These whimsical Halloween sugar cookies are baked from scratch and frosted with royal icing. We made jack-o’-lantern, ghost and black cat shapes, but you can use your favorite Halloween cookie cutters.
📌 PIN HALLOWEEN SUGAR COOKIES
Your dessert platter is ready and waiting to serve these sweet Halloween sugar cookies. An October family tradition, they’re easy to make, bake and frost. Host a cookie decorating party to share the fun.
👩🏻🍳 WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
- Simple Recipe: This is no-fuss recipe recipe is super simple and easy to follow. It’s ideal for both non-bakers and seasoned bakers.
- Made from Basic Pantry Staples: Check your cupboards. You probably have everything you need on hand right now to make a batch of these Halloween sugar cookies.
- Cookies Keep Their Shape: This recipe is ideal for cut-out cookies. The dough is easy to roll and cut. They bake perfectly flat for decorating.
- Tender Texture: They’re perfectly sweet and tender. They look and taste like bakery-quality treats, and are yummy enough to eat plain.
For gift-giving, put decorated Halloween cookies in cellophane bags adorned with black and white bows. On October 31, distribute these special trick-or-treat handouts to neighborhood ghosts and goblins.
- Unsalted Butter: Contributes a delicious sweet-cream flavor. Make sure the butter is softened. With unsalted butter we have complete control over the amount of salt in the recipe. But if using salted butter, just add a pinch of salt instead of the full 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Granulated Sugar: Adds the ideal amount of sweetness for these Halloween sugar cookies.
- Large Egg: Adds structure and flavor as well as a bit of leavening. It contributes to the height and texture of the cookies.
- Vanilla Extract: Enhances the flavor of the other ingredients while adding a classic bakery taste and aroma.
- Sea Salt: This tasty seasoning amplifies flavor and offers a delightful contrast to the sugar’s sweetness.
- All-purpose Flour: Helps provide structure for the baked goods. It contributes to the overall texture of the Halloween sugar cookies. Measure the flour with the fluff/spoon/level method, then sift it.
- Warm Water
- Meringue Powder
- Cream of Tartar
- Clear Vanilla Extract
- Powdered Sugar
GEL FOOD COLORING: Keep 1/3 of the royal icing white. Tint 1/3 of the batch with 2 teaspoons AmeriColor Super Black. With the remaining icing, remove 2 tablespoons and tint it with 3/4 teaspoon AmeriColor Electric Yellow. Tint the rest with AmeriColor Pumpkin.
📖 recipe steps
- STEP 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar.
- STEP 2: Add the egg. Beat briefly to combine. Add vanilla extract, sea salt and sifted flour. Mix until the flour is fully incorporated. But do not overmix. The dough will have a rugged tender texture.
- STEP 3: Form the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Chill it in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours. This is important. Don’t skip this step. Very cold cookie dough is the secret for helping these Halloween sugar cookies keep their shape in the oven.
- STEP 4: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Transfer cold cookie dough to a lightly-floured board. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out shapes with Halloween cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
RECIPE TIP: After rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes, gather the dough scraps together and wrap them in plastic. Stick them in the freezer to chill for a bit. It’s important to keep the dough cold.
- STEP 5: Bake the Halloween sugar cookies 8 to 10 minutes, or until the surface is just lightly colored but still pale. Don’t let them brown. Allow the treats to cool on the baking sheet for a bit. Then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before decorating.
👻 DECORATE HALLOWEEN SUGAR COOKIES
IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Royal icing (any recipe, not just ours) takes several hours to dry before fine details can be applied. If the base layer of frosting is very thin, it may dry in 2 to 3 hours depending on humidity. But the average drying time for the flat smooth surface is 6 to 8 hours (or overnight).
- STEP 1: Make the frosting with this 👉🏻 royal icing recipe. You can leave a portion of the icing thick for borders and fine details like dots. Or just thin out the entire batch to flood consistency (by gradually stirring in about 1/4 cup water) and use it for frosting for everything.
- STEP 2: Tint the icing in desired colors using gel food coloring, not liquid food coloring. If decorating ghosts, remember to leave a portion of the batch bright white for that.
- STEP 3: Transfer icing to piping bags fitted with small round metal tips. For these Halloween sugar cookies I used a Wilton #3 for everything – piping borders and flooding. But a Wilton #4 is also great. Keep several of these tips on hand to use for the various colors.
- STEP 4: Pipe borders around the edges of the cookies. Immediately flood cookies with frosting by filling in the areas inside the borders. Use a toothpick to move around icing to fill in any gaps or holes, and to pop any bubbles. Lightly tap cookies on the counter to settle and flatten the frosting. Let the icing dry completely before adding details.
- STEP 5: After the base layer of icing has hardened, pipe on fine details. Let the frosting dry and harden (about 1 hour) before stacking cookies between small squares of parchment paper inside an airtight container.
🤔 RECIPE FAQ
These are the most commonly-asked questions for making the BEST Halloween sugar cookies, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.
We chill the dough so the cookies will hold their shape and spread out in the oven. If time allows, place the tray of cut-out cookies in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill before baking.
I use Wilton #3 tips for piping borders and for flooding. I also use this size for applying details. But for tinier, finer details – use a #1 or #2 tip.
A thin layer of icing can dry in 2 to 3 hours, depending on humidity. But thicker layers of frosting will take 6 to 8 hours to dry (or overnight). The surface layer of icing must be fully hardened before adding details, or it will dent and/or smear. The fine details dry faster – in about 1 hour.
