Rugelach is a delicious pastry filled with toasted nuts, jam, and cinnamon. Unlike other pastries, it’s easy to make – the cream cheese dough is made with just a few ingredients and then rolled up with the filling to create crescent-shaped pastries.
I love to make homemade pastries and one of the easiest is rugelach. This is a type of pastry from Poland that is popular in Jewish cuisine. There are different versions with different fruit preserves, currants, and raisins but I love this toasted nut filling the best.
The pastry for this recipe is a simple cream cheese and butter dough. It’s as easy as making cookie dough – no fussy steps, kneading, or laminating (like with puff pastry). It’s like a simple pie crust that is so delicious and practically melts in your mouth.
The dough is rolled up like crescent rolls with a sweet nut and apricot jam filling spiced with cinnamon.
These pastries are often made in November and December for the Jewish holiday season. They are festive and would make a great addition to your dessert or cookie platters for any holiday you are celebrating.
With the cinnamon sugar and toasted nuts they taste like the holidays. So, maybe add this rugelach recipe to your baking plan this year – everyone will love to try these delicious pastry cookies.
- Softened cream cheese – the whole brick type not the softened tub kind
- Softened butter – Salted and softened
- Sugar – granulated sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Pastry/cake flour – homemade or store bought
- Walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts – roasted
- Brown sugar
- Ground cinnamon
- Apricot jam
- Large egg whisked with water (egg wash)
- Turbinado sugar
How to roast nuts
In a pre-heated 350F (180C) oven roast the nuts. Place the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 5-8 minutes. Move them immediately to a clean bowl to cool completely. Don’t let them cool on the sheet or they will continue to bake.
How to make homemade pastry/cake flour
For every cup of all purpose flour, remove two tablespoons and replace with two tablespoons of corn starch. Be sure to sift the flour and cornstarch together a couple of times, this way it is sure to be properly combined and lump free.
Cream the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed. Once it’s light and fluffy, add granulated sugar and beat to combine.
Sift both types of flour into the butter mixture and mix at low speed to combine.
Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface, form into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour. While the dough chills, you can make the filling.
Place the toasted nuts, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop the nuts with a knife and then mix them in a bowl with the sugars.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll on a floured flat surface into a 10 inch (25 cm) circle.
Spread the apricot jam on top and sprinkle the nut mixture on top of the jam, spreading evenly.
Cut the circle into 8 wedges, roll each wedge up from the large end and shape into a crescent. Place the crescents on the prepared cookie sheet. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake them for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown and then let them cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Feel free to use your favorite kind of nuts, but don’t skip toasting them. It enhances their flavor and makes them so much better.
I’ve seen other versions made with different jams like raspberry jam and also versions made with chocolate chips.
Can the dough be made ahead of time?
To make things easy, you can make the dough ahead and freeze it. Just form it into a ball and wrap it tightly. When you’re ready to make rugelach, thaw the dough at room temperature and roll it out.
How to store the Rugelach
Properly stored, rugelach will keep at room temperature for one to two weeks. They will last longer if you keep them in the refrigerator.
How to freeze them
The baked cookies can also be frozen, place the completely cooled cookies in a freezer safe container or bag and freeze. They will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer.
This is the best rugelach recipe – easy and delicious! Even if you’ve never made pastry, you can make this recipe. I hope you give it a try – Enjoy!
More Pastry Recipes to Try
FOR THE DOUGH
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon cream cheese (whole brick form not tub softened) (125 grams total)
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon butter (salted and softened) (125 grams total)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup pastry/cake flour
FOR THE FILLING
- ½ cup nut (walnut, hazelnuts or pecans toasted)*
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾-1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup apricot jam
*If you don't have a food processor or blender then you can use finely chopped nuts.
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2-3 tablespoons granulated or turbinado sugar
- In a pre-heated 350F (180C) oven toast the nuts. Place the nuts on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 5-8 minutes. Move them immediately to a clean bowl to cool completely. Don't let them cool on the sheet or they will continue to bake.
- In the mixing bowl add the cream cheese and butter and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes, add the sugar and beat to combine, then sift in the flours and mix on low just to combine.
- Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface, form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour.
- While the dough is chilling make the filling. In a food processor or blender add the nuts, sugars and cinnamon and blend or pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll on a floured flat surface into a 10 inch (25 cm) circle. Spread the apricot jam on top and sprinkle the nut mixture on top of the jam, spreading evenly.
- Cut the circle into 8 wedges, roll each wedge up from the large end and shape into a crescent. Place the crescents on the prepared cookie sheet. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake until golden brown, approximately 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheet then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!