M&M Sugar Cookies {dairy-free option}

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Remember those M&M Sugar Cookies at the mall? The ones you’d beeeeeeeg your mom to buy you? These are those. But they’re made at home so they’re cheaper, taste better, and you can make them dairy-free.

Note: these have a dairy-free option. The cookies themselves are easily made dairy-free. M&Ms are not dairy-free. However, there are candies that look like M&Ms that ARE safe for dairy allergies. See below for links.

M&M Sugar Cookies - perfect for everyone with a dairy-free option!

Going to the mall for dinner was a big thing when I was a kid. I don’t remember why, but I think it had something to do with my mom not wanting to cook. We’d head to the food court at the local mall and eat dinner next to the ice skating rink.

I always wanted a cookie after. Always. #futurefoodblogger

In fact, it was at that very mall, during one of those dinners, that I lost my first tooth. I was eating a ginormous chocolate chip cookie from the cookie stand. I had to give the tooth fairy and IOU on that one – swallowed it right down.

Fast forward through years of mall visits, and my favorite cookie was always the M&M sugar cookie. Chewy but crunchy with the best flavor, and topped with lots of colorful M&Ms, it was the perfect cookie. It was also magical.

How did those M&Ms get on the top and not inside the cookie? I swear, that question perplexed me a number of times. I never could figure it out. #IreallyamsmartIpromise

The trick is to press the M&Ms into the cookie after it’s on the cookie sheet…before baking. Then the cookie flattens and it’s topped with M&Ms. Magic.

These cookies are even better: there are M&Ms on top of the cookie and inside!

M&M Sugar Cookies - perfect for everyone with a dairy-free option!

I used my perfect sugar cookie for this recipe. They’re soft and chewy and just, well…perfect. The best part about them? No chilling.

I’ve baked lots of cookies since January, when I started testing recipes for my cookbook (Dessert Mashups: Tasty Two-in-One Treats, out this fall) and I learned a few things about cookies.

Making the perfect cookies:

  • First, sugar content. While cookies like chocolate chip and peanut butter usually have double the amount of sugar than fat, sugar cookies usually have a 1:1 or close to that ratio. Sugar causes spread in cookies. Less and they don’t spread as much (great for cutouts) more and they spread a lot (thus requiring chilling).
  • These cookies have 3/4 cup butter to 1 cup of sugar. It’s kind of an in-between mix and results in a cookie that’s sweet and soft and chewy that spreads…but not too much.
  • Second, leavening. Baking soda is the usual leavening I use in most of my cookies, and it also contributes to spreading. Bake the same exact cookie recipe twice, once with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and once with 1/2 teaspoon and you’ll see what I mean. Using less baking soda gives less spread, which means I don’t have to chill my dough and I can still get a soft cookie that doesn’t spread too thin.
  • Third, the cream of tartar. Combined with baking soda, cream of tartar is used as an additional leavening source to help the cookies rise. Using it gives the cookies a more pillowy texture than just using baking soda.

Combined, all three make the perfect sugar cookie…with M&Ms.

M&M Sugar Cookies - perfect for everyone with a dairy-free option!

The other thing I love about this cookie? That you can make them dairy-free really easily.

We don’t eat dairy-free very much, but my daughter has a BFF who is allergic. Whenever she comes over, I like to have something she can eat, especially at parties. When we bring treats to school, I like to make them so she can enjoy them too. I mean, it’s hard enough to be a kid with allergies – and even harder when you can’t enjoy all the things your friends are eating.

I asked around on Facebook and Christi and Averie both told me about Earth’s Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. They’re actual sticks, not a spread, and they perform much like butter. And guess what? They do!

I made two batches of these cookies: one with regular butter and one with the Earth’s Balance. They both turned out exactly the same…except I liked the Earth Balance ones almost better!

Again, M&Ms are NOT dairy-free. However, you can use any vegan candy or chocolate chip. Chocolate ChocoNoNos are vegan and diary allergy approved.

Now we have a few dozen M&M sugar cookies in the freezer so she can enjoy one whenever she’s over to play. And it’s ALL I can do not to eat them myself.

Because M&M sugar cookies are my addiction.

M&M Sugar Cookies - perfect for everyone with a dairy-free option!

And I bet they’ll be yours too!

0 from 0 votes

M&M Sugar Cookies {dairy-free option}

The perfect sugar cookie - with M&Ms and the option of being dairy free!
Servings 24 cookies
Author Dorothy Kern


  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened (may sub Earth's Balance Vegan Butter Stick for a dairy-free cookie)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup + 1/2 cup plain M&Ms or Chocolate ChocoNoNos in place of M&Ms


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Mix in baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Slowly mix in flour. Stir in 2/3 cup M&Ms.
  3. Scoop 2 tablespoon balls of dough (use a cookie scoop if you have one) onto cookie sheets. Top each cookie with 4-5 additional M&Ms.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes (10 for slightly underdone, 11-12 for more done). Cool 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheets. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Perfect Sugar Cookies

Perfect Sugar Cookies (4 of 7)w


Thin Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles

thin-sugar-cookies (1 of 4)w


Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

loaded-chocolate-chip-cookie-bars (1 of 5)w


Sweets from friends:

Soft M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies by Averie Cooks
Soft and Chewy M&M Cookies by Back for Seconds
Confetti Cookies by Sweet Bella Roos
M&M Shortbread Cookies by Something Swanky


Comments are closed.


