The bright (and not-so-bright) side of making Jell-O cookies

Jell-O and cookies are two super kid-friendly desserts, but what happens when you combine them?

A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me about Jell-O cookies that she’d seen in an Arizona newspaper and thought me and my boys might like to try for a summer project. I picked up some Jell-O on a slow weekend day, and we set out to try this somewhat weird combination.

Making Jell-O cookies is easy, but don’t use more Jell-O than the recipe calls for. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The recipe (below) is a simple sugar cookie recipe, but some of the sugar is replaced with the Jell-O. The original recipe said you could halve the recipe to make different colors, so that’s what I did, but I made the mistake of using the whole package of Jell-O in each.

To be honest, I was just trying not to waste half a pack of Jell-O, but looking back, I should have just tossed that extra 1 1/2 ounces because the resulting cookies — though cute — were too tart and sour to really enjoy. The cookies do need that extra 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and even the decorative sugar (or, in our case, Skittles) to sweeten the treats.

These Jell-O cookies were fun for my kids to roll out and cut. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Otherwise, this was a fun cookie to make! The dough has a nice texture to it that’s easy to roll and cut with the cookie cutters. The bright red color of the cherry Jell-O was more eye-popping than the grape flavor, and even though we didn’t like that first batch (because of my error), I’m going to try again with the lime Jell-O, just to see how the green turns out.

We added Skittles to our Jell-O cookies. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

If you’re looking for a brightly colored cookie that does not have Jell-O in it, you should check out this story we did a few years ago about making colored dough for the most adorable sugar cookies ever.

You can just use food coloring to brighten up your sugar cookie dough. Tina Phan / American-Statesman

RELATED: True love colors: These bright bites are perfect for any Valentine celebration

Jell-O Cookies

3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 (3-ounce) package Jell-O or flavored gelatin powder (not sugar-free)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour, or slightly more if batter is too sticky
Food coloring, if desired for more color
In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and Jell-O until well blended. Add eggs and cream well. Add salt, baking powder and flour, mixing well. Add food coloring if desired.
Scoop batter into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to harden. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out patterns. Sprinkle with decorative sugar.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cookies on baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until done. Let cool on baking rack and then store in airtight container.

— Adapted from a recipe by Jan D’Atri


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