Thanksgiving Cookies: Turkeys, Leaves & Pumpkins, Oh My!

So I said I would write a post about these a few days ago. I got to thinking, what the heck am I going to write? I have a bunch of totally cool pictures, but I don’t feel confident enough to give a tutorial on these, and the recipes aren’t mine either. Hmm. So I thought I would just share some things that worked for me and provide you with the recipes I used and give a little link love to the person who shared it with me ;)

So first off, this is going to be an obsession with me, I can already see it. Between my craft blog and this food blog, this is definitely right smack dab in between. Because they are edible, any royally iced cookies will be posted here. But I’m warning you now, I will probably find every occasion and holiday to make these. So feel free to zoom on past the decorated cookie posts if I start to bore you LOL This blog certainly certainly won’t be dedicated to cookies, but they are just too dang fun not to make them when an occasion arises. :)


So on with the post. When in WalMart a few days before Halloween looking for a clown wig, I noticed some cute cookie cutters hanging on the wall. By now I had already fallen in love with decorating cookies after making the football jersey cookies for my boys’ football teams. So I just HAD to get the cookie cutters. :) It was a three pack including a turkey, leaf, and a pumpkin. I had another leaf shaped cutter at home, and also a bunch of alphabet letters, and so this post was born.

The sugar cookie recipe as well as the icing recipe I used comes from my Florida friend, Leslie, of The Hungry Housewife (p.s. don’t google that, you mind end up with an eyeful if you click to the wrong site bahahaha!). Leslie gives a bunch of great tips for making these cookies, so click over to her site and bookmark that link to refer back to. Great stuff. The recipe is also listed at the end of this post.

Another great link is The Baker’s Banter from King Arthur Flour. If you follow that link, you will find a very cool way to turn parchment paper into small piping bags for making fine lines. These work really great and it’s perfect for details. Not only because of the small lines and dots you can create, but also because it only holds a small amount of icing, so I don’t feel like I’m wasting putting a bunch into piping bags. I used these little bags to make the lines on the pumpkins, the eyes on the turkey, and the dots on the alphabet letters. Fabulous.

ANOTHER DELICIOUS IDEA >>  Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies

Now I’m sure that decorator tips are great and all, but when you only have one and you are trying to decorate with a bunch of different colors AND you don’t want to mess with couplings and switching the tip from bag to bag, you might do what I did. I just filled the disposable bags with the colored icings and snipped the end of the tip off the bag. Overall it does a great job. While the piping tip is definitely more precise, this method certainly worked fine for me.

Also, I wanted to mention that Leslie had pointed out that outlining all your cookies first and coming back and filling the centers afterward (we are talking about with the same color, so outline in red, fill in red for example) can leave visible border lines because those borders dry before you get back to them. So instead, she suggested piping the border and filling the center immediately. Again, this is only if you are outlining and filling with the same color. She was so right. When I made the jersey cookies I did this with the colored ones and they were great. When I made the white jerseys, I outlined them all first then came back and tried a flooding method I saw on a different blog using these fun icing bottles. Na da. Ended up with border lines. Not doing that again.

When I filled my centers in, I just basically kept going around the inner border of the outline, working my way inward, until I reached the center. Then I gently tapped the cookie against the side of the cookie sheet, or you an pick it up and shake it side to side a little to make the icing spread out. If there are any bubles, pop with a toothpick and shake again. You can also use a toothpick to spread the icing out, you just have to work quickly so the icing doesn’t dry before you fill all the gaps. Do one cookie at a time, that’s key.

Something else fun that I experimented with was blending colors on the leaves. These could be so much better, but not bad for being a newbie! The trick is to add the secondary color(s) right away while the base coat is still wet. Then just drag a toothpick through it and swirl around.

Even if you don’t want to mess around with Royal Icing, which is really easy, you should still try this cookie recipe. Very yummy, overall winner, and even fun to decorate with canned frosting! You can still use Royal icing to top the cookies, and sprinkle with jimmies, nonpareils, or colored sugar too. Just remember you have to add those right away before the icing sets.


And so I give thanks to my friend Leslie, she answered several questions and provided two great recipes from which I yielded these yummy treats. My family thanks you too. :)

Oh and sorry for all the pictures. I couldn’t decide which ones to use, so I just used them all! LOL Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Cut Out Sugar Cookies
from The Hungry Housewife

[printable version – includes both cookies and icing]

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract or a mix of both
3 cups ap flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and the extract and beat to incorporate. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

Divide the dough into 2 portions and roll to 3/8″ thick in between 2 sheets of parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Remove the dough and cut your desired shape. Place the formed cookies back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Take the scraps and re roll them to 3/8″ in the parchment paper and re chill before cutting out again.

