These light and airy pastry cookies have such a delicate, flaky texture! Classic French Palmiers are easy to prepare at home and crisp up perfectly in the oven in under 20 minutes. Enjoy these sugary and crunchy, bakery-quality Palmiers cookies fresh from your own kitchen all year long!
Have you ever heard the saying that cooking is art, while baking is science? If the world of baking seems intimidating (especially around the holidays!), let me ease you into it with this incredibly simple recipe for beautiful French palmiers. These light and airy cookies look and taste like they’ve come fresh from a bakery, but happen to be amazingly easy to make at home.
Crispy and flaky, sugary and delicious, my recipe for palmiers cookies involves melt in your mouth puff pastry and a mixture of sugar and salt. Only three ingredients! Plus, these classic palmiers take little to no time at all to make. Let’s get into how to make palmiers cookies that look like they’re fresh from a pâtisserie display case!
What Are Palmiers?
Palmiers are a classic French pastry and cookie all in one, made from puff pastry and sugar, and then baked. Palmiers cookies are also known as elephant ear cookies, or palm leaf cookies for their resemblance to a palm tree leaf (palmier is the French translation of “palm leaf”).
These classic cookies are wonderful to enjoy with coffee or tea, as a snack, or as a light dessert. They also happen to be perfect for Christmas, with their light and crunchy texture and sparkling sugared appearance!
For such an elaborate looking cookie, Palmiers are in fact incredibly simple to make – with just 3 ingredients. Here they are:
Cane Sugar: Coarse sugar brings a delicate crunch and wonderful rich flavor to these cookies. Brown sugar or granulated sugar can also be used, though this may result in a slightly sweeter cookie.
Kosher Salt: Combined with the sugar, this is a light sweet-salty, crispy combination that really takes this simple recipe up a notch.
Puff Pastry: I am a shameless fan of good frozen puff pastry; and to save time, I use it for this recipe! You can find frozen pastry dough in the freezer aisle at most supermarkets. However, you can definitely use homemade puff pastry dough if you’d prefer.
How to Make French Palmiers
This classic French cookie recipe comes together in hardly any time at all, but will have guests wondering whether you slaved in the kitchen for hours. Follow these steps:
Combine the Sugar and Salt: To start, mix together the cane sugar and salt. Sprinkle part of the sugar mixture in an even layer over a clean surface (countertops work great!).
Roll Out the Dough: Place your first sheet of puff pastry on top of the sugar, then sprinkle a bit more of the sugar mixture on top. Gently roll out the pastry to press the sugar into the top and bottom of the sheet, until you have it completely coated.
Fold & Repeat: Fold the first pastry sheet into a palmier shape (the instructions are included in the recipe below!). You’ll then repeat the sugaring, rolling, and folding process with the second pastry sheet and remaining sugar mixture.
Chill: Wrap the folded palmier pastries separately in plastic wrap and place them in the fridge to chill the dough.
Cut and Bake: Cut the two doughs into half inch slices and place them with their cut sides facing upwards on a prepared baking sheet. Bake them in a preheated oven, flipping the cookies halfway through to allow both sides to become caramelized and golden. Leave them on a wire rack to cool completely before storing and serving.
In all their delicious simplicity, classic palmiers are also really versatile. There are so many variations you can try, from cinnamon palmiers to chocolate palmiers, and even savory options! Here are my favorite ways to customize these cookies:
Blend a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar or pumpkin pie spice into the sugar mixture for a warm fall flavor.
Spread a layer of chocolate spread or Nutella over the sheet of puff pastry before folding it.
Make savory palmiers with parmesan and fresh herbs, or garlic and olive oil.
Add in crushed nuts like walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts.
Tips for Success
Use New Parchment Paper for Each Batch: As the sugar tends to burn to the baking sheet while the cookies bake, re-using the parchment paper can cause the burnt bits to stick to the next batch. Change out the parchment between batches for the prettiest looking cookies!
Let Frozen Pastry Thaw Completely: Make sure your pastry dough is completely thawed before you begin; this may take 30 – 45 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.
How to Store Palmiers
Store airtight for up to 3 days at room temperature in a non-humid place. If the air is humid the palmiers will get sticky!
Can I Freeze These?
You can! My preferred method is to freeze the dough prior to baking by laying out the unbaked folded cookies on a baking sheet to pre-freeze, before transferring them to a container or resealable bag. When you’re ready to bake the palmiers, bake them from frozen with an extra minute or two tacked onto the time.
If you’d like to freeze cookies that have already been baked, allow baked palmiers to cool completely before storing and freezing them in a freezer-safe container (use parchment paper to separate the layers as needed).
Let the palmiers thaw at room temperature and then place them in the oven on low for a few minutes to crisp them up again. If the sugar coating has dissolved, give your re-crisped palmiers an extra sprinkle of sugar before serving.
A classic French pastry, Homemade Palmiers are easy to prepare and crisp up perfectly in the oven in under 20 minutes. Enjoy sugary and crunchy, bakery quality palmiers cookies fresh from your own kitchen for the holidays!
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Combine the cane sugar and salt.
Roll Out the Dough: Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture onto a clean counter or surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry and place it on top of the sugar evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup more of the sugar mixture on top of the pastry sheet. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the pastry out slightly, pressing the sugar into the top and bottom. Gather excess sugar around the edges and sprinkle it on top evenly using as much sugar as the pastry will hold. You want it completely coated.
Fold: Use a knife to score a vertical line down the middle of the pastry sheet. Fold one half of the pastry from the edge one-third distance towards the middle. Repeat by folding it over itself 2 more times reaching the scored line. Repeat with the other side of the dough, so both sides meet in the middle. Fold the left side over the right side, like closing a book. Set to the side.
Repeat: Sprinkle 1/2 cup more of the sugar mixture onto the same counter. Unfold the second sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of the pastry. Repeat the rolling and folding process the same as you did the first sheet.
Chill: Wrap the folded doughs separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with paper paper and set aside.
Cut and Bake: Working with one dough at a time, cut the dough into slices approximately 1/2- inch wide. Place them on the prepared baking sheet, 2- inches apart, cut side up. Bake for 18 minutes, until golden brown, flipping the cookies over halfway through baking so both sides caramelize. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Tip – Change parchment paper after each batch. You will get bits of burnt sugar on the baking sheet and if you re-use the parchment paper these bits will stick to the next batch giving them black specks and just generally not looking as pretty.
Allow the puff pastry to thaw at room temperature on the counter for 30 – 45 minutes. Or in the refrigerator overnight.
Store airtight for up to 3 days at room temperature in a non-humid place. If the air is humid the palmiers will get sticky.