These vegan Halloween cookies are a fun dairy free and egg free treat that’s perfect for decorating with your favorite spooky designs! They have a deliciously buttery, not overly sweet flavor, plus they hold their shape really well and don’t spread out during baking. The whole family will love these fun vegan Halloween sugar cookies!
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Every year Halloween gives us a great opportunity to get creative. My favorite part, of course, is all the fun things we can do with food!
In fact, I’ve curated a whole collection of 50+ vegan Halloween recipes that I’m sure will impress you with how creative we vegan bloggers can get.
But there’s a special kind of vegan Halloween treats that’s always a hit at any Halloween party. I’m talking about vegan Halloween cookies!
Obviously there’s a gazillion of Halloween cookie ideas on the interwebs. But my favorite ones are the glazed vegan cookies that you make using cookie cutters.
These, in my opinion, allow for the most creativity: you can leave them plain after baking and let their shape be the star of the show, or decorate them with colorful icing, fun sprinkles, googly eyes, colored sugar, etc.
Who can resist cute edible ghosts, witches, bats, pumpkins, or little monsters during the spooky season? I sure can’t!
Why You’ll Love These Vegan Halloween Cookies
- These vegan sugar cookies are both delicious AND fun to look at!
- They make a perfect Halloween season treat both kids and adults will enjoy.
- They don’t spread out and keep their shape during baking.
- They’re made with simple ingredients (no fancy hard-to-find stuff!).
- They taste deliciously buttery, with just the right amount of sweetness.
- They have a lovely, soft texture, yet they’re firm enough to stay together without breaking easily.
Here’s a few tips and tricks that’ll help your vegan cut out sugar cookies turn out as beautiful and delicious as you intended:
How to Make Sure Your Vegan Cut Out Cookies Keep Their Shape
The #1 issue that can tank even the best vegan sugar cookie recipe is seeing your lovingly cut out cookie shapes spread out and get bloated as they bake in the oven 😞
Here are a few reasons why this happens – and how this can be avoided.
The Vegan Butter Was Softened for Too Long
Most of us who’ve ever baked with butter know that sticks of butter need to soften at room temperature for a little while before we can use them in our cookie batter.
However, if we let the butter sit out for too long, it can get too soft. As a result, it will act like you’re adding more liquid ingredients to the dough than you actually need. The dough will turn out sticky and greasy, which 1) will make it a nightmare to roll it out and cut out the cookie shapes; and 2) make the cookies spread out in the oven.
Fix this: Keep in mind that vegan butter will soften quicker than its non-vegan equivalent. As soon as it’s soft enough for you to make a dent when you press it with a finger, it’s good to go.
The Proportion of Vegan Butter and Flour Wasn’t Right
If there’s too much vegan butter in the sugar cookie dough, the flour won’t be able to hold all that melted butter fat, so the cookies will start spreading.
You can usually tell that the sugar cookie dough doesn’t have enough flour if it sticks to your hands when you’re done mixing it.
Fix this: Sprinkle some flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, all over the surface of your cookie dough, and mix it with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Once the dough looks smooth and doesn’t stick to your hands, you’re good to go.
The Dough Wasn’t Chilled Properly
We need to chill the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight before we roll it out.
Once again this has to do with the butter: like I mentioned above, the warmer the butter, the quicker it will melt and make the cookie dough start spreading in the oven.
The colder the butter, the longer it will take to melt. And by the time it does, the rest of the ingredients will have already baked long enough to let it compromise the cookie structure.
Fix this: Don’t skip the 2-hour (or longer) chilling process. Pro tip: after you’ve rolled out the dough and cut out your cookies, place them in the fridge for 10 minutes before popping them in the oven.
There’s Too Much Baking Powder/Baking Soda in the Cookie Dough
These leavening ingredients serve one goal: to develop air pockets in the dough (or batter) during baking so that your baked goods get a fluffy texture.
This is perfect for cakes and muffins, but not so great if you want your baked goods to stay in a specific shape, be it little ghosts or Valentine’s Day hearts.
This also isn’t great for things like brownies. Fudgy brownies win over cakey ones any day of the week. In my super fudgy aquafaba brownies recipe I chose to skip the leavening ingredients completely.
Fix this: I’ve researched countless sugar cookie recipes to find the best proportion of baking powder to flour. The winning proportion appears to be 3 cups of flour : 3/4 teaspoon baking powder (that’s what I’m using in today’s vegan Halloween cookie recipe).
