Sweet and delicious Halloween Sugar Cookies are easy to make and even easier to eat! Everyone will devour these tasty cutouts decorated with simple black and white spooky designs that are made to look like Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas movie!
I love making cut-out cookies, and I love them even more when the decorating is simple.
There is a time and place for fancy cut-out cookies with piped designs that take hours, but if you’re looking for a quick Halloween cookie recipe that is a breeze to decorate with royal icing, then this is the one for you.
I made a few of these cookies look like my favorite Christmas skeleton, Jack Skellington! It was actually way easier than I thought to decorate cookies to look like Jack. He really is only two colors, with a recognizable big skeleton smile!
Looking for more decorated cookie ideas? Check out my Skeleton Cookies for Halloween and these delicious Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Maple Icing. And for other occasions, I also have Easter Egg Sugar Cookies and Valentine’s Day Cookies.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Soft and Chewy Cookies: These cutouts are soft and chewy rather than crunchy and hard.
- Simple Royal Icing: I’ll show you how to make a quick royal icing using egg whites – it’s perfect when you’re out of meringue powder or don’t want to buy some just to make a small batch of cookies.
- Two Color Decorations: Halloween cookie decorations are some of the easiest since you can make all sorts of spooky designs using just black and white frosting.
- Step-By-Step Baking Instructions: I want you to finish this recipe feeling really good about the Halloween cookies you made, so I’m giving you easy instructions each step of the way.
Complete list of ingredients with quantities and instructions is located in the recipe card below
- All-Purpose Flour: Regular flour is the bulk of the cookie dough.
- Cornstarch: Cornstarch added to the flour is a secret trick for making sugar cookies soft rather than hard and crunchy.
- Salt: Just a pinch makes everything else taste better.
- Unsalted Butter: Salted butter is almost always too salty for baking with. Use unsalted butter for the best results.
- Granulated Sugar: Sugar adds sweetness to the cookies, and creates a crisp yet soft texture here.
- Egg: Just one large egg, at room temperature.
- Almond Extract: Almond extract gives these cookies a bakery-style flavor that’s different than most recipes made with vanilla.
Simple Royal Icing Ingredients
This royal icing recipe is made with an egg white, if you prefer to make it with meringue powder, check out my Royal Icing recipe here.
- Egg Whites: You need the whites only from two large eggs. For food safety reasons, I use pasteurized eggs to make icing and meringues.
- Powdered Sugar: The main ingredient for most icing recipes.
- Black Food Coloring: We’re only making two colors of icing. White, and black.
How to Make Jack Skellington Haloween Sugar Cookies
- Get Ready to Bake: Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C, or 160°C if you have a fan oven, and line a baking tray with either parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt together and set aside.
- Cream: Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and use the paddle attachment to beat at medium speed until light and creamy. You can do this with a hand mixer instead.
- Mix and Chill: Add the egg and almond extract and beat until well incorporated. Then add the dry mixture to the butter a little at a time and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Flatten the dough into a disk shape and wrap it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Cut and Bake: Once chilled, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about a quarter inch. Cut out cookies using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.
- Make Royal Icing: Add the egg whites to your mixer bowl. Use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on high until they are foamy. Lower the speed of the mixer, and then add the powdered sugar slowly. Beat until the mixture becomes thick and starts to hold soft peaks.
- Tint and Thin: We need three types of icing to make these cookies. Black icing for piping decorations, white icing for outlining, and white icing for flooding. Take a fourth of the icing out of the mixer bowl and use gel food coloring to tint it black. Take another fourth of the icing out of the bowl and leave it as is (this will be the white outlining icing). To the remaining icing in the bowl, mix in 2-3 tablespoons of water to thin it out slightly.
- Decorate: Add the icing to piping bags or icing bottles (see more details below). Outline each cookie with white icing, then flood it with the thinned white icing. Let the background harden completely. Go back later with the black icing to draw skeleton faces, spiders, or webs.
Supplies Needed for Decorating Cookies
Piping Bags and Tips or Squeeze Bottles: You can decide which tools you’d like to use. Bakers who make a lot of decorated cookies all have their preferences.
Squeeze bottles make decorating cookies really easy. I like this set that comes with piping tips a lot. You can also pick up a cookie decorating kit from Wilton that comes with a bottle, meringue powder, a set of gel food colors, and some plastic tools for painting and moving icing around.
- I suggest using gel food coloring for tinting the frosting. This set of gel colors should last you a long time as a little bit goes a long way.
- Don’t want to do the detailed icing? These cookies will be delicious with just white or orange royal icing and Halloween themed sprinkles instead! I used this method to decorate my Easter Peeps cookies if you’re curious to see how it looks.
- If you’d rather not use egg whites to make royal icing, make meringue powder royal icing instead. Either method will give you shiny, hard icing for your sugar cookies.
- Clean your mixer bowl before making royal icing. Any residual butter from the cookie dough will keep the eggs from whipping properly.
More Cookie Recipes for Halloween
- No Bake Peanut Butter Cornflake Cookies
- Pumpkin Spice Pudding Cookies
- Twix Thumbprint Cookies
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
Do I have to use eggs to make royal icing?
The royal icing I used on these cookies is the most basic kind, and it’s made with egg whites and sugar. If you’d rather not use egg whites, you can use powdered egg whites instead (aka Meringue powder). See my Royal Icing recipe for more information on how to make royal icing without eggs.
Do these cookies need to be refrigerated?
You can store these cookies in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, or at room temperature for 1-2 days.
Is it safe to eat icing made with raw eggs?
I suggest buying pasteurized eggs to make royal icing with. That way you won’t need to worry about any potential salmonella.
Can I make the dough or the cookies ahead of time?
Yes! The cookie dough can be made and kept in the refrigerator for a few days. You can bake the cookies when you’re ready. The baked cookies can also be made and stored in an airtight container until you’re ready to decorate them. They should stay fresh, unfrosted, for 3-4 days.
Happy Halloween! Enjoy making these spooky sugar cookies for your kids or your friends this season, and be sure to Pin the recipe so that you can make it again next year.