These healthier Halloween sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting are 100% whole grain, soft, chewy and taste just as good as the more traditional kind!
I really struggle with what recipes to post for Halloween. I want to post something cute and festive, but I know the majority of you don’t want anything processed and definitely don’t want loads of food coloring. So I used semi-sweet chocolate to decorate these healthier ghost and spiderweb sugar cookies!
Sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting are probably my favorite cookies ever. They have to be soft, chewy, and just a little lemony. And you know what I don’t like? Royal icing. I know you can make such pretty cookies with it, but for me, it’s like eating pure sugar. And it doesn’t even taste good! I want cream cheese frosting or nothing at all.
I don’t often use powdered sugar but I haven’t found a good way to make cream cheese frosting without it. This recipe only has 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, in comparison to others that have several times that amount, so I was happy with it! And the frosting recipe yields only enough for a thin spread of icing. Enough so that it’s fully covered, but it’s not a huge amount. So there’s no risk of having leftovers that you feel tempted to eat with a spoon! :)
The frosting hardens just enough so that you can cover the cookies with plastic wrap. I kept mine refrigerated because of the cream cheese, but they’ll be fine at room temperature for the duration of a party.
I’m not a huge fan of semi-sweet chocolate and lemon. It just seems weird. So I preferred the ghost cookies. When I make the spiderweb cookies again, I’ll probably leave out the lemon zest. Or if you want, you could use white chocolate and add food coloring once it’s melted. Purple and orange spiderwebs would be pretty neat looking! Here’s the spiderweb tutorial. I promise that it’s not as difficult as it looks!
Don’t care about food coloring and just want to get the cookies over with? Or don’t want to get out a piping bag? These sugar cookies look decent with Halloween sprinkles. :)
And the cookies. Seriously. SO good. You can’t tell that they’re whole grain. When I was making this Greek yogurt berry cookie tart, I was thinking that the crust would make some pretty amazing cookies. But I didn’t expect them to taste this good.
And something else that I love about this recipe – there’s no chilling time involved! Just mix it up and roll it out. Now if you want your cookies super thin, you’ll probably have to chill the dough, but not if you flour your surface decently and want them a regular thickness. You can also prepare the dough and refrigerate for up to two days.
And here’s a roll-out cookie tip! Place the dough onto a lightly floured Silpat or piece of parchment paper, cover it with plastic wrap, and then roll. So less messy!
I had way too much fun taking these pictures. If you don’t like a little silliness, just scroll down to the recipe. :)
Oh my goodness! Spiders are coming! :D
Oh no, oh no! They’re coming for Mr. Ghost!
They’re coming from all directions now! HELP!
Oh no. It’s too late. :'(
Prefer a grain-free version? These Almond Flour Sugar Cookies look amazing! If you can have grains, these Gluten Dairy Free Vegan Sugar Cookies also sound great. So do these Low Sugar Healthy Sugar Cookies!
Healthier Halloween Sugar Cookies
- Prep Time:
- Cook Time:
- Ready in:
- Yield: 14 - 17 cookies
- 5 tablespoons (70 grams) butter
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (125 grams) unrefined or white sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
- 3/4 cup (93 grams) white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup (93 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 ounces cream cheese1, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cream cheese frosting:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).
- With an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and unrefined sugar for about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg and lemon extract and beat until well combined.
- Add the remaining ingredients and beat until well combined.
- Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured Silpat or piece of parchment paper. I rolled mine out to a little less than 1/4" but it's up to you (you'll have to adjust the baking time accordingly).
- Using cookie cutters, cut out your desired shapes.
- With a spatula, remove the cut out cookies to another piece of parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies for 5 1/2 – 7 minutes or just until they appeared cooked. They should not be brown at all! If they're brown, they'll come out crunchy.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cookies are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
- With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and room temperature butter.
- Gradually add in the powdered sugar and then the vanilla.
- When the cookies are cool, spread the cream cheese frosting over the cookies, using a knife or a very clean finger (which I find to be way easier).
- If you live in Germany or I'm guessing anywhere that's not the US, and don't have brick cream cheese like in the US, you need to drain some of the liquid from the cream cheese for the frosting not to be a liquid mess. Drain 150 grams of cream cheese in a thin kitchen towel or cheesecloth until it's thick like the American stuff. It should be 110 grams after draining. If it's a little more or less, it's okay.
- I used the ghost cookie cutter from this Wilton Halloween cookie cutter set. To decorate the cookies, I used about 75 grams of semi-sweet chocolate, melted in the microwave, at half-power in 30 second increments. That was enough for 7 spiderweb and 8 ghost cookies. I used a Wilton tip 3.
- Here's the spiderweb tutorial. Be sure to pipe on the chocolate and make the spiderwebs before the cream cheese frosting dries! I was very slow and didn't have any problem with this. The only problem would be if you take a long break or forget about it.
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38 comments on “Healthier Halloween Sugar Cookies” — Add one!
