Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies Recipe

These vanilla cookies are covered in sprinkles, just like your local Italian-American bakery used to make.

Close up view of vanilla sprinkle cookies on a baking sheet.

Serious Eats / Carrie Vasios

Why It Works

  • The balls of dough are rolled in sprinkles so that they get an even texture and sweetness on all sides.

I love Italian cookies. It doesn't matter if the cookies are sometimes stale, if the chocolate coating on the cookies can be thin, if they serve random non-Italian cookies like rugelach or New York-style black and whites. I love them for all their old-school glory, for the excitement of walking up to a glass case filled with a variety of sugary options, and for that cute red and white string on the boxes.

I'll take anything from the spread: florentines, biscotti, jam-filled cookies, pinwheels, pignoli cookies. Yes, I'm an equal opportunist to all the glass case brethren, even those simple sugar cookies coated in sprinkles.

Because call them jimmies, shots, or sprinkles, these rainbow-colored confections make everything better. I think it's easy to see why; they add extra sugar (good) and texture (good) and fun colors (wee).

Line up of vanilla sprinkle cookies on a baking sheet.

Serious Eats / Carrie Vasios

I'll admit that sometimes those cookies can be dry, or, even with the sprinkles, not actually sweet enough. This homemade recipe solves all those problems and, I think, makes these cookies the best they can be. The first trick is getting the right texture: soft and a little chewy with lightly crisp edges and moist middles. The second is adding a good dose of vanilla and a bit of salt to flavor the dough. Lastly, don't be restrained with the sprinkles—you want to really coat the balls of dough so that they get even texture and sweetness on all sides. Now I just need to find some colored twine.

July 2013

Recipe adapted from Lottie and Doof.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Serves: 24 servings

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  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

  • About 1 cup rainbow sprinkles


  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, oil, sugar, and confectioners' sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix just until dough comes together. Dough will be very soft but wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

  2. Adjust oven rack to upper and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

  3. Fill a shallow bowl with sprinkles. Use a 2-ounce cookie scoop to form cookies into balls. Roll each ball in sprinkles to cover then transfer to prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are golden at the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Special Equipment

Stand mixer, 2 rimmed baking sheets, cookie scoop


If you don't have a cookie scoop, you can use a rounded tablespoon.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
10g Fat
21g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 24
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 23mg 8%
Sodium 75mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 18mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)