Filed under: Cookies / Sugar Cookies
April 3, 2023

Rainbow Swirl Sugar Cookies

Big, thick and chewy sugar cookies that taste of raspberry, blueberry, mixed berry, lemon and lime! Each color has its own flavor in these gorgeous rainbow swirled sugar cookies.

Yield: 12 large cookies
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Hello hello! Today is “national find a rainbow day” and I’ve got just the recipe for you to bake to celebrate it! Raspberry, blueberry, lemon and lime all come together in this dough and are swirled together to create these gorgeous, multi-flavored rainbow swirl cookie. 



I have been fascinated by Sarah Kieffer’s gorgeous, tri-colored, tri-flavored cookies for years. The first time I made them, I tri-cocoaed them (I have been planning to share that variation with you for a year now, need to get on it!). The base recipe is such a great jumping off point for so many flavor combinations, I’ve seen countless variations on IG, and one that stuck with me was this Raspberry/Grapefruit/Passion Fruit variation by Deepika

At first, I wanted to ‘unicorn’ Sarah’s cookies  (teal/fuchsia/violet) and then for about a week, I thought I should ‘Bejewel’ them. But the one idea that caught me by the chokehold, predictably so, was to ‘rainbow’ them. And it really is the prettiest plus, you get so many flavors in just one cookie! 

I kept Sarah’s base sugar cookie recipe as is because it is perfect and I saw no reason to fiddle with it. What I’ve changed is the flavorings and colors and shaping of the cookies (to accommodate a rainbow!).

Special Recipe Ingredients 

Berry powder: I used raspberry powder for my ‘red’ and blueberry powder for my ‘blue’, for purple I used both. You can also use strawberry powder in place of the raspberry. You’ll need about ½ cup of each to get a few tablespoons of the powder. 

Freeze dried blueberries and strawberries can be found at trader joes or target. Freeze dried raspberries at target (TJs doesn’t seem to sell them anymore =( )

Zest: Lime zest goes into the ‘green’ portion of the cookie and lemon zest into the ‘yellow’. If you wanted to add some orange zest with the lemon or with the raspberry/strawberry portion that could be good too! 

Extracts: Lemon extract goes into both the yellow and green portion of the cookie; the berry powders are more than enough to flavor the rest of the colored dough. I didn’t have (actually have never seen) lime extract but if you happen to have it go ahead and use it in the ‘green’ portion instead of the lemon. 


How to make Rainbow Sugar Cookies

Make the cookie dough

Butter should be at room temperature before you begin creaming. I like to add my leavening, vanilla and salt at the creaming stage. Cream the mix until it’s light and fluffy, don’t short the dough in this step.

For best results, use a scale to measure. This will ensure you are using the right amount of flour which is important (too much flour will render the cookies dry and they won’t spread properly). No scale? Sprinkle the flour into the measuring cup and level it so it’s slightly scant.

Don’t overmix the dough once the flour is in, do it until just incorporated.

Separate the dough into bowls

You need five bowls (I do red/yellow/green/blue/purple). I weigh my dough beforehand and then calculate how much I need in each bowl to divide evenly. Without a scale you’ll need to eyeball it, very carefully.

Color and ‘knead’ to mix

Add the flavorings to the bowls first (this helps you keep track of which colors need to go where). Then start with the red raspberry, add food gel coloring to it. You can start stirring with a rubber spatula but you’ll need to switch to your hands to get it to really distribute evenly and fully color the dough. Repeat this with each of the bowls.

Portion the dough

Once you’ve colored and mixed all the five doughs, portion them onto two cookie sheets. Start with the red, portioning two teaspoons of it per cookie.

After the red you’ll do the same with the yellow, placing the 2tsps yellow dough next to the red. The green next to the yellow, and position it so that you are forming all the little blobs of colored dough into a circle – the purple will go between the blue and red. Doing this helps with the colors naturally blending.

Shape the cookies

Once all the dough is scooped and you have about 12 circles of colored dough you can begin shaping. I wanted a sparkly (and tasty!) coating on mine so I got a bowl with about 1/4 cup granulated sugar and a pinch of salt to dip the dough balls into – after shaping.

To shape: make sure all the colors are represented evenly as you shape it into a ball. Then, begin rolling it between your palms. I find often one side gets a cute little swirl if I roll them enough. Once you are satisfied with the look of the dough ball, dip it in the sugar mix. Repeat with all the dough balls.


