These Halloween cookies are like the classic Lofthouse frosted sugar cookies but made into shapes! The soft sugar cookie dough is molded into pumpkin, ghost, and cat shapes before baking. Each cookie is then frosted in vanilla buttercream to bring out their adorable designs.
What Makes These the BEST Halloween Cookies?
Typically, decorated sugar cookies are made the cut-out way. This is made with a firm dough that’s rolled out and cut into shapes.
But for these Halloween sugar cookies, they’re made with a soft dough that’s molded into a shape before baking. Once cooled, you’re left with an incredibly moist and tender cookie that tastes bakery-worthy.
To achieve that delicious texture, these sugar cookies are baked with a combination of butter and oil. The butter is there to add flavor, while the oil keeps these cookies super moist and tender. It’s just the right balance to where you can’t taste the oil, but we still get too reap all the textural benefits!
Additionally, these cookies are baked in bakery-style amounts. In other words, they’re big! This not only makes them extra special, but big cookies also bake better. It takes longer for the oven heat to reach the center which leaves us with a super dense and tender center.
After the cookies have cooled, they’re decorated with a simple homemade vanilla buttercream with just 3 colors – orange, black, and green. The decorating process requires minimal piping so anyone can make them!
Tips for Baking Soft Sugar Cookies
- Flour – I say this in every post, and for good reason. It’s the number one reason why most recipes fail, especially for cookies. If there’s too much flour, the cookies will turn out dry and they will not spread. If possible, measure the flour with a food scale. Otherwise, to ensure the exact amount, gently spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level if off with a flat edge. If scooped directly into the flour container, the flour packs down into the cup which could leave you with 1/4 cup or more of added flour.
- Cornstarch – Don’t skip this ingredient! It helps create an extra tender sugar cookie.
- Butter – Start with room temperature butter! The soft butter is mixed with sugar to create tiny little air pockets which helps the oven heat freely flow through the cookie. If the butter is too firm, this process cannot happen.
- Mixing – Right when the dough comes together, stop mixing! Over worked dough can lead to tough cookies.
- Scoop – Use a large cookie scoop, or 3 tablespoons worth. The larger size is key to a tender and soft center.
- Appearance – The cookies may look a bit too puffed when they’re fresh from the oven, but they should settle and flatten out as they cool.
How to Make Halloween Cookie Shapes
Rather than rolling out and cutting shapes into the dough, this cookie dough is shaped from the cookie dough ball itself.
Making a pumpkin, a ghost, and a cat, each shape starts with a basic cookie dough ball.
The ball is rolled smooth and then slightly flatted with your palm. Apply just enough pressure to create a flat surface on top but with about a 1/4 inch thickness.
For the pumpkin, the ball is shaped into an oval. For the ghost, it’s shaped into a teardrop, and for the cat it’s shaped into a circle.
To create distinctive shapes, each ball of cookie dough is molded with one or two additional cookie dough pieces.
For the pumpkin, a small amount of dough is attached to the top to create a stem. For the ghost, two small amounts of dough are attached to each side to create the little arms. For the cat, two pieces of dough are attached to the top to create ears.
When making these shapes, really try to exaggerate the angles because the cookies spread quite a bit once baked. So mold really sharp ears or an oblong pumpkin will bake into the perfect rounded edges needed to bring these characters to life.
What to do if the cookies spread too much
This recipe is all about creating shapes so if your cookies completely lose their shapes and spread too much, here’s what you can do:
- Chill the Dough – The dough must chill for a minimum of 30 minutes, but chilling longer will allow the dough to hold its shape better once baked. Chill for about 2 hours if you find that your cookies are spreading too much.
- Mold the Dough – When the cookies are fresh from the oven, use a butter knife or your fingers and (carefully) pinch and nudge the dough back into place. The cookies are pliable when straight from the oven so make sure to work fast.
- Butter – When making the dough, use a basic unsalted butter. Avoid Irish or European-style butters as these contain more butterfat. The fattier the butter, the more the cookies will spread.
Halloween Cookies FAQs
I haven’t tested it, but I think this dough could work with a gluten free baking flour. Sub the all-purpose flour with a cup-for-cup gluten free baking flour.
Yes, but I suggest chilling for 30 minutes first. Then mold all of the cookies and place them on a tray. Cover the tray and chill overnight.
These cookies need oil, so substitute either a melted coconut oil or olive oil.
The recipe as written will not set firm. If you refer a harder frosting, add another 2 cups of powdered sugar to the recipe. You can also add a tablespoon of meringue powder.
Unfortunately not, as liquid is not as pigmented as gel food coloring. This extra liquid will make the frosting too thin.
Sure! Just roll the dough into a ball and lightly press flat with your palm. Bake as instructed.
Store the cookies in an air tight container in the refrigerator. They will remain tasting delicious for about 5 days.
For more Halloween dessert recipes, check out my:
- Black Velvet Cake
- Monster Brookies
- Monster Cookies
- Halloween Candy Cookie Bars
- Sorting Hat Cupcakes
- Full Moon Brownie Cupcakes
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and comment below if you make these halloween cookies. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!Print