A healthier Candy Cane Cookie Recipe

Candy cane cookies
Candy cane cookies made with stone ground flour and natural food colouring are festive and delicious.

Candy canes are my favourite Christmas candy. They’re not my favourite to eat but I love the festive look if them; the shape, the colour, the peppermint smell. 

I still remember the first time mom arrived home with jumbo candy canes. As fat around as a garden hose they were the stuff of our dreams, like something out of The Land of Sweets. I doubt they were all eaten up — the idea of eating them was what held such appeal.

That’s the thing about old-fashioned Christmas candy. Like barley toys and ribbon candy, it looks so magical and festive but doesn’t get eaten until all of the chocolates are gone.

For eating, Christmas cookies are my preferred Holiday treat, especially if they have a texture that leans towards a shortbread. These cookies have that magical texture and aren’t too sweet plus they’re pretty on a plate. It’s a recipe that my mom discovered decades ago in a magazine. The original recipe called for half butter, half shortening. I prefer all butter, but suit yourself.
Eco tip: When it comes to food colouring look for all natural vegetable-based dyes. Regular food dyes are toxic, especially the colour red.

All natural food dyes
Choose vegetable-based food dyes for healthier baking.

Candy Cane Cookies

Makes two dozen cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ tsp. peppermint extract
2 ½ cups flour (I use stone ground whole white flour)
½ tsp. salt
A few drops of natural red food colouring or beet juice


½ cup of crushed candy canes mixed with ¼ cup sugar

1 egg white


  1. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Mix in vanilla and peppermint extract. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture in two additions, beating just until combined.
  3. Take half of the dough and put it in another bowl. Stir red food colouring into half of the dough, mixing until the colour is even.
  4. Pat each half of dough into a disk and chill for an hour.

To make the cookies:

  1. Roll a Tablespoon (or more) of each colour of dough into a 5” rope. Lay them side by side and twist them together. Fold the ends under to seal, bend the top portion of the cookie to get the candy cane shape.
  2. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  3. Brush each cookie with egg white and sprinkle with crushed candy cane mixture.
  4. Bake at 375 F for 9-10 minutes. Watch closely.
  5. Remove pan to a cooling rack and let cookies cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.


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