Transform a circle into these easy & adorable Santa face sugar cookies! No fancy piping needed; just a ziploc bag and some m&m’s. These make for a fun holiday baking activity with kids or just to leave out as cookies for Santa!
Psst! For more easy Christmas cookie decorating ideas to pair with this, check out my 5 EASY Christmas Cookies for Kids!
Santa Cookie Face Tips & Tricks
Decorated Santa sugar cookies don’t have to be hard! I LOVE coming up with new round Christmas cookie ideas & these easy Santa cookies are some of my fave!
- No santa cookie cutter required! You can cut out these santa face cookies using a circle cookie cutter, glass cup, or even the top of a empty aluminum soup can!
- Easy to decorate: you can make these decorated Santa cookies with 2 colors of frosting & M&M candies! Since these do require a little bit of piping, these cookies are best for kids ages 10 and up! For a few even easier cookie ideas (for younger kids!), check out my 5 EASY Christmas Cookies for Kids!
- Use premade dough, if you’d like! While I love my thick cut out sugar cookies (recipe below), you can even make these with premade dough from Pillsbury, if you’d like! Or for a fluffier lofthouse style cookie, use my fluffy sugar cookie recipe.
- Includes free printable: To help kids visualize the cookie, you can print off my free cookie instruction sheet which includes step by step illustrations!
What You Need to Make Santa Claus Cookies
You don’t need much to make & decorate these round Santa sugar cookies! These are such a fun & easy holiday baking activity for kids (make them on Christmas eve and leave them out as milk and cookies for Santa!).
- Cut out sugar cookie dough (recipe below)
- White frosting (recipe & color formula for the red below)
- M&M candy
- Circle cookie cutter or glass cup (approx. 2.5″ diameter)
- Bonus: Free printable instruction guide for kids!
Tip: I don’t typically recommend using “wet” icing like royal icing or glaze icing since the moisture will cause the M&M colors to bleed. But since the eyes sit on the unfrosted part, it wouldn’t be a huge issue.
How to Make Santa Claus Sugar Cookies
You can watch a quick video tutorial of me decorating these easy Santa cookies over on my TikTok page! A few readers across the pond referred to these as santa biscuits, which I’ve found fun to learn about all the different cookie lingo and traditions!
Step 1: Make Circle Cookies
Roll out and cut each cookie into approximately 2.5″ circles. Bake and let cool. My sugar cookie recipe is super soft & thick but you can also use a store-bought sugar cookie dough if you’d like! This recipe makes 12 circle cookies but you can easily double it for more.
Tip: No circle cookie cutter? No problem! You can still make these round Santa cookies without a cutter using a glass cup (wine tumblers or wine glasses work well!) or an empty aluminum soup can. That’s the beauty of making holiday circle cookies – so many options with just a round cookie!
Step 3: Decorating Santa Cookies!
- Use a piping or ziploc bag to pipe red frosting on the top 1/3 of the cookie (this will be the hat on Santa’s head!).
- With your white frosting, pipe dots along the bottom edge of the red and then one large dot on the end for Santa’s pom pom. If desired, top the pom pom with white nonpareil sprinkles.
- Pipe 2 small dots for the eyes, 2 dots on the outsides for the cheeks, and 1 dot in the center for the nose; press on the M&M’s.
- Pipe dots in the bottom 1/3 of the cookie to create the beard. Press If desired, press on a half M&M for the mouth (these are still cute without it though!).
Tip: Have an adult use a small pairing knife to carefully cut the brown M&M’s in half for the mouth. You will break some in the process but a good method is to quickly press your knife into the candy (don’t saw it back and forth). That said, you can totally leave off the mouth if you don’t want to mess with cutting M&M’s in half!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What can I use instead of M&M’s?
You can also use chocolate chips or eyeball sprinkles to create the eyes! If you don’t have either of those, you can also dye a little bit of frosting black & red and pipe on the details (although this is definitely messier & more effort!). Just a few options for Santa cookie decorations!
If you’re looking for more round Christmas cookie decorating ideas using M&M’s, be sure to check out my 5 EASY Christmas Cookies for Kids. You can make a whole family of M&M sugar cookies! I’m going to work on some ideas for Mrs. Claus cookies (and maybe an elf!) to pair with these Christmas Santa cookies!
How do I make red frosting?