More tips for keeping cookies from spreading can be found here.
Vegan Halloween Cookie Decorating Tips
Okay, I don’t claim to be anywhere as good in cookie decorating as some of the amazing vegan bakers on Etsy. They’d probably shudder if they saw my pictures in this post 😆
The good thing about Halloween cookies in particular: even if they turn out messy, they’ll still be lots of fun! After all, Halloween isn’t about cuteness. The quirkier the witches and the spookier your monster cookies are, the better!
Now that we’ve established that my cookie decorating skills fall somewhere in between, let me share with you a few tips I’ve learned about how to decorate vegan cut out cookies with sugar icing:
Avoid Making the Entire Batch of Sugar Icing at Once
If you’re working with multiple icing colors, then making all of the icing at once would be a waste.
Unless you’re a super fast and skilled cookie decorator (then why are you reading this?), it will most likely take you some time to complete all of the decorative details in the same color.
If you make a huge batch of plain sugar icing and take out some of it to add one color, the rest of the icing will surely go hard and dry by the time you’re ready to move on to the next color.
What I do instead: I combine all of the liquid ingredients of the icing first, but leave the powdered sugar alone.
Then I add a little bit of powdered sugar to a small bowl (a ramekin works great), and drop a few drops of the liquid mix. I stir them together, adding more sugar/liquid mix as needed to get the right consistency and amount of icing I need.
Then I add some gel food coloring, and stir until it’s incorporated. Darker colors like black will need more food coloring.
After that, I decorate all cookies that I want to have that color, either the entire surface (like the black bats) or parts of it (like the purple face of the witch cookie).
Once I’m done, I move on to the next color, and so on.
Use Gel Food Coloring
Gel food coloring works much better than the liquid kind because it doesn’t dilute the consistency of your icing. It’s particularly important for darker, more saturated colors.
For example, if you need to make black sugar icing, then you’ll have to add A LOT of liquid black food coloring. But in that case, you’ll need to add less of the other liquid ingredients (vanilla, almond extract) to keep the right icing consistency –> the flavor of the icing will suffer.
Or, you can avoid this headache by using vegan gel food coloring. The choice is yours.
Outline Each Cookie First
By outlining each cookie, you’ll make sure that the icing (once you fill it in) isn’t going to drip off or otherwise turn into a mess.
To make sure the border icing stays where it needs to be, make your first batch of each icing color thicker, not runny. If your icing is runny, just add more powdered sugar.
You’re at the right consistency if your icing drips off a spoon in a thin ribbon that doesn’t immediately get dissolved into the rest of the icing in the bowl.
Once the outlining has been completed, add a bit more liquid mix to the leftover thick icing until it becomes runny. This consistency is perfect for “coloring in” the cookies within all of those outlines you just created.
Use the Right Piping Tools
The most straightforward way to get a thin line of icing would be by using a piping bag with with a #1 or #1.5 piping tip.
However, a lot of us regular people (not professional bakers) run for the hills as soon as we hear those words. I mean, you’ve got to have a lot of patience to wield all those things, especially if you’re decorating with a few different colors.
I’ve found that using a piping syringe is the easiest way to get the job done, both for outlining with thick icing and “coloring in” with the runny kind.
Besides, using a syringe creates way less waste (no dirty plastic piping bags to throw out).
A few years ago my husband got me a cake decorating kit that included a simple plastic piping syringe. I can’t find that particular decorating kit on Amazon anymore, but this different set has a syringe just like mine (see the left middle part of the first picture).
I first fill the syringe with the thicker icing to outline the cookies, then add the runnier icing of the same color into the syringe to “color in” the rest of the cookie surface.
Wait to Decorate with Additional Details Until the Icing Hardens
This is where Halloween cookie decorating gets time-consuming.
Once we’ve “colored in” the cookies with the icing, we need to wait until the icing hardens before we add more details. Example: the curved vertical lines on the pumpkins.
If we add those lines before the base icing dries up, the lines will sink into the runny icing, which can look messy.
The cookies in these pictures took me two days to decorate: I “colored in” all of the surfaces in the evening of day 1, then waited till the next morning to add more details.
The exceptions to the “wait until the icing is dry” rule: candy eyeballs and sprinkles. You can drop those right in.
Simple Is Better Than Complicated and Botched
Finally, the last piece of advice: you don’t have to get too complicated with decorating!
