Kids' Cookie Decorating Recipes

Colorful cookie decorations

Decorating cookies with kids is a great way to make treats or spend a rainy afternoon. Simple recipes like sugar cookies are perfect for kids of any age to help with in the kitchen, and decorating them can be done during the dough-making process or after the cookies have baked. Regardless of when you add decorative touches, there are plenty of choices for unique creations.

Great Cookie Recipes for Kids

Kids love cookie decorating for all seasons and holidays. You can use cookie cutters to cut out shapes, roll cookies into balls or roll the dough into logs and then slice off each cookie. While chocolate chip, peanut butter and snicker doodle recipes are perennial favorites and easy to make, they are difficult to decorate. The best recipes for getting creative in the kitchen are variations on traditional sugar cookies. 

Bake sugar cookies and allow them to cool while you prep the area for decorating. Cover your work surface with a plastic tablecloth or a drop cloth. Set up all your supplies before you introduce children to the cookie decorating activity. Make sure kids wear old clothes or cover ups because food coloring can stain fabric.

Roll Out Sugar Cookies

This basic sugar cookie recipe yields cookies that are perfect for holidays and events.


  • 3/4 cup room temperature butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt


Cream the butter and sugar together, and then add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together. Add half the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring until combined, and then add in the rest. Roll dough between two pieces of wax paper and then chill it in the refrigerator for approximately six hours. Before pulling out the dough, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is hot, take out the dough and cut into desired shapes using cutters. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until the edges become light golden brown.

Round Sugar Cookies

Youngsters will love to flatten these easy sugar cookies themselves using a glass.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Colored sugar, if desired


Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and white sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and then incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Wash hands and roll dough into small balls, placing them onto parchment-covered baking pans. Flatten the balls using the bottom of a glass that was dipped in water or butter and then sprinkle with sanding sugar (if desired). Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until they begin to brown.

Decorate Dough Before Baking

When you are making cookies with kids' recipes, cookie decorating is the most exciting part! Many recipes allow the cookies to be decorated before you bake them.

  • Decorated cookies with candies or dried fruit: Let the kids press small edible items like raisins, currants, chocolate chips or red-hot cinnamon candies into the cookie dough to make designs or features on gingerbread people or animals. Bake as usual. This method works well for both cut-out and pressed cookies, and is effective on cookie dough of all colors if you choose the right decorations.
  • Painted cookies: Mix food coloring into undiluted evaporated milk. Using inexpensive watercolor brushes (reserve them for use with food), let the kids paint designs or features on the cookies. This works best with sugar cookie dough; colors do not show up well on gingerbread cookie dough.
  • Colored cookies: Mix food coloring into your cookie dough and let the kids decorate with colored sugar, sprinkles, or dragees. Bake cookies as usual. Chocolate sprinkles are not recommended, because they melt in the oven.
  • Stained glass cookies: Use cookie cutters to cut out the cookies. With a table knife, cut shapes out of the center of your cookies. Place the cookies on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place bright colored hard candy, such as LifeSavers, in a heavy Ziploc plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin or other heavy object. Fill the cut out spaces in the cookies with the crushed candy. Bake as usual and the candy will melt into a transparent window in each cookie. Be sure to cool the cookies completely before removing from the cookie sheet to avoid burns from hot, sticky candy.

Kids' Decorating Tips for Cookies

If you choose to make regular sugar cookies, kids will enjoy decorating them after they have baked and cooled. If decorating cookies with preschoolers as a snack, frost the cookies first before letting them add decorations. Older kids can use spatulas or even pastry bags with star tips to frost their own cookies.

Once the frosting has been added, let kids get creative with decorations. Consider making  up a few patterns and placing them on the table for youngsters to copy. This is especially helpful when decorating cookies as part of kids' birthday party activities. Patterns might include faces, animal shapes, letters or numbers.

Additional types of fun decorations:

  • Several colors of frosting
  • Shaped sprinkles for holidays or at a themed party.]
  • Sanding sugar in various colors
  • Favorite candies, such as fruit gels and candy-coated chocolates
  • Chopped nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes and candy bars

Creative Cookie Decorating

Making kids' cookie recipes and decorating them is a great way to spend time with your children and their friends. Remember to keep decorations simple for youngsters and allow older kids to do more of their own decorations for some creative designs.

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Kids' Cookie Decorating Recipes