Apple Butter Rugelach

apple butter rugelach cookies
It’s funny, starting this blog, rarities like buttermilk and heavy cream and various flours and heaps of chocolate and etcetera and etcetera are now on permanent standby, at the ready for drop-of-the-hat baking.  Which is generally my M.O.  Life is hard, yup, and poor Mike suffers so. 

However, things like cream cheese are not, oddly enough.  While I like cream cheese, it’s not a baking staple of mine, just not something I buy.  So when my friend Janette mentioned a rugelach recipe would be greatly appreciated, onto the list in my head it went. 

Which reminds me, I gotta get my cheesecake recipe up on here for you guys.  OH.  It is insane, ooooo-weeee.  Ask my sister in law Yan; on the regular I hear she asks my mom preceding a trip in to town if I’ll be making it.  Next time, Yan, promise. 

But rugelach.  I have to come clean here, my friends.  I’ve never had it before.

plated apple butter rugelach cookies
Whaaaaatt?!?  How on earth did I get this far in life and not have one of these tender little rolled delights?!  What is wrong with me?!  Yeah I dunno. 

Or maybe I had and it wasn’t particularly memorable.  Maybe I should go with that.  But by logical deduction here, I had never made them either.  A definitive lapse in judgment. 

Regardless, a rugelach recipe for Janette has been on my list for so long now, she surely thinks I forgot.
Needless to say though obviously I’m going to, I had to do some research. 

Rugelach, it turns out, has numerous spellings.  Directly translated from Yiddish, it means little twists and it’s a hugely popular lil’ ditty in Israel, evolving over time from a yeast based recipe.  Fret not dear friends, I am on it with a yeast based recipe.  Soon. 

But nowadays, having jumped across the pond and into American baker hands, they’ve become a cream cheese based pastry cookie filled with concoctions of dried fruits, nuts, or chocolate, to poppy seed or cinnamon or jam or, or darn near anything.  

Cream cheese, to skip the hassle of yeast I’m reading.

rugelach dough ingredients in mixer bowl
All them rugelach dough ingredients there.
Though now I’m wondering if Janette meant the traditional yeast version or the Americanized cream cheese version.  No doubt the yeasted version is croissant-like, danish-like, with layers of flaky.  Hm. 

Well.  Today it’s cream cheese.  Lemme know, Janette!

Considering it’s fall, I went with a seasonal version using apple butter which I found over on The New York Times.  I loves me some apple butter.  I even foolishly tried to make some using a Martha Stewart recipe which irritatingly failed miserably, after which I vowed to solely purchase it instead. 

Right quick I realized you for sure can put darn near anything in these cookies, the dough is merely a puffy delivery vehicle for your heart’s desire. 

And really, they’re simpler than you might suspect.

Dump the first several ingredients into your mixer and beat until it’s nice and fluffy.  At first you’ll wonder if it’s gonna get that way but worry not, it does.

Next, flour.

Oh and I know:  sifting.  It surely seems dumb and a waste but trust me, it will make for a fluffier, softer cookie.  It takes thirty seconds, it’s worth it, I promise.  If you’ve got a fine mesh strainer,* it’s poof, done in a flash.  And who doesn’t want a better cookie?  

“Sorry babe, I didn’t sift.”  Glare glare glare.  See?  No one wants that.

So add the sifted flour to the bowl and beat but not too much, you don’t want to overwork it and get the gluten fired up.

rugelach dough mixed up in bowl
Don’t go too far with the ol’ mixing thing, just get it lumpy.
Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and using the wrap as a friendly helper, mush it into a ball.  Slice that ball in half, flatten each piece into about 6” or so rounds, no one’s measuring, and chill each half in the fridge for at least two hours wrapped in plastic.

rugelach dough rounds wrapped in plastic wrap
Nice dough, yah?
In the meantime, split the apple butter, honey, sugar if you’re using it, and cinnamon into two small bowls (the part I got right).  The part I didn’t get right was dumping the currants and walnuts in there too.  Made it tricky to spread.  Whatever, you’re evenly split which eliminates guessing.

mixing up apple butter filling in two separate bowls
Don’t be like me and add your lumpy bumpy ingredients here.
Once you’re ready to bake, flour up that counter and roll each half to 11”.  Yes, this I measured.  Hey, I wanted to be right for you.

Spread the apple butter mix from one bowl onto one round, then sprinkle on half the walnuts and currants.
spreading filling on one dough round
Ok, so I unintentionally left a wider border around. Probably because I was a dope in mixing lumpy unspreadable things into the apple butter.
Slice one round into sixteen cutie evenly sized wedges with either a pizza cutter or a big ol’ knife (flouring those blades kinda helps).

