Made with corn flakes and maraschino cherries, this old fashioned cherry winks cookies recipe tastes and looks delicious! It’s been a favorite in my family for decades.
This old fashioned cherry winks cookies recipe has been around for a long time.
And there’s a reason for that!
They are a delicious addition to your holiday baking.
With crunchy corn flakes on the outside and a tender chewy cookie packed with goodies on the inside, cherry winks look pretty and taste delicious.
These crisply coated cookies were a favorite when I was growing up.
They are also an attractive addition to your holiday cookie plate when decorated with red cherries.
And you can make them both gluten-free and dairy-free if you so choose (see the substitutions below).
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Here is your shopping list:
- baking supplies – 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 6 Tablespoons shortening, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
- dairy – 2 Tablespoons milk, 6 Tablespoons butter
- eggs – 2 large
- flavoring – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- nuts and fruit – 1 cup pecans, 1 cup dates, 1/3 cup maraschino cherries (or candied cherries) plus 12 more for putting on top of the cookies. You can use both red and green cherries if you wish, but I think the red ones look the best.
To Make Gluten-Free Cookies
- Substitute measure-for-measure gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour. I tested with this one from King Arthur and you couldn’t tell the difference.
- Make sure you are using gluten-free corn flakes (Kellogg’s are not gluten-free since it contains malt)
To Make Dairy-Free Cookies
- Use all shortening instead of the half shortening / half butter mix. Don’t worry…the original recipe used all shortening so this isn’t going to ruin the taste.
- Substitute maraschino cherry juice instead of the milk. This gives the cookies a slight cherry flavor and a little bit of a pink color inside. But they taste just as good (some people like them even better this way!)
- You can use all butter (which gives the cookies a richer flavor) or all shortening (which gives them a better texture) instead of the half and half mixture. But I think using half butter and half shortening produces the best combination of flavor and texture.
- For extra crunch, roll the cookies in crushed frosted flakes instead of corn flakes.
How to Make Cherry Winks Cookies
The Prep Work
Take the milk, eggs and butter out of the refrigerator a couple of hours ahead of time to let them warm to room temperature.
Pre-heat the oven to 375℉.
Grease a cookie sheet by rubbing it with a thin layer of shortening or spraying with cooking spray. Don’t use butter for this since it can cause the cookies to burn.
Pat the maraschino or candied cherries dry with a paper towel.
Chop the pecans, dates and maraschino (or candied) cherries.
A food processor will make this job go faster. You may want to cut the dates into smaller pieces first. They are pretty tough (even for a good food processor) so you’ll end up more evenly sized pieces.
Cut 12 maraschino cherries into quarters.
Put 3½ cups of cornflakes onto a rimmed cookie sheet or sheet of waxed paper and crush them with the rolling pin. Set aside.
Sift the flour. Pre-sifting the flour before measuring makes it less dense which results in fluffier cookies.
Prepare The Dry Ingredients
Put 2¼ cups of the sifted flour into the sifter again along with 1 teaspoon of double-acting baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt.
When measuring dry ingredients use dry measuring equipment and lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cups. You want the flour to be light and airy.
Fill to heaping, then scrape straight across the top letting the excess fall back into its container.
Do not tap the sides or bang the measuring cup on the counter.
Sift onto a piece of waxed paper or into a medium bowl.
Make Butter Mixture
Put 6 Tablespoons butter and 6 Tablespoons shortening into the large mixing bowl and beat until it is soft.
Gradually add 1 cup of white sugar while continuing to beat the butter mixture.
Keep beating on high speed, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary until the mixture is fluffy and light.
Beat in 2 eggs until well mixed.
The sugar should be dissolved and the batter needs to look whipped.
This creaming of the ingredients is very important to produce the fine texture of the cookies once they are baked.
Mix in 2 Tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
With mixer on low speed, add the sifted dry ingredients one third at a time.
Beat only until flour is moistened. Over-mixing will cause the cookies to be tough.
With a mixing spoon, stir in 1 cup of chopped pecans, 1 cup of chopped dates, and 1/3 cup of chopped maraschino cherries.
Roll The Cookies
Now shape the dough into balls using a rounded teaspoonful at a time.
The dough is pretty sticky (which you need to make the cornflakes stick).
To keep from getting it all over my fingers, I like to use 2 teaspoons. One to take the dough out of the bowl. And the other to scrape it off the first spoon and drop it on to the cornflakes.
Then I use my fingers to spread some cornflakes over the ball before rolling it around in the cornflakes so that it is coated on all sides.
Bake The Cookies
Set each ball, 2 inches apart, on a greased lined rimless cookie sheet.
Press ¼ of a maraschino cherry onto the top of each.
Bake one sheet of cookies at a time in a 375℉ oven for 10 to 14 minutes, until cookies are set and slightly brown on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack.
Cherry winks can be stored in an airtight container for a week, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Other Christmas Cookies You Might Like
- Holiday Thimble Cookies
- Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
- Slice and Bake Peppermint Cookies
- Lemon Cream Cheese Cookies
- Christmas tree sugar cookies
Cherry Winks Cookies
- bowl or wax paper – for sifting the dry ingredients in to
- mixer with mixing bowl
- food processor (optional)
- rimmed cookie sheet or waxed paper – for rolling the cookies in crushed corn flakes
- rolling pin
- rimless baking sheet – rimless cookie sheets allow for better air movement and more even cooking. But if all you have are rimmed cookie sheets, they will work, too.
- measuring cups and spoons
- 2 teaspoons – for making the cookie balls
- 2¼ cups sifted flour
- 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 cup dates
- ⅓ cup maraschino cherries (or candied cherries) plus 12 cherries for the top of the cookies
- 6 Tablespoons shortening
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons milk at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3½ cups cornflakes
- Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
- Sift together 2¼ cups sifted flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- Chop 1 cup pecans, 1 cup dates and ⅓ cup maraschino cherries. Cut an additional 9 maraschino cherries into quarters. Set aside
- Crush 3½ cups cornflakes. Set aside.
- Blend together 6 Tablespoons butter, 6 Tablespoons shortening and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Beat in 2 eggs until well mixed.
- Add 2 Tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat well.
- Add in the sifted dry ingredients gradually. Mix just until combined.
- Stir in chopped pecans, dates and maraschino cherries (excluding the quartered cherries).
- Shape into balls using a rounded teaspoonful of dough for each.
- Roll each ball of dough in corn flakes.
- Place on a greased baking sheet.
- Top each cookie with ¼ maraschino cherry.
- Bake for 10 to 14 minutes.
- Chop the fruit and nuts first as part of your preparation to save time and be more efficient at the end. You do not want the leavening agents to go flat while you are taking time to chop.
- Using a food processor will make chopping the fruit and nuts go faster. Make sure to use the intermittent pulse setting so that the pieces don’t end up being too small.
- Pre-sifting the flour before measuring makes it less dense, resulting in fluffier cookies.
- Instead of the butter and shortening combination, substitute all butter for a richer flavor, or all shortening for a more tender texture.
- Thoroughly beating the butter/shortening, sugar and eggs produces lighter cookies.
- Cherry winks can be stored in an air tight container for up to a week, or frozen for up to a 3 months
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
Have comments or questions on our cherry winks cookies recipe? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on December 17, 2020 but was updated with new content on February 20, 2023.