How to Make Day of the Dead Skull Cookies

Written by Mike Tamplin • Sep 25, 2020

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How to Make Day of the Dead Skull Cookies
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Making cookies for Day of the Dead (or Día de los Muertos) has always been on my list of to-dos. But truth be told, I was intimidated by how ornate the designs and imagery associated with the holiday are typically.

However, because I love the holiday so much, I was determine to come up with something that was achievable, not too spooky, and still lives up to the essence of the holiday.

These Day of the Dead skull cookies are relatively easy, compared to most sugar skull designs. The face embellishments on these cookies are simplified without giving up too much of their ornateness.

These cookies do require quite a bit of different colors. However, by using colored fondant, it helped lessen the need of mixing more icing colors while still keeping things colorful. I also think the fondant flowers add nice dimension. Some people aren't fans of fondant, but luckily these pieces are easy to pop off if that's not your thing.

Day of the Dead Cookie Cutters

Recently added to the shop are three cookie cutter designs for Día de los Muertos.

There's a female skull, a male skull, and a decorated altar cookie cutter available in this collection.

Day of the Dead cookie cutters | Semi Sweet Designs

I'll be decorating the female skull cookie in the LARGE size. However, the male version also uses similar decorating techniques in steps below.

Template for the Day of the Dead Cookies

To help with the decorating process, I made a PDF template of all the designs of my 2020 Halloween cookie designs, including this Day of the Dead cookie collection.

Click the link below for the downloadable template PDF file.

This file is four pages long and is rather large in data size. Just a warning, it might take a moment before the file opens in your browser.

If you have a Kopykake or Pico projector, just print it out (or pull it up on your mobile device) and you are good to go. For those without a projector, follow the suggested steps below by tracing the design onto the cookie with an edible food marker.

The Decorating Process

For these Day of the Dead cookies, you will need the following suggested colors:

Step 1

Begin by applying a thin layer of black icing to the center of the cookie, as shown. Use an offset spatula or food-only paintbrush to quickly spread an even layer across the middle where the face would be.

For those without a projector, score or etch guidelines where the face details should be, as shown. I made a template with template plastic from the PDF file above and used a scribe tool to etch the eyes and nose and used a food marker to draw the outer face guideline on the cookie.

Day of the Dead skull cookies step 1

Step 2

Next, with white piping icing, outline the outer face edge and the nose. With purple piping icing, outline the eye holes.

Then quickly flood the entire section with white icing. Immediately add purple dots around the eye hole edges and add a red heart to the forehead, as shown. Let this icing set for 15 minutes.

Day of the Dead skull cookies step 2

Step 3

Once the face icing had time to set, add the yellow earrings and the teal hair band. Let this icing set for 15 minutes.

Then add the black hair sections, as shown.

Day of the Dead skull cookies step 3

Step 4

Next, add the white arched "rainbow" eyes with icing and draw on the toothy smile with a food marker.

Also, outline the hair sections with black icing. (I forgot to mention that in the picture text below.)

Day of the Dead skull cookies step 4

Step 5

Once the icing had time to dry, add the fondant flower accents.

I used this fondant rose mold. It's the perfect size for cookies. Even though it's a technically a rose, I think it passes as a marigold, which is typical for Día de los Muertos.

Just attach the fondant flowers with a dot of royal icing.

day of the dead skull cookies step 5

Video Tutorial

The steps above are summarized in this time-lapsed video.

As mentioned above, this female skull is just one out of three new cookie designs for Día de los Muertos. The male skull and the decorated altar are the other two that complete the set.

Day of the Dead Dia de los Muertos Cookies | Semi Sweet Designs

For packaging, I think this BRP Shop Box cookie box (12"x 5"x 1.5") is perfect for this trio.

Dia de los Muertos Cookies in a box | Semi Sweet Designs

These cookies are available in both LARGE and REGULAR sizes. Here's a visual reference of how those sizes compare in this same cookie box.

Alternatively, you could also mix and match the sizes with great results. For example, I think large skull cookies would be great with a regular altar cookie.

Day of the Dead cookies in a box | Semi Sweet Designs

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