neapolitan cookies

What Are Neapolitan Cookies?

Neapolitan cookies are chewy sugar cookies flavored with the three flavors of Neapolitan ice cream: strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate! This is the perfect cookie for the indecisive eater who simply wants to try ALL the flavors. The best part? Despite their striking appearance, these Neapolitan cookies come together easily. They are made with one chewy, buttery, sugar cookie base. That’s right—there’s no need to make three different cookie doughs! Instead, all you need to do is divide the cookie dough into three parts. You then flavor two of the doughs with freeze-dried strawberries and black cocoa powder.

A Quick History of Neapolitan Ice Cream and Desserts

Whenever I try a new recipe, I always do a little research about its origin. So I thought I’d share what I learned about Neapolitan desserts and ice cream:

Most Neapolitan desserts are based on the one dessert that started it all—Neapolitan ice cream. Neapolitan ice cream is a tri-flavored ice cream comprised of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla flavors. However, the three flavors are pretty distinct from one another. That is, they’re not swirled or mixed together at all! Instead, they’re arranged side by side in one container with no packaging in between.

According to Wikipedia, Neapolitan ice cream is based on the Italian gelato dessert of spumoni. Spumoni recipes typically comprise of flavors with colors that represent the Italian flag (like pistachio for green, vanilla for white, and strawberry or cherry for red). However, Neapolitan ice cream was instead made with the most popular ice cream flavors at the time: chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla.

neapolitan cookies

Why You Should Make The Recipe

Here are all the reasons why you should make these Neapolitan cookies:

This innovative Neapolitan cookie recipe comes from my friend Sarah Kieffer and her cookbook, 100 Cookies.

If you’re a cookie lover and don’t follow Sarah on her Instagram or her blog, you’re SERIOUSLY missing out. Sarah Kieffer is one of the internet’s best cookie-baking queens! A few years ago, she went viral on the internet for her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Why? The recipe uses a highly unusual technique. During the baking process, Sarah instructs bakers to pick up their baking sheet of cookies and BANG them on the oven rack. Doing so creates large, beautifully rippled, thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies. This technique spawned a new genre of cookies: pan-banging cookies. Her latest cookbook even has an entire chapter dedicated to them! And in addition to the pan-banging cookies, 100 Cookies has recipes for other beautiful cookies like these Neapolitan cookies, too.

These Neapolitan cookies are crowd-pleasers in both appearance AND flavor.

Not only are these Neapolitan cookies striking and unique in appearance, they taste phenomenal, too! The cookies are flavored with vanilla, chocolate, and strawberries, ensuring that there’s a flavor for all tastes and preferences. The best part? If you’re the kind of person who wants to try ALL options and flavors, you can do so with just one bite! A single Neapolitan cookie allows you to try all three flavors without, well, eating three different cookies (lol).

This Neapolitan cookie recipe the perfect recipe for beginners looking to step up his or her baking game.

This is the perfect recipe for folks who have mastered basic baking recipes like cookies and brownies, but want to take things to the next level. These Neapolitan cookies are made with recipe techniques that are attainable for any home baker. Despite their striking appearance, the recipe itself is actually pretty simple. Why? The recipe instructs you to make one single vanilla cookie dough base, and then divide that base into three portions. You then flavor the portions with freeze-dried strawberry and cocoa powder. There’s no need to make three different cookie doughs!

These Neapolitan cookies store well.

Some cookies—like the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe—are best when they’re still warm and gooey from the oven. Others, like my best snickerdoodle recipe and these Neapolitan cookies, develop deeper flavors the longer they sit. Don’t get me wrong! These Neapolitan cookies are PLENTY delicious when fresh from the oven. But overnight? All three flavors become even more pronounced. You’ll be able to taste fresh strawberries from the freeze-dried strawberries, and deep chocolate from the cocoa powder even more.

neapolitan cookies

Ingredients and Substitutions

Now that I’ve convinced you to make these Neapolitan cookies, here’s your shopping list for the recipe:

Shopping List for Neapolitan Cookies

  • freeze-dried strawberries
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking soda
  • kosher salt
  • unsalted butter
  • granulated sugar
  • large eggs
  • pure vanilla extract
  • pink OR red food coloring
  • black OR Dutch-processed cocoa powder

And let’s talk about some key ingredients and their substitutions:

Freeze-Dried Strawberries

These Neapolitan cookies need ½ cup freeze-dried strawberries to make the strawberry portion of the cookies.

What are freeze-dried strawberries?

