Rugelach is a delicious little Jewish cookie filled with sweet and buttery flavors! A cream cheese pastry dough is filled with walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, and sugar and rolled into miniature crescent shapes.
As the pastry dough bakes, rugelach tastes like a buttery flaky crust. The sweetness of the sugars and walnuts rolled on the inside of the cookie creates perfect complimentary flavors. Walnuts always have a way of being the star of both sweet and savory recipes. I love the addition of walnuts in my banana bread and fudge, but you have to try this amazing honey walnut shrimp!
What Is Rugelach?
These traditional Jewish cookies get its name from the Yiddish word rugel, meaning “royal.” A cream cheese and butter pastry dough bakes to perfection as the sugars, raisins, and cinnamon melt and caramelize the inside. You are going to love rugelach because of the sweet inside flavors and the light flaky outside.
This delicious treat is like biting through the best crust of your favorite pie! I love making them around the holidays and it’s fun to bring them to a cookie exchange. If you’re looking for more cookie recipes to bring to a cookie exchange you should bring these Twix cookies, butter pecan cookies, or my popular Grinch cookies!
Ingredients for the Best Jewish Treat
Rugelach may seem fancy, but the ingredients to make them are very simple! Most of the ingredients you will have on hand. The combination of cream cheese and butter creates the perfect pastry dough for these cookies. The baked pastry shell melts in your mouth and you are going to LOVE them!
- Cream Cheese: Cream cheese surprisingly makes a perfect pastry dough.
- Unsalted Butter: Unsalted butter is best.
- All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour creates the best results.
- Granulated Sugar: Just a little bit of sugar helps sweeten the dough.
- Salt: A little salt helps balance flavors.
- Granulated Sugar: You will love the combination of granulated and brown sugar together.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar caramelizes and creates the sweetest flavor.
- Raisins: I love the sweetness and texture of the raisins.
- Walnuts: The walnuts bake and soften so deliciously in this recipe. You can also use pecans if you prefer.
- Ground Cinnamon: I love the addition of cinnamon!
Rugelach Cookie Recipe
Making this rugelach recipe can seem intimidating with all the steps, but these come together very quickly. You can also freeze some of the dough for later if you would like. It makes a lot of them which is so fun to bring to parties and share with friends. Everyone will love how cute and little they are!
- Combine Dry Ingredients: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse on low 3-4 times until combined.
- Add Cream Cheese and Butter: Add the chilled cream cheese and butter, both cut into cubes, and pulse until crumbly and pea-sized.
- Knead Dough: Turn the mixture out onto a clean work surface then knead the dough together just until a cohesive dough forms.
- Chill Dough: Split them into three flattened disks and wrap them with plastic wrap. Chill for 1-2 hours, or overnight.
- Add Filling Ingredients to Food Processor: Clean the food processor then add the sugars, raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon.
- Mix Filling Ingredients and Chill: Mix until the walnuts and raisins have been chopped into tiny bits. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and set aside until the dough is done chilling.
Assembly and Baking
- Preheat Oven and Line Baking Sheets: Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll Out Dough: Start with just one disk of dough by removing it from the fridge and plastic wrap. Place on a floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll into a 10-12 inch circle, about ⅛ inch thick. You may need to lift and turn the dough several times in order to dust it with flour beneath it to keep it from sticking. I used a large mixing bowl to trace a perfect circle and trimmed it with a paring knife.
- Spread on Filling: Spread ⅓ of the rugelach filling evenly across the top of the circle, pressing it into the dough rather firmly to anchor it.
- Cut Into Wedges: Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the circle into 12 equal wedges. Then roll each wedge starting from the wide side and into the pointed end. Place on the baking sheet keeping about 1 inch between them.
- Bake: Bake rugelach for 25-30 minutes until the dough begins to turn a light golden brown on top and the bottoms are crisp.
- Allow to Cool: Let cool completely on a cooling rack before serving.
Tips and Variations
This traditional rugelach comes together fairly quickly. It makes a lot of delicious cookies for you to enjoy and share with friends and neighbors. I have some helpful tips below for making this recipe a success for you!
- Chill the Dough: Kneading the dough together can take a bit of work since there isn’t water or liquid to help it come together. Once the rugelach dough comes together, it’s important to give it adequate chilling time so the fat can become solid again and the gluten in the dough can relax, resulting in a flakier cookie.
- Press the Filling: The filling is coarse and dry, so use your fingers to press it into the dough as best you can.
- Roll the Rugelach Tightly: When rolling the cookies, try to keep the dough rolled tightly to prevent it from unraveling while it bakes.
- Other Nuts and Fruit Work Great: The filling in this recipe is easily adaptable! You can swap out the walnuts for other nuts, try adding different spices or even use alternative dried fruit in place of the raisins.
Storing Leftover Cookies
You are going to love these cookies so much that you won’t be able to stop eating them! If you happen to have any rugelach left over, you can simply store them at room temperature. This helps them keep a delicious crunchy texture.
- On the Counter: Store leftover rugelach in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature.
- In the Freezer: The dough can be frozen once it is ready for the chilling stage, just wrap the discs tightly in 2-3 layers of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil, and then in a freezer ziplock bag. It can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before continuing with the recipe.