Picking pumpkins fresh from the patch is one of our most cherished fall traditions. And naturally, come October, carving up those same beautiful pumpkins is all the rage. Unfortunately, carving a pumpkin takes a whole lot of work—and it makes a pretty big mess. While the idea of carving a pumpkin is quite appealing, looking down at your kitchen table covered in power tools and pumpkin guts may induce slight panic and regret (maybe next year you'll just paint a pumpkin instead). If carving a pumpkin isn't your thing, or if you just can't get enough of the jack-o'-lantern fun, let us introduce you to your new favorite fall activity: decorating festive sugar cookies.While the process of piping a jack-o'-lantern cookie may take a bit of time, it results in a product that's just as tasty as those roasted pumpkin seeds. Like real jack-o'-lanterns, these cookies are entirely customizable; you can pipe any expression or "carving" that you please. When you're piping these cookies, be sure to take time between steps to create the layered effect. Packaged together with our Candy Corn Sugar Cookies, Spider Web Cookies, or Friendly Ghost Cookies, these festive Pumpkin Sugar Cookies are a stunning homemade Halloween hostess gift.


Credit: Zoe Denenberg; Prop Styling: Rachel Mulcahy

Recipe Summary test

50 mins
5 hrs 10 mins
About 2 dozen cookies


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Make Easy Sugar Cookies, cut with 4-inch pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter. Make Royal Icing.

  • Load a piping bag with piping-consistency white icing; fit piping bag with small round tip (#2 or 3). In 4 separate small bowls, mix a black piping-consistency icing; an orange piping-consistency icing; an orange flooding-consistency icing; and a yellow piping-consistency icing. Load the orange piping-consistency icing into a piping bag; fit piping bag with small round tip (#2 or 3). Load flooding-consistency orange icing into piping bag (no need to fit the bag with a metal tip; simply snip the tip of the piping bag to create a small opening, approx. 1/8 inch). Set yellow and black icings aside.

  • Using a knife or an offset spatula, smear a thin, even layer of black piping-consistency icing on the center of the cookie (cover the area of the jack-o'-lantern's eyes and mouth). Let dry for 1-2 hours.

  • Outline perimeter of pumpkin cookies with orange piping-consistency icing. Then pipe two triangular eyes and a toothy jack-o-lantern smile. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, then use orange flooding-consistency icing to carefully fill the space surrounding the eyes and mouth (leave black eyes exposed). Let dry for 2-3 hours.

  • Use orange piping-consistency icing to outline perimeter of flooded cookie, then outline eyes and mouth. Pipe 4 additional lines down the cookie, not piping over the facial features, to resemble the grooves of the pumpkin.

  • Use piping-consistency white icing to pipe pumpkin stem. Load yellow icing into piping bag and fit with an open star tip (#16) and pipe 3-4 flowers on the top of the pumpkin, then use white icing to pipe a small dot in the center of each flower. Let dry for 1-2 hours.