Halloween Sugar Cookies Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Total Time
Prep: 1 hour + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling
Halloween sugar cookies are a fun (and delicious!) way to get into the spooky spirit. From cats and bats to witches' hats, there are so many great Halloween cutouts to bake and decorate.

Updated: Jun. 10, 2024

Yes, these Halloween sugar cookies are a super fun activity to do with kids. But as an adult, I also love making these cookies with my friends every October. In my opinion, Halloween cookies are just as memory-making as Christmas cookies.

Host a get-together for your kids and their pals or your adult friends, serve Halloween-themed food, play spooky tracks on the speakers and sit around a table decorating these Halloween cutout cookies. And if it’s an adults-only gathering, a spooky cocktail or two will certainly make decorating that much more entertaining!

Ingredients for Halloween Sugar Cookies

  • Butter: Bring your butter to room temperature so the butter and sugar cream together properly.
  • Sugar: Use granulated sugar for this Halloween sugar cookie recipe. Don’t use brown sugar as it will discolor the cookie dough.
  • Egg: Take the egg out of the fridge 30 minutes before starting this recipe so it gets to room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract: We flavor these sugar cookies with a small dash of vanilla extract.
  • All-purpose flour: This type of flour lends just enough stability to keep the shape of your sugar cookie cutouts while keeping them soft, as sugar cookies should be.
  • Baking powder: Sugar cookies get their signature rise from baking powder.
  • Frosting: You’ll need confectioners’ sugar, shortening, water, and food coloring in yellow, orange, green and black.


Step 1: Make the cookie dough

Whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and saltTMB Studio

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light and blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.

Add flour in the blenderTMB Studio

In another bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat the flour mixture into the creamed mixture.

Editor’s Tip: After beating the mixtures together, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is incorporated.

Step 2: Portion the dough

Shape the dough into two portionsTMB Studio

Shape the dough into two portions. Form each portion into a disk. Wrap each disk in storage wrap and refrigerate the disks until firm enough to roll, about one hour.

Step 3: Roll out the dough and cut into shapes

Cut the cookies with halloween shaped cookie cutterTMB Studio

Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion of dough to 1/4-inch thickness.

Cut the dough with floured 2-1/2-inch Halloween-shaped cookie cutters. Place the cutouts 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Step 4: Bake the cutouts

Bake the cutouts until the edges are light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the pans and onto wire racks to cool completely to room temperature.

Step 5: Make the frosting

Beat together the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowlTMB Studio

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat together the confectioners’ sugar, shortening and enough water to reach a spreading consistency. Tint the frosting with the food coloring and beat until combined.

Editor’s Tip: If you’d like to make more than one frosting color, divide the uncolored frosting evenly among separate bowls for the number of frosting colors you’d like to use. Color each bowl of frosting with your desired color. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl to make sure all the food coloring is incorporated into the frosting or else your Halloween cutout cookies will have streaks.

Step 6: Decorate the cookies

Decorate the frosting on the cookies as desiredTMB Studio

Decorate the frosting on the cookies as desired. Let the frosted cookies stand until the frosting has set.

Editor’s Tip: Use a piping bag, mini offset spatula or a butter knife to decorate the Halloween cookies recipe.

Halloween Sugar Cookies cutout over black backgroundTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Bake a chocolate version: Chocolate sugar cookies?! Sign us up! Besides their delicious flavor, we love the dark Halloween-style hue that the chocolate imparts to these Halloween cookies.
  • Use royal icing: Have you ever watched one of those satisfying sugar cookie-decorating videos where the frosting pools seamlessly into the frosting outlines? That’s not frosting; that’s royal icing. It takes a bit more intermediate skill to use than regular frosting, but it makes the cookies look professionally decorated.
  • Cover with sprinkles: If your frosted cookies aren’t looking how you’d hoped, sprinkles will come to the rescue. Either cover the frosting with the same color sprinkles or finish with your favorite Halloween sprinkles.

How to Store Halloween Sugar Cookies

After you frost these Halloween cutout cookies and let the frosting set, store them in an airtight container. Try not to stack the cookies if you want to keep the designs from smushing, even if the frosting feels hard. The cookies are better fresher, but they should last for three days or up to a week at most. Check out more tips about how to store cookies to prolong their freshness.

Halloween Sugar Cookie Tips

Halloween Sugar Cookies cutout over black backgroundTMB Studio

Do you have to refrigerate the dough when making Halloween sugar cookies?

It’s tempting to roll out the dough and bake this Halloween sugar cookie recipe right away, but don’t skip refrigerating the dough first. Letting the dough chill prevents the Halloween cookies from spreading in the oven. That’s especially important if you’re making Halloween shapes like ghosts, cats and bats rather than circle cutouts. You want the shapes to be recognizable, and chilled dough will help keep them that way.

How else can you decorate Halloween sugar cookies?

Any Halloween-themed cookie cutter would work for these Halloween sugar cookies. Look for a witch’s hat, a cat or, if you’re going spookier, a ghost, a bat, a vampire or a coffin-shaped cookie cutter.

Triangle-shaped sugar cookies decorated with orange, yellow and white frosting look just like candy corn. Circle or square cutouts are easy to turn into Halloween cookies with a little imagination (and frosting), just pipe on spiderwebs, mummies or adorable Frankensteins.

Or, focus on Halloween colors with your sugar cookies. Try orange and black frosting, matching sprinkles, and “Boo!” or “Eek!” spelled out in black icing.

Watch how to Make Halloween Sugar Cookies

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Prep Time 10 min
Yield 2 dozen.


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons water
  • Optional: Yellow, orange, green and black paste food coloring


  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Shape dough into 2 portions. Shape each into a disk; wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm enough to roll.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-in. Halloween-shaped cookie cutters. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a large bowl, beat confectioners’ sugar, shortening and enough water to reach spreading consistency. Tint frosting and decorate as desired. Let stand until set.

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 182 calories, 6g fat (3g saturated fat), 18mg cholesterol, 103mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate (25g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.

I've been making these Halloween sugar cookies for about 40 years—first for my children and now my grandchildren and all their friends, too. I make about 20 trays a year to give away to trick-or-treaters. —Pamela Shank, Parkersburg, West Virginia