9 Best Halloween Cookies + 5 Easy Tips
Halloween treats, as we know them, first arrived in America in the middle of the 1800s. Back then, Irish settlers were known to bake ‘soul cakes’, little cakes that looked a bit like shortbread cookies. Find here the best halloween cookies and tasty alternatives.
The original cakes were made to commemorate those that had passed. Modern Halloween cookies are very different. They’re less commemorative, more colorful, and much, much tastier.
The 19th century Irish soul cakes were a little lackluster in style, even if their meaning was of a thoughtful nature. They were also likely quite dry and not all that sweet.
Today’s Halloween cookies are sweet, and heavily-flavored with delicious ingredients. Best of all, they look fun.
We’ve sought out and compiled a selection of the tastiest, best-looking Halloween cookies you can make at home. Plus you’ll learn just how to make the baking process relaxed and enjoyable, even with little helpers.
Best Halloween Cookies You Need to Try
Halloween cookies have been around for a long time, though they’ve changed a lot since their inception in the 1800s.
There are 100s if not 1000s of styles and flavors available today, making it a slight challenge to pick just what you want to try.
Thankfully, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 9 must-try Halloween cookies. Start with these and add them to your Halloween traditions to make year after year.
Pillsbury Halloween Cookies
We’ll start of with the very simplest Halloween cookies you can make at home. These are so easy, kids can make them all by themselves, provided you help them turn on the oven.
Pillsbury’s ‘ready to bake’ Pumpkin Halloween cookies are just what it says on the box — pre-cut cookies you just have to bake.
These are sugar cookies with added Pumpkin shapes. Quickly bake as a little treat for when you carve pumpkins or decorate for the season.
Halloween Sugar Cookies
Simple sugar cookies are a favorite amongst children and grown ups alike. They’re easy to whip up and prepare ahead of time, so kids can cut them out in fun Halloween shapes.
Set aside a selection of Halloween cookie cutters (pumpkins, skeletons, and little witches are always great.) Give your little bakers various colors of icing made from powdered sugar, milk and food coloring.
Gruesome Teeth Cookies
Scary dracula teeth cookies are super easy to make yet so effective. They look pretty scary, too. Start by prepping your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (or a tube of readymade cookies.)
Once you’ve baked your cookies, sandwich two at a time with vanilla frosting, adding mini marshmallow ‘teeth’ between each set. Finish with two slivered almonds (for pointy vampire teeth) and dollops of bloody red food coloring.
Oreo Spider Cookies
We love these Oreo spider cookies — they’re fun, creative, and a great Halloween ‘bake’ for young and old alike. Start by setting out some Oreo cookies on a tray (double-stuffed ones work particularly well.)
Break up pretzel sticks evenly until they’re about 1” long each. Stick these ino the white frosted Oreo sides for legs.
Finish your Oreo spiders with large white and dark chocolate frosting eyes. Add little white frosting ‘teeth’ to the front, if you like.
Some of the best monster cookies are honestly the simplest, take our word for it. The best ones we found were simple chocolate chip cookies that used broken-up smarties or M&Ms in place of chocolate chips.
Bakes as per your usual chocolate chip cookie recipe, and allow to cool to room temperature. Add googly eyes using white and black fondant, to make the cookies look like little monsters.
Feel free to get creative with the number of eyes and any funny expressions.
We think pumpkin-shaped Halloween cookies should taste a little like pumpkin, or at least pumpkin spice. The best recipes use a kind of modified sugar cookie dough, but with added pumpkin spice mix.
The dough is then chilled and rolled out per usual, after which you can cut out little pumpkin shapes. Once cooled, decorate these with orange-colored icing. Decorate to your liking for sweet our ghoulish pumpkins.
Ghost cookies are a great option for Halloween and very versatile too. Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe and cool before frosting these in a variety of ways.
They go well with simple white sugar icing, white chocolate, or even marshmallow creme. Decorate them with simple dark chocolate or black fondant eyes and spooky-looking mouths.
Top tip: if you go down the marshmallow creme route, make extra to dip them into.
Bloody Finger Cookies
These look fairly gruesome and inedible, but they’re actually delicious. You can make ‘finger’ shapes out of shortbread dough. Add almond halves to the end of each ‘finger’ before baking.
Once cooled, finish by painting on bits of dark red food coloring or jelly. Cherry is particularly horrible looking, yet tasty. Serve with a small bowl of jelly to dip them into.
Top tip: add some green food coloring to your dough before baking for witchy fingers.
Irish Soul Cookies
Gifting Irish soul cookies is sometimes seen as the original ‘trick or treating’ in the sense that you were giving or receiving a special treat.
You can still make these cookies today by following some simple recipes, which usually ask for a mix of the following: butter, sugar, egg yolks, flour, spices, sultanas or raisins, and milk. They’re shaped into simple rounds and studded with the sultanas or raisins before being baked.
Simple Recipe for Easy Halloween Cookies: A Guide
This delicious sugar cookie recipe is easy to follow but will yield yummy cookies that you can shape any way you wish.
Best of all, you can replace some of the few ingredients with alternatives if you have any dietary restrictions or food allergies.
