These watermelon sugar cookies are made from a buttery sugar cookie dough and are topped with pink, white, and green royal icing. Mini chocolate chips masquerade as the watermelon seeds, but sprinkles could work too! The cookies don’t taste like watermelon (though extract is optional!), but they sure are cute and festive for a picnic, barbecue, or summer party.
The thought of decorating sugar cookies used to have me running for the hills. Slowly but surely though, I’ve been inching my way into the awesome cookie decorator’s club. That’s not really a thing, but I’ve honestly never been particularly talented in this arena. Once I started practicing, improvement quickly came. Since then, I’ve shown you how to decorate Easter egg sugar cookies, chocolate sugar cookies, and snowman sugar cookies.
Like a lot of beginners, I prefer to stick with easier decorations like today’s fun watermelon cookies. With only 1 piping tip and 3 colors, you can create watermelon slice sugar cookies at home too. Even if you’re not in the awesome cookie decorator’s club yet. (But after 1 batch, you will be!!)
Watermelon Sugar Cookies: What Works & What Doesn’t
- Start with a quality sugar cookie recipe. My team and I always rely on these sugar cookies as the base of any cut-out sugar cookie we make. The recipe is loved by many readers and it’s actually one of the most popular recipes on this site. When following the recipe closely and sticking to the correct order of steps (rolling then chilling), the dough always holds its shape in the oven. This is completely optional but you can add watermelon flavor to the dough if desired. That flavor seems a little odd for a cookie, but it actually pairs nicely with the sugary icing on top. You could also use orange or lemon extract and both can be found in regular grocery stores in the baking aisle.
- Choose your icing. I have 2 favorite decorating icing recipes: an easy glaze icing that I halve and use with my Christmas sugar cookies and a traditional royal icing that I use for many cut-out sugar cookies. The pictured cookies are made with royal icing. The easy glaze icing is wonderful for flooding cookies with 1 specific color. Royal icing, on the other hand, sets quickly and is perfect for fancier designs with multiple colors. Don’t worry, both are super simple to make. (No need to halve the easy cookie icing if that’s the icing you choose.)
- Trick to cutting a watermelon slice cookie. This is SO easy. Just use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles. Then, simply cut those circles in half to make your watermelon “slices.”
Standard tools like a rolling pin and baking sheets are important for this recipe, but here are a few of the more specific decorating tools needed:
- Americolor Soft Get Paste Color Kit. In our experience, this is the BEST coloring for royal icing. The gel color is rich and vivid. You only need a drop or two for the icing. I use and recommend leaf green and fuchsia.
- Round Icing Tip #5. You can use this tip for both colors.
- Piping Bags. You can use either disposable or reusable.
- 3-inch round cookie cutter. I love this circle cookie cutter set which includes the size needed for this recipe.
How to Decorate Watermelon Sugar Cookies
Decorating cut-out sugar cookies is a time investment, but it’s so much fun. I recommend leaving an afternoon to roll, bake, and decorate these sweet treats. I want you to feel confident before you begin, so here’s a quick summary of the decoration required.
- Begin with the watermelon rind– 1 line green, then 1 line white.
- Make sure you chill the cookies between each piped line to help set the icing. Why? As you’re decorating, you don’t want the colors to bleed into each other. And a brief 15 minutes in the refrigerator between each color helps prevent that.
- Rind is complete and I promise it tastes better than actual watermelon rind. Ha!
- Then fill with pink.
- Use mini chocolate chips for the seeds. Watermelon might not be a natural combination with chocolate, but when that watermelon is a sugar cookie, we’re golden!
Now let’s watch to see how it’s all done in the video below. I promise it’s much easier than you’d ever expect.Print
It doesn’t get any cuter than these watermelon sugar cookies! Made with a delicious buttery sugar cookie dough and royal icing, everyone will flip for them.
- 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 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
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- optional for added flavor: 1/4 teaspoon watermelon flavor*
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and watermelon extract (if using) 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 until combined. If the dough seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the nonstick silicone mat) to about 1/4″ thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly ¼-inch thick.
- Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a 3-inch circle cookie cutter, cut into circles. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd dough piece. Cut each circle in half to form slices.
- Arrange cookies on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-11 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet 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 either icing: Prepare the royal icing or easy glaze icing. Spoon 1/2 of the icing into a separate bowl. Tint it pink using a couple drops of gel food coloring. Tint half of the remaining icing green using a couple drops of gel food coloring. Leave remaining icing white. Add green icing to a piping bag fitted with round icing tip #5. Line green icing around the round bottom of each cookie. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator to set the icing for 15 minutes. Add white icing to a piping bag fitted with the same round icing tip. Line white icing right above green icing. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator to set the icing for 15 minutes. Add pink icing to a piping bag fitted with the same round icing tip. Pipe pink icing onto the rest of the watermelon slice. Top with mini chocolate chips as “seeds.”
- Icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. Decorated or plain cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- 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 a disk as we do with pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, then freeze. To thaw, thaw the disks in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for about 1 hour. Roll out the dough as directed in step 4, then chill as directed in step 5– no need to chill for 1-2 hours, 45 minutes should be plenty.
- Watermelon Flavor: The watermelon flavoring is pretty similar to the flavor of a watermelon jolly rancher. It’s tasty, but if that’s not your thing, try using 1 teaspoon of either lemon or orange extract instead. You can find those in the baking aisle of any major grocery store.