Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo pinata sugar cookies

Sugar Cookies with a surprise inside

Why stop at the candy inside? Make the whole piñata worth fighting for!

These multi-striped, burro piñata sugar cookies come complete with hollow centers that you can fill with a secret stash of your favorite candies. Break open or bite into these festive treats and be greeted with a sugary surprise. Olé!

Video how-to: Pinata Cookies


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Mini M&M candies
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (frosting)
  • 2 teaspoons milk (frosting)

Directions to make piñata sugar cookies:

Pinata cookies


Make the dough

Cream sugars with butter. Beat in eggs. Add oil. Combine dry ingredients together, and then gradually add them to the mixture. Mix in vanilla and almond extract.


Color the dough

Split dough into five, even-sized balls and one smaller ball (this will be the black one). Add food coloring to each of the dough balls until desired color is achieved. Gel food coloring gives you more intense colors than liquid.

Colored dough balls


Layer the dough

Use a container the same approximate width of your donkey/burro piñata cookie cutter, and line it with plastic food wrap. Split all of your colored dough balls in half (except the black) and begin layering the dough in the container, starting with the black dough on the bottom. Alternate the colors so that you end up with two layers of each color by the time you're done.

Layering the colored dough



Cover the layered dough and freeze for four hours or overnight. This is the perfect time to conserve your creative juices for what lies ahead.


Bake the cookies

Remove the dough from the container and unwrap from the plastic. Cut slices, approximately 1/4-inch wide. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake them at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Slices of frozen dough


Cut the cookies

Immediately after you take them out of the oven, use your burro piñata cookie cutter to cut the cookie shapes. Working in sets of three, be sure to cut two burro piñata cookies in one direction and one burro piñata cookie in the opposite direction. (Just flip your cookie cutter over.) That way, when you go to assemble them, the finished cookie will look "pretty" on both sides -- because the baked, bottom sides will be hidden.

Cutting the pinata shape from baked cookies


Create the hidden pocket

For the middle cookies in each set, cut off the ears and legs, and cut out the center where the M&Ms will go. I used a small square cutter, and made three cuts to get a narrow rectangle. Try to work quickly, because as the cookies cool, they are more likely to crumble or break. Let them cool on the baking sheet before you move them and remove the excess, outer cookie.

Cutting inside out of the pinata cookie


Assembling the piñata cookies

To assemble, take the first piñata cookie and lay it upside down so that the baked bottom is facing up. Outline the center of the piñata body with a "frosting glue" mixture of milk and powdered sugar. (I used 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and two teaspoons of milk. If you put it inside a Ziploc bag and cut off a tiny tip of the bag's corner, you can pipe it onto the cookie easily.)

Put the middle cookie on top of the frosting glue and add the M&Ms to the open center. Put another outline of frosting glue on the middle cookie and place the opposite-cut piñata cookie on top (so that the pretty side is facing out). Let these sit and harden for at least 30 minutes before you stand them upright.

First cookie with frosting glue

Second cookie with middle cut out

Second cookie filled with frosting glue for top pinata cookie

Finished pinata cookie


Show off your finished piñata cookie

Final product: pinata sugar cookie!

This recipe will make six to eight piñata cookies.


Recommended for you


Comments on "Cinco de Mayo piñata cookies"

carla April 06, 2014 | 9:12 PM

The Cinco De Mayo cookies really helped my daughter so much she really loved the cookies and so did the party guests the cookies really helped my daughter with her party theme for her birthday it was mexican and we really thought the pinata cookies really would match the theme we love these cookies

Ginger March 20, 2014 | 2:12 PM

I am wanting to make a version of this cookie but need a little advice. I am wanting to make a fluted circle with the m&m's inside for a kids birthday party. I will probably use the 3 1/2" (maybe a little smaller) fluted circle cutter and was wondering after I divide my 5 colors would I put the dough in the same kind of container as you or should I use a circle container? Also, should I use a mini circle cutter to cut out for the m&m's? Thanks for any help you can give me.

Ellen March 17, 2014 | 3:05 PM

Wow, these look wonderful. I think that I will use the mini M&Ms for the filling. Then I will save up my energy and get baking.

Teresa Lopez March 06, 2014 | 6:47 PM

These look adorable, I can't wait to try them. Just a cultural comment, though. Cinco de Mayo is an invented holiday in the US, it is not celebrated at all in Mexico. Mexican Independence day is September 16th. When I lived in the US I always giggled when people asked me what my plans were on Cinco de Mayo and I said I wasn't doing anything special. These would also be great for a Mexican themed birthday party, and make a matching burro pinato as well!

Ulises February 27, 2014 | 2:56 PM

Thank you for this recipe it is an awesome recipe:)

Sandra December 12, 2013 | 9:09 AM

Freeze your dough. Also, I find that unsalted butter works best in almost all of my baking recipes.

