Cinnamon Rugelach with Walnuts and Apricot Jam

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Cinnamon rugelach cookies are traditionally served during Hanukkah, but the rich, cream cheese dough and variety of possible fillings make this a delicious any-holiday cookie recipe. 

This is one tasty cookie. Or is it a pastry? Let’s discuss.

Closeup of cinnamon rugelah cookies.

What Is Rugelach?

Rugelach are crescent-shaped cookies made from a rich cream cheese dough that’s somewhere between a cookie and a pastry dough. They are filled with a variety of nuts, jam, chocolate, poppy seeds or raisins. 

Rugelach, pronounced ROO-gah-lah, originated in Poland, but is eaten in Jewish communities all over the world. You can find them in coffee shops all over Eastern Europe and Israel as well as any good Jewish bakery. 

According to Wikipedia, rugelach can mean “little twists,” “corner,” or “horn,” all of which describe its shape. These cookies look just like miniature croissants. 

Others say that the meaning of rugelach comes from “rugel” which means royal. 

Closeup of cinnamon rugelach on baking sheet.

Ingredients For Rugelach

This is Ina Garten’s rugelach recipe from Barefoot Contessa Parties!  Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • cream cheese
  • butter
  • sugar
  • kosher salt
  • vanilla extract
  • all-purpose flour
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • walnuts
  • apricot preserves
  • 1 egg for the egg wash
  • milk for egg wash
Various rugelach fillings in small white ramekins.

How to Make This Cinnamon Rugelach Recipe

Start by letting your butter and cream cheese come to room temperature. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until light. 

Add 1/4 cup sugar, salt and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour gradually until just combined.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the dough into quarters. For uniformity, I like to use a scale so that each quarter weighs the same. An inexpensive kitchen scale is such a useful kitchen tool! 

Flatten each ball into a disk. Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate for an hour. At this point, you could freeze some of the dough if you want.

Ingredients for rugelach cookie filling.

While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. Mix the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and chopped walnuts in a bowl. 

Next, puree the apricot jam in a food processor so it’s a little smoother and easier to spread.

On a lightly floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9″ circle. I like to use the bottom of my springform pan as a guide, trimming it and patching the dough as needed.

Shaping dough using a 9" springform pan bottom.

Spread each circle of dough with 1/4 of the jam (about 2 tablespoons) using a pastry brush.

Apricot jam being spread on dough.

Sprinkle each circle with 1/4 of the cinnamon walnut filling (around 1/3 of a cup). Press the filling lightly into the dough.

Cut each circle into equal wedges using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. 

Nut filling on dough.

Next, roll the cookies. Starting with the wide end of each wedge, roll each wedge until it looks like a little croissant. The point should be on the bottom. 

Rolling the rugelach dough into crescent shapes.

Place the rugelach on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Chill for 30 minutes. (You can freeze the rugelach at this point too.)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Make the egg wash by beating 1 tablespoon of milk with the egg.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash, and sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.

Brushing cookies with egg wash.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove to wire racks and let cool.

Store the rugelach at room temperature for several days in a cookie tin or sealed container.

Can You Freeze Rugelach?

Yes. You can freeze the rugelach dough one of two ways. Either freeze the dough once you’ve rolled it out into a disc shape or freeze the filled and rolled cookies on a cookie sheet then wrap them carefully. 

When you’re ready to bake the rugelach, just place the filled cookies on a baking sheet while you heat up the oven. They should be defrosted by the time you pop them in the oven.

If you’re freezing the discs of dough, defrost the dough until it can be easily rolled.

Rugelach piled high on a plate.

Can You Use Other Fillings For Rugelach Cookies?

Absolutely! You could substitute any jam and nut combination, such as raspberry jam and chopped pecans, or cherry jam and almonds. This could also be easily adapted to a chocolate rugelach recipe. 

Here are some additional ideas for rugelach fillings: 

  • Chopped, dried fruit
  • Honey
  • Poppy seed filling
  • Nutella
  • Shredded coconut
  • Lemon curd 

Looking for more international cookies? Try these great recipes for Italian Biscotti, Scottish Shortbread, Moravian Molasses Cookies, or German Zimtsterne.

Cinnamon rugelach piled on a plate.
Rugelach cookies.

