Baking/ Christmas/ Cookies/ Desserts

Checkerboard Cookies

Can’t decide on chocolate or vanilla cookies? Try these soft and festive chocolate and vanilla checkboard cookies. They’re every bit as tasty as they are visually appealing.

Chocolate and vanilla checkerboard cookies

What I love about this cookie, besides the chocolate and vanilla in every bite, is the many designs you can create with the dough. While this recipe gives detailed instructions on making the attractive checkerboard pattern, you can head on over to my Chocolate and Vanilla Pinwheel Cookies and see five other design options complete with pictures and instructions.

True confession here, these are one of my favorite cookies and I double or triple this cookie at Christmas and tuck the extra away in the freezer so I have my own stash! That way I can take a few out at a time and enjoy them every day.

How to Make Chocolate and Vanilla Checkerboard Cookies

  1. Cream butter and sugar together, beat in egg yolk, set aside.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.
  3. Whisk milk and vanilla in small cup.
  4. Alternate wet and dry ingredients with the butter, sugar and egg yolk.
  5. Divide dough in half, adding two tablespoons to one side.
  6. Mix unsweetened cocoa powder with oil and add to smaller dough.
  7. Roll each dough into a cylinder then square it up.
  8. Cover and chill dough two hours or overnight.
  9. Take out dough and cut each lengthwise into three slices.
  10. Cut each of the three slices into 3 strips, lengthwise.
  11. Alternate chocolate and vanilla strips for each row.
  12. Continue to stack into desired rows and columns.
  13. Chill again for an hour or overnight.
  14. Take out dough and slice into cookies.
  15. Bake and let cool on cookie sheet slightly before removing.

Checkerboard Cookie Ingredients

Butter: Be sure to let the butter sit out to bring to room temperature. You can use salted or unsalted in this recipe.
Sugar: Granulated sugar.
Egg: Bring your egg to room temperature by putting it in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes. A room temperature egg will mix better with the room temperature butter.
Flour: All-purpose flour.
Baking Powder: Since this is baking powder and not the more commonly used baking soda, make sure your container has not expired.
Salt: Salt helps bring out the other flavors. If you use salted butter instead of unsalted you can chose to use this additional salt or not. It won’t make your cookie taste too salty to add it here as well.
Milk: Since we cut back on part of the egg, milk is used to assist in holding the ingredients together. You can use 1%, 2%, whole milk or even almond milk.
Vanilla: Adds that warm, wonderful flavor. Use real vanilla extract for the best flavor.
Chocolate: Using unsweetened chocolate doesn’t happen often in a recipe so I skip the box of squares that expire far sooner and go for the unsweetened cocoa in the powder form with the much longer shelf life. Three tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa mixed with one tablespoon of oil will equal one square of unsweetened. If you do opt for the squares keep them in the refrigerator.

How the Dough Begins for Checkerboard Cookies

This post walks you through how to make the checkerboard pattern for your chocolate and vanilla checkerboard cookies.

No matter which design you decide to make, the dough for these chocolate and vanilla cookies always starts out the same. Here I will walk you through this design, it’s easier than you think!

After making the initial dough in vanilla and dividing it in half, take two tablespoons from one half and add it to the other. This way when you add the unsweetened chocolate to the smaller half, the two will be equal again. Be sure to wrap each section and chill for two hours or overnight.

Chilling it helps retain the shape as you press down with the knife. I like to turn the dough after every cut so when I press down again with the knife, it presses down uniformly which helps retain its shape.

Making the Checkerboard Cookie Design

Now you’re ready to begin! Remove your dough from the refrigerator and lightly dust a cutting board with flour.

Next, do your math. Decide how many rows and columns you want for your cookie. Be sure your cuts are at least 1/4 inch thick.

Carefully slice each color block into the amount of strips you calculated. Place your stirps next to each other for the first layer, then stack the remaining rows above alternating in color from the below row.

The below pictures of the dough shows the dough stacked into 4 columns and 3 rows so it made a more rectangular cookie. The baked cookie on the right shows 3 columns and 3 rows which makes a square cookie.

