Let me show you an easy way to make and decorate fireworks celebration cookies. These fun and festive treats start with my tried-and-true recipe for soft sugar cookies. Some colored icing and sparkly sprinkles are all you need to top these dazzling firework cookies, which are easy enough for cookie-decorating rookies. Whichever holiday or occasion you love to celebrate with fireworks, these cookies are the perfect way to light up your tastebuds.
Today I’m sharing with you my simple method for making and decorating cookies like colorful fireworks. You can use flower and star cookie cutters, and choose from my 2 favorite cookie icings below. (I include my royal icing recipe in the printable recipe card.) Finish them off with some shimmery sprinkles and get ready for everyone to ooh and ahh when you serve these fireworks celebration cookies—they’re sure to spark excitement!
For today’s firework cookies, I use my classic sugar cookies recipe. No surprise there, because it’s one of the most popular recipes on my website! I added a little lemon extract and zest for flavor, but that’s completely optional. If you want to give your fireworks a dark-sky background, you can take this decorating inspiration and use it on my chocolate sugar cookies.
All the Details!
- Texture: Rolling the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness makes for extra soft and thick sugar cookie centers. The edges are nice and crisp, and the royal icing on top adds a textural contrast as well.
- Flavor: Sweet, vanilla- and lemon-hinted, and irresistibly buttery, who knew simple sugar cookies could explode with so much flavor!?
- Ease: The dough comes together easily, but if you want the cookies to look like the photos here, you’ll need a few decorating tools. See the full list of Recommended Tools below.
- Time: I recommend setting aside an afternoon for making and decorating these fireworks celebration cookies. It’s typically 4 hours from start to finish, depending on the level of decorating detail you want. The cookies stay fresh and soft for days, so this is a great make-ahead dessert!
Overview: How to Make Party-Perfect Fireworks Celebration Cookies
- Make cookie dough. You need 8 ingredients for the dough. With so few ingredients, it’s important to follow the recipe exactly. Creamed butter and sugar provide the base of the cookie dough. Egg gives the dough structure, and vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon zest add flavor. Flour is an obvious ingredient, baking powder adds a little lift, and salt balances the sweet.
- Divide in 2 pieces. Smaller sections of dough are easier to roll out.
- Roll out cookie dough. Roll it out to 1/4-inch thickness. If you have difficulty evenly rolling out dough, try this adjustable rolling pin.
- Chill rolled-out cookie dough. Without chilling, these cookie cutter cookies won’t hold their shape. Chill the rolled-out cookie dough for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (I’ve actually gotten away with up to 4 days before!)
- Cut into shapes. I use this flower cookie cutter for the fireworks cookies pictured here. (You could also decorate it as a sun!) You can also use this stamped fireworks cookie cutter, or try a shooting star shape. For the pictured little stars (that just have flooded icing on them), I used a small star from this set.
- Bake & cool. Depending on size, the cookies need about 12 minutes in the oven.
- Decorate. More on the icing below.
The Trick Is the Order of Steps
I roll out the dough BEFORE chilling it in the refrigerator. It’s the best trick!
Let me explain why I do this. Just like when you’re making, say, chocolate chip cookies, to prevent them from over-spreading, the cookie dough must chill in the refrigerator. For today’s fireworks celebration cookies, roll out the dough right after you mix it up, then chill the rolled-out dough. (Because at this point the dough is too soft to cut into shapes.) Don’t chill the cookie dough and then try to roll it out because it will be too stiff. I divide the dough in half before rolling it out, because smaller sections of dough are simply more manageable.
Here’s another trick! Roll out the cookie dough directly on silicone baking mats or parchment paper sheets so you can easily transfer it to the refrigerator. Pick the whole thing up, set it on a baking sheet, and place it in the refrigerator. If you don’t have enough room for 2 baking sheets in your refrigerator, you can stack the pieces of rolled-out dough on top of each other (with parchment or baking mat in between).
