These crescent-shaped pastries are buttery, flaky, and just perfect for the holidays. The sweet and spicy red pepper jelly filling makes savory rugelach a vibrant addition to your holiday appetizer spread. Serve them with cocktails or add to a cheese board.
I have to warn you, Red Pepper Jelly Rugelach are addictive. You’ll see what I mean when you serve these tasty treats at your next Thanksgiving or Christmas event. It’s impossible to eat just one (we tried). The pastry itself is golden brown, buttery, and flaky on the outside, while the inside is a vibrant red, which makes it perfect for festive holiday gatherings. For the bright red jelly in the rugelach, I use my easy Red Pepper Jelly recipe. I love this recipe because you can tweak the sweet and spice level, depending on your preference. If you’re worried these crescent-shaped pastries are difficult to make, fear not - we’ve got you covered with step-by-step photos. They really are magical once they’re done.
What Is Rugelach?
Rugelach is a Jewish pastry-like cookie made that’s traditionally filled with nuts, chocolate or jam. These treats are incredibly popular during the holiday season. For more information on Rugelach cookies, check-out Sally’s Baking Addiction. She has a great post on how to make traditional rugelach cookies with a sweet cinnamon, walnut filling.
How Far Ahead Can I Make These?
Rugelach can be made (through step 8 on the recipe card), and frozen for up to 2 months. To freeze, place the shaped and filled (but not baked) pastries on parchment-lined sheet pans. Freeze until solid, 3 to 4 hours. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, arrange on parchment-lined sheet pans and defrost in the refrigerator until soft, about 6 hours. Brush with egg and bake according to instructions above.
The dough itself can be made and stored in the fridge for up to two days ahead of time.
How To Serve Red Pepper Jelly Rugelach
Let your holiday entertaining be the guide on this one. Set them out on their own when serving drinks before dinner. If you want to add some interesting texture to a cheese board, arrange rugelach with cheese, fruit, and meat. Though these skew toward savory, the red pepper jelly is quite sweet, so they would even be a welcome not-to-sweet after dinner treat.
- Red Pepper Jelly - This sweet and spicy (or not, depending on how you make it) jelly has ‘holidays’ written all over it. The color is Christmas red, and when paired with flakey pastry and savory gruyere cheese, it’s impossible to resist. You can buy it pre-made or make a batch at home using my go-to Red Pepper Jelly recipe.
- Gruyere Cheese - This cheese has a nutty and savory flavor and comes from the Alpine region of Switzerland. It adds a richness and depth of flavor - a little goes a long way.
- Cream Cheese - Cream cheese is what gives the rugelach pastry its unique flaky-tender texture.
- Use a different cheese - Jarlsberg and Comte cheese have similar taste profiles and can be substituted for Gruyere.
- Try a different filling - With rugelach, the filling possibilities are endless. The buttery, slightly creamy pastry dough goes well with sweet, savory, and cheesy fillings.
More Festive Appetizers
- Crispy Baked Spring Rolls
- Cheese Pinwheels with Crispy Prosciutto
- Plum Tarts with Sweet Basil Honey
- Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Brie and Balsamic Honey
- Herb and Cheese Stuffed Sweet Peppers
- Standing Blender
- Parchment Paper Sheets
- Half Sheet Pan
- Wire Rack
- Pizza Cutter
- Silicone Basting Brush
Red Pepper Jelly Rugelach
- standing mixer
- Plastic Wrap
- Half Sheet Pan
- Parchment Paper
- Wire Rack
- Rolling Pin
- Pizza Cutter or Sharp Knife
- Pastry Brush
- 16 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temperature, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces (16 tablespoon = 1 cup / 2 sticks)
- 1 8 ounce package Cream Cheese, room temperature, cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 2 cups Flour, plus more for dusting (250 grams)
- ¾ cup Red Pepper Jelly, divided
- 1 cup grated Gruyere Cheese, divided
- 1 large Egg, whisked
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, cream cheese, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- With mixer running on low, slowly add in flour. Beat on low until soft clumps form, about 1 minute more.
- Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead a few times just to bring the dough together. Divide dough in half. Press each half into a round disk and wrap it tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
- When you’re ready to form the rugelach, line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Spray an oven-safe cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray and place it on top of the sheet pan. (Note: This set-up is important. The cooling rack will allow excess red pepper jelly to drip off and away from the rugelach. The parchment will make clean-up easy.)
- Remove one dough disk from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch round circle. Use your hands to gently shape the edges so they are even and smooth.
- Spread half of the jelly over the dough, leaving a small amount of space open around the edges. Sprinkle with half the cheese.
- Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to slice the dough round into 16 even wedges (the same way you would slice a pizza). Working with one wedge at a time, starting at the wide end, roll the rugelach up into a crescent (some of the jelly will slip out of the sides, but that's okay).
- Line the formed rugelach up on the prepared cooling rack / sheet pan, leaving about an inch of space between each.
- Repeat the process with the remaining dough round.
- Transfer sheet pan with the rugelach to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.
- Whisk egg. Brush the tops of the rugelach with egg.
- Bake until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through cooking, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Allow to cool on the cooling rack / sheet pan until cool enough to remove and transfer to a serving plate. (If they stick, run a sharp knife between the rugelach and the cooling rack to release.)
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