Halloween—the holiday best known for the hoards of candy you get to bring home after a long night of going door-to-door in the costume you’ve been looking forward to wearing for months. But when it comes to trick-or-treating, one of the biggest tricks that’s been played on Halloween lovers is the idea that the only acceptable Halloween treat is candy. If you’re looking to be the best house on the block this year, you should consider diversifying your treats…for instance, with some daringly dangerous cookies!
Not sure how to dress your cookies up to win costume of the year? Keep reading for a list of my favorite Halloween cookie decorating ideas!
7 Halloween Cookie Decorating Ideas
One of the easiest Halloween cookie decorating ideas to take advantage of this season is to take advantage of cookie cutters. These neat little tools will lend a huge hand in helping get your cookies Halloween-ready, and with almost no work required on your part!
Unlike other Halloween cookie decorating ideas, cookie cutters do most of the work before you even stick the cookies in the witch’s cauldron—ahem, I mean, the oven. By using these ready-made shapes to cut your cookies out, you’ve already built in plenty of holiday flair before you even set them on the pan!
Of course, there are some concerns that arise when it comes to relying on cookie cutters for your decorating base. Some sugar cookies have a tendency to spread, losing shape and definition in the oven and turning your pristine bats, pumpkins, or ghosts into a host of blob monsters. And while that’s certainly something you can play with, if you were hoping for something a bit more clean-cut, you’re going to want to do everything you can to avoid spreading!
Luckily, there are a couple things you can do to prevent this. You can turn up your heat a bit to bake your cookies more quickly, giving them less of a chance to spread (but no more than 15 degrees, and keep a close eye so you don’t burn them!), or you can use parchment paper instead of greasing your cookie sheet. Grease will slicken the pan and make it easier for the cookies to “melt” out of their desired shape.
You can never go wrong with extra sugar! Whether you go the cookie-cutter route or leave your cookies to spread as they will, holiday-themed sprinkles are a great Halloween cookie decorating idea to take advantage of this season.
While this idea will require a little more clean-up on your part, it doesn’t require too much finesse to apply sprinkles, so it’s a good option to choose if you don’t have much time to get these done…or if you don’t have the patience to painstakingly decorate each and every cookie as a work of art. I know I prefer something quick and easy!
You can often find Halloween-themed sprinkles at any grocery store. My favorites are the little bats or skulls because they’re fun, but crystalline sugar sprinkles may be better for you if you’re looking for uniformity and a pinch of elegance rather than an abundance of heavy shapes. If you’re using these cookies for a party, you may want something pretty and delicate. But if you’re planning to hand them out to trick-or-treaters, go wild! Kids will love the fun shapes…and the extra sugar crunch on top.
My next Halloween cookie decorating idea is all about icing! If you’re looking to make a creep-tacular impression this spooky season, what better way than to head out and get some food coloring? There are tons of options out there, but these are Halloween cookie decorating ideas, so I’ll give you one tip: skip the pastels. You’re going to want to invest in some richly pigmented stuff if you want your cookies to pop!
Classic Halloween colors include black, orange, and purple, but you can also play with green and red if the mood strikes—just be careful not to go too far into Christmas territory. Think slasher films and swamp monsters, not holly and mistletoe!
The best way to start out is with a white buttercream or royal icing base, depending on what look you’re going for with your cookies. Royal icing is best for fine details or glossy, neat cookies, but if you’re just looking for something a little different to give the neighbor kids this year, buttercream will work just fine. You can use food coloring in both homemade and store-bought icing, but try to stick with vanilla.
Chocolate might be a good base for black frosting, but just about any other color isn’t going to show up well with a brown base. Keep in mind that red and black are the toughest colors to get right—red is going to want to lean pink, and black will want to lean gray. But with enough food coloring and enough dedication, you should be able to achieve the shades you want!
This Halloween cookie decorating idea is for the crafty, art-loving bakers among you! This one will combine a few of the Halloween cookie decorating ideas I went over earlier: cookie cutters and food colors.
If you’re a detail-lover and want to make some truly beautiful Halloween cookies, you’ll want to gather some food coloring, some royal icing, and some cookie decorating tools. You’ll likely need some piping bags with very delicate tips if you want sharp, clean edges on your iced cookies. You can also use toothpicks to carefully tease out the edges of your icing until it’s even.
While you can certainly decorate round or unevenly shaped cookies with royal icing just as well, if you’re really looking for a wow factor, you’ll probably want to use cookie cutters to give yourself a good foundation to build your decoration off of. You can use these methods to make grinning vampires with perfect fangs, bats with spread-out wings, or pumpkins with fun jack-o-lantern faces!
Big Picture BOO!
Another option on my list of Halloween cookie decorating ideas is to create a collage, of sorts—using smaller cookies to create a big arrangement that forms one solid picture. While this will take a bit more careful consideration on your part, it can really pack a punch when it comes to impressing the guests at your Halloween bash!
A giant arrangement of orange, black, and green frosted cookies can come together to make a jack-o-lantern display. A heap of green, purple, white, and black cookies could be arranged into a frightening Frankenstein face. Red, white, and black could leave a vampire looming over your guests. The possibilities are endless!
Another advantage of this Halloween cookie decorating idea is that it doesn’t require too much fiddly detail work, but it still looks detail-oriented. You may have to have a chair or ladder nearby to stand up and make sure the picture comes together properly, but that’s all the extra equipment you’ll need!
Trick or Treat
My next Halloween cookie decorating idea leaves all thoughts of icing and décor behind, but never fear! This doesn’t make it any less appropriate for the holiday—in fact, this might even be your best option if you’re hoping to make some trick-or-treaters happy this season. While royal icing is beautiful, it’s not necessarily the most delicious thing to eat. Luckily, there are options besides sugar cookies…like cookies packed with candy!
Most candy bars are actually quite well suited to being chopped up and thrown into a cookie dough. Anything heavy on the chocolate is going to be your best bet, but my favorites are M&Ms, Hershey bars, and Twix. You don’t really need any special cookie dough for this—I usually start with my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough recipe and simply swap out the chocolate chips for chopped-up candy bars. These result in candy-packed treats with a golden brown baked element that just can’t be beat!
Last but not least on my list of Halloween cookie decorating ideas, if chocolate candy isn’t really your thing—or if you’re looking for something a bit more creepy-crawly—why not decorate your sugar cookies with some squirmy, sugar-coated sour worms?
While you may need to utilize some icing to act as glue for your worms, you won’t need to do too much extra decorating here. Just grab a bag of your favorite sour gummy worms (or regular gummy worms, if you prefer!) and arrange them as desired atop their cookie base. These icky-sticky creatures will delight trick-or-treaters and party guests alike, and you’ll definitely get points for originality and creativity this year!
Wrapping Up Halloween Cookie Decorating Ideas
There you have it: all my favorite Halloween cookie decorating ideas! No matter which of these ideas—or multiple ideas!—you decide to play with this Halloween, you’re sure to make repeat customers of any trick-or-treaters lucky enough to ring your doorbell this year. Grab a bag of your favorite candy, gather your favorite cookie recipes, and get baking!
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