Choose Your Icing
You’ll find my royal icing recipe in the printable card below. You can use that for today’s firework cookies, or try my easier cookie icing. Let me explain the differences, and you can choose which to use.
- Choose royal icing if you want precise decorative detail on your cookies. It’s my preferred sugar cookie icing because it’s easy to use, dries in a couple of hours, and doesn’t have a texture comparable to hardened cement. It’s actually on the softer side, with a little crisp to it! It calls for meringue powder. You can find meringue powder in some grocery store baking aisles, most craft stores that have a baking section, or you can shop for meringue powder online.
- Choose easy cookie icing if you’re decorating with young bakers, would prefer to use a squeeze bottle instead of piping bags and tips, or don’t feel like using your electric mixer. It has a soft glaze consistency, and takes longer to dry than the royal icing: about 24 hours.
I use Wilton icing tip #2 to pipe the fireworks’ lines on the cooled cookies. If you want to add sprinkles like the pictured cookies, I piped every other line, dipped the cookie (with wet icing) into sparkling sugar sprinkles, and then piped the rest of the lines. That probably made no sense, so look at this picture to get a better idea:
You can also add little star sprinkles to the fireworks cookies; I used the stars from this sprinkle mix. Pipe a little dot of icing, then adhere the star sprinkle to it. For the pictured plain star-shaped cookies, you can just pipe a border around them and flood the center with icing. Then feel free to add sprinkles for extra flair.
Stack, wrap, gift, and/or store: Once the icing has set, you can stack, wrap, gift, and/or store these festive cookies. If you need more cookie inspiration, today’s cookies join 25+ others on my Summer Cookie Recipes collection page. Or for more summer holiday inspiration, see my list of 4th of July desserts. 🙂
Recommended Tools for Your Fireworks Cookies
- Handheld or Stand Mixer
- Rolling Pin or this Adjustable Rolling Pin
- Baking Sheets
- Silicone Baking Mats or Parchment Sheets
- Cookie Cutters: I used this flower cookie cutter in the photos. And a little star cookie cutter for the star cookies you see.
- Americolor Soft Gel Paste Color Kit: In my experience, this is the BEST coloring for royal icing and simple glaze cookie icing. The colors are always so rich and vivid. I used the royal blue, super red, violet, and deep pink. I added just a tiny dot of super black to deepen the royal blue.
- Piping Tips/Squeeze Bottle: If you’re using piping bags and icing tips, I recommend Wilton icing tip #2 for piping the fireworks. A squeeze bottle works instead of piping bags and icing tips, but the lines won’t be as sharp. (It would be great for the pictured star cookies, though!) I really recommend piping bags/tips for the fireworks’ lines.
- Disposable or reusable piping bags: You can use these for either icing, along with your icing tips.
- Coupler(s): If you only have 1 piping tip and want to decorate with multiple colors of icing, keep the tip on the outside of the bag by using a coupler so you can easily transfer the piping tip to other bags of colored icing.
- Sprinkles: These are sold in most grocery stores in the baking aisle. You can also order them online. I like Wilton or CK Products brands. I use gold shimmer, blue, and purple on the pictured firework cookies. I also used the star sprinkles from this starfetti mix on the fireworks.
These fun and festive fireworks cookies are soft and buttery with hints of vanilla and lemon. They’re topped with my favorite royal icing in various shades to look like bursting fireworks. This piping design is quite simple, even for beginners. My recipe is detailed and thorough, and you can find a full list of tools above the recipe and in the recipe Notes.
- 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled), plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- optional: 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Make the cookies: Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Dough will be a bit soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Lightly dust one of the rolled-out dough portions with flour. Place a piece of parchment paper on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 1–2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. If it’s sticking to the bottom, run your hand under it to help remove it. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. I used this flower cookie cutter for the fireworks cookies. For the pictured little stars (that just have flooded icing on them), I used a small star from this set.
- Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. (Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.)
