Turkey Cookies for Thanksgiving: a step-by-step how-to

Gluten-free soft-frosted sugar cookies with chocolate frosting, dressed up like Thanksgiving turkeys! A turkey cookie how-to. more »

I assume I’m going to run out of juice at some point soon, what with all the cooking and the baking and the posting and the talking and the gnashing of teeth. Hopefully, not before I’ve eked out a couple of Thanksgiving stuffing recipes for you, and maybe a tour through the other seasonal recipes you might need. Don’t worry. I’ll finish what I started! I’m here for you this holiday season.

There aren’t too too many special ingredients you need to make these gorgeous birds. Nuts.com has dark green gluten-free sixlets. And Jelly Belly makes gluten-free candy corn. Royal icing is made really easily (you just need some meringue powder—Wilton makes it and most craft stores carry it), but you could absolutely use some of those little tubes of squeezy gel icing by Cake Mate that they sell in nearly every large grocery store.

Start with the eyes and nose. No sixlets? No problem-o. Try green M&Ms (just put the M facing down, please). Make sure that frosting is pret-ty thick, so you an nestle those eyes in there safe and sound.

Draw the body and the legs. All that’s left are the candy corn feathers. You could also just draw those feathers with the yellow royal icing, if the Jelly Belly candy corns are too elusive. They’ll still be super cute. With all that’s going on this time of year, you might have zero need for cookie decorating. Maybe it’s the perfect project for the day after Thanksgiving. It’s better than black Friday. Isn’t it?

Prep time: 40 minutes       Cook time: 6 minutes       Yield: 20 cookies

1 recipe Gluten-Free Soft Frosted Sugar Cookie dough (not the frosting, just the cookie recipe)

Royal Icing
2 fl. oz. (1/4 cup) water

1 1/2 teaspoons meringue powder

3 cups (345 g) confectioners’ sugar

Black gel food coloring (or equal amounts red, yellow and blue gel food colorings)

Yellow gel food coloring

Chocolate Frosting
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate, melted then cooled for 5 minutes

1/4 cup milk, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons meringue powder

3/12 to 4 cups (390 to 460 g) confectioners’ sugar

Equipment & extras
160 pieces gluten-free Candy Corn (about 9 ounces)

40 Dark Green Sixlets

2 disposable pastry bags

#1 pastry tip

#2 pastry tip

  • Make the cookies. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside. Prepare and roll out the cookie dough according to the recipe directions. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set, about 6 minutes. The edges of some of the cookies may brown slightly. Take them out before there is any significant browning. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool until set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Make the royal icing while the cookies are cooling. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the water and meringue powder and mix until foamy (about a minute). Add the confectioners’ sugar, and mix on low speed until the sugar is absorbed. Turn the speed up to medium and beat until thickened and creamy, about 7 minutes. To test the consistency of the royal icing, scoop some with a spoon and allow it to fall off the spoon slowly onto a clean portion on the side of the mixing bowl. It should stay where you drizzled it without running very much. To thicken, continue to mix on medium speed until it reaches the proper consistency. To color the royal icing, add black gel color to 1/4 cup of icing in a small bowl, and yellow gel color to another 1/4 cup of icing in a separate small bowl. Mix each separately until the color is uniform. Pour the colored icings into separate pastry bags, fitting the #1 tip on the black icing and the #2 tip on the yellow icing tip.

  • Next, make the frosting. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the butter, melted chocolate and milk, and mix on medium speed until combined. Turn the speed up to high and mix until creamy. Add the salt, meringue powder and about 3 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Mix slowly until the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer up to high and beat until it becomes uniformly thick. Add the rest of the confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting.

  • Frost the cookies. Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe or spoon a generous amount of frosting onto the top of each, and spread into an even layer with a slightly wet wide knife or offset spatula.

  • Decorate the cookies. In each frosted cookie, place two of the green sixlets right next to one another about 1/3 of the way down the cookie. Press the sixlets halfway into the frosting. With the yellow royal icing, make a beak in the shape of an inverted triangle right below the sixlets. With black royal icing, place a small dot in the center of each green sixlet. To make the body of the turkey, using black royal icing, draw a bucket shape starting to the left of the left eye, and ending to the right of the right eye. Draw simple feet on each turkey with the yellow royal icing. Place 8 candy corns evenly around the body and head of the turkey, the points of the candy corns pointing toward the turkey, flat side out. Press the candy corns securely into the frosting. Allow the frosting and icing to set at room temperature until the icing is firm and the frosting has begun to harden. Store at room temperature until ready to serve.

