Halloween Sugar Cookies | The best, easy sugar cookie recipe using simple ingredients. Use your choice of cookie cutters and decorate the cookies with an easy small batch of royal icing to make some cute Halloween treats.
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Decorated Sugar cookies are my go-to when I need a dessert or treat that will impress people. Sugar cookies decorated with royal icing are pretty easy to make and can be made in one day, but they look like they took a lot longer.
To streamline the process of making larger batches of sugar cookies for Halloween parties or similar events, I make the sugar cookie dough in the morning and refrigerate it while I make the icing.
Once the dough is chilled and the royal icing is made, I roll, cut, bake and cool the cookies before coloring the icing.
Read about the ingredients below and then follow the instructions to make these easy, decorated sugar cookies. I'll show you my decorated Halloween sugar cookie ideas below, including how to make Halloween cookies without special cookie cutters.
Using what you already have but coming up with a twist on it is how I used an easter bunny cookie cutter to make zombie bunnies for Halloween.
About the ingredients for this recipe. See the recipe card below for exact amounts.
- for the cookies: basic baking supplies like flour, sugar, butter, and eggs
- for the royal icing: meringue powder, powdered sugar, and water
- to decorate: gel food coloring, colored sprinkles, a piping bag with a small tip
How to Plan Halloween Sugar Cookie Decorating Ideas
After deciding I didn't want to buy any new cookie cutters, I dug through my current stash of cookie cutters to see what I could use.
I came up with some pretty easy but cute-looking designs for these Halloween cookies. The only Halloween-themed cookie cutter I used was the pumpkin.
The other cookie cutter shapes I used were: a carrot, a bunny, a fluted edge square.
I made the cookies and the icing, and then wrote down which designs I was doing and which colors.
From there I figured out what I would need for the colors of the icing. Then I divided each color so I had a thicker outline icing (called piping consistency) and a thinner flooding icing for filling the inside of the designs (called flooding consistency).
I also used the piping consistency icing for decorating - piping the ghost eyes, the pumpkin swirls, and the vampire bunny face.
You can decorate them however you like, but below the instructions are some of my ideas.
- bring your butter to room temperature
- line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat
I use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer to make these sugar cookies.
Make the cookie dough
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the egg and the extracts and mix well. You can leave the almond extract out if you don't have it, but I think a little bit is nice in sugar cookies. Don't add more, it's very strong.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add to the mixer bowl. Combine well.
Chill the dough
Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. (This helps prevent the cookies from spreading in the oven, keeping your cutout shapes nice and neat.)
Make the icing and color it
Make the royal icing by mixing together the meringue powder and water. Sift in the powdered sugar and whip together for about 5 minutes, or until you achieve stiff peaks.
Plan out your cookie designs and colors, so you know what colors of icing you'll need. For each color, you will probably need a piping consistency icing to outline the cookie and for any decorating, and a flooding consistency for filling the inside of the cookie.
Divide the icing and add food gel to achieve the colors needed. Add water, a tiny bit at a time to some of each color, to use as the flooding icing.
Cover each bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel, because the icing dries quickly and to a very hard consistency when exposed to air.
Bake the cookies and decorate
Once the dough has chilled, roll it to about a quarter-inch in thickness and then cut out your shapes.
Place on a baking sheet with space in between each cookie and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely before icing. See below for icing ideas.
RECIPE TIP: Let the cookie dough chill for at least 30 minutes so your cookies don't spread as much during baking.
How to use Royal Icing to decorate cookies
When you're decorating sugar cookies you'll probably want to use different colors for different designs. For each base color on your design, you'll need two different consistencies.
So if you were doing a base color of light blue on your cookie, you'll need a thicker icing to outline it, called piping consistency, and a thinner icing to fill the inside with color, called a flooding consistency.
Piping consistency - this is the thick icing and the recipe is as the recipe card states. You'll color this and put it in a piping bag with a small round tip to use for outlining the cookies and for any decorations, such as faces or writing words.
Flooding consistency - this is a thinner icing. You'll make the icing as stated in the recipe card and then color it and set some aside for piping. To the rest, you'll add tiny amounts of water until the icing has thinned out a bit. It'll move easier but you don't want it watery. You'll use this for flooding or filling in the cookies. I like to put this in plastic squeeze bottles to make it easier to pour. You can also scoop it with a spoon and pour the icing on the cookie.
