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Buttery Pastry Holiday Nut Rolls Recipe

Imagine curling up with a tender, buttery Nut Roll filled with a sweet walnut filling loaded with vanilla and cinnamon that melts in your mouth.


A white plate holding two nut rolls over a red napkin. Another plate of rolls and a cup of coffee sit in the background.

Holiday Nut Rolls have a tender buttery pastry crust and a sweet walnut filling that’s loaded with warm cinnamon and vanilla that melts in your mouth. Homemade nut rolls are perfect with a good book and a cup of coffee.

I had to get permission to post this nut roll recipe from my mother-in-law. This buttery nut roll has been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember.

She’s in her 90’s and learned how to make these Nut Rolls from John’s grandmother over 60 years ago. She’s been showing friends and family how to make them ever since.

We only make this Holiday Nut Roll before Christmas so they stay a special Holiday treat.

What are Nut Rolls?

The definition of a Nut roll can really vary. Some are made by making a jellyroll that’s sliced before or after baking.

Other Nut Roll Recipes, like this one, are made individually.

Even though John’s Grandmother was Italian, I can’t vouch that this recipe is an authentic Italian Nut Roll recipe. There are different versions that come from Central and Eastern Europe, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary as well as others.

They can have different fillings such as a nut paste, apricot, poppyseed, and coffee.

One thing that they all have in common is that they’re usually made for celebrations such as weddings, Christmas and Easter! Party on Nut Rolls!

There’s usually 3 or 4 of us that get together so they go together pretty quickly. Especially after you’ve done it a few times.

6 steps to making nut rolls including yeast mixure, crumbly pastry, pastry balls, pastry rolled out, pastry filled, pastry formed

How to make Nut Rolls

  1. Make the walnut filling by combining finely ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of vanilla. That’s not a typo. This nut roll filling is loaded with vanilla.
  2. Make a sponge for the pastry. A sponge is just warm milk, yeast, sugar, and flour. When the yeast gets active it gets a “spongy” appearance (thick and bubbly).
  3. Combine the dough ingredients with the sponge ingredients and mix with your hands until you have a pebbled consistency. Don’t try and blend all of the butter in. The pieces of butter are what gives the pastry dough it’s flakiness.
  4. Roll pastry into balls. My Mother-in-law is a stickler here. You have to have at least 70 balls otherwise they’re too big or too small. I got 72. Whew, I passed! We roll all of these at once and put them on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate them until needed.
  5. Roll out each pastry ball into a thin 4″ to 5″ circle.
  6. Smear on some filling.
  7. Roll and shape into a crescent.
  8. Brush them with an egg white wash, (one egg white with 1 tsp water whipped together).
  9. Bake at 375° 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
A white plate holding two nut rolls over a red napkin. A second plate filled with rolls and a cup of coffee sit in the background.

These Nut Rolls aren’t difficult to make but because of the amount that they make they can be time-consuming. That makes them all the more fun to make when you have 2 or 3 sets of hands to visit work together.

While one person rolls out the pastry, another person can add the filling and get them on the baking sheets and into the oven.

How to make Nut Roll Filling:

  1. Grind walnuts into a sand-like consistency. You can buy chopped walnuts but they are still too large and sharp for these Nut Rolls and can cause the pastry to tear. I grind them in a food processor.
  2. Add the ground walnuts, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to a medium-sized saucepan. Cook until thick.

Filling Tips:

  • The filling tends to get thick as it cools making it difficult to smear onto the pastry. You can add a little water to it and heat it back up on the stove.
  • I use an angled cake icing spatula to smear on the filling.
  • Don’t add too much filling. It will cause your nut rolls to split or break.
  • You can substitute another nut for the walnuts. I would keep the texture of the nut the same. Pecans or cashews would be good choices.

These Holiday Nut Rolls make great additions to a cookie tray and we give some of them away as gifts. I must confess though you have to be pretty high on the gift list to score a dozen. They’re great for Christmas morning too!

