These healthier homemade Christmas cookies are made with white beans and no artificial dyes. Use commercial natural dyes OR make your own dye from fresh beets and spinach!
Navigating holiday treats can be hard when your kids have sensitivities to artificial food dyes. Thankfully, making your own festive, delicious, and naturally-colorful food is possible!
These Christmas bean cookies are soft, sweet, and made with a secret ingredient: freshly cooked white beans! And we made our own natural dyes from fresh beets and spinach, so these cute treats are safe for families who avoid artificial colors.
How to Make Natural Food Dyes
I made homemade red coloring simply by juicing 3 beets. No need to cook: I just put the raw beets right in my juicer. If you don’t have a juicer, you can grate a raw beet and squeeze out the juice that way. Just beware: it can get messy!
To get the green color, I used spinach. The spinach (about 3 handfuls worth of baby spinach), gave me a teeny tiny bit of juice. Maybe only 1/8 of a cup. I left the juice out on the counter overnight, which I was glad I did, because by the next day, the spinach juice had evaporated a bit, leaving me with some concentrated green paste. Perfect!
Another method for getting green dye is to run a few handfuls of spinach through a food processor, then squeeze out the pulp with your fingers. Again, you won’t get a lot of juice. But you don’t need much!
Once you have your veggie juice, just mix it into your frosting. Interestingly, the commercial natural dye made by India Tree color gave me the exact same pink color as my fresh beet juice.
The spinach gives a gorgeous green color that’s perfect for Christmas tree cookies! I liked it much better than the green from the commercial natural dye. (See the picture below… what happened there?)
We love the way our cookies turned out!
We frosted all the cookies, and invited my niece Maddie over. She avoids artificial dyes because her family discovered they were contributing to behavioral challenges for her at school.
When she asked if the cookies were made with artificial dyes, I told her, NO! These are safe for you. She was so happy!
And, did she like them? She loved them! All the kids did.
How to Make Christmas Bean Cookies
Making bean cookies is similar to making regular roll-out cookies. The main difference is that half of the butter or coconut oil is replaced by white bean puree.
Texture is everything in a sugar cookie. And these deliver! They are still soft and the frosting is to die for. My sister, when she’d frosted hers and taken a bite, said “Man, these are good!”
Bean puree holds moisture well so that the cookie stays soft. Notice, too, that the frosting is half coconut oil (it gives the frosting a really great flavor) and half bean puree. Here’s how it works:
- Cooking my own beans. I like to make them myself because I can make them super tender and they don’t have sodium (which can be a weird in a cookie!)
- Pureeing the beans in my blender. If it’s too thick, I slowly add enough water for beans to mix to a paste.
- Testing the consistency. You want the beans thick enough to stay on the spatula.
- Mixing and rolling out the dough. This step is just like any classic sugar cookie recipe!
Once you cut out and bake your cookies, let them cool completely before frosting.
Sugar Cookie Frosting: Two Ways
When it comes time to frost these beautiful bean cookies, you’ve got options.
You can make bean frosting using beans, coconut oil, vanilla, and powdered sugar. This frosting is delicious and soft, and the natural dyes look gorgeous in it! The bean frosting will not harden up when left out, so if you’re in need of stackable cookies, you’ll want to use frosting option two.
Your second option for the frosting is a classic royal icing recipe like this one. You can still add your veggie purees to this frosting! This is the frosting pictured in the photos.
Have you had an experience with eliminating food dyes from your kids life? Please share your stories!
Christmas Sugar Cookies (No Dyes!)
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- In your stand mixer bowl or a large bowl and a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This should take about 3-4 minutes of beating – don't skimp on this step!
- Add the egg and vanilla and beat again until the color of the batter turns a pale yellow.
- In a medium mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine. Add to the creamed mixture and mix until combined.
- Scoop the dough, about 2 tablespoons at a time and place the dough balls onto your prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they slightly crack on top. Don't over bake if you want a soft and chewy sugar cookie!
- Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 3-4 minutes and then transfer to a cooking rack. Wait until they have mostly cooled to frost.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days. Enjoy!
- In a medium mixing bowl, add the coconut oil, vanilla, and powdered sugar. With a hand mixer, mix until blended and smooth. Use a knife to frost cookies or place the frosting into a piping bag or ziploc bag with the corner cut and pipe the frosting.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie