Chocolate skeleton cookies are the perfect spooky Halloween cookie for Trick-or-Treat night. A cinnamon chocolate cookie base is piped with sweet icing bones using my fail-proof royal icing make for a scary treat.
What says Halloween more than a skeleton! These chocolate skeleton cookies are so easy to make. I use a spiced chocolate cookie dough that is rolled and cut using a gingerbread man cookie cutter (who would've thought?).
The edible bones are piped on with my foolproof royal icing.
I know royal icing can be difficult to master and seem intimidating, but follow my tried and true recipe for success.
The secret ingredient for this expert royal icing is meringue powder. The meringue powder helps to stabilize the icing and keep the bone shape.
Ingredients in skeleton cookies
These skeleton cookies use simple pantry ingredients. You probably have everything you need, plus that Gingerbread Man cookie cutter for the shape!
- All-purpose Flour - You can swap this for all-purpose gluten-free flour as well.
- Unsweetened Cocoa - Regular unsweetened cocoa is great here, don't use Dutch processed.
- Salt - Use standard baking salt, not kosher salt.
- Cinnamon - A little hint of cinnamon brings out the sweetness of the cookie and enhances the chocolate.
- Butter - I prefer using unsalted butter since I add my own salt to the cookies.
- Confectioners' Sugar - Powdered sugar makes these cookies like a soft shortbread. Tender and delicious.
- Eggs - Always use large eggs in baking as that is the standard.
- Vanilla Extract - Adds sweetness and flavor.
- Royal Icing - This go-to recipe makes crunchy, sweet bones on the cookies.
- White Sanding Sugar - The sparkly decorating sugar that adds a little sparkle to these treats.
How to make Halloween Skeleton Cookies
Crafting these delightful skeleton cookies is as easy as whipping up a batch of dough and conjuring up some icing.
- Prepare the dough - Follow the instructions in the recipe below, and make sure to chill the dough thoroughly before rolling and cutting. The dough is soft, so working with it while cold is best.
- Heat the oven - Give the oven at least half an hour to reach 350ºF. It should be fully heated before baking the cookies.
- Roll and cut - Work on a lightly floured surface and roll the dough to ¼-inch thick. Quickly cut into shapes using a 5-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter.
- Bake - Bake the cookie skeletons on unlined baking sheets until just set and baked, about 12 minutes.
- Cool - Cool the cookies on the baking sheet, then gently remove them to a wire rack.
- Decorate - Using a piping bag fitted with a #2 plain tip filled with royal icing, decorate the skeleton cookies with lines of bones following the example picture in this article. Immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar if you want the bones to sparkle.
- Let dry - The royal icing needs several hours to set and harden on your cookie skeleton. Then you can serve or pack the cookies for storage.
How to make royal icing for cookies
This royal icing recipe for cookies is only three ingredients which makes it very easy. Using a stand mixer, mix together confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and water.
The key with royal icing with meringue powder is to whip it in the stand mixer for long enough, about 10 minutes, until its light and fluffy. The icing should look like soft whipped cream. This is the consistency needed to hold a piped line.
Test pipe some of the icing to make sure it holds it shape before piping my skeleton cookies.
The simple bones design makes these a go-to Halloween treat. I even added a little sanding sugar on top of the royal icing to add sparkle.
Cooking tip: Royal icing looks great piped onto cookies (that’s why we food stylists use it!). It solidifies to make a lovely un-smearable decoration. It even tastes sugary and good.
If you don’t have powdered egg whites around to make it, and/or you love a butter-based frosting, then by all means use fluffy vanilla frosting instead. It will most certainly smear if it’s touched by curious-kid-hands. It will still be cute and quite tasty!
Make the skeleton cookies ahead and ice them anytime. They keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
You can serve the skeleton cookies at a Halloween party, packaged as favors in little cellophane bags, or just piled on a party platter. Watch the video under the recipe to see just how easy they are to make!!
I use meringue powder to make sure my royal icing is fail-proof. The meringue powder helps the icing to set.
Be sure to also whip the icing for 10 minutes so it's the consistency of soft whipped cream. You should be able to drizzle the icing on top of itself and have it keep its shape for 10 seconds.
Be sure when not using royal icing in the piping bag to cover the tip with plastic wrap. You want to prevent the icing from drying inside of the piping tip and getting clogged.
No. Once the cookies have dried and set you can store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Let me know how it went!
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Chocolate Skeleton Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ cups unsweetened cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1½ cups unsalted butter
- 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 recipe Royal Icing recipe below
- White sanding sugar
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons meringue powder or powdered egg whites
- ¼ cup water
- Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and cinnamon; set aside.3 cups all-purpose flour, 1¼ cups unsweetened cocoa, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light, about 2 min. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Working in two batches, add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Divide dough in half and wrap pieces in plastic wrap, flatten into disks and chill 1 hr or overnight.1½ cups unsalted butter, 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 350ºF. On a floured surface roll dough to ¼ inch thick. Cut with a 5-inch gingerbread man cookie cutter and transfer to unlined baking sheets. Reroll scraps once. Bake until cookies spring back when touched, about 12 min. Cool on wire racks.
- Prepare 1 recipe Royal Icing: With an electric mixer mix confectioners' sugar, meringue powder and water on low speed, scraping sides of bowl until icing is the consistency of soft whipped cream, about 10 min.2 cups confectioners' sugar, 2 ½ tablespoons meringue powder, ¼ cup water
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a #2 plain tip. Decorate with lines for a skeleton. Pipe an outline of a skull and circles for eyes and mouth; flood face with icing. Sprinkle some with sanding sugar. Dry completely.1 recipe Royal Icing, White sanding sugar
- Be sure to whip the royal icing long enough, about 10 minutes! It should be the consistency of soft whipped cream.
- Wrap the piping tip of the royal icing with plastic wrap when not using and store in the refrigerator. You want to prevent the royal icing from drying and clogging the piping tip.
- Store these cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Spooky & Fun Halloween Recipes
Recipe and Food Styling byOriginally published in LHJ Oct 2012. Updated September 2023. Photography Prop Styling .