Cranberry-Orange Pinwheel Cookies

A soft pinwheel cookie with a burst of festive color from the cranberry and pecan filling.

Light and flavorful cranberry-orange pinwheel cookie recipe from @bakedbyrachel

Light and flavorful cranberry-orange pinwheel cookie recipe from @bakedbyrachel

You might remember these from last year. They’re a tradition in this house. An absolute must. When I asked The Mr recently what his top 5 favorite cookies were, these were on the list. Of course he couldn’t even give me a list of 5 but that’s not the point. I’ve been making them for Christmas easily the last 6 years or more.

I like making these for the aromas. The orange zest and cranberries give off wonderful fragrances. How something smells is just as important as how it looks and tastes, to me anyway. And these smell incredible. They also have a nice light taste. You can eat cookie after cookie without having a heavy feeling in your stomach like certain other desserts can cause.

Light and flavorful cranberry-orange pinwheel cookie recipe from @bakedbyrachel

These require more work than the average cookie but the end result is worth it. Be sure to check out my tips below for an easier time making these.

Yield: Roughly 4 dozen cookies

Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

Total Time: 24+ hours

Cranberry-Orange Pinwheel Cookies

A soft pinwheel cookie that has a burst of festive color from the cranberry and pecan filling.


1C fresh cranberries
1C pecans
1/4C light brown sugar
1C unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2C granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp orange zest
3C all purpose flour


In a food processor; add cranberries, pecans and brown sugar. Blend well until only small pieces remain. Set aside or cover and chill until needed.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add baking powder, salt, eggs and orange zest. Beat only low/medium for roughly 1 minute. Contents may be lumpy. Add flour by the spoonfuls, mixing on medium speed until ingredients have been mixed well. Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Divide dough in half. Place one half between two sheets of wax paper. Roll into a large rectangle roughly 1/4" thick. Remove top layer of wax paper. Evenly spread out half of the cranberry filling over dough to 1/2" from all sides.

Begin rolling from one of the short ends. Dough may stick at first. Gently guide dough by pulling up on wax paper. Pinch to seal ends. Transfer rolled dough log to a clean sheet of waxed paper. Roll and tape shut. Place between two large drinking glasses. This will help prevent flat bottom logs.

Chill at least 24 hours. After several hours, gently roll log to check for any flat spots.

When ready to bake. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice 1/4" thick slices. Space 1-2" apart on a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are just turning golden. Let cookies rest on tray for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Store in a covered container for up to a week. Remaining dough may be frozen. Label well with any instructions such as type of dough, baking temp, time, etc.

**For more 'how to' photos go here.

Recipe source: BHG cookbook 12th edition

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207 Responses to “Cranberry-Orange Pinwheel Cookies”

  1. #
    susan — December 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    already follow you on twitter!

  2. #
    susan — December 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I now “like” you on Facebook!

  3. #
    susan — December 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I am having 22 people for the first night of Hannukah. Latkas, Kugel, Brisket, and sufganiyot(a fancy way of saying “doughnut”). That’s pretty much our tradition. And then chinese town for yum chinese on xmas day!

  4. #
    susan — December 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I tweeted your tweet and shared it on Facebook!

  5. #
    Sheila — December 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Love your FB articles. Making a few of your suggestions for our family Hanukkah party.

  6. #
    Chris — December 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Since losing my husband this past July these holidays will be tough. I always look for one new cookie recipe a year and these look wonderful! I’ll be roasting the traditional turkey with all the fixin’s and these cookies will be the ‘lead-in’. Thank you for the recipe. I “like” you on Facebook.

  7. #
    Jaclyn Jean — December 17, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I live in Chicago and I’m heading back home to Wisconsin to spend time with my family and god daughter. But before I leave, I’m making loads of cut-out cookies. : )

  8. #
    Lisa Aydin — December 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Will be staying home and cooking/baking.

  9. #
    Lisa Aydin — December 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Following on Twitter

  10. #
    Lisa Aydin — December 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Tweeted enter to win……………………

  11. #
    Lisa Aydin — December 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Liked on Fb

  12. #
    Lisa Aydin — December 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Shared on Fb,I think I have done all except for the RSS feed and I never really understood that :(

  13. #
    Lindsay Thomeer — December 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    My husband & I will be home (alone) for the holidays for the first time in several years. Fortunately, the whole family was together in November for a wedding in Newport, RI. We are planning to visit the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and see the Egyptian exhibit. Weather permitting, get to get outside and walk the dogs – alot :) My husband will probably smoke a brisket and prepare the usual fixins’ (as per our Texas roots).

    The cookies look beautiful and I think I’ll try to make these next week.



  14. #
    Lindsay Thomeer — December 17, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Tweeted to enter to win!

  15. #
    Z.Grimm — December 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    My plans for the holidays are to go to my friend’s parent’s house to spend the night and celebrate on Christmas Day. I don’t have any local family and they’ve always been very welcoming to me.

  16. #
    Z.Grimm — December 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Followed you on Twitter – “Spookeriffic”! :) Happy Holidays!

  17. #
    Steven — December 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Staying home this year and roasting a fine duck!

  18. #
    Steven — December 17, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    and I subscribed via rss!

