Rainbow Butter Cookies

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Updated March 20, 2022

It’s the first day of SPRING and I am so excited to share the revamped version of my butter cookie recipe! There are many delicious butter recipes, but the fun part of this one is the hidden rainbow surprise that you find! I was inspired to bring this fun hidden rainbow idea to life when I saw my friend Sam from Buttermilkbysam create a hidden rainbow bundt cake. So I kept that beautiful idea in mind when I created this fun cookie. Also, this diy cookie is also SO much fun for kids to try!! I’d just recommend throwing an apron on them to help contain the mess that may occur! Hedley & Bennett have some super cute kids aprons that I highly recommend (plus you get a discount if you use DESSERTPANTRY code!!).

Butter Cookie 101

It’s important to note that butter cookies are soft. They will spread, and are not meant to hold a sturdy shape. So this recipe is usually my go to when I want to have FUN with a cookie – like make a hidden rainbow inside! If you are looking for a sturdier cookie to hold it’s shape AND still want the sprinkle look, then I suggest heading over to the Birthday Cake Sugar Cookie recipe.

Tips before baking

Butter: Make sure your butter is room temperature. Remove from refrigerator about 1 to 2 hours before you plan to prepare the dough. Room temperature butter is much easier to work with. And do NOT melt the butter! This will only cause your cookies to spread far too much.

Eggs: one egg but at room temperature as well. Remove from fridge about one hour prior to preparing the dough.

Milk: the milk will be added at the edge of the mixing, and does not need to be at room temperature. The milk helps soften the dough and make it more pliable in handling. You can substitute heavy cream or low fat milk at a 1:1 ratio.

Sprinkles: You can use rainbow jimmies or nonpareils, but I recommend mainly only to use jimmies (the sprinkle rod ones). These sprinkles remain soft and do not bleed into the dough.

Food Color Gels: Any food color gels will work. I use the 6 main rainbow colors, but you can use any colors you would like. I do recommend using gels and not powder because the gel is easier to use (and makes less of a mess).

Chill Time: After you have created the hidden rainbow cookie, its crucial to refrigerate. This will allow the butter within the dough to get cold once again so that when you bake it does not spread out into a pancake. So don’t skip the chill!

Rainbow Butter Recipe

Yields: approximately one dozen 3” hidden rainbow cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour

Chill Time: 4 hours or up to 24 hours

Bake Time: approximately 15 minutes

Total Time: approximately 6 hours


360 g (2 3/4 cups) unbleached all purpose flour

220 g (1 cup) unsalted butter

200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 – 3 tbsp whole milk

1 tbsp corn starch

½ tsp fine sea salt


In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and vanilla on medium high for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until just combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, corn starch and salt and mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix on medium low until just combined. Add milk and mix on low until combined.

Next, go to the cookies you’d like to create for your next steps (listed below).

Creating Hidden Rainbow Cookies

To begin:

  1. Have your dough ready
  2. food safe gloves (to keep your hands from being stained from the food coloring)
  3. Food gels handy
  4. Sprinkles handy (need about ½ to ¾ cup)
  5. Baking sheet and baking mat/parchment ready
  6. Large plate or wide bowl handy

Creating cookies:

Place sprinkles into a shallow bowl and set aside.

Take a 3 tbsp ice cream scoop and scoop out 6 scoops of dough, and place on a separate plate/wide bowl. With the food safe gloves on, take one scoop of dough and spread just a bit with your fingers to make it flat and wide. Drop 1 color of red food gel on the dough, and then wrap the dough over onto the food gel. Then begin to knead the dough together to spread the food coloring. Once the color has dispersed evenly, place back on plate and repeat with all the other remaining colors.

Once you have all your dough pieces colored, you will use the 3 tbsp ice cream scoop to scoop out the remaining dough and place on the baking sheet. Do this until all the uncolored dough is on the baking sheet. Then take one of those uncolored pieces of dough, and flatted between the palms of your hand. It doesn’t need to be perfect! Just flat enough where the dough covers your palm.

