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.
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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 Bean Cookies with Homemade and Natural Food DyesPrint Pin Rate
- 3 medium beet
- 3 cup spinach
- Rinse and puree beans. You will need 1/2 cup of puree. (You can cook your own white beans if you don’t prefer canned.)
- Cream cold butter, cold bean puree, and sugar together until well mixed. Add eggs and mix until well incorporated. Add vanilla and almond extract.
- Add dry ingredients and mix just until dough comes together.
- Place a large tea towel on counter and generously dust with additional flour. Turn dough out of bowl onto tea towel and turn dough over a few times, until it is coated with flour on all sides.
- Using a rolling pin, roll dough out until it is uniformly about 1/3” thick. Cut out cookies using cookie cutters and place on large baking sheet.
- Bake cookies in a 400 degree oven for 6 min. or until undersides of cookies start to turn golden.
- Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet and frost with frosting (recipe follows). Serve.
- Beat all ingredients together with a handheld mixer on low until sugar is well incorporated.
- Then, turn mixer to high and beat until fluffy.
- Red: Juice 3 beets. No need to pre-cook them, just place the raw beets in a juicer, and save the juice.
- Green: Juice about 3 cups of baby spinach. It will produce about 1/8 cup of juice.
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