When stored in an airtight container lined with parchment paper (and small squares of parchment paper between the stacked cookies) they’ll stay fresh and delicious at room temperature for up to 1 week.
🎃 favorite halloween recipes
If you enjoy baking up fun, these are the recipes you need. Select 4 or more of these Halloween treats and you’ll have everything you need for your upcoming party. Pin the recipes to Pinterest to save them for later.
- Witch Finger Cookies
- Candy Corn Fudge
- Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
- Candy Corn Cupcakes
- Halloween Pumpkin Macarons
- Candy Corn Jello Cups
- Halloween Hot Cocoa Bombs
- Halloween Brownies
- Spiderweb Chocolate Bark
- PB and J Spiders
- Spiderweb Halloween Cupcakes
- Mummy Hot Dogs
- Guacamole Halloween Appetizers
RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Flavor testers rated these the BEST Halloween sugar cookies. They look like bakery cookies locally sold for $3.50 each and taste even better. These perfectly shaped cookies did not spread in the oven and were fun to frost.
If you agree these Halloween cookies are absolutely delicious, don’t keep them a secret. Pin them to Pinterest. Share them with a friend.Print
These Halloween sugar cookies are charming and sweet. They’re also easy to make and frost. These irresistible treats are perfect for gift-giving, Halloween parties, and other seasonal celebrations.
Halloween Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon “clear” vanilla extract (not amber-colored vanilla)
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- Gel paste food coloring, for tinting the icing
Halloween Sugar Cookies
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar. Add the egg. Beat briefly to combine. Add vanilla extract, sea salt and sifted flour. Mix until the flour is fully incorporated. But do not overmix.
- Form the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Chill it in the fridge for 3 to 4 hours. Don’t skip this step. Cold cookie dough helps the cookies keep their shape in the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Transfer cold cookie dough to a lightly-floured board. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out shapes with Halloween cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. [Gather the dough scraps together, wrap in plastic and re-chill them briefly in the freezer. Then re-roll and cut into shapes.]
- Bake the cookies 8 to 10 minutes, or until the surface is just lightly colored but still pale. Don’t let them brown. Allow the treats to cool on the baking sheet for a bit. Then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before decorating.
Thick Royal Icing
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the meringue powder and water until frothy. Add cream of tartar and vanilla. Beat briefly to combine.
- Slowly add powdered sugar and whisk until fully incorporated. Raise speed to medium-high and continue to beat until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes).
- Reserve 1/4 of this super thick icing for piping borders/outlines and fine details like dots. Divide up the icing and tint as desired. Transfer to piping bags with Wilton #3 or #4 tips.
Flood Consistency Icing
- Transfer remaining 3/4 of the royal icing to a small bowl. Slowly stir in water until the icing is the consistency of toothpaste.
- Check the consistency: Drag a butter knife through the surface of the frosting about 1 inch deep. If the icing smooths over within 10 seconds it’s the right consistency. [If it comes together quicker than 5-10 seconds, it’s too loose. Thicken it up with more powdered sugar. If it takes longer than 10 seconds, it’s too thick. Thin it out with water.]
- Divide the icing between bowls and tint with desired colors. Transfer the icing to piping bags fitted with small round pastry tips (like Wilton #3 or #4 tips).
OPTIONAL: If you won’t be adding super-fine details, you can thin out the entire batch of thick royal icing to flood consistency. Slowly stir in water a little at a time (about 1/4 cup) until desired consistency is reached. Use it for piping borders, flooding and details.
Decorate Halloween Cookies
- With the thick royal icing, pipe borders around the edges of the cookies.
- Immediately flood cookies with flood-consistency icing by filling in the areas inside the borders.
- Use a toothpick to move around icing to fill in any gaps or holes, and to pop any bubbles. Lightly tap cookies on the counter to settle and flatten the frosting. Allow it to dry and harden completely (about 6 to 8 hours or overnight).
- After the base layer of icing is hardened, pipe on any fine details. Let frosting dry until completely hardened (about 1 hour) before stacking the cookies between small squares of parchment paper inside an airtight container.
Favorite pastry tips for decorating cookies: For these Halloween sugar cookies I decorated the entire batch (borders, flooding and details) with Wilton #3 tips. But for larger cookies I’ll use a Wilton #4. If you’d like to pipe on very fine details, a #1 or #2 tip will work best for that.
How long for frosting to harden: A thin layer of icing can dry in 2 to 3 hours, depending on humidity. But thicker layers of frosting will take 6 to 8 hours to dry (or overnight). The surface layer of icing must be fully hardened before adding details, or it will dent and/or smear. The fine details dry faster – in about 1 hour.
Recipe Yield: About 20 to 24 small/medium cookies, or 12 to 15 large cookies. It also depends on the size and shape of the cookie cutters used, if the dough was rolled to 1/4 inch thick, and if all dough scraps were used.
- Prep Time: 20 Minutes
- Dough Chill Time + Icing Drying Time: 10 Hours
- Cook Time: 10 Minutes
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Halloween Sugar Cookies, Halloween Cookies, Halloween Cookie Dough, Halloween Cookie Decorating, Halloween Cookies Recipe
HALLOWEEN SUGAR COOKIES > JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Did you make and enjoy these sweet Halloween cookies? What cookie cutter shapes did you use? Join the conversation below.