Halloween Roll Cookies and Baking Basics

Here is one of my go-to cookie dough recipes. The cookies have crunchy edges and soft centers. Great for decorating!A stack of Halloween cookies decorated with sprinklesCookies are always in season, at least in our house, but this time of year they are even more popular and requested. I read recently that making cookies is almost a thing of the past, something our grandmas did when we were little. I do remember helping my Grandma cut out circles out of dough using a cup because cookie cutters were not available at first. She always worked by the window where the long counter was (well, it seemed long then, not so much now). She would roll out the dough on a wooden board that was probably half the size of the counter space. I don’t remember where she kept it. The wooden board was used only for rolling the dough, which happened several times a week since my Grandma always made a fresh pasta for her chicken soup or dumplings.

I want all of our kids to have the same memories like you and I do, so let’s keep the tradition of making cookies going! The kitchen will be messy, the flour and sprinkles will be all over the floor and half of the cookie dough won’t even make it into the oven, but who cares?!

a pile of Halloween decorated cookies Everyone should have a few trusted cookie dough recipes and this is one of mine. The dough needs to be refrigerated for 3-4 hours but it’s easy to work with afterwards.  There are several rules to follow when baking:

  1. Butter and eggs should be at room temperature (unless cold/melted butter is needed). That means at least 30 minutes “warm up” time on the counter. If cold butter is needed (tart shell or pie crust) keep it in the fridge or freezer until the last minute. If melted butter is required, cool it down before adding it so it won’t damage the eggs. Eggs can be placed in a bowl filled with warm water for about 10-15 minutes to warm them up.
  2. Butter for your baked goods should be unsalted.
  3. Measure the dry ingredients carefully and precisely. Using a measuring cup, scoop up the flour– more than is needed–  then tap on the handle to fill out any empty space and, using a knife, level the surface of your measuring cup.
  4. The most precise way of measuring out the dry ingredients is to weigh them on a kitchen scale. That will give consistency every time you bake.
  5. Measure out the liquids using a liquid measuring cup.
  6. When rolling out the dough for pies or cookies sprinkle powdered sugar, not flour, if the dough is sticky. Too much flour makes the dough hard.
  7. Preheat the oven to requested temperature. Unless your oven is new, I suggest getting an oven thermometer. You will be surprised how much the actual oven temperature is different from the one you set your oven to.
  8. Chill the dough if requested. Divide it into 2-3 pieces, flatten and wrap in plastic. After the chill time, place the dough on the counter for about 10 minutes before starting to roll it out.
  9. Roll the dough out to the same thickness so the cookies will bake evenly.
  10. When decorating with sprinkles or frosting, be prepared to catch the extras. Do it by placing a cooling rack on top of the rimmed baking sheet. Place the cookies on the cooling rack, decorate them and carefully transfer onto prepared baking pan. Collect the sprinkles and reuse if you wish ( frosting: not so much).
  11. Cookies continue to bake when out of the oven, so slightly under bake them. This is really important! This will assure that the cookies are soft. After about 5 minutes transfer them onto a cooling rack.
  12. After the cookies have cooled down, store them in an airtight container or a ziplock bag. Adding a small piece of bread to the container will soften the cookies a bit (but it won’t help if the cookies are overbaked).

child's hand holding a Halloween cookieBefore you start, make sure the butter and eggs have reached room temperature. Using a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter for about 5 minutes on medium high speed. The butter should be light and fluffy. Next, add vanilla extract and 2 eggs and beat gently until incorporated, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and mix in baking powder and salt. Turn the mixing speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Mix it all together for another 2 minutes or so until all ingredients are just combined. Place the dough on the counter and shape it into a log, then cut it into 3 pieces. Flatten each piece slightly and cover in plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge for 3-4 hrs.

Cut out cookie dough for HalloweenPreheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take one of the refrigerated dough disks out and let it warm up for a few minutes. Sprinkle some powdered sugar onto your rolling surface. Roll the dough out and cut out the shapes. Kids love to help out with that. They also love to get creative!Child's cookie creationTransfer the cut out shapes onto either a baking pan covered with a baking silicone mat or cooling rack  that sits on top of a rimmed baking pan. Decorate the cookies and transfer them onto a baking pan. Picture below shows cookies that were decorated by my kids directly on the baking pan.

halloween roll out cookiesBake the cookies for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees until very lightly colored on the edges. Cool them for 5 minutes then transfer onto a cooling rack. Continue with the remaining cookie dough. Make sure the baking pan has cooled down  before placing another batch of cookies to bake.

Picture below shows cookies that were decorated on a cooling rack and then transferred onto a baking pan.Black cat Halloween CookieMakes: about 2 dozens         Prep time: 15 min       Ready in: 5 hrs


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • sprinkles


  1. In a stand mixer on medium-high speed cream together butter and sugar until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed and slowly add vanilla extract and eggs. Gradually increase the speed to medium high and beat until well combined, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
  2.  In a medium bowl, mix together sifted flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour mix in 2-3 batches. Beat until just combined. Place the dough on the counter and form into a log. Cut it into 3 pieces, place each onto plastic wrap, flatten it, cover with the wrap and place into the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring one of the dough disks out and let it warm 5-10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on your rolling surface. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 -inch thickness. Cut out and decorate the cookies.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly colored on the edges and soft in the center.
  7. Cool for about 5 minutes then transfer onto the cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. Store in an airtight container.





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