M&M's Piñata Cookies Recipe

We challenge you to find someone who doesn't like cookies. With a vast array of options from ingredients to textures, as well as shapes and sizes, cookies are the number one versatile treat. We're always ready to bite into a giant chocolate chip cookie, but special occasions call for something novel. Tasting Table recipe developer and pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse brings us these M&M's piñata cookies, and we couldn't be more enthralled. The dazzling cookies are shaped like a piñata and showcase vibrant stripes and multiple layers. Hidden inside is a sweet treat that lives up to this piñata creation. 

Rosenhouse shares, "These cookies are super fun to make (even with kids along for the ride) and super customizable!" If you're looking to get creative in the kitchen, she suggests, "You can color the dough in any shade you prefer, and fill with sprinkles, candy, and more!" While this recipe isn't quite as basic as an ordinary chocolate chip cookie, the instructions are straightforward and Rosenhouse guides us through every step. That being said, this might not be a casual Tuesday-night cookie recipe to whip up, and Rosenhouse highlights, "These are excellent for Cinco de Mayo or birthday parties."

Gather the ingredients for these M&M's piñata cookies

For this recipe, you'll need room temperature butter, granulated sugar, large eggs, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour (keep it nearby for rolling the dough), kosher salt, and baking powder. You'll also need six shades of food coloring, confectioners' sugar, whole milk, and mini M&M's. Feel free to swap out the chocolate candies for sprinkles or other tiny goodies if desired.

Combine the batter ingredients

Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and beat them with a hand mixer on low to medium speed for about 2 minutes until the texture is light and fluffy. Then, crack the eggs one at a time, making sure to mix after adding each one to combine. Splash in the vanilla and add the flour, salt, and baking powder, then beat the mixture until a smooth dough forms. Transfer the bowl to a clean work surface and divide it into six evenly-sized pieces.

Dye the dough and pile it in a stack

To avoid staining your hands, use gloves and work a different color into each of the pieces of dough to make six colorful dough balls. "Pro tip: Work from light to dark to keep colors intact without having to change gloves," Rosenhouse advises. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on a clean surface and measure the dimensions of your piñata cookie cutter

Take the first ball of dough and flatten it into a rectangle that is the same width as the cookie cutter and around a ½-inch thick. Place it on the plastic wrap and repeat the process with the remaining five balls of dough. As you shape the dough into rectangles, stack them one by one on top of each other. Before continuing, double-check your measurements by holding the piñata cutter along the side of the dough cube. You want the dough to be wider and taller than the cookie cutter. If this isn't the case, maneuver the dough with your hands until the size is right. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for at least 1 hour until it firms up.

Slice the dough

Once the dough is firm, preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. (If you have more than two trays, prepare another one in case you need more space.)

Take the dough cube and cut it into ¼-inch thick slices, for a total of 24 slices. Rosenhouse warns, "Keep the cookies on the thinner side — too thick and your cookie sandwiches will be a mouthful!" Place them on the baking sheets with just a slight space between them. Take your piñata cutter and one by one, cut out 24 piñata shapes from the slices, reserving the dough scraps. 

Bake the first batch of cookies

Once the oven is hot, bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until they are firm. While they are still warm from the oven, use the clean piñata cutter to cut over each piñata cookie. "This helps make sure that the initial shape is exact — meaning all the cookies will match perfectly when stacking!"

Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and make a ball with the dough scraps you set aside. Roll it out until it is ¼-inch thick, then cut out 12 piñata shapes. Rosenhouse notes that "typically some of the scraps go to waste." Instead, she uses them for the middle part of the cookies and remarks, "Since no one really sees the center, this is a great way to get the most bang for your buck!" 

Bake another batch with cut-outs

Bake the 12 cookies for another 8 to 10 minutes until the texture is firm. Once again, use the clean cutter to perfect the edges. Additionally, cut out a diamond shape in the center using a 1-inch cutter or a small knife. Roll up the scraps and cut out whatever shapes you desire. If you want to add an extra flair, Rosenhouse suggests sprinkling some sanding sugar over top or dotting the small cookies with M&M's "for a festive finish." Once you're satisfied with the look, bake them for another 6 to 10 minutes until firm. (Keep in mind that smaller cookies will bake more quickly.) Set all the cookies aside until they are completely cool.

Ice the cookies and assemble

In a small bowl, mix the confectioners' sugar with the milk to make a smooth icing. Scoop it into a plastic sandwich bag or a piping bag and cut out a small tip. Then, pipe a light icing border to outline the edges of 12 piñata cookies from the first batch. Carefully top each cookie with a cutout cookie and fill the hole in the center with M&M's. Avoid overfilling the hole so that the cookies can properly stack. Pipe a thin outline of icing around the cookie edges and top each stack with a third piñata cookie.

Serve these tasty treats

Serve up these charming M&M's piñata cookies for a celebratory occasion and enjoy everyone's glee at the surprise inside. Rosenhouse notes that the cookies can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container for up to one week. That being said, she recommends refrigerating them if the ambient temperature is warm to prevent the chocolate candy from melting. Or, you can freeze them "in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 2 months."

M&M's Piñata Cookies Recipe
5 from 18 ratings
These vibrant piñata cookie are loaded with a hidden surprise: mini M&M's.
Prep Time
Cook Time
piñata cookies on baking sheet
Total time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
  • 1 ½ cups butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 12 drops food coloring, various shades (or more to desired color)
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • ½ cup mini M&M's
  1. Beat the butter and sugar on low to medium speed for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition.
  3. Add the vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder and beat until a smooth dough forms.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 6 equal pieces.
  5. Using gloved hands, work different shades of food coloring into each piece of dough to create six brightly colored balls.
  6. Measure your piñata cookie cutter and lay out a long sheet of plastic wrap.
  7. Press the first ball of dough into a rectangle as wide as your cookie cutter about a ½-inch thick and place it onto the plastic wrap.
  8. Repeat with the remaining colors, stacking the rectangles of dough on top of each other.
  9. Hold the piñata cutter up against the side of the cube of dough and make sure the dough is wider and taller than your cutter. If not, press and push the dough to make the dimensions work.
  10. Wrap and chill the dough for at least 1 hour until firm.
  11. Preheat the oven to 375 F, then line two standard baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
  12. Slice the dough into ¼-inch thick slices and transfer them to the baking sheets, spacing them only slightly apart. (You should have 24 slices.)
  13. Cut out the piñata shapes and reserve the scraps.
  14. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until firm.
  15. Cut out the warm cookies once more using a clean piñata cutter.
  16. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and gently ball up the scraps to ¼-inch thickness.
  17. Cut out 12 piñatas and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until firm.
  18. While warm, cut the cookies using a clean piñata cutter, and cut out centers using a 1-inch cutter or a small paring knife.
  19. Cut out any fun shapes from the remaining scraps and bake for 6 to 10 minutes depending on size until firm.
  20. Set all the cookies aside to cool completely.
  21. Mix the confectioners' sugar and milk to make a smooth icing.
  22. Transfer it to a plastic sandwich or piping bag and cut a small hole for a tip.
  23. Pipe icing lightly over the edges of the 12 whole piñata cookies and top with the cutout cookies.
  24. Fill the cutout centers with M&M's in a single layer.
  25. Pipe icing around the edges of the cookies and top with the remaining whole piñatas.
  26. Serve the piñata cookies along with the small shapes.
Calories per Serving 537
Total Fat 24.9 g
Saturated Fat 15.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 92.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 72.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Total Sugars 36.6 g
Sodium 127.8 mg
Protein 6.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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