Slip one of those cutie wedges out and starting at the wide end, gingerly roll ‘em up to the little pointy end.

slicing and rolling filled rugelach dough
Various stages of rolling as a guide for you.
Go then and plop ‘em onto a cookie sheet lined with either parchment paper* or those spiffy silicone baking mats.*

rugelach cookies laid out on silicone baking mat
So I didn’t do a good job of evenly slicing into 16 wedges either.
The hardest part?  Getting those trays to fit in the fridge.  Amiright?  Chill them cookies for fifteen while you heat up the oven.

* the sweeties with either a beaten egg or milk when it’s time to go and if you’ve got it, sprinkle with a fancy crunchy sugar like Demerara* or sanding.*  I used regular darn sugar, eh, whatev’s.  Mike used up my Demerara in his coffee.  I know.

But then pop them in the oven to bake for about fifteen to twenty minutes.  Do wait for them to get puffy and golden brown; it won’t seem like they’ll go but they do so don’t necessarily follow the clock.

freshly baked rugelach on baking sheet
Fresh outta the oven here and boy the house smelled glorious.
Cool them on a rack, pour a nice glass of cold milk, and nom nom nom nom nom…..

plated apple butter rugelach cookies
Deeeeelicious.  Tender and velvety.  A nice crunch from the walnuts I didn’t chop super fine.  Spritely pops of fruity currants.  Yum.  Yesss, insert fist pump.

Mike was wary, unsure of this unknown cookie.  Likely the apple butter deterred him as he seems not to be a fan.  Or the currants.

He claims he preferred ice cream over cookies that evening.  Mm hm.  Sure.  Cookie monster turning down cookies?  Whaaat? 

“What do you think, babe?”

“Mmm hm.”  That was a sort of yes, a not-quite-positive-what-to-make-of-them response.
view of apple butter rugelach cookies from above
“But do you like them?”

“Yeah. (pause)  They remind me of strudel.”

Huh, ok, yeah, I can see that.  

So I need tasters; go, get on into the kitchen and let me know how this recipe pans out!

Note:  This content originally appeared on Flaky Bakers.

Apple Butter Rugelach

Apple Butter Rugelach

32 cookies
Prep time
15 Min
Cook time
20 Min
Inactive time
2 Hour
Total time
2 H & 35 M
Tender little crescent shaped cookies bursting with rich apple goodness, crunchy walnuts, and pops of dried fruity joy.


Cookie Dough
  • 8 tablespoons (113 g, 1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 ounces (114 g, half package) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (120 g) sifted all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
Cookie Filling
  • 1/2 cup (240 g) apple butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar only if apple butter is unsweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.3 g) ground cinnamon (use 3/4 or 4 g if your apple butter is spice-free)
  • 1/2 cup (57 g) finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup (36 g) currants or chopped raisins
  • 1 large egg beaten (or milk)
  • Demerara or sanding sugar for sprinkling


  1. Prep the dough by adding the butter, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt to a mixer bowl. Beat everything on medium speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Sift the flour by passing it through a fine mesh strainer then add it to the mixer. Beat slightly below medium speed until just combined. Be sure to not overwork the dough.
  3. Dump the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form it into a ball using the plastic to help form it.
  4. Cut the dough in half, flatten each piece into about a 6” circle, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, frozen for 3 months.
  5. Using two small bowls, add a 1/4 cup of apple butter, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of sugar (if using), and half the cinnamon to each and stir. Split the walnuts and currants or raisins in half as well.
  6. Flour the counter or rolling surface and roll out one piece of chilled dough to 11” in diameter, trying to keep the edges tidy and neat. If the dough gets too soft or sticky, return it to the fridge for about 5 minutes on a lined cookie sheet.
  7. Spread one small bowl’s worth of apple butter mix atop one round leaving about a 1/4” border on the edges, then sprinkle on half the walnuts and half the currants or raisins.
  8. With a pizza cutter or large knife, slice the dough into 16 triangles of equal size. You may need to flour the blade edge.
  9. From the wide end of a slice, begin rolling it gently towards the narrow end and place each cookie tip-end-under on a cookie sheet spaced at least an 1” apart, the cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
  10. Transfer the sheet to the fridge for about 15 minutes and begin preheating your oven to 375° F (190° C) in that time. Repeat with the other dough round and chill.
  11. Brush each cookie with the beaten egg or milk and sprinkle with sugar, if using. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the cookies are puffy and golden. If you bake each sheet together, rotate them halfway through though baking one sheet at a time is highly advised.
  12. Cool cookies on a rack.


Adapted from The New York Times.

Nutrition Facts



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Please see the "info" section for nutrition details.

cookies, rugelach, apple butter
Jewish American

*The fine mesh strainer, parchment paper, silicone baking mats, silicone baking brushes, and Demerara and sanding sugars are Amazon affiliate links.  Happy baking, thanks!  Please see the "info" tab for more, well, info.

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