How to store Nut Rolls

Nut rolls can be stored at room temperature in an air-tight container. They also freeze well for several months. I will put them in an air-tight freezer bag and then in an air-tight container so the don’t get crushed or broken.

John gets very possessive because we make these rolls only at Christmas time. He hides any extras in the freezer so he can make them last as long as possible. They warm perfectly in the microwave in just a minute.

We also keep any leftover filling. I freeze it in small containers. John loves putting this Walnut filling recipe on his toast in the morning, and it’s amazing on pancakes and French toast too!

Other great Holiday tray recipes:

Chocolate Chunk Molasses Cookies with Pecans
Chocolate Chunk Molasses Cookies with Pecans aren’t your ordinary cookie.  They’re a delicious cookie with a celebration of flavors and textures.
Check out this recipe
Three cookies in front of an antique egg beater.
White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies Recipe
White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies are soft and tender. These festive peppermint cookies are a delicious addition to any holiday cookie tray.
Check out this recipe
Stack of four cookies on a white plate with a cooling rack filled with cookies behind it.
Spiced Coffee Cookies with Caramel-Vanilla Glaze
Spiced Coffee Cookies With Caramel Vanilla Glaze – A warm spiced soft cookie topped with gooey caramel and vanilla glaze swirl. These cookies taste like a delicious coffee latte.
Check out this recipe
Spiced Coffee Cookies With Caramel Vanilla Glaze are tender and delicious with a soft and gooey caramel. These cookies are like a delicious coffee latte. |
Nutella Filled Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies
Nutella Filled Hazelnut Thumbprint cookies are quick and easy to make. These cookies have a crunchy roasted hazelnut exterior, a soft cookie interior, and then topped with creamy Nutella.
Check out this recipe
Close-up sideview photo of a Nutella Filled Hazelnut Thumbprint cookie.
Kifli Walnut Roll Recipe
A Kifli Walnut Roll is a soft and tender dough filled with a sweet walnut filling and shaped into a crescent. Easy Walnut Rolls are special anytime.
Check out this recipe
A metal bowl over a blue napkin with a large and small Kifli Walnut Roll sitting on it. A tray of rolls and a cup of coffee sit in the back.
Strawberry Kuchen Recipe
Strawberry Kuchen Recipe has a thin sweet dough layered with fresh strawberries and topped with a smooth and creamy custard.
Check out this recipe
Angled view of a slice of Kuchen showing a layer of strawberries over a crust and topped with custard on a maroon plate. Strawberries are scattered around and a partial slice on a gray stand and the whole dessert in a pie tin is in the background on a gray background. The title "Strawberry Kuchen" appears in the bottom left corner

A few things you may need to make the perfect Nut Roll recipe:

  • Angled Icing Spatulas – I use these angled icing spatulas when frosting cookies, cakes, or adding filling to recipes.
  • Rimmed Baking Sheets – These sheet pans are durable and I have four of them so I can get everything baked in a jiffy!
  • Mini Food Processor – I pull this smaller food processor out of the cupboard a lot more than my full-sized. I love it for making salsa or chopping veggies.

Pin these yummy Nut Rolls

Close up of two baked nut rolls sitting on a white plate.

Nut Roll Rule – If you happen to over-fill them and they break they will not be as beautiful on your cookie tray. Therefore, you have to eat them, but allow them to cool slightly first. That filling is hot and will burn your mouth!

