M&M Sugar Cookies (dairy-free option)


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 stacked on top of each other with M&Ms spread around

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 pictured from above

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 with one split in half

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 stacked on top of each other with M&Ms spread around

And I bet they’ll be yours too!

M&M Sugar Cookies {dairy-free option}

The perfect sugar cookie - with M&Ms and the option of being dairy free!
Yield 24 cookies
Serving Size


  • 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


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Perfect Sugar Cookies

5 Perfect Sugar Cookies sitting on a white plate

Thin Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles

thin-sugar-cookies sitting on parchment paper and with sprinkles in the background

Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

loaded-chocolate-chip-cookie-bars stacked on top of each other sitting on a teal towel

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

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62 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

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

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

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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

    1. How sweet of a comment was this!!! Thank you so much. You have no idea how much I needed a smile this evening. 🙂 Stay safe!!

  9. 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

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