Christine December 04, 2013 | 7:19 PM

Do we freeze the dough or refrigerate the dough for 4 hours? I just want to make sure I am doing the recipe correctly. Does it matter what kind of butter?

Sandra October 02, 2013 | 1:29 PM

I got my donkey cookie cutter online from Copper Gifts. You can also find donkey cookie cutters online at Amazon or Karen's Cookies.

Andre September 30, 2013 | 6:29 PM

Hi! May I please know where you bought? burro pinata cookie cutter? Thank you. :)

Carla August 28, 2013 | 8:19 AM

These are so adorable, cute and just all around awesome! I made them a few days ago and they turned out beautiful, like the photos! Thank you so much for the creative imagination and artistry! I truly appreciate it! They were a huge hit and my family & friends were fighting over them to get them! Thanks!

Becky August 18, 2013 | 3:58 PM

I love these! Never seen anything like them! gonna make some xmas ones and use curly wurlys for antlers :-) Wondered if once made with the candy inside and finished, can they be frozen?

Rainy August 09, 2013 | 12:51 PM

These are so cute. I saw them and I wanted to make them as wedding favors. But 135 pieces + packaging seems a bit to much. To speed up the process, do you think I can cut out the shape first with a different recipe that will not spread, bake them and assemble them? I'm so in love with these I just don't know if I can spare days doing it.

devina putri July 03, 2013 | 5:43 AM

emm' yummy !!!

Sand July 01, 2013 | 2:32 PM

KateC - you can't hear me right now, but I'm applauding you. I know exactly how exhausting it would be to make 30 of these. You should get Friend-of-the-Year for your hard work. I hope you at least got to eat one yourself?

KateC June 30, 2013 | 9:04 AM

I used a different sugar cookie recipe (x 6) and made 30 of these cookies for a friend's bday party. WOW, it was very time consuming and I don't think I'd do it again. Definitely a one time only recipe for me. But they turned out really cute. I prepped as much as I could in advance. The first night I made the donkey cookie cutter using my cookie cutter kit. That was probably the easiest/quickest step, lol. The second night I made the dough; divided; and colored them. Third night I rolled and layered the dough (not recommended for OCD people like me) in two 9x5 loaf pans. It was difficult with the rounded edges of the pan to get the dough layered evenly so I had to tip the pan on its sides and insert pieces of cardboard along the side to get everything standing straight/upright. This was a very long and tedious step for me especially getting each piece of dough at just the right temp/consistency to roll out and not fall apart while transferring into the pan. The fifth night I sliced up both blocks of layered dough. I tried to slice them a lil thinner (between 1/8 and 1/4"). Then I layered the slices in a tupperware separating each piece with wax paper and froze them. A week later I put them out; baked one tray at a time; cut them while still warm and then assembled with icing glue and mini M&Ms. You have to cut them while they are warm but you also have to be very careful because they are so delicate. In the end I had 30 assembled cookies and an entire mixing bowl filled with cookie scraps. It just felt so wasteful :/ Originally I thought I would make cookie/cake pops from the scraps but after all this work I couldn't bare to do anymore! I'm tired just thinking about all this, haha. Granted, I made a very large batch but I figured if I was going to all the trouble I was going big. Plus, you can't really bring 9 cookies to a birthday party. The work did pay off with some pretty amazing cookies like I've never made before. The kids especially loved the m&m "surprise". Great idea but roll up your sleeves before attempting!!

Sandra H June 18, 2013 | 4:40 PM

I just love these cookies. I plan to make a copy of your directions and place it in my April tickle folder. I plan to have my neices help me next year to make them for my students. They will love them. Thanks for the wonderful project.

Sandra June 17, 2013 | 9:35 AM

Yes, I cut them straight from the freezer with a large, sharp, butcher-block knife. If the layers start to split, just press the dough back together with your fingers. The slices will also soften and bake together in the oven.

Chris June 15, 2013 | 10:30 AM

Hi Sandra - I made this recipe for Cinco de Mayo this year; they turned out great and I received many compliments! However, I was wondering if I could ask you a technical question - when you cut the dough, what type of knife did you use? Also, did you cut it right after taking the dough from the freezer? I found that it tended to "crack" along the colored layers which caused a few problems that I had to troubleshoot down the line ... Thanks!

Emmie lol June 06, 2013 | 12:17 AM

They look awesome! Im trying them out for a charity fundraising week! I think we might run out very quickly!

Megan May 29, 2013 | 4:59 PM

I thought this was a wonderful idea. Making them as we speak for a birthday this evening. CLAIRE, maybe you did not read the directions right. I think they are wonderful!

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)