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These are cute! I am not much of a rolled out and cut cookie person. They seem to always look strange. HA!! I really do like things made with whole grain flours. Your molasses cookies I made yesterday was a big hit.
Haha. I love them! I think they’re tasty even if they look strange. And thanks again for the review on the molasses cookies! :)
Hi, I live in Germany and am wondering which flours you use here for white whole wheat four and whole wheat pastry flour? I’ve found 1050 to work well but am curious if there’s something else out there I should know about! Thanks! And these cookies look awesome, I’m going to make them with my son today :)
Hi there! I’ve tried every recommendation I could find for white whole wheat and whole wheat pastry flour and haven’t found a good sub for either of them. I’m sorry! This is one of the few recipes on my site that just won’t work with German flour. :( And sorry for just now seeing your comment! If you tried these out with German flour, I’d love to hear if it worked!
I made a similar recipe today (same ratios of sugar and flour but more butter). I used 1050 flour, and they came out really well. That’s the best substitute I can find for whole wheat pastry/white whole wheat flour in Germany.
I’m happy to hear that! I ordered about 20 kg of 1050 once, thinking it’d be a great sub but I had the worst time with it. It was so absorbent! I had no idea what to do with it.
These cookies are perfect! I used regular whole wheat flour, not pastry quality, and skipped the extra 2 tablespoons of sugar and they turned out perfectly. The only tip is that the dough was crumbly so it worked much better to flatten with the heel of my hand than with a roller. We did this for valentines using small and large hearts and the yield was 26 cookies with the exact amount of delicious frosting needed. My 2 yr old loved decorating them! Thanks for the relatively healthier and best-tasting sugar cookies I’ve had!
Aww, yay! I’m so happy that you enjoyed them so much. And that’s great that regular whole wheat worked well for you! Thanks for the tip and for your feedback. :)
Does the frosting get hard so I can put them in cellophane bags and give them out as favors? Thanks
It does get firm but not firm enough to hand out as favors (and they should be refrigerated because of the cream cheese) so I guess this isn’t the best recipe for that.
Can I make the dough n freeze it for later? How long will the dpugh last in the fridge?
You can definitely freeze it! It’ll last for at least 5 days in the fridge.
Your cookies are amazing and super easy to make. I was wondering if I can substitute whole wheat for all purpose. I’m going in store tomorrow but kid just can’t wait it so long:). Thanks again for your recepie :)
I am so sorry for the slow reply! Did you try them with all-purpose? Did they work? Sorry again! :(
Totally adorable! The pictures made me giggle out loud.
Aww, yay! Happy to hear that the pictures had an effect on someone. :D
They look so yummie! Just wondering instead of the lemon extract can lemon juice be used? Thanks!
Oh, gosh. So sorry for the slow reply, Patricia! And yes. You can use lemon juice but the lemon flavor won’t be nearly as strong. You probably won’t be able to taste it at all. I’d probably use vanilla instead! Sorry again!
Erin, this post just cracked me up. Those pesky spiders. These are too cute. Pinned!
Thanks for pinning! And so happy that you liked the post. :D
Haha, I love that last photo! I knew spiders were not to be trusted… Wonderful recipe, Erin! Perfect for healthier Halloween festivities.
Hahaha. Exactly! Dumb spiders. :D
Ah, these are so cute! I love the little ghosts, totally adorable and it’s so nice to see a ‘healthier’ treat at this time of year.
Thanks, Kathryn! I was so happy that they came out. I stink at decorating!
OK, these are so freaking adorable!!!
Thanks, Kristi! :)
Yum, these look perrrrrfect. I love sugar cookies, and I bet my little girls would go nuts for these! Now if I can just find some spooky cookie cutters…
Aren’t they cute?! They should have the Wilton cookie cutters I used at Michael’s and definitely on Amazon. :)
Your ghost cookies are just the cutest things ever! I haven’t made any Halloween goodies yet, I need to get on it :)
Thanks! :D And yeah, get on the Halloween thing! You’ll get to make cute stuff like this. :)
Erin! I just love frosted sugar cookies like this. We always made them on Valentine’s day with all different size heart cookie cutters. love your little ghosts and spider webs! I would never think to make these sugar cookies whole grain, but I’m glad you did. I have no doubt they are amazing! You’re the whole grain baking whiz ;)
Aww, thanks! What a lovely comment. :) And these seriously don’t taste the least bit whole grain. They’re my miracle cookies. :D
Your cookies are so cute, I especially love the spider webs!
Thanks, Laura! I stink at spiderwebs so I’m happy someone liked them. :)
These are so much fun Erin-looks like you are ready for Halloween!
Thanks, Patty! And I am indeed. :)
These are just way too adorable! I will need to make these some time very soon because I haven’t had a really good sugar cookie in a long time.
P.S. I loved your silly pictures ;) Very cute.
You are going to love them! Just make sure you get the right kinds of flour. :) And thanks for appreciating my silly pictures. :D