Freeze-dried strawberries are fresh strawberries that have been frozen in a low-pressure vacuum. These conditions cause the moisture in the fruit to first turn into ice, then into water vapor very quickly. In general, freeze-drying fruit removes water much more efficiently than traditional drying methods. You can read more about the process here, as well as all the different methods for freeze-drying fruits here.

Freeze-drying fruit helps preserve its nutrients. It also concentrates the fruit’s flavor. After the fruit has been freeze-dried, they look like smaller, shrunken, and dry version of themselves. Some of the fruit will have a crunchy texture; others, a little bit spongey. If stored properly, freeze-dried fruit will have a shelf-life of several years. In baking, using freeze-dried fruit is a great way to add the flavor and the sweetness of fruit without any of its moisture.

Where do you buy freeze-dried strawberries?

In the US, more and more supermarkets are starting to carry freeze-dried fruit. Both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market offer a variety of different freeze-dried fruits in their dried fruit and nut aisle. Most recently, I saw Target offer freeze-dried strawberries as part of their new Good & Gather brand. However, you can also buy freeze-dried strawberries online on Amazon. I recommend the Natierra brand.

Can I use other freeze-dried fruit in these Neapolitan cookies?

In theory, yes. You can substitute out the freeze-dried strawberries with any other freeze-dried fruit you prefer. Use ½ cup of whatever fruit you prefer (I personally recommend raspberries). The substitution will be 1:1 in terms of volume, but not necessarily in terms of weight. That’s because 1 cup of freeze-dried strawberries is slightly heavier than 1 cup of freeze-dried blueberries, whereas 1 cup of freeze-dried bananas weighs slightly more, and so on.

Also note that, if you swap out the strawberries with another fruit, your cookies will no longer taste like chocolate strawberries. Instead, the cookies will taste like the fruit you chose. I know that seems obvious, lol. But you should see some of the questions and comments I get on this blog!

All-Purpose Flour

These Neapolitan cookies need 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour to make the cookie dough base.

Does a 1-1 gluten-free all-purpose flour work in this Neapolitan cookie recipe?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I rarely bake with those types of flour replacements because they’re expensive and my household is fortunate not to have any gluten restrictions. However, if you replace the flour in these Neapolitan cookies with any gluten-free alternatives, please leave a comment so I can update this post accordingly!

That being said, if you’ve used 1-1 gluten-free all-purpose flour in another chewy sugar cookie recipe and were satisfied with the results, then it’s likely that 1-1 gluten-free all-purpose flour will also work in this recipe. Why? Despite their complicated appearance, the Neapolitan cookies are made with a fairly standard cookie base! If it worked for you in another, similar sugar cookie recipe, it’ll likely work here, too.

Eggs

These Neapolitan cookies need 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk to make the cookie dough base.

I don’t eat egg because of allergies and/or my diet. What can I use instead of egg?

I’m sorry, but I don’t 100% know. In general, my specialty lies in creating baking recipes with conventional ingredients. If you’re looking for an eggless or vegan pancake recipe, I suggest checking out my friends Ashlae at Oh Ladycakes and Laura at The First Mess. Both of them specialize in vegan cooking. They will be able to help you out better than I can!

That being said, if you’ve used flax eggs in sugar cookie recipes before with success, it’s likely they’ll work in this recipe. Similarly, if you’ve used an egg replacer (like Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer) in other sugar cookie recipes with success, it’ll also likely work in this recipe. Why? These Neapolitan cookies are made with a pretty standard sugar cookie dough recipe that’ll probably be pretty similar to what you’ve made in the past with the replacers. However, since I’ve never tried the substitutions myself, I cannot 100% guarantee the results. If you replace the egg in these Neapolitan cookies with any of the options I provided, please leave a comment so I can update this post accordingly!

Pink OR Red Food Coloring

These Neapolitan cookies need a few drops of pink OR red food coloring to make the strawberry portion of the cookies.

Ew, food coloring. Do I really need to use food coloring to make these Neapolitan cookies?

No, but your cookies probably won’t look as cute as mine. According to Sarah, you can make these cookies without food coloring. However, she warns that the freeze-dried strawberries on their own don’t give the cookies a bright, pink hue. So if you skip the food coloring, the strawberry portion of your Neapolitan cookies will likely turn out a VERY pale pink or even remain white like the vanilla portion.

Okay, you’ve convinced me to use food coloring. What food coloring did you use to make these Neapolitan cookies?