Cinnamon Rugelach

Cynthia
Cinnamon crescent cookies filled with walnuts and apricot jam, slightly adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties.
4.91 from 40 votes
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Eastern European
Servings 48 cookies
Calories 108 kcal

Ingredients
  

Rugelach Dough

Rugelach Filling

Egg Wash & Finishing

Instructions
 

Rugelach Dough

  • Cream the cheese and the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut into quarters, roll each into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Dough can be frozen at this point)

Cinnamon Walnut Filling

  • To make filling, combine 6 tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and walnuts in a small bowl.
  • On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons of apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press filling lightly into the dough.
  • Cut circle into 12 equal wedges. Starting with wide edge, roll up each wedge.
  • Place cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Chill for 30 minutes. (Finished cookies can be frozen at this point)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Finishing the Rugelach

  • Combine beaten egg and 1 Tablespoon milk to make an egg wash
  • Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies.
  • Brush each cookie with egg wash.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Notes

Notes:
  • read the recipe through before beginning. The entire amount of white sugar is 1/4 cup PLUS 9 Tablespoons. 6 Tablespoons are used for the filling and 3 for sprinkling on top of the cookies before baking. 
  • If you want to freeze the dough, flatten each ball into a disc before freezing. Wrap well. It will keep for about 3 weeks. 
    Defrost before rolling out
  • If you want to freeze the cookies BEFORE baking, place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Once they’re frozen, place them in a zip-lock bag. Defrost on a cookie sheet before baking. 
  • Any nut or jam can be substituted.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 1gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 30mgPotassium: 29mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 193IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 0.4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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49 Comments

      1. Sharon, yes I made both the gluten free and regular version. You can see in my step-by-step photos how to make them. They are delicious. I think anyone who tastes them would be hard pressed to tell the difference!

  1. 1 star
    I used to make rugelach every holiday season as a kid and really enjoyed the process. Now that I try to eat gluten free as an adult, I was very excited to try this recipe. I’ve cooked and baked my whole life, so I know how to follow a recipe (which I did), but this recipe was extremely sticky and not at all roll-able. 🙁 I was afraid to add enough flour to make the dough come together/roll-able because it would have required a great deal more than the recipe called for and I was concerned it would make the end product too dry. So, against my better judgement, I chilled the dough as it was and hoped it would become more roll-able once chilled thoroughly. After chilling overnight, I placed the dough on the counter for a short while to relax, then tried to roll it out. I placed 1/4 of the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and rolled to a beautiful circle. Yay! However, I could hardly remove the top paper without ripping apart the dough and, once I did accomplish that, I realized the dough was just mushed to the bottom paper. There was no rolling it like a proper rugelach. I was so sad. I’ll see if I can use the dough for some other type of cookie because this just won’t work. 🙁

    1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for taking the time to give me feed back. As I said in my notes that it’s definitely more difficult to work with the gluten free dough than the regular dough. I’m sorry that they did not turn out for you. So many factors can affect baking. I’m wondering what
      kind of gluten free flour you used, and if that could have affected it? I usually use Jeanne’s #GF flour blend, as I find that it most resembles “real” flour. On occasion, I’ve used Bob’s #GF flour, or another blend, and found that my baked goods did not taste nearly as good,
      and the dough was harder to work with. Hope this helps.

      1. I had similar results to Cheryl, using cup 4 cup. The dough was nearly impossible to roll and shape. I have ugly Christmas sweater versions of the cookie 😉 but they are scrumptious! Had much more success using 2 layers of dough with filling in the middle, cut into fingers.

  2. OMG!!!!!! Just made these today and they are to die for!!!! First batch were awkward, the rest were beautiful, and the dough is soft and delicious!!! Thank you!!!

    1. No Chrissie, I would put the egg wash on just before you’re ready to bake them. (sorry for the late response, I’ve been out of the country)

  3. Hi Cynthia, I just found this recipe and would love to make them, but I need to make them gluten free and don’t see the recipe for that….
    Thanks, Julia

    1. Hi Julia, I used to have alternate directions for gluten free. When I’ve made them GF, the only thing I’ve done differently is swap out the regular flour for GF flour. I am planning on testing them again and doing a separate post for GF. The suggestions I have for the GF version is that the dough is very fragile, so using parchment helps when you roll it out. Hope this helps.

  4. My family doesn’t care for apricots so I was planning on using a fig preserve. Would you still use walnuts or would you use pecans? I plan on trying your recipe next weekend.

    1. Fig and walnut would be amazing! I’m going to try that next! Any jam works, raspberry and pecans, cherry and walnut would work too. But I love your idea of fig and walnuts, plus I have a lot of fig jam I have preserved!

      1. 5 stars
        I made it with fig and walnuts. Divine! But my crust wasn’t as fluffy as yours. I think I didn’t wrap it tight enough but idk. What could I do to make it as fluffy as yours?

  5. So pretty! There are actually a lot of rugelach where I live in Oklahoma because of some early Eastern European settlers. Otherwise we’re not very multi-cultural! Anyway, yours are really pretty.

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