Preheat oven to 350 30 minutes before baking the cookies. Bake your cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (resist the urge to add parchment. These don’t make a mess, but the parchment can cause spreading) for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookie. (Mine were done in 9.5 minutes)

Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing Cookie Glaze

6 oz (3/4 cup) warm water
5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/4 pounds powdered sugar

*If your meringue powder does not have any vanilla flavor in it, you can add a teaspoon of CLEAR vanilla.

In a mixer bowl, pour the warm water and the meringue powder in and whisk for about 30 seconds until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk for another 30 seconds. Pour all of the sugar in at once and place on the mixer.

Using your paddle attachment, on the lowest speed, mix slowly for 10 full minutes.

Icing will be thick and creamy (like Elmer’s Glue). Cover the bowl the a damp cloth to prevent drying and crusting.

If you find the icing too thick, you can thin it by adding in water by the Tablespoon.

TIP: To test, lift your paddle attachment. Watch the ribbon of icing fall back into the bowl of icing. It should disappear before the count of 10. If it doesn’t add a little water at a time until it does.

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  1. Sweet and Savory says

    You said that the cookies could be better but honestly, they are decorated beautifully. I can't imagine them being better. You will have to prove it to me in your spare time.

    Phenomenal job.

    Of course, your whole blog is attractive while still being warm and welcoming.

  2. Heather says

    What beautiful, sophisticated cookies! And thank you for the blog – I am always wanting to try such cookies so now I have a place to learn from.

  3. Cathy says

    OMG Amanda, I am in love with these cookies! I want to stop what I am doing and head out immediately to find turkey cookie cutters. My kids will go nuts over these! You did an amazing job – such beautiful colors and great detail. Thanks for sharing all the tricks and tips – I am bookmarking this post!

  4. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says

    Well I know you said you didn't want to do a tutorial but I found this post really useful. I've really got the hang of royal icing yet but I feel inspired to keep going. And I love those turkeys, they're so cute!

  5. Katrina says

    Awesome cookies and decorating. I would like to love it, but it's just not my forte. I should try some of these methods to see if I like it better. Love the turkeys and the swirl in the leaves and I love the words. And, well, just great job! I just need to try that royal icing recipe to see if it works better than one I've used for years.

  6. Ellie says

    Wow, these cookies caught my eyes on Tastespotting! Wonderful, wonderful job! I have never decorated cookies…but you have just inspired me:)!

  7. delightfullysweet says

    What amazing cookies!
    I have never been able to make my cookies as pretty as yours. You make me want to work at it!

    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Michelle says

    Had to stop by and look at your cookies again. They are so wonderful, especially like the letter cookies…so cute!

  9. Paula - bell'alimento says

    Amanda, those are so stinkin' cute! I'm going to make these with my kids! Just adorable! I might even run some string through the lettered ones and make an edible banner ;)

  10. Sue Sparks says

    I never tire of looking at decorated cookies…yours are vibrant and beautiful! I want to try many of your recipes! I am also "following" from your other craft blog, but will check here at the same time. Your crafts are so cute and actually seem doable:)

  11. Lorie says

    Phew!! With the post, two recipes, and 35 comments, it took me forever to scroll to the bottom to leave a comment. But it wad worth it because those cookies are SOOOOO cute! You did a great job.

  12. Culinary Cory says

    These cookies look AMAZING! The color is vibrant and bold. My favorite part is the swirls in the leaves. Great job!

  13. Diane {} says

    I love icing cookies, and yes it is somewhere between the food an the craft :)
    Yours look great!

  14. marla {family fresh cooking} says

    Amanda, this is an award winning cookie decorating post! Amazing work girl. Love each & every shape & style!

  15. RedTedArt says

    Wow! These look awesome! I am very impressed! Very professional!

    Thank you for linking it to Kids Get Crafty and sharing your recipes and how you did it!!


  16. Rose~~~Kisss79 says

    LOVE THE BLENDED COLORS, & I agree with you on the disposable bags thing & having one or less =-)tips, you did great. I have A cute LiL' set now **Plastic not the Steel yet =-}, I love it. But I do Remember the days. Lovely cookies. Happy Holidays

  17. { L } says

    Aww, I LOVE LOVE those Give Thanks cookies. They are perfect and so cute!! You are very talented. All of your fall cookies are gorgeous.

  18. Heather Davis says

    Amanda those look amazing. I would love to do something similar for Xmas. I have never heard of meringue powder though. Do you know what it is?

  19. creativejewishmom/sara says

    Amazing cookies Amanda….I've been wanting to try the royal icing thing again, did poured icing once with so-so results….so you've got me inspired, now if I can just figure out what cream of tartar is called in hebrew! all the best and hope you had a lovely turkey day. Oh and thanks so much for linking to this and your adorable pilgrims on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  20. Amanda says

    Thanks everyone!

    Heather – Here's a link to Meringue powder, you can find it in the cake decorating section of WalMart (by the party supplies) or the craft store. It's a substitute for egg white for those who don't want to use raw egg :)

    There's also a very good explanation of it here


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