Variations for Chocolate and Vanilla Checkerboard Cookies

Flavor: Change the vanilla flavor by adding some peppermint, orange, or strawberry extract.
Nuts: Chop some pecans or walnuts and add them to the chocolate dough.
Embellishment: Use a colored sugar or chocolate jimmies on the top before you bake the cookies. To keep the main focus on the design, wait until they bake and have cooled, then run the edges through a powder sugar and water glaze and dip them into the jimmies or colored sugar instead.
Color: If you love these cookies as much as my family does you can use any food coloring or gel with the vanilla dough to adapt them to any holiday or special occasion. I love how the colors play off the deep color of the chocolate.

  • Christmas: If your Christmas colors are more traditional then grab some red and or green food coloring or gel. If you decorate a little more contemporary then opt for slight shades of barely-there pink, blues or green.
  • Valentines Day: Pink or varying shades of red.
  • St. Patrick’s Day: Green of course! A light or medium green would play off the brown chocolate.
  • Easter: Lavender, pink, orange, blue or yellow. It’s especially striking when you do the checkboard pattern and have several colors at once mixed with the chocolate. I also like to make the “circle” version, whether you do the border the color or swap it out and do the main inside circle the color, either would look striking. Get creative and push your dough cylinder down slightly with the palms of your hands and create more of an oval to look like eggs.
  • Mother’s Day: A soft pink will do.
  • Father’s Day: Keep them natural and definitely do the checkerboard pattern.
  • Forth of July/Memorial Day: Make some red and blue and keep some natural. Mix red and blue squares together in the same cookie. This is where the “checkerboard” pattern shines!
  • Halloween: Orange looks incredible against the chocolate!

Storing Checkerboard Cookies

Let your cookies cool completely before placing in an air tight container. They can sit out on your counter for 7-10 days or freeze up to 2 months.

Chocolate and Vanilla Checkerboard Cookies

Soft chocolate and vanilla checkboard cookies are the perfect treat to make when you want to indulge both your love of chocolate and vanilla at the same time. (The chill time is included in the total prep time.)
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Checkerboard Cookie, Chocolate and Vanilla
Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12 cookies
Calories: 167kcal


  • ½ cup butter (room temperature)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (room temperature)
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon oil (or 1 square unsweetened chocolate melted)


  • Preheat oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium bowl, cream room temperature butter and sugar until creamy.
  • Beat in egg yolk. You can bring your egg to room temperature by placing in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes.
  • In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Mix milk and vanilla in a small cup.
  • Alternate your wet and dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition, until your ingredients are fully blended.
  • Divide dough in half then take approximately 2 tablespoons of dough from one half and add it to the other.

For the Chocolate Dough

  • Mix your 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of oil in a small bowl. (If you have the unsweetened chocolate square you can melt one square instead which is the equivalent.) Since I don't bake often with unsweetened cocoa, I find it easier and more cost effective to keep cocoa powder such as Hershey's on hand as it has a longer shelf life then the squares. If you do buy the squares, I find they store longer in a drawer in the refrigerator.
  • Blend the unsweetened chocolate with the half of vanilla dough that is minus the 2 tablespoons. Once you add the unsweetened chocolate you will have equaled it out again.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill dough for 2 hours or overnight.

Creating the Checkboard Pattern

  • Remove dough from refrigerator. Makes sure your edges are all flat by pressing them against the cutting board before you take the plastic wrap off.
  • Slice each dough block lengthwise into equal pieces.
  • Cut each slice into strips.
  • Assemble the strips, alternating vanilla and chocolate. Make as many columns and rows as you want.
  • Wrap dough blocks and chill 2 hours or overnight again.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and slice into 1/4 inch cookies. Rotate dough every slice to keep the knife from pulling the dough out of shape.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly space the cookies. If you are still not happy with the shape, you have a second chance to reconfigure it once you place it on your cookie sheet. Just apply slight pressure on opposites sides. They will make 12-15 cookies depending on the thickness of your roll. These cookies should not spread so you can use a half size baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool slightly before you remove them so they don't break. Store in a covered container on the counter.


Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 141mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 264IU | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg

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