icing sugar, not icing sugar mixture. Icing sugar mixture has cornflour in it and it doesn’t work as well. Also, sift your icing sugar before using. Clumpy, lumpy sugar is harder to work with.
- If needed, roll the cookies in icing sugar a second time just before baking.
my sugar crust is yellow
When I was recipe testing, I noticed that the sugar crust on these cookies can tend to turn yellow. This is a common problem with crinkle cookies and is usually because the sugar is melting into the cookie dough. It is often the result of three things:
- A cookie dough that’s too sticky or hasn’t been chilled enough, therefore the sugar crust soaks right in.
- Not rolling the cookie dough balls in enough sugar (you need to be VERY generous). Or not doing the double roll as explained above.
- Baking in a warm or humid environment. The sugar crust can melt after baked causing the crust to go soft and turn yellow.
In saying that, even when I followed ALL the rules, my crinkle cookies sometimes still have slightly yellow touches. They’re not perfect, but I don’t expect them to be. What they are is festive and downright delicious ❤️
frequently asked questions
Make sure you use an oil-based food colouring for best results. I tested this recipe using Colour Mill. If you want a stronger, more vibrant red, you can use 1/2 teaspoon red with 1/2 teaspoon pink. Have a play around to see what you like best.
Yes it is highly recommended for that snow-white sugar crust. Otherwise, the sugar tends to melt, soak into the cookie and disappear or turn yellow as it melts into the cookie dough.
No, the cookies are delicious either way. Personally, I love them with dark chocolate chips as it enhances the subtle chocolate flavour in these cookies.
Yes absolutely. I tested these cookies without the sugar crust and they were great! Soft, fudgy and reminiscent of a sweet slice of red velvet cake.
Yes, you can make and chill the cookie dough in advance – but you must roll the cookie dough in the sugars right before baking. You can’t do that step ahead of time.
more Christmas cookies
Soft and chewy Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies.
- 115 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 90 grams (1/2 cup) brown sugar
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) caster sugar or granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 175 grams (1 and 1/4 cup) plain flour or all purpose flour
- 20 grams (1/4 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 75 grams (1/2 cup) dark chocolate chips
- 3/4 teaspoon good quality oil-based red food gel
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) white sugar or granulated sugar
- 65 grams (1/2 cup) pure icing sugar or powdered sugar, sifted
- In a large mixing bowl, add butter and sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and egg and beat again until combined.
- Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Add red food colour. Beat briefly until soft cookie dough forms.
- Cover cookie dough with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) standard / 160 C (320 F) fan-forced. Line two baking trays with baking or parchment paper.
- Set out your sugars in two bowls ready for rolling. Then scoop cookie dough, roughly 1.5 tablespoons per cookie, and roll into balls using your hands.
- Roll each cookie dough ball first in the white sugar and then in the icing sugar before placing on your prepared trays. Repeat until all cookie dough balls have been coated in the two sugars.
- Do a quick check and if any of your cookie dough balls aren’t looking completely covered in icing sugar, roll them a second time in icing sugar only.
- Bake cookies for approximately 11-12 minutes or until they’ve spread out and developed a crinkley top. Leave to cool for at least 15 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cocoa powder: Use a 100% natural unsweetened cocoa powder.
Red food colour: Use a good quality oil-based food gel, rather than a standard water-down food colouring for this recipe. Food colouring will not only add too much liquid to the dough, but you’ll struggle to get that striking colour. I used Colour Mill red food gel in this recipe. For a more vibrant red, I recommend using 1/2 teaspoon of red food gel and 1/2 teaspoon of pink red gel.
Chocolate chips: You can use any chocolate chips you like in this recipe. Personally, I love them with dark chocolate chips as it enhances the subtle chocolate flavour in these cookies.
Sugar coating: I highly recommend rolling these cookies in both sugars before baking to achieve that snow-white crinkle top. Unfortunately, caster sugar doesn’t work so well as it is very fine, so I recommend rolling them in white sugar (or granulated sugar) first. Then roll them in the icing sugar (or powdered sugar). For best results, use a pure icing sugar, rather than icing sugar mixture which has cornflour in it.
Make ahead: You can make and chill the cookie dough in advance – but you must roll the cookie dough in the sugars right before baking. You can’t do that step ahead of time. You can also freeze the cookie dough. But again, you will need to roll the cookie dough in the sugar coating when you are ready to bake them. You will also need to slightly defrost the cookie dough first – either leave it in the fridge overnight or thaw it at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Storage: Store cookies in an airtight container either at room temperature or in the fridge.