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Vegan Christmas Cookies + Natural Food Coloring

Vegan Christmas Cookies + Natural Food Coloring

Plant Based Recipes

Last Updated on May 2, 2022

These Vegan Christmas Cookies have the perfect crispy edges and tender centers. Topped with a homemade icing made with natural food coloring, they are the best vegan sugar cookies.

plate with vegan christmas cookies and natural food dye

Growing up our one, yes one and only, Christmas tradition was to bake cookies, listen to classic crooner Christmas music, and put up the tree after Thanksgiving. As an adult, I prefer to make dairy free sugar cookies and use vegan food coloring too as part of my holiday traditions.

why i use natural food coloring

The best part of making cookies is all of the colorful icing and the freedom to decorate! I had no idea how I was going to do this zero waste. I really didn’t want to buy tiny plastic bottles of artificial dye. Then I started thinking what is food coloring? Apparently, it’s made out of crude oil. Seriously. The same stuff that makes – you guessed it – plastic.

They are made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum, a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar. NPR.org: “Artificial food dyes are made from petroleum and approved for use by the FDA to enhance the color of processed foods.

So yeah…who really wants to feed that to their family members and friends? Ugh.

Great news the solution was staring me in the face. Quite literally. On my spice rack.  You can make vegan food coloring with spices and they make beautiful colors. Here are my recommendations:

Turmeric = gold

Matcha = green

Beets = red 

I had all of the makings for natural food coloring so we I could have a tasty and festive occasion right in my kitchen! I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of this, but I felt like a genius for a hot second. Now all that’s missing is friends and adult drinks!

making vegan sugar cookies
Shauna from Zero Waste Teacher joined me and Bing in the kitchen for a festive night. She taught me how to make some amazing coconut milk which we used in our cookie extravaganza.

ingredients needed for vegan christmas cookies

  • vegan butter
  • sugar
  • brown sugar
  • mashed sweet potato
  • pure vanilla extract
  • coconut milk
  • unbleached all purpose flour
  • cornstarch
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt

how to make dairy free sugar cookies

step 1: prepare vegan sugar cookie dough

Cream together the butter and sugar together in a medium sized bowl. Mix in the mashed sweet potato, pure vanilla extract and coconut milk. Stir in the dry ingredients.

step 2: make cookie shapes

Sprinkle flour onto your work surface and roll out the dough. The vegan sugar cookies dough needs to be about 1/8″ thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes.

step 3: freeze and bake

Place the dairy free sugar cookies on a baking sheet and put in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 12 minutes or until they are set around the edges. Let cool on a wire rack then decorate.

ingredients needed for vegan food coloring

  • vegan butter
  • powdered sugar
  • coconut milk
  • turmeric
  • beet juice
  • matcha tea
  • water

how to make vegan food coloring

step 1: prepare the icing

Combine the butter and powdered sugar. Slowly add in one tablespoon of milk at a time. Add milk until it’s the desired consistency.

step 2: make colors

Divide the icing into three small bowls. Use the beet juice, matcha tea, and turmeric as natural food coloring to dye the icing. Stir well and decorate cooled vegan Christmas cookies. Enjoy!

plate filled with vegan christmas cookies with vegan food coloring icing

can I make homemade powdered sugar?

Yes, you can make powdered or confectioners or icing sugar by blending regular sugar until it’s fine. How cool is that? This works great in a pinch or when you get a great deal on regular sugar.

can I double this vegan sugar cookies recipe?

Yes! You can make as many batches as you need. Each batch of dairy free sugar cookies makes around 12 cookies, depending on how big you make them.

why do I have to freeze vegan sugar cookie dough?

Freezing the dough for a few minutes will help prevent the cookies from spreading so much. This will give them a much cleaner design, so it’s vital that you don’t skip this step!

Yield: 12

Vegan Christmas Cookies + Natural Food Coloring

vegan christmas cookies

These Vegan Christmas Cookies have the perfect crispy edges and tender centers. Topped with a homemade icing made with natural food coloring, they are the best vegan sugar cookies.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 all purpose flour, unbleached + more for dusting
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Natural Food Coloring

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons of beet juice
  • 2 teaspoons of matcha
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

Vegan Sugar Cookies

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the sweet potato, vanilla extract, and coconut milk.
  3. Blend in the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Sprinkle flour onto your work surface and turn out the dough.
  5. Roll until it's approximately 1/8" thick.
  6. Cut into shapes and place on a baking sheet. Freeze for 10 minutes.
  7. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack completely before decorating.

Natural Food Coloring

  1. Combine the butter and powdered sugar until creamy.
  2. Mix in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until it's the texture you want. (make it as stiff or runny as you want)
  3. Divide the vegan icing into 3 bowls. Add turmeric to one bowl, and beet juice to the 2nd bowl. Then dissolve 2 teaspoons of matcha in water and add it to the 3rd bowl. Combine icing until well mixed. Add more spices as needed to reach the desired colors.
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  1. Love how you use turmeric for icing on the cookies! Such a good idea! I haven’t thought about certain foods to make for the holidays, but I think cookies would be the easiest to make! As far as traditions, seeing light displays is one of our favorites.

    1. My family has always had to make everything without dairy; because, I’m allergic. Haha. Once you practice a little it becomes second nature. I love experimenting and making vegan cheese. You should definitely try!

  2. I never knew that food colouring was made from crude oil that is shocking. I love that is cruelty free too. I am a vegetarian.

  3. Our favorite Christmas tradition is eating coffee cake on Christmas morning! Funny how traditions also tend to include delicious food šŸ˜‰ I never knew natural dye existed, I’m curious to go and try it now!!

  4. I’ve seen natural dyes used to color wool for knitting, but I never thought about it for food — crazy, right? I love this idea, and it’s perfect for baking with the kids!

  5. This is very cool, I have never used natural dyes but I think it is a great idea. Our Christmas traditions are to go buy a natural tree, come home decorate it, drink hot chocolate, and listen to Christmas music. Another is to make cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, my boys enjoy both so much as do I šŸ™‚

    1. I was watching this really fascinating thing about using natural dyes in paint focusing on Rembrandt and his contemporaries. Buckwheat berries make a nice shade of green. It would be a nice eye shadow color I think – if you’re into green. lol.

  6. I am wondering if you have tips for how to apply icing to the cookies? without the use of a plastic piping bag I am not sure how to decorate. Thanks!

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