I used this Americolor Soft Gel Paste in Deep Pink. This color is a part of this Americolor Nifty-Fifty kit that I also own. Although it’s a little on the spendy side, I cannot say enough good things about my set. However, if you’re on a budget, I also recommend this Wilton 8-Count Gel Icing Color Set.

That being said, the most commonly available food coloring set in American grocery stores is this small McCormick set. Its red color will do just fine in this Neapolitan cookie recipe.

Black or Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder

These Neapolitan cookies need 2 Tablespoons of black OR Dutch-processed cocoa powder to make the chocolate portion of the cookies.

Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder versus Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder, when used in baking recipes, comes in two varieties: Dutch-processed and natural unsweetened.

Natural unsweetened cocoa powder is more typical. It is cocoa powder in its purest form. It is slightly reddish brown in color and results in deeply flavored chocolate goods. Because it is slightly acidic, it is often paired with baking soda in baking recipes. This pairing helps create a chemical reaction that will cause the baked good to rise in the oven.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder is natural unsweetened cocoa powder that’s been treated with alkaline to neutralize its acidity. This treatment gives it a darker color and milder flavor. It is the cocoa powder that is used for making midnight-black baked goods like Oreos.

Okay, makes sense. But then what’s black cocoa powder?

Black cocoa powder is Dutch-processed cocoa powder that’s even MORE heavily treated with the alkaline solution. Doing so results in an almost charcoal black cocoa powder with an even deeper intense chocolate flavor. For my Neapolitan cookies, I used black cocoa powder. That’s why the chocolate portion of my cookies is so dark!

Where do I find either black or Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

Black cocoa powder is typically available in specialty herb and spice shops. However, I just order mine online. Amazon sells many varieties of black cocoa powder. However, my personal favorite is this black cocoa powder from King Arthur Baking Company.

You can easily find Dutch-processed cocoa powder in the baking aisle of every major grocery store. My favorite Dutch-processed cocoa powders in the grocery store are Ghirardelli Unsweetened Dutch Process Cocoa and Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa.

neapolitan cookies

How To Make Neapolitan Cookies

Here are the basic steps to make Neapolitan cookies from scratch:

First, make the vanilla sugar cookie dough base.

  1. First, prep your ingredients. (Prep Time: 5 minutes)
    Luckily, prepping the ingredients for this Neapolitan cookie recipe is fairly easy. Simply measure out all the ingredients and make sure that your butter is at room temperature.

  2. Then, prep the freeze-dried strawberries. (Work Time: <5 minutes)
    This recipe flavors the strawberry portion of the Neapolitan cookies with pulverized freeze-dried strawberries. Use a food processor to pulse the freeze-dried strawberries into a fine dust. If you own a smaller food processor (like the ones I recommended in my Best Small Batch Baking Tools Guide), I recommend using it!

  3. Now, make the sugar cookie dough base. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    The Neapolitan sugar cookie dough base comes together fairly easily. Simply beat together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients. That’s it!

Then, make the strawberry and chocolate cookie dough.

  1. Divide the sugar cookie dough base into three, equal portions. (Work Time: <5 minutes)
    After making the cookie dough, scrape it out onto the counter and shape it into a rough ball. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into three, even portions. You can eyeball it. However, if you’re a perfectionist like I am, rest assured I included exact measurements in the recipe.

  2. Make the strawberry cookie dough. (Work Time: <5 minutes)
    Place one of the thirds back in the stand mixer and add the freeze-dried strawberries and food coloring. Mix until combined. Congratulations! You just made the strawberry flavored portion of the cookie dough.

  3. Make the chocolate cookie dough. (Work Time: <5 minutes)
    Wipe down the bowl and place another third of cookie dough back in the stand mixer. Add the cocoa powder and mix until combined. You just made the chocolate portion of the cookie dough! You now have all the components to make the Neapolitan cookies.

Now, scoop and shape the Neapolitan cookies.

  1. Portion the vanilla cookie dough. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    The fastest and easiest way to portion cookie dough is with a cookie dough scoop. Use a 1-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the vanilla dough into cookie dough balls, placing the cookie dough balls on a lined sheet pan as you go. Don’t worry about placing them on the sheet pan for baking just yet. We still need to assemble the Neapolitan cookies!

  2. Portion the strawberry cookie dough. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    If you want the different portions of the cookies to be REALLY distinct from one another (learn more in the Baker’s Tips section), wipe down the inside of the cookie dough scoop with a paper towel. Then, use the scoop to portion the strawberry dough into cookie dough balls. Place them next to the vanilla cookie dough balls.

