Stained Glass Cookies
Stained glass cookies are made by cutting out sugar cookies and filling them with crushed hard candies before baking them. These festive cookies are easy to make yet look very impressive!
Stained glass window cookies are some of the prettiest cookies you can bake around the holidays. To make them, homemade sugar cookie dough is rolled out and cut into your favorite shapes, then the hole in the middle is filled with crushed Jolly Ranchers before being baked.
As the crushed Jolly Ranchers bake, they melt to create the gorgeous stained glass effect the cookies derive their name from. It’s a simple baking trick, yet these elegant cookies earn plenty of oohs and aahs every time I make them.
Make a batch of these stained glass cookies for your next cookie exchange or Christmas gathering. They’re sure to stand out!
What You’ll Need
The base of this recipe is a simple sugar cookie dough made with shortening. The Jolly Ranchers are the only special ingredient you might need to add to your usual grocery list.
Let’s quickly review the key things you’ll need:
- Jolly Ranchers: I prefer to use cherry, blue raspberry, and green apple jolly ranchers for more vibrant colors. You will need approximately 35 to 40 Jolly Ranchers to fill the centers of all of the cookies, but I typically crush 50 to have some extra.
- Shortening: I love to use shortening in my sugar cookies because it has a higher melting point than butter. This allows you to skip having to chill your cookie dough! I typically use regular Crisco whenever I make these cookies, but butter-flavored shortening would be fine to use as well.
- Egg: To bind the cookie dough together. Be sure to bring the egg to room temperature before mixing it into the dough.
- Milk: I typically use whole milk for this recipe, but a lower-fat or even dairy-free option would be fine.
How to Make Stained Glass Cookies
Mix Together The Cookie Dough
- Whisk together your flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl until well combined.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening. An electric mixer works best for this step, but you could also mix it together with a whisk.
- Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix to combine. If needed, stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl to ensure that all of the wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. The dough will be a little crumbly at first, but it will come together as you continue mixing it.
Assemble & Bake The Cookies
- Flour a piece of parchment paper and place half of the dough on it. Top with another piece of parchment paper, then roll out the dough until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough using additional pieces of parchment paper. Place the cookie dough in the fridge to chill briefly.
- Unwrap the Jolly Ranchers and separate them by colors (use any of the colors you like!). Working one color at a time, add the Jolly Ranchers to a food processor and pulse to crush. Keep the crushed Jolly Ranchers in separate bowls.
- Remove the rolled out sugar cookie dough from the fridge and cut into any shape you like. (I recommend using 2.5- to 3-inch cookie cutters.) Place the cookies onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Using a smaller cookie cutter (either of the same shape or another shape altogether) cut out the center of each sugar cookie.
- Scoop 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the crushed Jolly Ranchers into the center of each cookie. If needed, you can use a toothpick to spread the candy into an even layer.
- Bake at 350ºF just until the cookies are set and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet.
Storage & Freezing Instructions
After the cookies have cooled completely, they can be sealed in an airtight container or zip-top bag. Store on your counter for up to one week.
The cookies also freeze well and will last up to three months if stored properly. If sealing in a freezer bag, I recommend removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. When ready to use, place them on the counter to thaw to room temperature.
- Make sure to spoon and level your flour! If you measure out too much flour, the dough will be crumbly and difficult to work with.
- If you don’t own a food processor, you can also crush the Jolly Ranchers by sealing them in a zip-top bag and hitting them with a meat tenderizer. I suggest placing the bag of Jolly Ranchers on a cutting board to protect your counter when using this method.
- The crushed Jolly Ranchers will be pretty sticky to work with, so I recommend using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to easily scoop the Jolly Rancher crumbs into the center of each cookie.
- Don’t over bake your cookies! You only want to bake the cookies until they are just set. If you bake them too long, the center can start to caramelize and they won’t be as pretty.
- Make sure to let the center of the cookies cool completely before you remove them from the baking sheet. The Jolly Rancher stained glass filling needs time to set up properly.
- These are the cookie cutters that I used for this recipe and they worked perfectly!
More Christmas Cookie Recipes!
Stained Glass Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour spooned and leveled (375 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup shortening (190 grams; I prefer Crisco)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 35 to 40 jolly ranchers I used 35 total, but crushed 50 to have extra
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a few large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In another large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the shortening and sugar together for 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined. Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract until fully combined, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. The mixture will be a little crumbly at first but it will come together as you continue mixing it. Once the dough comes together, use your hands to form it into a ball.
- Divide the dough in half. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper, add half of the dough, top with another piece of parchment paper, and roll the dough out ¼-inch thick between both pieces of parchment paper. Repeat with the other half of the dough between two separate pieces of parchment paper. Place both sheets of cookie dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you crush the jolly ranchers.
- Unwrap and separate the jolly ranchers by colors. I prefer to use cherry, blue raspberry, and green apple jolly ranchers for more vibrant colors.
- Add one color to a food processor and process until you have small crumbs. Scoop the jolly rancher crumbs out into a small bowl, then repeat with each remaining color in separate bowls.
- Once all of the jolly ranchers are crushed, remove the cookie dough from the fridge.
- Peel off the top layer of parchment paper. Using 2.5 to 3 inch cookie cutters, cut the cookie dough into shapes and place them onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave a little room between each one. If needed, flour a thin spatula and use that to transfer the cut out cookies to the baking sheet. Re-roll any scrap pieces of dough between the parchment paper and continue cutting out shapes. Repeat with the other sheet of cookie dough.
- Using a smaller cookie cutter of the same shape or a different shape that fits, cut out a small shape in the center of each one. If needed, use a toothpick to help remove the cutout center. You will end up with more cookie dough after this step, so I recommend rolling it out and cutting out as many cookies as you can.
- Once all of the cookies are cut, use a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop ½ to 1 teaspoon of the crushed jolly ranchers into the center cutout of each cookie. If needed, use a toothpick to help move the crushed jolly ranchers around. If any pieces of jolly rancher crumbs end up on top of the cookie dough, use a pastry brush to brush them off, otherwise they will melt on top of the cookies.
- Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are set. Baking time will vary depending on the size of your cookie cutters, so make sure to keep a close eye on them. You want to bake them just until the cookies are set, otherwise the jolly ranchers in the center can start to caramelize and turn brown.
- Cool on the baking sheets until the center is fully set (about 20 to 30 minutes), then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.