Happy happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Stuffing tomorrow!



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of my new book, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy! I can’t keep the blog going without your support!

  • Twenhame

    super cute! I cannot get M powder stuff here – but I found a recipe which calls for 1 tsp of corn syrup or maple syrup in the same icing recipe you use and it stiffs right up – too bad Panama doesn’t have candy corn or sixlets either. :(

    • gfshoestring

      It’s a shame you can’t find meringue powder, but it sounds like you have found a good work-around. If you can get pasteurized eggs, you can just use some egg white in place of some of the liquid. Too bad about candy corn and sixlets!

  • Angel

    Too cute!

  • Sherry Larson

    These are adorable Nicole!  What a fun holiday treat! 
    I have an unrelated question.  Yesterday I made your amazing quick cinnamon buns, they were a huge hit!!  I would like to make them for a brunch at my Mom’s next week, and I was wondering if I could make the dough ahead of time then fill and assemble in the morning at my Mom’s.  Any suggestions?
    The weekend recipes have been a very nice bonus, I hope this means that you will be taking off some time next week to spend with your family(you deserve, and have definately earned, a break)!
    As always, thanks for all you do!!

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Sherry,
      I figure you’re talking about the yeasted quick cinnamon buns, & not the yeast-free ‘quickest’ cinnamon buns. I’m always a bit hesitant to travel with unbaked yeast dough, if it might get knocked around in your travels. I would recommend, instead, that you make the Quickest, Yeast-free Cinnamon Buns, since you can easily make those ahead of time and then refrigerate or even freeze the assembled buns right in the muffin tin, and then travel with them like that. When you get to your Mom’s house, just pop them right in the oven. Less work for you, guaranteed success!
      I hope that helps – and I’m glad you’re enjoying the bonus weekend postings! I’m afraid no rest for me. I’m a 7-day-a-weeker at this point, but at least I love what I do!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Sherry Larson

        Thanks for the info Nicole!  I actually was talking about the yeast-free version(sorry, I should’ve specified).  Being able to prep them ahead of time will make things so much easier.  Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Gbfavre0401

     I want to buy this for my Kindle but your first book is not availble due to a glitch.  Do you have any idea when it will be fixed?

  • Peggy Ford

    I want to make these to share with my granddaughter!  She would love them…so would her daddy!  lol

  • Annemie

    You are AMAZING – I love how you make GF cooking a fun thing to do. Thanks for all of your efforts. And yes, I bought your two books – I look forward to the next weekends and Xmas holiday to start baking and cooking your recipes. I need to translate to some European ingredients but I’m sure that will work out. Anne-Mie

  • sally only gluten free baking

    I love these cookies. I often visit the glutenful cookie blogs just to see the decorating, there are so many amazing ones out there now. 

  • Agreatshopper

    This is my favorite thing you’ve made.  They are CUTE and perfect for gluten free kids.  LOVE IT!

    • gfshoestring

      Your favorite, Shawn? Really? It’s not my usual fare, that’s for sure. Glad you enjoyed. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Hanunyah Fish

    Thanks for all you do, Nicole! My Mom and siblings really liked this, so we’re planning on making a school project out of them, and take them to Thanksgiving.

  • Cynthia

    Nicole- Ok dummy questions here that I have been meaning to ask for some time…what is the difference with regular parchament and unbleached parchment? I assume regular has been bleached but from a cooking standpoint is there any difference in the use or how things turn out? Also, do you have a brand you like and where do you find it? Thank you as always!!!

    • gfshoestring

      Hi, Cynthia,
      I talk about this in my new cookbook quite a bit. Unbleached parchment paper is better for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that it doesn’t burn in the oven and is flexible. I use If You Care brand.

  • Solvig

    Great Holiday Gift Idea!
    I just purchased two copies of Gluten Free On A Shoestring – one for me and one as a gift for my sister, who is also gluten intolerant.  I can’t think of a better gift for her or me!  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa!

This recipe was brought to you by Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/turkey-cookies-for-thanksgiving-a-step-by-step-how-to/
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