Citrus Swirl Cookies

Minnesota State Fair, Best Cookie Winner

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These colorful and fragrant Citrus Swirl Cookies taste as great as they look. They’re buttery and tender, yet firm, and so flavorful too. Their scent is illuminating. They are an epic icebox cookie. They are the bomb. That’s our take and we’re sticking to it. And seriously, just wait until you catch their lovely aroma!

Citrus Swirl Cookie Recipe - Close Up

Recipe credit goes to Karen Cope, a long-time blue ribbon winning baker at the Minnesota State Fair, which is where she won “best cookie” with this recipe in 2016.

Creator, Citrus Swirl Cookie Recipe

The kaleidoscope-like look of these Citrus Swirl Cookies is eye-catching. The technique of twisting colorful dough together may remind you of tie dye clothing. That method makes the recipe more involved than your average cookie, but it’s worth  the effort. And once you have that part down though, you’re golden. Bake like a blue ribbon winner and make these!

Citrus Swirl Cookie Recipe - Stack

Secret Ingredient?

Ask any blue ribbon baker their tips for baking winning entries in competitions and most often you’ll hear “great ingredients.” That applies to this winning cookie as well. Karen speculates that using Fiori Di Sicilia made her cookie stand out for its distinct and delicious aroma. Fiori Di Sicilia (flower of Sicily) is a combo of vanilla and citrus. Our friends at King Arthur Baking Company sell a delightful version, plus they give great tips about using and storing it here.

Baking Tips

Some helpful points about Karen’s recipe:

  • If using Fiori di Sicilia is not an option for you, Karen suggests replacing it with a teaspoon of vanilla and a half teaspoon each of lemon and orange extracts
  • This recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies. If you don’t want to bake them right away or all at once, freeze the dough or portions of it (prior to slicing).
  • If you freeze any portion, simply thaw in the refrigerator the night before you what to bake them.
  • Be careful not to overbake these cookies. You want them tender and not dry.

By the way, we had a fun time brainstorming alternative names for this cookie, just for fun. A couple favorites were: Karen Cope’s Kaleidoscope Cookies and Tie-Dye-For Sweet Treats. Ultimately we stayed with the original/best title.



p.s. If you’re into cookies that are awesome and artistic (aka “require a bit more work”), be sure to also try the copycat Girl Scout cookies we previously shared.


Citrus Swirl Cookies

1 1/4 cups butter, unsalted, room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Fiori Di Sicilia flavoring*

3 cups flour (12.75 ounces)

Food coloring: Yellow, Orange, and Green (3 drops each, or more, for desired color/intensity)

1/4 cup white nonpareils (optional)

Prep the Dough:

Cream butter and powdered sugar until  fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add egg and beat well.  Add salt and Fiori Di Sicilia flavoring.  Add flour and mix until just combined.

Divide & Color the Dough in 4 Portions:

  1. Yellow: Return one portion of the dough to mixer and add 3 drops yellow food coloring and mix until uniform. Remove from bowl.
  2. Green: Add another portion of dough to mixer and add 3 drops green food color and mix until uniform. Remove from bowl.
  3. White – no color additions.
  4. Orange: Add another dough portion to mixer bowl and 3 drops orange food coloring and mix until uniform. Remove from bowl.

Forming the Dough:

  1. On a 14” length of wax paper, pat yellow dough into a 8” square in center of wax paper. Set aside.
  2. Repeat with green dough, then invert green dough on top of yellow dough.
  3. Repeat with white dough, then invert on top of green dough.
  4. Repeat with orange dough, then invert on top of white dough. You’ll now have one stack with all dough portions.
  5. Cut dough in half to form two 4 x 8” rectangles. Then, with the 8″ long side in front of you, roll each of the two rectangles of dough into a log. The soft dough will stretch into a longer log after being rolled. This is okay.
  6. Using both hands, gently twist one roll of dough down length of roll. Repeat with second roll. They will look lumpy and irregular. This is okay.
  7. Lay dough rolls side by side and gently press both rolls together to form one long log, then shape dough into smooth log about 18-20″ in length.
  8. Roll in nonpareils, if desired, then wrap tightly in wax paper and refrigerate until firm.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice dough into 1/4-inch slices and place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  10. Bake just until light golden brown on bottom, about 14 minutes.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

*Fiori Di Sicilia is a concentrated citrus and vanilla extract. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon each of lemon and orange extract can be your substitute.

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