Grinch Cookies

5 from 4 votes
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Get ready to steal the hearts of your friends and family this holiday season with this Grinch cookie recipe! These festive treats are the perfect combination of sweet and vibrant green to bring a touch of whimsy to any holiday gathering.

For more tasty treats, try my recipes for monster cookies, M&M cookies, and cowboy cookies.

Green Grinch cookies with red heart candies pressed into the surface.

Like the Grinch that stole Christmas, these eye-catching cookies will steal your heart! Every year, as Christmas nears, there’s something special about reading Dr. Seuss with the kids and cuddling up to watch the Grinch movie. Whipping up a batch of these electric green treats is the perfect way to enhance the experience.

I use my crinkle cookie base to create an interesting texture on the surface, just like the Grinch’s scraggly fur. They are rolled in two types of sugar and then baked until puffy. They are wonderfully soft and chewy, with light, crisp edges. Since the Grinch’s heart grows three times in size, I added large candy hearts.

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients needed to make this Grinch cookies recipe.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour gives structure to the cookie. It’s easy to swap in gluten-free flour if desired.
  • Powdered Sugar: It’s used in two ways: to add stiffness and chew and to create crevices on the surface as the cookies bake.
  • Leavening Agents: Baking powder helps the cookie puff up in the center. Eggs help with binding and adding air to the dough from the whipped whites.
  • Sugar: I use two types of sugar. Granulated sugar added a clean sweetness and a delicate crispness on the edges. The dough is rolled in the sugar to help create the cracks on top. Light brown sugar keeps the texture soft and chewy.
  • Butter: It’s ideal to use softened butter at just below room temperature, between 65 to 67ºF (18 to 20ºC). This helps to trap air when creamed with the sugars.
  • Flavoring: Vanilla extract is added as the base flavor, and a bit of salt balances the dough’s sweetness.
  • Color: I highly recommend using green gel food coloring. Its concentrated pigments yield a vibrant green hue. Liquid coloring can be added but will require more to achieve a similar effect.
  • Hearts: You’ve got plenty of options for adding a red heart to the cookie. I use large heart candies. However, you can use cinnamon hearts, small red heart-shaped sprinkles, or pipe on a heart shape with cookie frosting.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. This moderate temperature will allow the cookies to slightly spread and then set with a perfect puff in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper so they are ready to go.

The cookies bake one tray at a time, so set the oven rack to the middle position for the most even cooking. This recipe for Grinch cookies requires no chilling of the dough.

Mix the dry ingredients

Mixing bowl with flour, sugar, and a whisk.

Step 2: It’s critical to disperse the dry ingredients together evenly. The flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt are fine particles. Whisk them together so they will be nicely distributed in the final dough.

Cream the butter and sugar

Metal bowl with brown sugar and a stick of softened butter.

Step 3: To give the cookies a soft and airy texture in the centers, cream the softened unsalted butter, ¾ cups of granulated sugar, and brown sugar together. I use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for a few minutes until it looks slightly whipped.

Mix the wet ingredients

Egg yolk and dough batter in a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment.

Step 4: Add the eggs one at a time to ensure that they get fully emulsified in the creamed butter and sugar.

Streaks of vanilla extract added to a bowl of dough batter.

Add the vanilla extract to enhance the flavor.

Green food coloring added to a bowl of wet cookie dough batter.

Add 8 to 10 drops of gel food coloring to achieve a Grinch green hue. If using liquid coloring, you will need a lot more because the pigment is diluted.

Bowl of green colored wet dough batter.

Mix until combined. Note that the green color dulls slightly after baking, so consider that.

Make the dough

Stand mixer bowl with flour mixture added to wet cookie dough batter.
Green cookie dough formed in a stand mixer bowl.

Step 5: Add the flour to the wet ingredients in four increments. Mix each part at low speed. This allows the flour to hydrate and develop just enough gluten to create a domed structure for the cookies. Adding all the flour at once will take longer to incorporate, developing more gluten and resulting in a more rigid texture.

The final dough will be thick, like Play-Dough. The powdered sugar contains cornstarch, wicking up excess moisture for a rollable consistency. Let the dough sit for 10 minutes before portioning to thicken up more.

Coat and roll

Step 6: Portion the dough into 1 ½ tablespoons (1 ounce or 30 grams) pieces, then roll into a ball. Roll first in granulated sugar, then coat in powdered sugar. These two ingredients will create a crackly texture for the crinkle cookies. When baked, it almost looks like the Grinches furr with the colorful green cookie underneath.

Flatten the dough

Person using the back of a measuring cup to flattened the Grinch cookie dough balls into discs.

Step 7: Transfer the coated cookie dough balls to the prepared baking sheets. Add 12 to a sheet, at least 2-inches apart. The ratio of flour and powdered sugar makes the dough thick.

Press the ball into a disc using the bottom of a measuring cup. It should be about 2 inches wide and ½ inch thick. This helps the dough spread out slightly. Otherwise, it will stay as a smaller mound.

Bake

Step 8: Bake the cookies on a tray at a time for even cooking. The process takes about 12 to 14 minutes. After the first 6 minutes, rotate the pan. The cookies start to puff in the last 6 to 8 minutes and will set around the edges. Do not overbake the cookies! The tops should still look soft along the cracks on the surface.