  1. Okay, I still can’t resist an M & M cookie at the mall! I’m a grown-up, I promise.
    I didn’t realize you had a cookbook coming out! That’s so exciting. I can’t wait to get it!

  2. I still love M&M cookies, these look amazing!

  3. Yum! I could really go for one of those right now. So soft and chewy! 🙂

  4. M&M cookies are the best, and they definitely remind me of my childhood, too! These look like the perfect cookie. And what a great idea to make these dairy free!

  5. You know, I still have not added M7M’s to my cookies, but I think it is time!! These look awesome!

  6. That’s so great that you were able to make the cookies for Jordan’s friend as well! I remember in school all the kids with allergies had to bring their own food for parties, so it’s great to have some ready made. These cookies look perfect; so puffy and round!

  7. These cookies look so cute! My five-year-old would love to help me bake a batch. Maybe this afternoon. 🙂

    I too would always get a cookie on a trip to the mall when I was younger, but my favorite was a chocolate chip from Mrs. Field’s. I haven’t had one of those in years!

  8. Thanks for the shoutout 🙂 and I am so glad you had great luck with the E.B. sticks! Yay! And that you almost liked those better! You know why…mall cookies are usually made with shortening, not butter (it’s cheaper) and E.B. behaves more like shortening to me so I bet that’s why! Regardless, they look awesome and bravo to you for helping out Jordan’s friend! pinned

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  10. Every time I find my way to your site I’m amazed at all the scrumptious goodies!

  11. Wow…a trip down memory lane! I’d forgotten about your tooth. These look great.

  12. why is it that mall cookies always tasted so good? the food court was my favorite hangout as a teen 🙂 of course I;m sure these cookies are a million times better

  13. I run a catering crew on an Oil Rig in the Gulf of Mexico and I use your recipes ALL the time. I still use Allrecipes once in a while to assist with the conversions, but hands down….your selection are superior! We typically have 160 to 200 people on each rig so we make a lot of desserts! Right now, I am in S.Korea in the shipyard getting ready to bring a drillship to the Gulf. It will take us over 90 days, so we will be wearing out your blog to keep the crews happy! I can’t wait until your cookbook comes out so I can buy two for my daughters!! JP

  14. M&m’s chocolaty crunch paired with your perfect sugar cookie has to be wonderful! M&m cookies top my family’s list of favorite cookies even over chocolate chip. I can’t wait to try them! 🙂
    How exciting to have your cookbook coming out!!! I can only imagine the enormous amount of work that takes. Thanks for sharing the baking tips you learned in the process!

  15. I love sugar cookies, and these look so good! And, I look forward to your new cookbook. Will it be sold on Amazon?

  16. These cookies are my 4 year olds’ addiction! I can never pass the cookie stand in the mall without having him demanding one! Pinning!

  17. These are the perfect M&M cookies! I just want to grab a few and run away with them! so yummy!! 😉

  18. Dorothy, I love it that people on oil rigs are enjoying your recipes! You rock! Thanks for the info on what causes spread in cookies -I have been making cookies for decades (too many!) and never knew this.

  19. Dorothy these look amazing!! I still to this day always get the M&M cookies when I’m out and about 🙂 they are a classic! Can’t wait to give these a try!

  20. You are probably the coolest mom for having yummy dairy-free treats at the ready for your daughter’s friend! I’m definitely pinning these for the next time I make a sweet treat for my friend with a severe dairy allergy. Not to mention, I want some too!

  21. I am a total sucker for candy and chocolate!

  22. I’m IN LOVE with those M&M cookies, Dorothy! As a kind, I’d go nuts for them when we’d go to the mall food court. A dairy-free option is great too!

  23. M&M cookies are the best! Love that you can make these dairy free!

  24. These cookies are absolutely fantastic! I think they are now my new fave thing!

  25. Okay, I don’t care how old I grow I need cookies every now and then! And especially the M&M ones!!!!!! They were one of my most favorite candies growing up and I can still finish an entire packet without any guilt! I can’t wait to bake a batch of these cookies!!!!!!!

  26. I only used Earth Balance while I was vegan, and I could barely tell the difference. Whoever came up with it is a pure genius! And I loved those M&M sugar cookies as a kid too… I’d actually pick all of the M&Ms off the top first to eat, then nibble away at the soft & chewy cookie underneath. I still go to grocery stores and look for them every once in a while! 😉

  27. I always loved those mall cookies too! Very cool that you lost your first tooth in a cookie, I lost mine in an ice cream cone. Clearly this is the reason for our sweets addiction!

    These look delicious. I might have to throw in some chocolate chips, just for good measure!

