Turmeric Sugar Cookies

By Emma Laperruque
September 17, 2018

Author Notes: A whole new way to sugar cookie, thanks to one ingredient: ground turmeric. Coupled with butter and sugar, this often-savory spice not only gets to show off its incredible color, but flavor too. Our staff thought they were everything from lemony, to tangy, to raspberry-y. What notes will you pick up? Emma Laperruque

Makes: 24 cookies
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 22 min


Cookie dough

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups (333 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/3 cups (299 grams) all-purpose flour

Sugar crust

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric


  1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. Add the butter, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium for a few minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla. Continue beating—again, scraping down the sides as needed—until cohesive and fluffy.
  4. Add the turmeric and baking powder and mix on low just to combine. Add the flour and mix on low again until completely combined. Detach the bowl from the machine and use the rubber spatula to make sure there are no floury dry spots on the sides or bottom of the bowl.
  5. Stick the dough in the fridge to firm up for 10 or so minutes. Meanwhile, you can clean up and make the sugar crust mixture: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and turmeric, and stir.
  6. Scoop the dough by generously rounded tablespoons (about 40 grams each). I fit 6 on each sheet tray, so start by scooping 12 cookies. Roll each dough blob lightly between your hands into a smooth sphere. Now roll each sphere in the sugar. Divide evenly between the lined sheets. No need to flatten—they’ll spread in the oven.
  7. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until puffy, slightly crackly, and just beginning to brown around the edges. They will fall as they cool. That’s good. You want them crispy around the edges and chewy-tender in the middle.
  8. Cool for a few minutes on the tray, then use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack.
  9. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
  10. These freeze well.

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Reviews (19) Questions (1)


Jennifer U. October 7, 2018
Great recipe! The Turmeric is not overwhelming and the color is nice. Outsides are crispy and inside is chewy just as the recipe promised. It's a keeper!
Author Comment
Emma L. October 7, 2018
Yay! Thanks so much, Jennifer.
Ayesha October 1, 2018
I just made these, and they're great! I have a few notes that may be helpful to others (like me) who are not professional bakers:<br />1. The dough was very wet for us, and we had to keep them in the freezer for about 30 minutes or so, otherwise our hands would be covered in very wet dough and no smooth ball would actually be formed. 10 minutes in the freezer wasn't enough. The dough being wet could be due to a variety of reasons: ambient temperature, humidity, our ingredients, etc but I'm only sharing so that if anyone else goes through the same thing all they need to do is chill it for longer (and don't add more flour). <br />2. Another comment recommended adding more turmeric. I think it depends on what you want. These were more on the subtle side, but I think the impact of turmeric goes beyond its spicy flavor- the turmeric adds warmth, a brightness, and in a way (a good way) sorts of cuts through the sweetness. We're Indian and we cook with turmeric a lot- I thought the amount of turmeric was just fine but my mom did think we should have added more. And I do want to make these again but with more turmeric! I think it's a matter of preference. <br />3. I was hesitant to make these because I was baking for kids and thought this recipe would be a bit too "grown up" for them, but they all loved it! I would definitely recommend this recipe to people who are hesitant to make something out of their comfort zone.
Author Comment
Emma L. October 1, 2018
Hi Ayesha! So glad you and your family loved the cookies—and thanks so much for sharing this great feedback. Such a useful note about chilling vs. adding more flour...that's what I always say about pie dough, too!
Sarah September 30, 2018
I just made these this weekend, but I added some extra ingredients: pinch of saffron, chopped pistachios, diced dried apricots, pinenuts, dried goji berries, and a little lemon zest. They were soooooo good! My friends and boyfriend couldn't stop eating them! These are a keeper and I will definitely be making them again. Thank you for the recipe :)
Author Comment
Emma L. September 30, 2018
So glad y'all enjoyed 'em—those extra ingredients sound sooo good!
Magaret September 29, 2018
Just made a batch. So delicious. And beautiful.
Author Comment
Emma L. September 30, 2018
Thanks so much!
Kathleen September 26, 2018
Any ideas for a low sugar option? How much sugar can you cut back on in the cookie itself, not the topping?<br />
Author Comment
Emma L. September 30, 2018
Hi Kathleen! Cutting down sugar in baked goods is tricky, since it doesn't just contribute sweetness; it affects the overall moisture and structure, too. I'd start small with adjustment (say, dropping to 1 1/2 or 1 1/3 cups), then go from there. Here are some of my fav articles on low-sugar baking: <br />— https://food52.com/blog/15831-is-it-possible-to-reduce-sugar-in-a-baking-recipe<br />— https://food52.com/blog/23056-best-natural-unrefined-sweetener-baking-less-sugar<br />—https://food52.com/blog/15911-what-experts-know-about-reducing-sugar-in-baking-recipes
Natalie F. September 25, 2018
These are wonderful. Standing here eating one warm and wishing I was 21 again so I could eat the whole lot!
Author Comment
Emma L. September 30, 2018
Permission to still eat the whole lot: granted!
Laura B. September 25, 2018
I made these today and they were really delicious, however, if you are very used to the taste of turmeric, like I am, I suggest adding a little bit more or using a very high quality brand. I felt that the taste of turmeric wasn't that strong. Regardless, it's still a very good recipe, I highly recommend it :)
Author Comment
Emma L. September 30, 2018
Thanks, Laura! And hear hear to playing around with the turmeric amount. Perfect excuse to taste the dough and adjust to personal preference. Then taste the dough again, just to double check...
Laura B. October 2, 2018
HAHAHA YEEES! That's precisely the excuse I'll give to my mom when she catches me eating huge pieces of raw dough :'D
FrugalCat September 24, 2018
I made these with turbinado sugar so the color was not quite as bright, but they were still wonderful.
Author Comment
Emma L. September 30, 2018
Thanks! Did you use turbinado sugar in the dough, or just for the crust?
Heather G. September 19, 2018
These were amazing. Chewy and delicious and flavorful. Bonus points for the fact that all the ingredients were already in the kitchen.
Author Comment
Emma L. September 20, 2018
Thanks, Heather—so glad you enjoyed them!