If you like this recipe, we would appreciate your comment and a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review!

two nut rolls sitting on a white plate over a red napkin

Holiday Nut Roll Recipe

Author: Hostess At Heart
These Nut Rolls have a soft and buttery pastry-like crust, and the filling is a combination of warm cinnamon, vanilla, and walnuts. These nut rolls make you want to just relax and savor them with a cup of coffee and a good book.
4.86 from 7 votes
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Breakfast, Cookie, Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword: Holiday roll, Nut roll, Pastry Nut Roll
Servings: 72



  • 1 lb walnuts ground fine
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • 1 cup milk lukewarm
  • 1/4 oz yeast 1 packet or 2-1/4 teaspoons
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 lb butter 4 sticks
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 7 egg yolks well beaten


  • Combine sponge ingredients and set aside until bubbly (10-15 minutes).
  • In a medium-sized saucepan combine filling ingredients. Cook until thick. Remove from the stove. If filling gets too thick while you make your rolls, stir in additional hot water or milk.
  • Combine dough ingredients as you would pie dough. Add the sponge to flour mixture and mix with your hands until crumbs form. Roll walnut-sized balls of dough and put them on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • Dust working surface with flour. Roll each ball into approximately a 4-inch circle. Spoon a tablespoon of filling onto the dough and spread it out. Don’t overfill or your roll will break open or ooze out in the oven.
  • Roll into a crescent shape. Brush with egg white
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375°F for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire cooling rack.
  • Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Can also be frozen.



  • If the filling gets to thick, add water to it and reheat it on the stove top until warmed and spreadable.
  • Roll all of the pastry balls at once. Work with a few at a time and keep the remaining ones in the refrigerator.  The cold butter in the pastry is what makes them flaky.
  • Don’t overfill.  They will crack open.
  • Store Nut Rolls at room temperature in an airtight container or freeze them by placing the rolls in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • Rolls are delicious slightly warmed in the microwave before eating. However be careful that they’re not too hot because the filling can burn your mouth.


Calories: 170kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 2gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 64mgPotassium: 48mgSugar: 9gVitamin A: 190IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 0.8mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

Looking for more cookies for your holiday baking? Check out these recipes!

 Don’t forget to pin this recipe before you go!

collage of two photos showing baked nut rolls on a white plate
4.86 from 7 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Thursday 11th of January 2024

I can't thank you and your family enough for sharing this recipe. I've been using this specific one for at least 5+ and it never disappoints!! My best friends MIL has a recipe that she never shares, I can't get her to break!! This is as close to hers as I'll ever get! These go so quickly in my home. I'm making it right now and I'll have at least 10 people lining up! Thank you again!!

Julie Menghini

Thursday 11th of January 2024

What a wonderful accolade, Jennifer. I don't understand not sharing. recipe. When your gone so is the recipe. So sad. We put some of our nutrolls in the freezer, but the freezer pirates find them and they disappear. Thank you!


Wednesday 13th of December 2023

what kind of yeast? Quick rise?, Instant Yeast? or active dry? Thank you

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 13th of December 2023

Hi Vicki, I know my mother-in-law used active dry yeast but I've had success using Instant Yeast as well. Thank you for an excellent question!

Nancy Ray

Monday 6th of December 2021

Do you have an idea of how many this recipe yields and could you cut the recipe in half?

Julie Menghini

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Hi Nancy, this recipe makes 72 nut rolls and yes, you can cut it in half. They also freeze well for several months.

Barbara Hinson

Thursday 25th of November 2021

This cookie recipe has been passed down for generations in our family as well. I have no idea the culture/nationality they came from either. Your mil's is slightly different, but basically the same. I'm amazed! Until moving to Eurasia, I had never met anyone who knew what these were (although they seemed to think they tasted great and waited for them to show up on cookie plates every year!) The country where we now live in Europe, this cookie looks a little different to them, but they are more familiar with it and it's variations.

Julie Menghini

Thursday 25th of November 2021

Thank you, Barbara! I was introduced to them by my mother-in-law who is now 95 and she got it from her mother-in-law who came to this country from Italy. Sadly I never met her because I would have loved a little more history on this recipe.


Thursday 24th of December 2020

Your recipe states 1c water in filling, yet in step 2 it does not state to add the water with the sugar. Can you please clarify. TY

Julie Menghini

Thursday 24th of December 2020

Yes, all of the filling ingredients are combined in the saucepan, including the water. It heats all together. Did you see that there is a video in the recipe card? I hope that helps you out but if you have any questions, just let me know.

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