These are BIG cookies so they’ll spread, and take a bit longer than your usual cookie to bake. Leave about two inches around the cookie on all sides so they have room to spread.

They need roughly 14-16 minutes, you’ll know they are done when a. the yellow part of the dough shows that it is turning golden and b. there is noticeable rising (and possible cracking) in the center of the dough.


Possible variations on the colors and flavors

If you don’t have or can’t find raspberry, red can be represented by any red fruit flavor: cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, etc. For the purple you can use a blend of the blueberry which you’ll use for the blue and whatever you’ve used for the yellow.

Also if you are feeling extra patient, you can do six colors and include orange. I’d use orange extract if I had it for this portion, and add orange zest for sure!

How to store the cookies

These keep great for days (we had ours in the cookie jar and they were still chewy on day 3!) but keep them in an airtight container.

How can I freeze this rainbow cookie dough?

If you plan to make the dough to freeze ahead of time, or you just don’t want to bake them all at once, I’d make the cookies following the instructions until the point where you have dipped them in the sugar. At this point, set them on a plate or tray and freeze them for about 10 minutes until very hard.

Transfer them to a ziplock bag and keep them in the freezer until the day you want to bake them. Don’t bother bringing them to room temperature, preheat the oven before you take them out of the freezer and place on the greased and lined cookie sheet. Add a couple of minutes of bake time and look for those key signs the cookies are done baking (golden, puffs and cracks in the center).


Rainbow Sugar Cookie Recipe with Berry & Citrus

Rainbow Sugar Cookies

Chewy sugar cookies flavored with lemon, lime, blueberry and raspberry colored to look like a rainbow swirl.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 12 large cookies


  • 226g or 1 cup g unsalted butter softened
  • 350g or 1 ¾ cups g granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 365g or 2 ½ cups g all purpose flour
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 ½ tablespoons raspberry or strawberry powder from ground up freeze dried berries
  • 1 ½ tablespoons blueberry powder from ground up freeze dried blueberries
  • 1 tsp lemon extract


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, sugar, soda, salt and vanilla. Beat until the butter and sugar is thoroughly creamed, it should be light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg and yolk and beat for another 60 seconds.
  • Add the flour and mix until the dough is well combined.
  • Set out 5 bowls. Weigh your dough - it should be around 1,000g. Divide it into 200g per bowl.
  • Into the first bowl add 1 tablespoon of raspberry (or strawberry powder) and a couple of drops of red food coloring. To get it to blend into the dough you can start with a rubber spatula or spoon but you’ll want to use your hands to squish it together and ‘knead’ to get the color and powder to distribute evenly.
  • Into the second bowl add the zest of the lemon and some yellow or orange-yellow food coloring, as well as a ¼ tsp lemon extract. Mix it in well.
  • Into the third bowl add the lime zest, some green gel food coloring and ¼ tsp lemon extract. Mix.
  • Into the fourth bowl add 1 tablespoon of the blueberry powder and some blue food gel. Mix.
  • Into the fifth bowl add ½ tablespoon of blueberry powder and ½ tablespoon of raspberry (or strawberry) powder as well as a couple of drops of purple food coloring. Mix.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Set out two greased cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  • Start with the red, divide it into two teaspoons per cookie (you should have about 12 portions). Next divide the yellow and set each 2 teaspoons next to the red.
  • Repeat this with all the dough colors, curving so each dough makes a circle (see photos and video) and placing the purple between the blue and red (or pink).
  • You’ll have 12 cookies with 5 colors of dough.
  • Place about ¼ cup of granulated sugar and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
  • Take each clump of dough and gently squeeze it together to form a ball. Place it in between your palms and roll it to smush the dough together into one dough ball and swirl the colors together, about the size of a golf ball. Dip it face down in the sugar then set on the cookie sheet.
  • Repeat with all the cookies. Bake no more than 6 cookies on a cookie sheet, leaving space for them to spread - these are big cookies!
  • Bake for 14-15 minutes, until the edges are golden and the middles have started to crack a bit.
  • The cookies can cool on the pan, to keep them from drying out place them in an airtight container overnight.


Inspired and adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s Neapolitan Cookies.

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