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Sesame Checkerboard Cookies

These nutty buttery sesame checkerboard cookies are designed to pair with your morning coffee and afternoon tea. Made with two different types of sesame paste and shaped into cute checkerboard patterns, these cookies have all the goodness of a peanut butter cookie, taste even nuttier, and are peanut-free. They are perfect for Christmas, holiday gifting, and anyone with a peanut allergy.
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Chilling Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 2 hrs
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: holiday cooking
Servings: 40 cookies
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 1 and 1/2 stick (170 g) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons black sesame paste
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or tahini)
  • 2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds , black or white or both (optional)


Prepare the dough

  • Add butter and sugar into a big bowl. Use a hand-blender set on low speed or a wooden spatula to mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until it forms an even, white, and fluffy mixture.
  • Add the honey. Stir until it is incorporated completely.
  • Gather the mixture into a ball shape and use your spatula to divide it into two even pieces. Transfer one piece to another big bowl.
  • Add the black sesame paste into one bowl and add the Chinese sesame paste (or tahini) into the other bowl. Stir separately to mix well.
  • Add the flour and 1/8 teaspoon of salt into each bowl. Stir with a spatula until it forms a dough. The dough should be soft but maintain its shape. If your dough is too wet, add more flour, one tablespoon at a time, and mix with a spatula until incorporated. If your dough is too dry, add a few drops of vegetable oil and mix again.
  • Place a piece of parchment paper onto your working surface. Transfer one dough ball onto the paper. Use your hands to gently shape it into a rectangular block, about 5.5” (14cm) x 3” (7.5 cm) x 1” (2.5 cm). Wrap the parchment paper around the block so it’s completely covered while maintaining the shape. Transfer it to the freezer to chill for at least 20 minutes or in the fridge for 2 hours, until firm. Repeat the process to chill the other dough.

Assemble the cookies

  • Once the doughs are chilled, work on them one at a time to cut them into rectangular sticks. To cut the dough, slice it into 1/2” (1 cm) pieces, then evenly divide the pieces into long strips that are 1/2” (1 cm) tall and 1/2” (1 cm) thick.
  • To assemble, place three strips together, alternating the colors. Then place another three strips on top of the bottom ones, alternating the colors again. Gently press them together to form the checkerboard log.
  • (Optional) Spread the roasted sesame seeds onto a piece of parchment paper. Place the checkerboard log onto the seeds, one side at a time, and press gently so the sesame seeds stick the surface.
  • Wrap the checkerboard log with parchment paper again and chill for another 20 minutes in the freezer, until the dough doesn’t feel soft when you touch the surface. Or you can leave the dough in the freezer until you’re ready to bake. In this case, place the parchment wrapped cookie dough in a ziplock bag to prevent the dough from drying out. If the cookie dough is too hard to cut, let it rest on the kitchen counter for 5 to 10 minutes to soften before cutting.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Transfer the fully chilled checkerboard log onto a cutting board. Slice it into 1/4” (0.6 cm) pieces, and place it on the lined baking sheet. Make sure to leave about 1” (2 cm) of space between the cookies. You might need to bake the cookies in two batches. Bake for 15 minutes, until the bottom is browned and the center sets.
  • Leave the cookies on the baking sheet to chill for 10 to 15 minutes, until they firm up and don’t fall apart when you lift them. Use a spatula to carefully transfer the cookies onto a cooling rack or a large plate without overlapping. Let cool completely. The cookies will firm up once they reach room temperature.
  • The cookies are ready now. You can also store them in a sealed jar or ziplock bag at room temperature for 5 days. If you plan to store them longer, layer the cookies on parchment paper without overlapping in an airtight container, placing parchment paper between layers. Freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw the cookies in the fridge overnight, then on your kitchen counter until they warm to room temperature before serving.
  • Enjoy the cookies with coffee or tea!


Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 79kcal, Carbohydrates: 8.3g, Protein: 1.1g, Fat: 4.7g, Saturated Fat: 2.3g, Cholesterol: 12mg, Sodium: 42mg, Potassium: 11mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 3.9g, Calcium: 5mg