  3. Portion the chocolate cookie dough. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Finally, wipe down the inside of the cookie dough scoop one last time. Then, use the scoop to portion the chocolate dough into cookie dough balls. Place them next to the vanilla and strawberry cookie dough balls. At this point, you should have clusters of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate cookie dough balls next to each other. There should be 15 total clusters. Each cluster represents one single Neapolitan cookie.

Assemble the Neapolitan cookies.

  1. Shape the Neapolitan cookies. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    Now comes the fun part! Take one of the cookie dough clusters—containing one vanilla dough ball, one strawberry dough ball, and one chocolate dough ball—and press them together so that they adhere together and form one giant cookie dough ball. Repeat until you have 15 tri-colored cookie dough balls.

  2. Coat the Neapolitan cookies. (Work Time: 5 minutes)
    To go the extra mile, I rolled each Neapolitan cookie dough ball in sugar, similar to how I would roll my best snickerdoodles in a cinnamon sugar coating topping. This extra sugar makes the cookies sparkly and fun!

Finally, bake the Neapolitan cookies.

  1. Bake the Neapolitan cookies. (Bake Time: 10 minutes)
    You need to bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies have set and feel firm to the touch. The centers should still look a little doughy—that’s totally normal, I promise! It’s the secret to perfectly chewy centers.
neapolitan cookies

Recipe Troubleshooting and FAQ

FAQ: Neapolitan Cookie Recipe Techniques

Can I refrigerate the neapolitan cookie dough overnight before baking?

Yes! In fact, I encourage you to do so. Why? There’s research that states that resting your cookie dough will lead to a more delicious, flavorful cookie. You can learn more in this Serious Eats post about the science behind the best chocolate chip cookies.

Although you can refrigerate the sugar cookie dough base, I highly encourage you to divide the sugar cookie dough base into the different flavors first. That way, the extra time in the refrigerator allows the flour and sugar to absorb more flavors from the freeze-dried strawberries and cocoa powder. You can refrigerate these different doughs and then scoop and portion them into Neapolitan cookies. However, I encourage you to scoop and portion them into the cookies and THEN refrigerate them as dough balls. Again, doing so will make a more flavorful cookie!

Help! My cookies came out too puffy. They didn’t sink after baking and don’t look flat like yours. What did I do wrong?

Ah, yes. Did you use volume measures and measure out ingredients with measuring cups? Cookies are one of the baked goods that are VERY susceptible to variations in volume measurements. 

What does that mean? Cup measures can vary dramatically, depending on how the baker fills them. A baker who scoops out flour from a measuring cup and packs it down will have a “heavier” measuring cup filled with more flour than a baker who simply scoops the flour into the cup and levels it off once it’s filled. This is why bakers love measuring by weight with a digital scale instead of by volume with measuring cups. It’s much more reliable and completely eliminates the inconsistencies that come from using measuring cups and volume measures.

It’s likely that your cookies didn’t flatten because your cup of flour was too heavy. Did you scoop your measuring cup into a bag of flour, pack down the flour, and then lift it out and into your mixing bowl? If so, that’s no bueno. The correct way to fill a dry measuring cup is to spoon the dry ingredient into the measuring cup until it forms a small mound within the cup. Use a butter knife or bench scraper to level off the mound so that the ingredient is flush with the top edges of the measuring cup. Furthermore, if your bag of flour has been sitting around untouched for a while, you’ll need to aerate it. Simply whisk the flour in its bag with a small fork or whisk before scooping it into your measuring cup. 

I told you using a digital scale was easier, right? 😜

Help! I had the opposite problem. My cookies came out way too flat and spread too much. What did I do wrong?

Okay, first things first: was your butter SUPER soft when you made these cookies? Like, if you were to poke the butter, your finger would go right through it? And did the dough feel greasy when you assembled the cookies?

If so, your butter was way too soft. Not a lot of people know this, but it’s actually possible to oversoften your butter. When recipes instruct you to bring your butter to room temperature, they mean bring it to a temperature between 65° and 70°F. Perfectly softened butter should still be slightly cool to the touch, and the butter should hold their shape when lightly poked. If your butter is too soft and melty, it can have adverse effects on the final product. That is, cookies will spread too much when baked, and buttercream frosting will turn out soupy and liquidy.

Luckily, you can easily fix this issue! After assembling the cookies, refrigerate for about an hour or so before baking. Chilling the cookies will firm up the butter and prevent the cookies from spreading too much in the oven.

FAQ: Storing Neapolitan Cookies

How To Store Neapolitan Cookies

After baking, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container or zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Can you freeze Neapolitan cookies?