If thinking of all of those complicated cookie decorating methods makes you shudder, there’s no need to go there.
Don’t want to outline the cookies, then color them in? Just dip them in icing instead!
Tried your best but the cookies came out messy? No biggie, they’re still going to be delicious. Plus, the messier your ghost and mummy cookies, the more fun they’ll look.
Rule of thumb: If it’s so hard that you aren’t having any fun doing it, then stop and use an easier method.
Even if it means leaving these vegan sugar cookies not decorated at all. Everyone knows what the outline of a witch hat looks like.
How to Make Vegan Halloween Cookies
(This is an outline of the baking and decorating steps. For an ingredients list and a printable recipe card, scroll below.)
MAKE THE COOKIES. Cream together softened vegan butter and white sugar** until soft and fluffy using a stand mixer with a paddle or a whisk attachment (or a hand mixer). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add non-dairy milk, vanilla and almond extracts. Continue mixing until well incorporated.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
Change the mixer attachment to a dough hook, and add half of the flour mixture into the wet ingredients.
Mix until mostly incorporated, then add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until no loose flour is left in the bowl. (You can also do this with a wooden spoon instead of a mixer.)
The dough is done when it looks soft and smooth, and doesn’t feel sticky to the touch. If you press on it lightly, there should be no dough stuck to your fingers.
If the dough isn’t coming together and looks crumbly, add 1 Tbsp of non-dairy milk. (Avoid adding more than that as the dough can become too wet.)
If the dough is too sticky (doesn’t look smooth, gets stuck to your fingers), sprinkle it all over with 1 Tbsp of flour, and mix it in with a wooden spoon.
(See more dough troubleshooting tips in the post above).
Split the dough into two equal size balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Once the time is up, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Remove the plastic wrap and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out the cookies using your favorite Halloween cookie cutters. I got two dozen medium-sized cookies total.
Arrange half of the cookies on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving at least 1 inch in between each cookie.
Bake for 11-13 minutes. (The cookies may “puff up” slightly, but they’ll “deflate” during cooling.) The cookies are done when they still look pale and feel soft to the touch, but they’ll firm up as they cool.
Repeat this step to bake the rest of the cookies.
Cool the cookies on a cooling rack until they reach room temperature. Feel free to eat them as is, or decorate with sugar icing.
MAKE THE ICING + DECORATE THE COOKIES. I strongly recommend NOT to mix all powdered sugar with all of the wet ingredients (vanilla and almond extracts, non-dairy milk/lemon juice) right away.
(See more cookie decorating tips in the post here.)
Combine all of the wet ingredients*** in a measuring cup.
Working in batches, use separate small bowls (I used ramekins) to make each individual color you’re planning to use. Don’t make more than one color at a time, or the icing will dry up.
Start with the most dominant color (I started with black). Combine powdered sugar, a small amount of the liquid ingredient mix, and the food coloring.
Keep adding more sugar/liquid mix until the icing is rather thick, not runny. This consistency will allow you to outline the edges of the cookies first.
Once you’re done the outlining, add a bit more liquid mix to make the icing runny. Use it to “color in” the cookies that need it. (Example: see my black bat cookies).
If you’re adding edible candy eyeballs or sprinkles, drop them into the icing while it’s still wet.
Continue the same way with the rest of the colors/decorations. If adding additional decorative accents with the icing (example: lines on the bat wings), wait until the base layer of icing is dry.
Let the icing dry completely before stacking up the cookies or packing them into bags.
If stacking the cookies: use parchment or wax paper to separate each layer (this will avoid messing up the design).
Keep these cookies in an airtight container on the countertop for 4-5 days. If you want to freeze these vegan Halloween cookies, see glazed cookie freezing tips here.
*I used Country Crock Plant Butter Sticks with Olive Oil. Earth Balance is another popular choice, but I haven’t tested this recipe with it. Don’t use spreadable butter: it has more liquid ingredients and less fat than butter sticks, so it won’t yield the same results.
**Not all white sugar is vegan-friendly. A lot of cane sugar brands use bone char as a filter to achieve white color. Organic cane sugar like this one is vegan according to its manufacturer.
***For regular sugar cookie flavor, use milk + vanilla + almond extract. For a lemony flavor (really good!), use lemon juice + vanilla + optional lemon extract (a tiny drop, if using).
I hope you enjoy these vegan Halloween cookies as much as we do in our family!
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