  19. #
    Mondo — December 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    this christmas I’m planning on driving down to AZ(9hrs) to visit with the fam for a few days. I’m sure lots of red velvet cake and cornbread will be consumed.

  20. #
    Mondo — December 17, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    your tweet complete.

  21. #
    Mondo — December 17, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I already follow you via twitter-that’s how I found out about this wonderful giveaway.

  22. #
    Mondo — December 17, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    your blog post has been shared.

  23. #
    Mondo — December 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I currently like you on facebook.

  24. #
    Mondo — December 17, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    now I’m following you via rss

  25. #
    stacy — December 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Love the recipe & looking forward to trying it. My mom and I just finished our annual Xmas cookie weekend…153 dozen or 1,835 total cookies – gifts for family & friends. My sister & kids are coming for a week the day after Christmas so we’ll have a delayed celebration. Happy holidays!

  26. #
    Nan — December 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    My first holiday since my job ended and I moved across the country b/c of cancer…there will be wonderful services for my new congregation and lots of yummy food, some I’m making for the first time, then time with dearly loved and comfy friends and a big scrumptious dinner, then a couple days later to the most wonderful part of my family imaginable – very nice to be included :)!! And MORE cooking and eating :)

  27. #
    Andrea A — December 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Holidays? I am traveling to visit family. My grandmother is traveling 900 miles to also visit family and I get to see her! I am sooo happy!

  28. #
    Jennifer D Allen — December 17, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    We’re renting a cabin in the mountains with the inlaws and kids

  29. #
    jenn — December 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Its my first Christmas as an ’empty nester’… Last of the kids got married this summer. I imagine I’ll spend the day creating new traditions…

  30. #
    jenn — December 17, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I liked you on FB

  31. #
    jenn — December 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    ..and then I shared the post

  32. #
    jenn — December 17, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    but I don’t know how to twitter, can I have a entry for trying? LOL!

  33. #
    Carmen — December 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    We’ll be travelling to my mother-in-laws to help her prepare a huge feast. We’ll eat and talk until the patience of the children is stretched and then open gifts.

  34. #
    marla — December 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I have one of those mini grinders…awesome giveaway :) Love the cookies.

  35. #
    Kinjal — December 18, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Hi Rachel, As I write my pinwheel dough is chillin in the refrigerator. I don’t have any family in the US, but my friend invited me for a christmas dinner at her place, so that’s where I’ll be, maybe treating them to another batch of pinwheel cookies if the first one is a success :)

    BTW, I started following u on twitter and also tweeted as per ur instruction.

  36. #
    Ana — December 18, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I will be traveling to visit family and spend the holidays with them.

  37. #
    Kinjal — December 18, 2011 at 12:15 am

    BTW it is still 12/17 on the west coast (California) :)

  38. #
    Ana — December 18, 2011 at 12:16 am

    I ’Like’ Baked by Rachel on Facebook.

  39. #
    Ana — December 18, 2011 at 12:18 am

    I follow you on twitter as @zumbamamacita

  40. #
    Ana — December 18, 2011 at 12:20 am

    I tweeted “Enter to win a Cuisinart Elite 4 Cup Chopper/Grinder from Baked by Rachel @rachelcurrier #giveaway Ends 12/17″

  41. #
    Kate — December 18, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Like you on Facebook

  42. #
    Kate — December 18, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Doing a “ravioli-thon” on Christmas eve. Lots of friends, lots of fillings, lots of fun.
    Traditional Christmas dinner topped off with steamed pudding and hard sauce.

  43. #
    Deepa — December 18, 2011 at 12:58 am

    visiting my family in buffalo for the holidays

  44. #
    Trisa — December 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Have you tried frozen cranberries for this?

    • Rachel — December 23rd, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

      I haven’t used frozen, only fresh or thawed. I don’t think you’d get the same results for the filling using frozen cranberries.

  45. #
    Linda Anderson — October 15, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    It does not specify if cranberries are fresh, frozen or dried, Does it matter?

    • Rachel — October 15th, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

      I would recommend using fresh or frozen. I recall another reader using cranberries and though it can be done, it does change the overall consistency of the filling.

  46. #
    Amy — November 14, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Could I use canned cranberries? If so how would I change the substance into something that I could use? More sugar, gelatin?

    • Rachel — November 14th, 2014 @ 9:35 am

      No, canned cranberries will be too soft and have too much liquid in them. You want to use fresh or frozen whole berries only for this recipe.

  47. #
    Marisol — December 6, 2014 at 6:25 am

    When do u add the cranberry mixture it doeant say im confused?

    • Rachel — December 6th, 2014 @ 8:17 am

      The orange goes into the dough and the cranberry is used as filling for the swirl, all specified in the directions. Enjoy!

  48. #
    JB — December 19, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for this recipe, Rachel. The Orange-Cranberry Pinwheel Cookies are wonderful. I made them and added the recipe to my own blog, with a link back to your post.

    • Rachel — December 20th, 2014 @ 7:19 am

      So glad you enjoyed them!

  49. #
    joanne gambino — December 20, 2014 at 9:38 am

    for this recipie so you use fresh cranberries or dried cranberries

    • Rachel — December 20th, 2014 @ 9:59 am

      Fresh cranberries are used. Enjoy! :)

  50. #
    Joanne — December 20, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Perfect thank you so much I can’t wait to make them

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