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    • Dorthy,
      Yeah, I’m a dude…54 y/o “retired” chef that just can’t stay out of the kitchen…. I only bake now for fun though. We have absolutely tore up your cookie/bar recipes and have made about every breakfast pastry you have featured. I usually make a triple batch os a feeler to see how long they last (Usually only one meal period) and then I convert the recipies for my night baker’s to “go to town” I rarely cook any entree’s or main line items unless I’m breaking in any new crew. However, my current catering crew during the transit to the Gulf of Mexico is all Filipino. Most have worked on cruise ships or other transiting rigs, but I get the chance to show them some variations of “Western cooking” because they usually get European training. We made your thin roll up pancakes this morning and we went through about 3 gallons of batter….you are amazing! I also love your graphics. My bakers love to scan through your pictures and take notes.
      BTW….I just purchased two of your pending cookbooks on Amazon for my daughters this morning…
      Keep up the good postings and I really dig your quirky comments and how you reflect back to your childhood and earlier times. It makes you seem very realistic and conforting that you goof up once in a while but can laugh it off. I only subscripe to a few cooking blogs, but you are my/our primary one……
      Thanks for everything!


      • Thank you JP!! Seriously choking up over here. 🙂 It truly touches my heart to know that you read my blog and make my recipes!! And thanks for the preorders!! <3

        Sail safe!!

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  30. If I’m not mistaken, plain M&M’s have milk chocolate in them (which obviously contains milk), so these can’t really be considered vegan or dairy-free. Now you could use dark chocolate M&M’s (I would think) to make it dairy-free! Either way, these look delicious! I would have to use dark chocolate ones though, because my son breastfeeds and can’t have dairy.

    • They wouldn’t be considered vegan, because they have eggs. The M&Ms in the cookie are the reason I wrote “dairy-free option” and not dairy-free. My daughters friend, who I made these for, does not have a problem with chocolate in low doses such as this, but yes, dark chocolate chips would be needed to make them truly dairy-free. Or, as I specified in the recipe, you’d need to use a candy that has no dairy – I’m not sure of all of those options but I’m sure people who are dairy-free eaters would know. 🙂

    • All M&Ms contain milk ingredients. Even dark chocolate ones. You can find dairy free chocolate candy beans online, but all m&ms contain milk in some capacity. 

      • That is why, in the recipe, I say that you can substitute your favorite dairy-free candy if you have a problem with chocolate. If you read the post, you’d see that the girl I was making these for does not have issues with chocolate, hence the M&Ms.

  31. Hi Dorothy!
    Thanks for all these lovely recipes. 
    I tried your mini bownie cup cakes last time and my colleagues love it. 
    I want to try make you cookies this time but I don’t have a mixer… 
    Can I hand mixer the ingredients? Or that wouldn’t work?

    Thank you!! 

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  36. These look delicious and I hope to try them soon, BUT I would like to point out that to make them dairy free you would have to leave out the m&ms since they have milk in them.  A person who allergic to milk would not be able to have them.  Please be careful if you offer these to make sure any potential allergy friends are aware.

    • As I said in the post AND in the recipe, these have a dairy-free option. The option being that if you are allergic to the dairy in chocolate that you should use dairy-free chocolate or substitute another candy. I made these for a friend who is not allergic to the chocolate in M&Ms.

  37. Ma’am as some have tried to point out to you…M&M’s are MILK CHOCOLATE candy – as in made from milk – read the ingredients… Chocolate (sometimes) is made without milk (as in EnjoyLife Foods Baking Chips, etc.), however, that is not the case with M&M’s……Ingredients: MILK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR, CHOCOLATE, SKIM MILK, COCOA BUTTER, LACTOSE, MILKFAT, SOY LECITHIN, SALT, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), SUGAR, CORNSTARCH, LESS THAN 1% – CORN SYRUP, DEXTRIN, COLORING (INCLUDES BLUE 1 LAKE, YELLOW 6, RED 40, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, RED 40 LAKE, BLUE 2 LAKE, YELLOW 6 LAKE, BLUE 2), GUM ACACIA………..She either doesn’t actually have a milk allergy, or you’ve been poisoning her……Sorry….

    • Have you read my post or ANY of the replies I left to the “some” that tried to point out this same point? Did you read the note in the recipe? The recipe says it has a Dairy-Free OPTION. In the post I explain how she is not affected by chocolate candy, which is why I included the M&Ms in her cookies. As I noted, if chocolate (or the milk in the chocolate) is part of the allergy USE A DAIRY FREE OPTION. Or just make the cookies without the candy.

  38. Is 1 tablespoon vanilla a typographic error? I don’t recall ever using that much vanilla in a cookie recipe.


  40. M&M’s have milk in them….skim milk is about the 3rd ingredient. Where did you find milk-free M&Ms…

    I haven’t made this yet, but if you know where to find milk-free M&M’s please send me an email. I’m curious.


  41. Ah, I just read  the previous comments. You are being bombarded. But I think justifiably. I suggest you remove this recipe from your site or change the name to something else, and say, for those who are not milk intolerant, M&M’s is another option. You are, if unintentionally, misleading your readers, some of whom are desperately trying to find options for their kids. Like me. Thanks, and good luck with your site.

  42. M&Ms are not dairy free. I understand the recipe gives a dairy free option, however it does come up when you search for dairy free cookies, and it’s a bit misleading.