These vegan candy cane cookies are a fun, festive, healthy holiday treat! 6 ingredients, gluten free and naturally sweet.
Happy Friday, friends! So excited to bring you some super fun and festive vegan candy cane cookies today. Actually I’m especially excited, because these were a specific request from one of my long-time followers over on Instagram! She sent me some photos of pinterest-perfect cookies, bright red and white, braided into cute candy canes.
I knew it would definitely be a challenge, but I really wanted to create a healthy, vegan version for her! While these may not be as bright as those that have loads of artificial coloring, they’ll taste just as lovely.
I guess the traditional version of these cookies are mint, which makes sense, considering they look like candy canes. Buuuut that’s the first place I change it up. This girl does NOT like mint. Like, the only place mint belongs is in my toothpaste, thank you very much. I don’t even like chocolate + mint, that’s when you know I really don’t enjoy it.
So, instead of mint, the dough here is a simple sugar cookie dough. It’s the same one as these vegan Christmas sugar cookies. Half is the normal vanilla dough, and we’ll flavor the other half with freeze dried strawberries. I know that neither of those flavors has anything to do with candy canes, but hey, strawberry + vanilla taste pretty dreamy together, and the candy cane shape makes them Christmas-y enough, in my opinion.
Plus, I’m not using food coloring, and freeze dried berries were pretty much my only option, so the berry flavor basically had to be included! If you’re a mint lover, I’m not sure how that would pair with the freeze dried berries, but feel free to try it out and report back to let me know what ya think! Or, just make plain candy canes without the color, and flavor with a bit of mint.
The twisting of these cookies is the hardest part, but you can totally do it. You’ll cut the dough into strips, roll them into cylinders, and press the bottoms of a white and pink strip together. Then, cross one strip over the other, repeating until you get to the top. Shape it into a candy cane, twist the bottom to make sure you have even twists all the way up the cookie, and voila!
Don’t fret if the dough comes apart a little bit during this process. The dough is a little sticky and wet, so just be patient and press it back together with your fingers. Use gentle hands and you won’t have issues!
Once the cookies have baked, a lot of the color will have baked darker and seemingly disappeared. Bummer, I know. So, blend up a little more of the freeze dried strawberries, and carefully sprinkle the powder over the red strips for an extra colorful look.
Remember, we’re using ALL natural flavors and ingredients here, so the color isn’t going to be extra loud and artificial like if you were using food coloring. Red food coloring is made either from beetles, or from coal/petroleum by-products. I KNOW. So gross. So, I’ll take eating freeze dried berries and a slightly less vibrant color over crushed beetles or coal by-products any day of the week.
These cookies would be really fun to make with family during the holidays, and of course, they’re really fun to eat! The combination of soft, sweet cookies, flavored with vanilla AND strawberry, is an amazing combination.
As always, if you guys ever have recipe requests, feel free to email me or DM me on Instagram! I love baking things knowing you guys already plan to use the recipes, makes the process extra rewarding for me 🙂 Hope you love these, Moriah!
Have a happy, healthy week!
If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes/what you think! Take a picture and tag me @beamingbanana on Instagram. Happy baking!