Pinch off a small amount (about ½ tsp) starting with the red, and place it towards the end of the dough within your palm. Then pinch off a small portion of orange, and place it right next to the red dough. Repeat with all the colors. When you are done they should reach just the edge of your palm, but not extend past the uncolored dough. The trick is to lay the colors right up against each other but not on top of each other. Once all the colors are laid within the uncolored piece of dough, you will carefully wrap the uncolored dough OVER the colored dough. You want to try and keep the dough as the shape you first started to allow for the colors to bake next to each other, not over each other.

After you have carefully wrapped the uncolored dough over the colored dough, roll the top part of the dough into the sprinkles. I only roll the top half and along the side since that is the top of the cookie and the only part I will truly see. But of course you are free to roll the entire dough ball in sprinkles. It is up to you!

Place the cookies about 1” apart from each other on the baking sheet. Repeat until you are out of dough. If you do have colored dough left, you can create the rainbow drop cookies shown below. Place cookies in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or up to 24 hours. You can also freeze prior to baking – just allow an extra 1 to 2 minutes while baking if frozen prior.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Pull baking sheet directly from refrigerator and place into oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until you begin to see light browning along the bottom edges. You may need to bake longer, so watch the cookies! The best indicator I have found is the browning along the edges. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cool completely before enjoying.

Creating Rainbow Drop Cookies

To begin:

Ready to use dough (colored rainbow colors – refer to Funfetti Hidden Rainbow Cookies for how to color dough. However for this cookie you color ALL the dough!), ateco piping tip 849 (or any large closed star tip), disposable piping bag, food grade plastic gloves, plastic wrap, scissors, and baking sheet lined with parchment.

Cut hole at the tip of the disposable piping bag to allow the piping tip just enough room to poke through. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on surface, about 8 x 8 or so.

Creating Rainbow Drop Cookies

Beginning with red, take about a 2” ball from the dough and roll between hands to create snake like cylinder. It doesn’t need to be very thin, just about ½” diameter. You also don’t want to bulk up the piping bag with the dough because then it can be difficult to pipe. I pipe with enough dough to fit it within my grasp. Anymore than that can prove to be difficult to pipe.

Repeat the rolling process with all the colors, placing each color side by side on top of the plastic wrap. Wrap the dough with the plastic wrap and roll across the counter to help smooth the dough together. Cut the edge of the plastic wrap just where the beginning of the dough is. Place into the piping bag and squeeze until the dough is just at the opening of the piping bag.

Secure the top of the piping bag by simply twisting, and then folding the excess around your finger. You can also use a bag tie to secure.

Hold piping bag about ½” above parchment paper/baking sheet and squeeze bag. Make sure to not hold it too far from the parchment or else it will come out looking like a long colorful dough lump. Hold close to the parchment and squeeze to get about a 1” drop. Slowly lift the piping bag and gently breakaway any dough that may be hanging on.

Please note that where you ‘drop’ the cookies is where they will bake! These cookies are very soft so if you try to move them after piping then you will probably smash them. Pipe onto the parchment as you plan to bake them. Place them at least 2” apart from one another. If you run out of dough in your piping bag, simply remove the plastic wrap from the inside, and repeat the process of combing dough onto a new piece of plastic wrap. Add back into your piping bag and you are ready to go again!

Once all your dough has been piped, place baking sheet into the refrigerator for at least 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 F, and remove baking sheet from fridge and place in oven. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until you see light browning along edges. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cool complete before enjoying.

1 Comment

  1. WE ABSOLUTELY LOVED THESE. Sorry for all caps but I’ve got a lot of enthusiasm for this recipe. I made it with my rainbow crazy 5yo and the dough was like edible playdough, so easy to work it and we made the cutest rainbows inside. She loved it, especially forming the rainbows and dipping in sprinkles. And they were so tasty!

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