How to make clothespin cookies

clothespin cookies on plate

Call them clothespins, lady locks or cream horns, but nothing beats the light, fluffy pastry dough filled with a sweet buttercream icing.

Clothespins are pretty popular around Christmas and New Year’s, and of course we see them at bridal and baby showers and wedding receptions year round. Clothespins are a great addition to cookie trays, plus holiday guests love them!

I’ve started my own tradition of making clothespin cookies around Christmas each year to share with friends and family. So far, they’ve been a hit!

What you’ll need

clothespin cookie formsThere are two ways to make clothespins: with store-bought aluminum cookie forms, or with round clothespins (the ones without the springs). I’ve seen it done both ways, but I use the forms. I bought mine at a local bulk food store, but you can purchase them directly from Grama Joan’s. They cost around $15 for a box of 20.

There’s a recipe for clothespin dough on the cookie form box that you can follow (and there’s a simpler version on the website). There are also other recipes that can be found online. I use puff pastry dough. It saves time and it’s easy to use. You can find it in the frozen food section, near the desserts.

The cookie form box also has a recipe for the cream filling. It’s easy to make, but I prefer to make buttercream icing instead.

Bake your clothespins on a cookie sheet, either nonstick or lightly sprayed with nonstick spray.

Grocery list for clothespin cookies and filling (the simple way)

  • Puff pastry (1 package will make about 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on how you cut the dough)
  • Parchment paper (optional; use to lay on counter while spreading out the dough)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Margarine or butter
  • Vanilla extract
  • Milk
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Pastry bag and tip (or use a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small slit in one corner)

How to make clothespin cookies

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. If you follow Grama Joan’s recipe, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

puff pastryAfter the puff pastry has been out of the freezer to thaw for a few minutes, unwrap one sheet and unfold it on the parchment paper (or your counter). You can use a rolling pin to flatten it out further if you would like. If you don’t flatten it, your clothespins may turn out more puffy.

When the puff pastry sheet is unfolded, there are three sections. You can cut them into ½-inch strips and end up with about 12-15 strips per sheet. Depending on how you want your clothespins to look (large and flaky or smaller), you can cut the dough into different sized strips. I’ve used long, ½-inch wide strips, and I’ve used short, ½-inch wide strips. I had better luck with the longer strips.

wrapping puff pastry dough on clothespin cookie formsTake a cookie form and wrap one strip of dough around it, slightly overlapping the dough each time you wrap it around the form. Press the end of the dough firmly onto the form before placing on a nonstick or lightly greased cookie sheet.

Once your cookie sheet is full of clothespins, bake for 10-12 minutes. Clothespins should be lightly browned on the bottom.

puff pastry dough on clothespin cookie formsRemove cookies from oven and let cool for a few minutes, then remove them from the forms while they’re still warm. The forms will be hot, so you can place them in a cup or bowl of cold water before using them for your next batch.

Once clothespins are completely cool, you can fill them.

How to make filling for clothespin cookies

The back of the cookie form box has a recipe for the filling, and it’s on Grama Joan’s website, too. I follow a simple buttercream icing recipe to fill my clothespins. It makes enough to fill about 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on how large you made your clothespins.

Buttercream icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ⅓ stick margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Mix powdered sugar and margarine in medium bowl.
  2. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Beat until smooth and spreadable. You may need to add additional milk.

Use a couple drops of food coloring to tint your icing if you want.

Filling clothespins

clothespin cookiesInsert a pastry tip into a pastry bag (optional). Fill a pastry bag or plastic sandwich bag with icing. Gently squeeze bag to fill clothespins with icing. More pressure on the bag may cause the icing to break the clothespins.

Use a sifter to lightly cover clothespins with powdered sugar. Use as little or as much powdered sugar as you would like. I’ve seen clothespins completely rolled in powdered sugar, and I’ve seen them just lightly dusted on top. There are no rules here!

clothespin cookies

Did you make this recipe, or have an alternate way to make the dough or filling? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. I am going to try the Pepperidge Farm
    Puff pastry sheets for my
    Clothespin cookies. I have better luck using 3/8 inch x 3 inch dowel rods my husband cut me. Then lightly coat with vegetable oil. I use a different filling with flour-milk paste, powdered sugar, margarine, marshmallow creme and vanilla.
    I always made my own dough with Crisco but it is more time consuming.

  2. I still prefer the home-made puff pastry dough. I tried the purchased puff pastry rolling it very thin getting about 5 doz cookies. So many ladies down here near Columbus OH never heard of Clothespin cookies. They are a big hit up near Cleveland, OH like you said for Christmas, weddings and showers. I made them along with other cookies for my granddaughters high school open house in 2015 and they were a big hit using the home-made dough.


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