If you walk into any classic American grocery store, you are immediately greeted by sugar cookies with a mile-high frosting. You know the ones we mean? Like these pictured:
They are thick and fluffy, and the frosting is some variation of a very bright, definitely not natural, color. So naturally, you WANT to love these cookies, but unfortunately, they always tend to look better than they taste.
Taking a Classic Store-Bought Recipe and Making it better with Matcha & More
We decided to fix that. These pillowy, soft matcha sugar cookies are exactly what your Christmas dreams are made of. Not only do these cookies taste incredible, but they are also natural and free of any food coloring. Matcha gives our frosting a bright green hue, and beet juice is responsible for our red cookies.
How are these matcha frosting Christmas sugar cookies so different than regular sugar cookies?
Regularly sugar cookies tend to be thinner and often rolled out into shapes. These sugar cookies are thicker, fluffier, and more "cake" like. The added Greek yogurt keeps these rich and moist, and we're using buttercream frosting instead of royal icing.
A note on food coloring | Why it's worth opting for natural dyes in your baking and cooking recipes
Food dyes are made with chemicals linked to cancer, inflammation and can also be carcinogenic. No thank you! (1)
If a food label reads Red 40, it must be avoided. That being said, it can still be fun to have colorful food! Such as the incredibly bright green hue matcha gives our frosting. If you still want your Christmas cookies to have that classic red and green color but without these potential consequences or efforts of making your own at home, check out the fantastic array of natural food dye products that now exist. The red color that these dyes often are derived from beets or radishes. Please read your food labels and get a product that doesn't contain artificial ingredients.
If you have the time and want to make your own dye, you can use beet juice, pomegranate juice, or boiled cranberry juice.
Because these dyes come from nature, they won't look as bright or red as Red 40.
Ingredients you will need:
For your Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup softened butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp maple extract
- ½ cup whole-fat plain Greek yogurt
- A few drops of natural food coloring
For your matcha frosting
- ½ cup softened butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1-2 tsp matcha powder
Step-by-step directions to make these Christmas sugar cookies with matcha frosting:
- Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside
- In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat on high until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
- Add yogurt, eggs, vanilla, maple extract, and natural food dye. Beat until combined.
- Slowly beat in flour mixture just until combined. Adjust color as needed.
- Place the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Overnight preferred.
- Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using ~3 tbsp of dough, roll the dough into a ball with your hands.
- Place on baking sheet leaving about 1" space between balls
- Using the bottom of a glass or a spoon, gently press to flatten each ball of dough slightly
- Bake for 13-14 minutes. You want them to look underbaked!
- While the cookies are baking, combine all frosting ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined.
- Spread frosting on top of cooled cookies.
- Optional: top with sprinkles or decorations
Tips to keep in mind making these matcha Christmas sugar cookies:
- This recipe calls for all-purpose flour because that's what most of us have in our cabinets. For an even softer cookie, swap all-purpose for cake flour.
- Spoon your flour into a measuring cup, then remove any excess flour over the top line of your cup using the back of a butter knife. This ensures you aren't adding too much flour to your dough!
- Allow your dough to chill in the refrigerator thoroughly (or outside if it's cold out and you don't have to worry about any pets or outdoor critters getting to it). This is an essential step! Don't skip this step! 3-4 hours will do the trick, but overnight is ideal.
- Be careful not to over bake your cookies. If the tops start to brown, they've been cooked too long. If you'd like, you can pierce a cookie with a toothpick, and once it comes out clean, you know, it's done. Think cake rather than cookies here.
- Choose vanilla and maple extract rather than vanilla and maple flavoring or imitations. The real taste of these extracts can't be beaten and truly elevate your cookies to another level.
- Use culinary matcha instead of ceremonial, and be sure to sift it! You want to avoid ending up with clumps in your frosting.
The bottom line: Enjoy!
This recipe is By Diana Weil, Matcha.com's Integrative Nutritionist and Food Relationship Specialist.
Potera C. (2010). The artificial food dye blues. Environmental health perspectives, 118(10), A428. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.118-a428