Yes! You can freeze these Neapolitan cookies in the following ways:

  1. Freeze the UNBAKED Neapolitan cookies.
    Follow the recipe instructions to make the Neapolitan cookie dough balls. However, there’s no need toll them in the sugar topping—you’ll freeze the cookies without them! Instead, place the cookie dough balls in a small sheet pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour, or until the cookie dough balls are frozen solid. Transfer the cookie dough balls to a zip-top bag and freeze for up to 1 year.

    To bake the frozen cookie dough balls, follow the recipe’s instructions for preheating the oven. As the oven preheats, roll each cookie dough ball in the granulated sugar. There’s no need to thaw the cookie dough beforehand. Follow the recipe instructions for arranging the cookie dough balls on a sheet pan. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still gooey.

  2. Freeze the BAKED Neapolitan cookies.
    Individually wrap any leftover Neapolitan cookies in two layers of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. The aluminum foil will prevent the cookies from absorbing any other flavors or odors in the freezer. When ready to serve, transfer to the refrigerator to chill overnight. Rewarm in the microwave or in the oven at 350°F for 5 minutes before serving.

Best Neapolitan Cookie Recipe Tips

Technique Tip

  • This Neapolitan cookie recipe instructs you to make one base sugar cookie dough recipe and divide it into three equal portions to make the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors of the cookie. Because I am a perfectionist, I ended up weighing the cookie dough on a digital scale. It came in at slightly more than 35.25 ounces (999 grams). As a result, I instruct you to divide the dough into three equal portions, weighing 11.75 ounces (333 grams) each. Note that these weights are just approximations. There will be variations based on factors like if you used measuring cups, egg sizes, and more. However, if you used a digital scale to measure your ingredients like I did, I’m confident you’ll come in close to my numbers.

Shaping Tip

  • There are a couple of strategies here: I lightly pressed the three cookie dough balls together and didn’t really knead or meld them together. That way, each of the three flavors really kept their distinct shape and color in my final Neapolitan cookies. However, both Sarah and my friend Amy (who has a very similar recipe for Matcha Neapolitan Sugar Cookies) recommend rolling the ball between your palms (like you would Play-Doh). Doing so combines the three different cookie doughs a little more, creating streaks of different colors throughout each cookie.

    The advantage to my method is that the different flavors really stand out on their own. You’ll be able to take a bite out of the vanilla section and JUST taste vanilla, and so on. However, you’re still able to taste the different flavor combos together by biting intersections. A bite of the cookie where the vanilla and strawberry meet will taste like vanilla AND strawberries, a bite where the strawberry and chocolate meet will taste like strawberries AND chocolate, etc. The center of the cookie (where the three flavors intersect) will taste like all three flavors at once. Cool, right?

    However, if you want to taste all three flavors with EVERY bite, roll the cookie dough balls. Doing so will get the flavors to combine more and get a streaky, mottled looking cookie!

Baking Tip

  • I like to bake the cookies one pan at a time. I find that doing so makes the best cookies, ensuring that none of them have overly burnt bottoms or raw centers. However, to save time, you can bake two sheet pans at a time. Position a rack in the upper-third position of the oven, and a second one in the lower-third position of the oven. Bake a pan on each rack, swapping their positions half way through the Bake Time.

Video Tutorial for Neapolitan Cookie Recipe

Use the video player below to watch my Instagram Story tutorial on how to make these Neapolitan cookies! The arrows to the left and right of the frame allow you to skip through the different recipe steps. You can also hit the “pause” or “enlarge” buttons on the upper right hand side of the frame to pause or enlarge the frames accordingly.


Alternatively, head to my Instagram profile to watch these Stories on mobile! The circles underneath my bio indicate saved Instagram Story highlights for various recipes. Click on one of the circles to play the video tutorial for the recipe. You may need to swipe left or right to find this Neapolitan cookie recipe.