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11–12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheets halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
- Make the icing: Watch the video of the icing below so you get an idea of what the final consistency should be. Pour confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and 9 Tablespoons of water into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat icing ingredients together on high speed for 1.5 – 2 minutes. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, beat in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. I usually need 10 Tablespoons but on particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons. Keep in mind that the longer you beat the royal icing, the thicker it becomes. If your royal icing is too thin, just keep beating it to introduce more air OR you can add more sifted confectioners’ sugar.
- Decorate the fireworks cookies: Divide the icing up into separate bowls, depending on how many colors of icing you’d like. Stir in gel food coloring, and then spoon the icings into piping bags fitted with piping tip #2 or piping tip #3. Pipe curved lines from the middle of the cookie to the edges. (I make the “middle” a little more off center to look more like a firework, see photos.) If you want to add sprinkles like the pictured cookies, I piped every other line, dipped the cookie (with wet icing) into sparkling sugar sprinkles, and then piped the rest of the lines. You can also add little star sprinkles to the fireworks cookies, and I used the stars from this sprinkle mix. Pipe a little dot of icing, then adhere the star sprinkle to it.
- Decorate the plain star cookies: For the pictured plain star-shaped cookies, I suggest Wilton piping tip #3 or Wilton piping tip #4. Pipe a border around the cookies and then flood the center with icing. Feel free to dip into sprinkles.
- Icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. No need to cover the decorated cookies as you wait for the icing to set. If it’s helpful, decorate the cookies directly on a baking sheet so you can place the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help speed up the icing setting.
- Enjoy cookies right away or wait until the icing sets to serve them. Once the icing has set, these cookies are great for gifting or for sending. Plain or decorated cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature. For longer storage, cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
- Freezing Instructions: Plain or decorated sugar cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months before rolling it out. Prepare the dough through step 3, divide in half, flatten both halves into discs as we do with pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, then freeze. To thaw, thaw the discs in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for about 1 hour. Roll out the dough as directed in step 4, then chill rolled-out dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour before cutting into shapes and baking.
- Royal Icing Make-Ahead Details: You can prepare the royal icing 2-3 days ahead of time. I recommend transferring it to a smaller bowl or container and tightly sealing for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use it, let it come to room temperature, then mix it up with a whisk a few times as it may have separated. Whisking in a few drops of water is helpful if it thickened. See Royal Icing page for detailed freezing instructions.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer) | Baking Sheets | Silicone Baking Mats or Parchment Sheets | Rolling Pin or Adjustable Rolling Pin | Cooling Rack | Meringue Powder | Cookie Cutters (I used a flower cookie cutter and a small star from this set) | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Color Kit | Wilton Icing Tip #2 or Wilton Icing Tip #3 for fireworks detail | Wilton Icing Tip #4 for outlining and flooding the star cookies | Disposable or Reusable Piping Bags | Couplers | Sanding Sugar Sprinkles (I like Wilton or CK Products brands) | Starfetti Mix Sprinkles
- Room Temperature: Room-temperature butter is essential. If the dough is too sticky, your butter may have been too soft. Room-temperature butter is actually cool to the touch. Room-temperature egg is preferred so it’s quickly and evenly mixed into the cookie dough.
- Lemon Flavor: I love flavoring this cookie dough with 1 teaspoon lemon extract as listed in the ingredients above. You could replace with lemon juice, but the flavor won’t be strong at all. You can also add 2 teaspoons lemon zest as listed. The lemon flavor is optional. If you want to skip the lemon flavor, replace the lemon extract with 1 more teaspoon vanilla extract and skip the zest.
- Royal Icing Success Tips: See my complete Royal Icing page for all of my success tips. When you’re not working directly with the royal icing (for example, you are decorating cookies but you still have some icing left in the bowl that you intend to use next), place a damp paper towel directly on the surface of the royal icing. This prevents it from hardening.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.
Keywords: fireworks celebration cookies