These beach-themed Sand Dollar Cookies are fun and unique cookies that are simple to decorate with cinnamon, sugar, and almond slivers! Recipe includes a how-to video!
These fun, beachy sand dollar cookies are a cross between a snickerdoodle and a sugar cookie. They’re crisp with lightly cinnamon/sugared exteriors (meant to mimic sand) and almond slivers arranged to mimic the star in the center of real sand dollars.
While assembling them one by one can be a bit time consuming, the cookies themselves and the process are actually quite simple. This is a great recipe for those of you who, like myself, maybe aren’t so handy with royal icing or just aren’t great cookie decorators but still want to be able to make a cute cookie!
These cookies would be perfect for any beach-themed party or ocean-themed party and I actually developed them for my sister’s under-the-sea themed baby shower. Let’s jump in!
What You Need to make Sand Dollar Cookies
- Flour. I recommend using all-purpose flour with this recipe.
- Sugar. I use a blend of granulated sugar and brown sugar. The brown sugar adds a bit of flavor and softness to the cookies, but since we want them to ultimately be crisp and firm we’re mostly using granulated sugar.
- Butter. Use unsalted butter and then add salt for best control over the flavor. Your butter needs to be softened, but it’s important that it’s not so soft that it’s melty or the outside is melting and oily. If your butter is too soft, your dough will be too and will definitely need to chill for longer than the 15 minutes indicated.
- Cream of tartar and baking soda. The cream of tartar adds a subtle tang to the cookies (think of the flavor that you know and love from snickerdoodles!) and these two ingredients play together to add a smidge of lift to the dough. This won’t make them thick or puffy, but it adds just enough lightness that the cookies err on the side of snappy and crisp rather than dense and chewy. Let’s just pretend the baking soda made it into the above photo, it must’ve run off while I was grabbing my camera!
- Vanilla extract. For flavor.
- Egg. You’ll need one large egg, but separate the yolk and the white before you begin. The yolk will go into the dough while the white will be brushed on top to help the cinnamon/sugar and almonds adhere.
- Cinnamon. A dash of cinnamon goes into the dough for flavor, then the rest is mixed with additional granulated sugar and sprinkled over the tops of the cookies for a sandy texture.
- Almond slivers. The recipe calls for a bit more than you actually need because often when you buy almond slivers, many of them come fractured, broken, and just not ideal for making these cute sand dollar imprint designs. Keep a few extras on-hand, that way you can sort through and pick the best looking slivers for your cookies!
This is just an overview of the ingredients that I use and why I use them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Sand Dollar Cookies
- Prepare the cookie dough! This is a simple dough, just cream together butter and sugar, add an egg yolk and vanilla, then whisk together the dry ingredients separately and gradually stir them into the butter mixture. This is a dry dough by nature and I recommend using an electric mixer or a stand mixer for best results. The dough must be chilled for a minimum of 15 minutes before you can proceed.
- Once the dough has chilled, roll it with a rolling pin on a clean, lightly floured surface. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the sand dollar shapes.
- Transfer the cookie dough cutouts to a baking sheet and brush lightly with reserved egg white. The egg white is important because it allows both the cinnamon/sugar and the almond slivers to adhere to the cookies so that they don’t fall off, even once the cookies are baked.
- Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon/sugar and gently but firmly press the almond slivers in a star formation into the cookies. Don’t use too much cinnamon/sugar or the almond slivers will fall off after baking, a light dusting is sufficient!
More Recipes You Might Like:
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook!
Sand Dollar Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (but not too soft, the butter should not be oily or melty!) (226g)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150g)
- ¼ cup light brown sugar firmly packed (50g)
- 1 large egg yolk and white divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (285g)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ cup almond slivers (you won't need all of these slivers, but it's better to have extra as not all of the slivers will be ideal for sand dollar stars and it's better to have more to choose from)
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer (or stand mixer) to cream together butter and sugars.
- Add egg yolk only (save the egg white, you’ll need it later!) and vanilla extract and stir until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, and ground cinnamon.
- With mixer on low-speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until completely combined. This is a fairly dry dough, make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed and stir until no flour remains.
- Divide dough into two parts and form each into a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes and up to 3 days.
- While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375F (190C) and prepare cinnamon/sugar mixture by whisking together ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon.
- Working with one half at a time, remove chilled dough from the fridge and transfer to a clean, lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll dough to be slightly thinner than ¼” (0.6cm). (Note: As you roll out the dough, periodically use a spatula to lift the dough from the counter and re-flour underneath as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter. If your dough feels too sticky to use, simply return it to the fridge and allow it to chill longer).
- Use a 2.5” (6cm) round cookie cutter to cut circle-shaped cookies and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spacing cookies at least 1” apart.
- Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the surface of each cookie with your reserved egg white. Sprinkle cookies lightly with cinnamon/sugar mixture (you may not use all of this mixture) and then take your almond slivers and gently but firmly press 5 slivers in a star-shaped pattern into the center of each cookie.
- Transfer cookies to 375F (190C) preheated oven and bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies are beginning to turn a light golden brown around the edges.
- Allow to cool completely on baking sheet before enjoying.