Christmas Light Cookies

Christmas light cookies recipe

​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 100 mins
  • Prep: 90 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 18 cookies (serves 9)

These adorable Christmas light cookies are a cute and unique addition to bring to a holiday cookie swap or party. They're super easy to make, thanks to store-bought frosting and uncomplicated cookie shapes.

If you are feeling a bit more ambitious and want to make your own frosting, we've got a foolproof buttercream recipe you should try. If you're not feeling the buttercream, no worries! There's finger-licking cream cheese frosting you can substitute instead. Either way, the whiter the frosting, the better, as it will create a crisp background for the string of lights.

Just make sure that when creating the lights you use mini M&Ms, as the regular-sized ones are too big and will overpower the frosted strings.


  • Cookie Dough:
  • 2/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest (or lemon zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Frosting and Decoration:
  • 1 (16-ounce) can white vanilla frosting (or about 2 cups homemade frosting)
  • Black food coloring (3-4 drops)
  • 1/2 cup mini M&Ms (all colors except for brown)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients and preheat the oven to 375 F.

    Ingredients for dough
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, orange zest, and vanilla thoroughly.

    Use mixer
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Add in the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

    Add in egg
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.

    Sift together dry ingredients
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Blend the dry mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk.

    Blend dry mixture into creamed mixture
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Divide dough in half and place each half in a plastic bag to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

    Divide dough in half
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Roll out each dough ball into 1/3-inch sheet.

    Roll out each dough
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck 
  8. Cut out circles using a biscuit cutter or the lip of a juice glass and place onto a parchment lined cookie sheets. You will need to bake the cookies in batches and can re-roll the scraps into another sheet. 

    Cut out circles
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  9. Bake for approximately 6 minutes. Do not allow the cookies to brown.

    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  10. Remove the cookies from the cookie sheets and place on a rack to cool. 

    Remove the cookies
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  11. Divide the can of frosting into two bowls. In the second bowl, add black food coloring and stir to combine the frosting with the food coloring. 

    Divide frosting
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  12. Once the cookies are completely cooled, frost them with the white vanilla frosting. 

    Frost cookies
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  13. Place the black frosting into a icing bag with a small round whole tip. Pipe the black frosting close to the edge of each cookie swirling and twirling it to create the tangled string part of the christmas lights.  

    Pipe icing
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  14. While the frosting is still wet add the mini M&Ms to the black string, alternating the colors and leaving space in between each candy.  

    Add M&Ms
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck
  15. Leave out for Santa or enjoy for yourself!

    Leave out
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck


  • Bake the cookies ahead of time and freeze if needed. Simply take out, thaw slightly, and frost right before you're ready to party.