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How to Make Día de Los Muertos Cookies

How to Make Día de Los Muertos Cookies

This skeleton cookie recipe is a fun (and tasty) way to celebrate Halloween, Día de Los Muertos, or just the spooky season!

One of the best parts of living in NYC is constantly experiencing the different cultures that surround us. I spent some time living in Mexico, and I fell in love with all of the colorful and lively skeleton trinkets. I wanted to bring these beautiful skeletons, a symbol of Día de los Muertos, to NYC by creating these cute and colorful skeleton cookies, not only for this Mexican holiday, but also as a fun Halloween treat

Making the Sugar Cookie Dough

Yield: 12 (3 inch x 3 inch skeleton) cookies


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder


Step 1: In a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the egg little by little, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Once fully mixed in, add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Continue to mix until a dough forms.

Step 2: Separate the dough into 2 pieces and roll each piece in between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/4" thickness. Place the sheets into the freezer and chill for at least half an hour.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one of the dough sheets from the freezer, peel off one side of the parchment, flip it over, and peel off the other piece of parchment. Using your cookie cutter, stamp out your cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool.

Tip: You can re-roll the dough scraps one more time and save in the freezer for up to 6 months for freshly baked cookies any time.


Making the Royal Icing

Yield: 1 quart


  • 1 lb box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 egg whites
  • Water


In a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the confectioner’s sugar, cream of tartar, and egg whites. Whisk on high for 1-2 minutes or until stiff. Add water a little at a time to adjust the fluidity of the icing.

Tip: You can save the royal icing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Use thicker royal icing when you want to create thin lines.


Decorating the Cookies

Step 1: Fit a pastry bag with a small round piping tip and fill with several spoonfuls of white royal icing. Starting with the head, draw a skull shape and fill, then create the sternum down the center. Repeat on the rest of your cookies.


Step 2:  Pipe the shoulders and arms and then add 3 ribs to each side, and finally the leg bones. Repeat on all cookies.


Step 3: Mix a drop of black food coloring into a few spoonfuls of royal icing and mix. Fill a new piping bag with the grey icing. Pipe the cavities for the eyes and dots all around, then an upside-down heart for a nose, skull decorations, and the mouth/teeth. Dot the ends of each bone and all down the center of the sternum. Repeat on all cookies.


Step 4: Mix a couple drops of pink food coloring into a few spoonfuls of royal icing and mix. Fill a new piping bag with the pink icing. Pipe a heart in the center of the skull and freckles on the cheeks. Repeat on all cookies


I use muted colors to keep the cookies cute and happy and I added the freckles because I have freckles. You can use whatever colors and customize them however you like. Enjoy your Día de los Muertos cookies, and for more fun cookies and treats like these, visit

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Chef Clarice Lam


Clarice Lam pursued her education at Le Cordon Bleu in Italy and The French Culinary Institute in New York. With experience at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, she honed the skills to thrive in her second career. In 2012, Clarice Lam launched The Baking Bean, an oven-to-door bakery specializing in all-natural desserts and confections based in Brooklyn. Great for events, weddings, parties, and meetings, her confections can be delivered within the boroughs of NYC or shipped nationwide.

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