For instance, the butter can easily be substituted with a vegan alternative, the milk with oat or almond varieties, and the flour with a gluten free option.
You may also use less sugar or replace it with coconut sugar or a fruit extract of your choosing.
- 1 ¾ of all purpose flour
- ½ cup of softened salted butter
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 1 tbsp of cornstarch
- 2 tbsps of whole milk
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 tsp of baking powder
And here’s how you do it:
- In a bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until creamy and quite light in color.
- Mix in the vanilla extract, milk, baking powder, and cornstarch.
- Gradually whisk in the flour until your dough is just formed. It should be soft and slightly crumbly when pressed. If you need to, add a little extra flour.
- Chill your dough in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
- Roll out your chilled dough until it’s about ¼” thick. Cut out the cookies with cookie cutters of your choice, working quickly to avoid the dough warming up too much. If you need to, re-chill your dough in between sheets.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until just slightly browned at the edges.
Leave the cookies to cool to room temperature before icing and decorating to your liking.
Simple Halloween Cookie Designs and Decoration Ideas
You’ve heard it before: some of the best decoration ideas are the simplest. This is particularly true if you’re looking to make Halloween cookies with children. Below are our top tips for making simple cookie design fun and fuss-free:
Prepare: the best way to cookie-baking success is to prepare. Set out little bowls and plates with decorative items. Instead of giving children entire containers of sprinkles or fondant, place manageable amounts.
Get Creative: don’t just stick to fondant, chocolate chips and sprinkles. Use any kinds of decorations you like. Think smarties, dried fruit, dried edible flowers, skittles, and more. You can even make your own food coloring (more on that further on in this article.)
Experiment: try some recipes you’ve never tried before. Test out flavor combinations you wouldn’t ordinarily think of. You may just find something you’ll want to add to your Halloween repertoire, to make again year after year.
Tips and Ideas on How to Make Halloween Cookies Yourself
Baking cookies for Halloween can be such a fun and rewarding activity, both for yourself and for any kids in your home. You can make any of the cookie ideas above — or all of them.
Enjoy them during the season or hand them out (ideally individually wrapped in some kind of paper bag) for trick or treaters. Here are our top tips to make sure they definitely hit the spot.
Steer Clear From Allergens
If you’re going to hand out your Halloween cookies as treats, you’ll want to steer clear of any obvious food allergens. Don’t bake with nuts, and try to avoid dairy if you can. You might even want to bake an extra batch of gluten free cookies, which are easily made by swapping your flour for a gluten free alternative.
Make Your Own Food Coloring
You can make your own food dye using a variety of fruits and vegetables. Berries are great for red, pink, and purple-hued dyes, while spinach and avocado are useful for green hues. Beetroot makes a very effective deep pink food coloring, which is totally safe and relatively flavorless, too.
Make Decorating Fun
As we’ve already noted above, it’s important to make the baking process fun. Hand out small dishes of decorative items to younger helpers, and put on a Halloween film or listen to some fun music.
The most important message here is to enjoy it. Make Halloween baking an integral part of this season that you’ll want to re-visit in the future.
Follow the Recipe
Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a novice, it’s always advisable to follow the recipe you’re using. Take your time and make sure you read and understand each step.
Prepare things like baking dishes in advance, preheat your oven as advised, and sieve ingredients that should be sieved. You’ll be glad you did.
When in Doubt, Try Something New
If you already know all of the above tips, and are perhaps finding yourself a bit bored of baking, try something new.
Go for a recipe you’ve never made before, or get creative and mix up some of the suggestions above.
Why not bake some pumpkin sugar cookies with googly monster eyes? Or Oreo critters that aren’t just spiders, but bugs, ants, and earwigs too?
Alternatives to Halloween Cookies
Halloween cookies are fun, but they may not be your ‘thing.’ Perhaps you’re reserving the cookie baking for Christmas, and want to try something different. Perhaps you want to serve up a spread of cookies and other things, too. Below are three of our favorite alternatives to Halloween cookies.
Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes
Halloween cupcakes are delicious, particularly if you make them pumpkin-flavored. In going with the season, adding pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice mix to your favorite cupcake recipe really elevates it.
Once baked, you’ll want to fill your pumpkin cupcakes with a little bit of salted caramel, and top them with salted caramel-flavored cream cheese buttercream. Enjoy with, you guessed it, a pumpkin-spiced latte from Starbucks.
Spooky Halloween Cheesecake
The best Halloween cheesecake, hands down is topped with marshmallow meringue ghosts. Follow your favorite cheesecake recipe but add pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice mix to the cream.
Once set (or baked) top with meringue ghosts you’ve made in advance. Draw little faces on each ‘ghost’ using an edible ink pen. Enjoy this whimsical spooky surprise.
DIY Halloween Candies
Nothing says warm and homely in this season like homemade Halloween candy.
You can make a great variety of tasty treats at home, including DIY peanut buttter cups (just tell any trick or treaters that these contain nuts in case of allergies), pretzel turtles with caramel, pumpkin truffles, and more. Delicious.