Add the hearts

Person adding a red heart-shaped candy to the top of a warm Grinch cookie on a sheet pan.

Step 9: Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately press the candy heart or red heart sprinkles on top. I place it on the upper right side of the cookie, just like where the Grinches heart would be. The warmth of the cookie will warm up the sugar in the candy slightly to help it stick.

Cool the cookies

Step 10: Let the cookies sit on the warm tray for 5 minutes. This will gently finish cooking the cookies, giving a light crispness to the bottoms. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once my family sees the cookies out of the oven, they disappear fast!

Flavor variations

This easy Grinch cookie recipe is the ultimate holiday treat! Try these fun ways to customize the flavor and look:

  • Color: Instead of using gel coloring, you can use a liquid green color. For a natural color, use matcha green tea powder. It will add more of a subtle green and delicious earthy tea flavor.
  • Flavor: Add some mint or peppermint to switch up the vanilla base. This will give a refreshing flavor that’s a surprise to the eaters. For a nutty taste, add coconut or almond extract. Add lemon or orange zest or a splash of the juice for a tangy citrus taste.
  • Spices: Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, or cloves for warm baked notes.
  • Filling: Add homemade Nutella, chopped nuts, peanut butter, cream cheese frosting, or jam to the center for a stuffed cookie. Make the cookie 2 tablespoons in size if filling, then add about 1 teaspoon of filling for a delicious surprise.
Grinch cookies cooling on a wire rack.

Other holiday cookies to try

Frequently asked questions

Can I use a different type of food coloring instead of gel food coloring?

Liquid food coloring is another option for the bright green Grinch color of the cookies. You’ll have to add double if not more, to match the hue achieved by the concentrated gel coloring. Matcha powder is a natural option, but it will add more bitter tea flavor.

Can I add additional mix-ins?

Add in finely chopped nuts like walnuts, almonds, or pecans. Add some white, dark, or semi-sweet chocolate chips or M&M candies. Add filling to the center, like jam, nut butter, or Nutella. However, don’t overpower the soft chew of the cookie base; add just a tiny amount.

What can I substitute for the heart candy added to the cookie?

Small or large candy hearts, cinnamon heart candies, heart sprinkles, red M&M candies, or piped hearts using red cookie frosting add the final touch to the Grinch cookies.

Can I freeze the cookie dough for later use?

Portion, roll, and then freeze the dough for 1 month. Defrost before using, then roll in the granulated sugar and powdered sugar before baking.

Seven Grinch cookies placed on a white plate.

Coat the dough in two types of sugar

To create the most crinkled appearance on the cookie’s surface, coat them twice. The first layer is granulated sugar. The coarse crystals absorb the moisture. The sugar dissolves into a syrup, then recrystallizes as moisture is lost and hardens. The dry surface cracks appear when the cookies puff up, as the baking powder is fully activated with heat. The powdered sugar is very fine and stays dry in some areas adding a lovely contrast in color, with a soft, fur-like appearance.

Grinch Cookies

These vibrant green Grinch cookies with a red candy heart, will bring a whimsical touch to your holiday baking and delight any Dr. Seuss fan out there.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
25 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Servings 24 servings
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened to 65 to 67ºF (18 to 20ºC)
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • green gel food coloring
  • 24 heart candies, or sprinkles

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the rack to the middle position. Preheat to 350ºF (177ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Mix the Dry Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ½ cup of powdered sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  • Cream the Butter and Sugar – In a stand mixer or hand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, ¾ cup of granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Mix on medium speed (setting 5) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and paddle.
  • Add the Eggs and Color – Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium-low speed (setting 4), for about 30 seconds each. Mix in the vanilla for 15 seconds. Mix in enough food coloring until a bright green color is achieved. I use 8 to 10 drops of gel coloring.
  • Make the Dough – Gradually add the flour mixture in four additions. Mix on low speed until just combined. Let the dough sit for 10 minutes to thicken. It should feel like modeling clay.
  • Coat and Roll the Dough – Add ½ cup granulated sugar into a shallow dish. Add ½ cup powdered sugar into a separate shallow dish. Portion out 1 ½ tablespoons (1 ounce, 30 grams) of dough, then roll into a ball. Roll each ball in granulated sugar then transfer to the powdered sugar bowl and roll to coat. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Flatten the Dough – Evenly space the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. About 12 cookies per sheet pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten each ball into a 2-inch wide disc, about ½ inch thick.
  • Bake – Bake one sheet at a time until puffed in the center and the edges set, about 12 to 14 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through.
  • Add the Hearts – Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately press one heart into the surface. I like to place them off-center to the right.
  • Cool – Leave the cookies on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack. Cool completely before serving.

Notes

  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute the all-purpose flour for Bob’s Redmill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.
  • Make Ahead: The cookie dough can be portioned a refrigerated for up to 2 days. Freeze for up to 1 month, then defrost. Roll in sugar and powdered sugar before baking. 
  • Storing: Airtight container for up to 5 days, freeze for up to 1 month.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 24 servings
Calories 126kcal (6%)Carbohydrates 20g (7%)Protein 2g (4%)Fat 4g (6%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0.2gCholesterol 26mg (9%)Sodium 56mg (2%)Potassium 40mg (1%)Fiber 0.3g (1%)Sugar 11g (12%)Vitamin A 141IU (3%)Calcium 15mg (2%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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