I like using gel food coloring for the deepest red color. Per 1 cup of frosting add 4 drops Wilton Crimson + 2 drops Wilton Red. Since we’re only using 1/2 cup of red for these cookies, we’re just doing 2 drops of Crimson + 1 drop of red. If you only have liquid food coloring (from the grocery store), you can use that! Red frosting gets darker over time, so the color will deepen the longer the frosting or cookies sit.
As an alternative to buttercream, you can also make these as royal icing Santa cookies just be aware that the colors of the M&M’s tend to bleed on a wetter frosting. It still works, it just isn’t as presentation-worthy after a day or two!
Can I make these without a circle cookie cutter?
If you don’t have a round cookie cutter, you can cut these Santa cookies without a cutter using a glass cup or even the top of an empty aluminum soup can! Anything round works to make these circle Santa cookies! I love decorating these round cookies since you don’t need to buy a special Santa face cookie cutter!
Can I freeze these Santa sugar cookies?
Yes, you can freeze these frosted Santa cookies for up to 1 month in an airtight container. I suggest freezing them in one layer before stacking. After they’re frozen, you can place parchment paper in between each later to prevent them from sticking together.
If you’re making these ahead, you can also freeze them until the night before Christmas and then thaw to use as cookies for Santa plate!
Can I make these ahead?
To make these ahead, you can freeze the unfrosted cookies and then let them thaw to room temperature before decorating. This is a great option if you want to make them ahead for a cookie decorating party!
Do you have another easy Christmas cookie decorating ideas using M&M’s?
I sure do! For more easy round cookies, check out my 5 EASY Christmas Cookies for Kids! I love making & shaping cookies without cutters because there are so many ways you can transform round cookies into something magical! Making circle cookies for Christmas is my new secret weapon…round snowman cookies, gingerbread faces, and rudolph cookies here we come!
Easy Polar Bear Cookies
Make these EASY polar bear face cookies using a circle cookie cutter and M&M candies! No fancy piping needed; simply snip the corner off a ziploc bag and pipe dots for a simple Christmas cookie decorating diea! Makes 12 round sugar cookies (~2.5" in diameter) and 2 cups of buttercream frosting.
Sugar Cookie Dough
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract (nut allergy? you can substitute this with extra vanilla!)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1.5 teaspoons almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Gel food coloring
- M&M's candy (I used both mini & regular sized M&M's)
- Circle cookie cutter 2.5-3" in diameter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed for 20-30 seconds. Mix in egg, vanilla and almond extract. Add in baking powder, salt, and flour and mix until combined. Transfer to a flour-covered surface and use a rolling pin to roll dough 3/8" to 1/2" thick. Use a 2.5-3" circle cookie cutter or glass cup to cut out dough.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Depending on size of your cookie cutter and thickness of dough, you may need to bake for a few extra minutes. Allow to cool before decorating.
To make frosting: In a large mixing bowl, add butter, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Cream together on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until blended together. Mix in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until all is incorporated. Turn mixer to high speed, and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
To decorate: Reference the photos in the post above or print off my printable instruction PDF to decorate the polar bear faces.
1. Spread or pipe white frosting on cookie. (Optional: Immediately after spreading frosting, dip cookie into white sanding sugar if you have it!).
2. Using a piping bag or ziploc bag, pipe two small white dots for the ears and one large dot for the nose (you can also use mini marshmallows for the ears!).
3. Press on (2) mini brown M&M's for the eyes, 2 mini red M&M's for the rosy cheeks, and a regular-sized brown M&M for the mouth.
Store in airtight container for 2-3 days or freeze for later.
Last Step! Please leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe! This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.
Substitutions for M&M’s: You can also use chocolate chips or eyeball sprinkles to create the eyes! If you don’t have either of those, you can also dye a little bit of frosting brown or black pipe on the details (although this is definitely messier & more effort!).
Storing: store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Freezing: you can freeze these frosted polar bear cookies for up to 1 month in an airtight container. I suggest freezing them in one layer before stacking. After they’re frozen, you can place parchment paper in between each later to prevent them from sticking together.
Make Ahead: freeze the unfrosted cookies and then let them thaw to room temperature before decorating. This is a great option if you want to make them ahead for a cookie decorating party!
For more easy Christmas cookie ideas for kids:
- 5 EASY Christmas Cookies for Kids
- Easy Rudolph Cookies
- Easy Decorated Snowman Cookies
- Easy Wreath Sugar Cookies
These gingerbread man cookies are so cute on a holiday cookie platter paired with candy cane or gumdrop cookies! If you make these easy gingerbread man cookies, be sure to leave a comment below and tag me on Instagram @designeatrepeat. I LOVE seeing what you made!