Halloween Sugar Cookie Decorating Ideas
So you want to make Halloween cookies but you don't have Halloween cookie cutters? That's ok - try repurposing other cookie cutters or just cut out squares or circles and decorate those with a Halloween theme.
How to Make Ghost Cookies
For these ghost cookies, I used a carrot cookie cutter from my easter themed cookie cutters. Once I pressed those shapes into the dough, I used a knife to cut off the bottom pointy part of the carrot.
Once I baked the cookies I used the carrot top part of the shape as the wavy bottom of the ghost.
To make them look even more ghostly, I used a thick piping consistency of royal icing for outlining the 'body' of the ghost. I then flooded the inside of the cookie with a thin consistency royal icing to fill it.
Wait about an hour or two until the cookies dry and then gently pipe on some black eyes and a mouth with black icing in a thick piping consistency.
How to make Vampire Bunny cookies
My goal with these cookies was to use other shapes and turn them into Halloween-themed cookies. When I spotted this bunny cookie cutter, I knew I could turn it Halloween-themed by turning it into something spooky, like a vampire.
I outline the head with piping consistency royal icing and then flooded the inside with flooding consistency icing.
Once the white icing is dry, pipe pink ears and a nose with pink piping consistency royal icing. Pipe black x's for eyes, then pipe on a mouth and fangs all with black piping consistency royal icing.
How to make Pumpkin sugar cookies
Ok, this is the only cookie I used a Halloween/Fall-themed cookie cutter. For this cookie outline with orange piping consistency royal icing and then fill with orange flooding consistency royal icing.
Once dry, pipe on some orange lines for details, using an orange piping consistency royal icing. Pipe on a green stem. Sprinkle on some orange decorating sugar if you want to while the icing is still wet.
How to make Spider/Boo cookies
For these cookies, I used fluted edge square cookie cutters.
Outline with white piping consistency royal icing and flood with white flooding consistency icing.
While the white icing is still wet, pipe lines of orange across the cookie, side to side, one below the other like lines in a notebook.
Immediately take a toothpick and drag up and down the cookie, wiping extra icing off when necessary. This will create a chevron kind of look.
Once the icing is dry, pipe spiders or the word "Boo" using black piping consistency royal icing.
✔ This recipe is vegetarian
You can make the sugar cookies ahead of time and store in the fridge for a few days until ready to ice.
Tips + FAQs
Royal icing is a type of decorating icing made with egg whites and powdered sugar. Royal icing dries to a hard consistency making it great for decorating gingerbread houses or sugar cookies.
Decorated Halloween Sugar Cookies
For the Cookies
For the Cookies
- Make the dough: Cream together the butter and sugar. I use a stand mixer.
- Add the egg and extracts to the mixing bowl and mix.
- Combine dry ingredients in a separate small bowl and then add that to the mixing bowl. Mix to combine.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes before rolling and cutting.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Sprinkle minimal flour on the counter and on top of the dough. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a quarter-inch thick or so. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.The dough can be re-rolled so that you can cut more shapes.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet, leaving space in between. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked and the bottom or edges begin to turn lightly golden.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
For the Royal Icing
- Using a stand mixer, mix together the meringue powder and water.
- Add powdered sugar and mix slowly until incorporated and then on high until stiff peaks are achieved, 5 minutes or so.
- Plan your cookie designs and then color the cicing with gel food coloring.
- Keep some icing at this thicker consistency for piping. (Piping consistency). Add a small splash of water at a time and stir to thin out the rest of the icing for flooding or filling the cookies (Flooding consistency.)
- Decorate the cookies: Use the piping consistency icing in a piping bag with a small tip to pipe lines on the outside of your cookies. Use the flooding consistency icing to fill the insides of the cookies with the same color. I use plastic squeeze bottles for this. Let the cookies dry. Cookies with dried icing can be stacked for storing or gifting.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you.
This post was originally posted on October 13, 2016, and updated on October 15, 2022, for clearer information and nutrition information.
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