Chinese New Year Lantern Sugar Cookies

Gung hay fat choy! I’m half-Chinese, so in addition to growing up eating lots of great Chinese food, I grew up celebrating Chinese New Year. Also known as the Spring Festival and the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year lasts about 15 days. It’s a huge deal.


So, there’s no show I can really tie this entry to. I could make this a statement on diversity on TV, but I’m not going to, because this is a food blog and you (and I) are here for the photos of food. Alas, I did find a related video from The Simpsons.

And these related gifs from Raising Hope, a show I don’t watch.

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They got that part right.

While I grew up eating only the best Chinese food, due to my grandparents’ and mom’s high standards, I never really developed a taste for traditional Chinese desserts (also due to my mother’s high standards for sweets – do we see why I’m such a foodie? Thanks, Mom ;).

I looked through Food Gawker and did much Googling to figure out if there was anything easy yet good I could bake for my Chinese New Year celebration earlier this month. After looking through many, many photos, I came up with an idea: Lantern Sugar Cookies. Those seemed easy enough and I’d use a trick that I used when making Christmas cookies last December: Instead of dying the cookies red with food coloring, I’d use Crystal Light. The juice mix. Yes.


This isn’t a new thing, but I initially used it because I ran out of food coloring, but my former coworkers loved the berry flavor it added. I tried it again for CNY and that’s what got the most compliments again. That and the buttercream frosting. Duh.

Also, the cookies in the photo above? Those are the ones I frosted pretty well. The ones in the photo below? Those are what most of them look like. I’m no perfect baker, but I try!

Chinese New Year Lantern Sugar Cookies
Yields 36
Berry flavored red cookies with buttercream icing
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  1. 3 cups flour
  2. 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 3/4 cup butter, softened
  4. 2 cups sugar
  5. 1 egg
  6. 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 4 packets Crystal Light (Any red flavor will do. I used Cherry Pomegranate.)
  8. Yellow food coloring
  9. 1 container of buttercream frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix in the Crystal Light packets until dough is red.
  4. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
  6. Mix some yellow food coloring into the buttercream frosting until it's fully yellow.
  7. Apply icing.
  1. If the Crystal Light makes the cookies too sweet, adjust by adding more flour.
  2. I highly recommended piping the icing onto the cookies, or else they look like a mess. Just using a plastic bag is fine.
Adapted from Easy Sugar Cookies from
Couch Potato Cook