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Polar Bear Paw Cookies

Step into a winter wonderland with our irresistible Polar Bear Paw Cookies recipe. These charming treats combine the simplicity of a chocolate cake mix cookie base with homemade buttercream, topped with snowy sanding sugar, peppermint patties, and colorful M&M’s. Perfect for adding a touch of whimsy to your holiday cookie platter and creating sweet memories with loved ones.

If you love these cute paw cookies, check out our Polar Bear Face Cookies!

Three cookies displayed on the counter surrounded by pinecones and pine needles.

As you may know, cake mix cookies are a favorite around here. They are super easy to put together and taste even better when frosted! These adorable polar bear paw cookies are fun to make and even more fun to eat. Kids will love to help frost and decorate these cute cookies, making them the perfect family baking activity.

Polar bear paw cookie displayed on plate

Ingredients for polar bear paw cookies

Cookies

  • Chocolate cake mix – Use your favorite one here. I used Duncan Hines dark chocolate cake.
  • Canola Oil – To add moisture to the cookies.
  • Eggs – To bind the cookies.

Frosting

  • Butter – Unsalted room-temperature butter is best. I prefer using European-style butter in my frostings.
  • Powdered sugar – Adds sweetness and structure to the frosting.
  • Milk – Helps thin the frosting to make it easier to spread.
  • Vanilla – To add depth of flavor, just like in the cookies
  • Salt – A pinch of salt helps to enhance sweetness.

Decorations

  • White sanding sugar – To give the cookies a sparkle and create the ‘fur’ texture.
  • Snack-size York peppermint patties – For the pad of the foot.
  • Brown M&Ms – To create the toes.
Ingredients for cookies displayed on counter.

Making the polar bear paw cookies

Cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the cake mix, oil, and eggs in a large bowl until well combined.
  3. Scoop the cookie dough onto the baking sheets using a medium cookie scoop, leaving at least two inches between scoops.
  4. Bake the cookies for 9-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are set.
  5. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Collage showing four steps to make cake mix cookies

Frosting

  1. Beat the butter in a large bowl with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat until well combined.
  3. Add the milk ½ tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. The frosting should be easy to spread onto the cookies but firm enough not to slide off the side.
Collage showing four steps to frosting and decorate the cookies

Assembly

  1. Frost the cookies with a generous layer of frosting.
  2. Place the sanding sugar onto a small plate. Gently press the frosted side of the cookie into the sanding sugar to create an even coating.
  3. Apply a small smear of frosting on the bottom of the peppermint pattie and attach it to the lower third of the cookie to create the pad of the foot.
  4. Gently press four M&Ms above the peppermint pattie to create the toes.
  5. Allow the frosting to set for 15-30 minutes before serving.

Variations and substitutions

Change up the cookie flavor – Use a different flavored cake mix for the cookie base. Yellow cake, white cake, and vanilla cake will all work well.

Homemade cookies – Use your favorite homemade chocolate cookie instead of the cake mix cookies. You want the cookie to be around 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

Store-bought frosting – Make assembling these cookies even easier, and grab a tub of white frosting from the store to use instead of the homemade frosting.

Candy toes – Brown Reese’s Pieces or Junior Mints can be used to create the toes instead of the M&Ms. Note that Reese’s pieces are slightly smaller than M&Ms, and the Junior Mints are larger, so the look will be different if you use either of these.

Coconut fur – Instead of the white sanding sugar, dip the frosted cookies in sweetened shredded coconut to create the fur.

Oil in the cookies – Any neutral flavored oil can be used to make the cookies. Vegetable oil and grapeseed oil are both great substitutions for the canola oil.

Plate of polar bear paw cookies

Tips for success

  • Do not overbake your cookies – The cookies are baked when the edges are set, and the tops of the cookies no longer look doughy. The cookies will continue to bake as they sit on the baking sheet, so be sure to transfer them to a wire rack after 5 minutes to finish cooling.
  • Frosting consistency – Add the milk to the frosting a little at a time! Even 1 teaspoon of milk can have a big impact on the consistency of the frosting. You want the frosting to easily spread onto the cookie, but it should not be runny at all, or it will slide off the cookie.
  • Applying the ‘fur’ – I find dipping the frosted cookie in the sanding sugar is the easiest way to evenly coat the cookie. Add an even layer of sanding sugar to a small plate, press the frosted cookie into the surface of the sugar, shake off any excess, and voila, you have a beautifully coated cookie!
Polar bear cookie on counter surrounded by pine needles and pine cones

Storage

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to five days. If you store the cookies in the fridge, the M&M toes will lose their sheen and may have a ‘cloudy’ appearance.