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Ingredients

For the Neapolitan Cookies

  • ½ cup (0.30 ounces or 8 grams) freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 ½ cups plus 1 Tablespoon (12.85 ounces or 364 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups (12.35 ounces or 350 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops pink OR red food coloring
  • 2 Tablespoons black OR Dutch-processed cocoa powder

For Finishing

  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Equipment

  • A food processor
  • a 1-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop

Instructions
 

For the Neapolitan Cookies

  • Prep your oven and pans. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 3 half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Prep the freeze-dried strawberries. Use a food processor to pulse the freeze-dried strawberries into a fine powder.
  • Make the base cookie dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add the egg and egg yolk one at a time, adding the next egg only after the previous one is fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Divide the dough. Use the rubber spatula to scrape the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a rough ball. Use a bench scraper to divide it into three equal portions weighing roughly 11.75 ounces (333 grams) each.
  • Make the strawberry dough. Place one third of the dough back into the mixer and add the powdered strawberries and food coloring. Beat on low speed until just combined. Remove the dough and wipe down the inside of the bowl with a paper towel.
  • Make the chocolate dough. Place another third of the dough back into the mixer and add the cocoa powder. Beat on low speed until just combined.
  • Prep the cookies for shaping. Use a 1-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the vanilla (white) cookie dough into 15 balls. Wipe down the inside of the cookie dough scoop with a paper towel, then use the scoop to portion the strawberry (pink) cookie dough into 15 balls. Wipe down the inside of the cookie dough scoop once more, then use the scoop to portion the chocolate (brown) cookie dough into 15 balls.
  • Shape the cookies. Take a vanilla (white) cookie dough ball, a strawberry (pink) cookie dough ball) and chocolate (brown) cookie dough ball and press them gently together. They should adhere to each other but keep their own unique colors. Toss the tri-colored cookie dough ball in a shallow bowl filled with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, covering it completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough balls.
  • Bake the cookies. Place the coated cookies at least 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. Bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still gooey. The cookies will look puffed when you pull them out of the oven, but will fall and crack into the perfect cookies as they cool. Cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies have set and feel firm to the touch. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
  • Serve and store. Serve warm, or at room temperature. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or a zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes

  • Adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s 100 Cookies: The Baking Book For Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More. Check out her Instagram @sarah_kieffer and blog, The Vanilla Bean Blog!
  • This Neapolitan cookie recipe instructs you to make one base sugar cookie dough recipe and divide it into three equal portions to make the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors of the cookie. Because I am a perfectionist, I ended up weighing the cookie dough on a digital scale. It came in at slightly more than 35.25 ounces (999 grams). As a result, I instruct you to divide the dough into three equal portions, weighing 11.75 ounces (333 grams) each. Note that these weights are just approximations. There will be variations based on factors like if you used measuring cups, egg sizes, and more. However, if you used a digital scale to measure your ingredients like I did, I’m confident you’ll come in close to my numbers.
  • There are a couple of strategies here: I lightly pressed the three cookie dough balls together and didn’t really knead or meld them together. That way, each of the three flavors really kept their distinct shape and color in my final Neapolitan cookies. However, both Sarah and my friend Amy (who has a very similar recipe for Matcha Neapolitan Sugar Cookies) recommend rolling the ball between your palms (like you would Play-Doh). Doing so combines the three different cookie doughs a little more, creating streaks of different colors throughout each cookie. The advantage to my method is that the different flavors really stand out on their own. You’ll be able to take a bite out of the vanilla section and JUST taste vanilla, and so on. However, you’re still able to taste the different flavor combos together by biting intersections. A bite of the cookie where the vanilla and strawberry meet will taste like vanilla AND strawberries, a bite where the strawberry and chocolate meet will taste like strawberries AND chocolate, etc. The center of the cookie (where the three flavors intersect) will taste like all three flavors at once. Cool, right? However, if you want to taste all three flavors with EVERY bite, roll the cookie dough balls. Doing so will get the flavors to combine more and get a streaky, mottled looking cookie!
  • I like to bake the cookies one pan at a time. I find that doing so makes the best cookies, ensuring that none of them have overly burnt bottoms or raw centers. However, to save time, you can bake two sheet pans at a time. Position a rack in the upper-third position of the oven, and a second one in the lower-third position of the oven. Bake a pan on each rack, swapping their positions half way through the Bake Time.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

How To Make Neapolitan Cookies Gluten Free/Grain Free/Paleo

Kim, one of my lovely readers, made a paleo, low FODMAP version of these neapolitan cookies on her blog, Pretty Delicious Life. She used Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour to make the cookies grain free. She also used monk fruit sweetener instead of granulated sugar. Check out her post for more info!

Michelle holding Weeknight Baking cookbook covering her face.

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Weeknight Baking:
Recipes to Fit your Schedule

Over the past several years of running Hummingbird High, I kept a crucial aspect of my life hidden from my readers: I had a full-time, extremely demanding job in the tech world. In my debut cookbook, Weeknight Baking, I finally reveal the secrets to baking delicious desserts on a tight schedule.

This post was last updated 9/23/2020.