Allow the frosting to set completely before stacking the cookies. I recommend placing a parchment or wax paper sheet between the layers if you have to stack them.

Polar Bear Paw Cookies FAQs

Where can I find sanding sugar?

You can typically find sanding sugar, also known as colored sugar or decorating sugar, at various places:
Grocery Stores: Many well-stocked grocery stores carry a selection of sanding sugar in the baking aisle, especially around the holiday season. Check the baking or cake decorating section.
Craft Stores: Craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby often have a baking and cake decorating section where you can find a variety of sanding sugars in different colors.
Specialty Baking Supply Stores: Specialty baking supply stores or kitchen supply stores may have a more extensive range of decorating sugars and other baking supplies.
Online Retailers: You can find a wide variety of sanding sugar colors and styles on online retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and specialty baking supply websites.

What is a cake mix cookie?

A cake mix cookie is a type of cookie that’s made using a cake mix as one of its primary ingredients. A cake mix is a prepackaged dry mixture that typically includes flour, sugar, leavening agents, and flavorings. While cake mix is designed for making cakes, it can also be used to create quick and easy cookies with a cake-like texture.

To make cake mix cookies, additional ingredients such as eggs, oil or butter, and flavorings are typically added to the cake mix. These ingredients are mixed together to form a cookie dough, which is then portioned and baked in the oven.

Cake mix cookies are a convenient option for home bakers who want to save time and still enjoy homemade cookies. They often result in soft, chewy, and flavorful cookies that can be ready in a fraction of the time it takes to prepare traditional cookie dough from scratch.

Want more easy desserts?

Check out these recipes.

Polar bear paw cookie displayed on plate

Polar Bear Paw Cookies

Author: Mandy
Make adorable polar bear paw cookies using a simple cake mix base, topped with a creamy buttercream frosting. This easy recipe yields soft, chewy cookies perfect for any winter-themed occasion.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Set Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16 Cookies
Calories 455 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cookies

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box of chocolate cake mix
  • ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Frosting

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½-2 tablespoons milk

Decorations

  • ½ cup white sanding sugar
  • 16 snack-size peppermint patties
  • 64 brown M&Ms

Instructions
 

Cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Mix the cake mix, oil, and eggs in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Scoop the cookie dough onto the baking sheets using a medium cookie scoop leaving at least two inches between scoops.
  • Bake for 9-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are set.
  • Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Frosting

  • Beat the butter in a large bowl with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat until well combined.
  • Add the milk ½ tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. The frosting should be easy to spread onto the cookies but firm enough not to slide off the side.

Assembly

  • Frost the cookies with a generous layer of frosting.
  • Place the sanding sugar onto a small plate. Gently press the frosted side of the cookie into the sanding sugar to create an even coating.
  • Apply a small smear of frosting on the bottom of the peppermint pattie and attach it to the lower third of the cookie to create the pad of the foot.
  • Gently press four M&Ms above the peppermint pattie to create the toes.
  • Allow the frosting to set for 15-30 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to five days. If you store the cookies in the fridge, the M&M toes will lose their sheen and may have a ‘cloudy’ appearance.
  • Use your favorite chocolate cake mix for these cookies. I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate.

Nutrition

Calories: 455kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 3gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 244mgPotassium: 125mgFiber: 1gSugar: 50gVitamin A: 308IUVitamin C: 0.03mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Nutrition information is estimated based on automated calculations and should be considered as an approximation. These estimates are provided as a courtesy. Please use your own brand’s nutritional values to verify accuracy.

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100 Christmas Cookies - Simply Scratch Made

Monday 27th of November 2023

[…] Polar Bear Paw Cookies […]

Michelle Latinovich

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

Well if this isn't the cutest cookie recipe!!!! I love both the polar bear paw and the polar bear face....kids are sure to love these!

Selene

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

This is such a cute and fun recipe!

Olga

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

Aw, I love these cookies. I bet my young kids will be thrilled to eat them. Thank you for such an amazing recipe.

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