If you love red velvet cake, this easy one-bowl red velvet cookie recipe has your name written all over it. The cookies have just the right balance of crispy edges, soft middles, and big chocolate flavor, with the prettiest shade of red in the land and crunchy sparkle from sanding sugar. In addition to requiring no special equipment, you won’t need to refrigerate this cookie dough or let it rest before baking, making it perfect for when you need a cookie right away. Gel food coloring works best to achieve the deep red color—plus, it won’t affect the texture of the final cookies the way liquid food coloring does (if the dough is too wet, the cookies will spread upon baking, resulting in less chewy cookies with crackle-less tops—a tragedy on both fronts). And while any brand of sanding sugar is fine, we’ve found that the Betty Crocker brand delivers the most vibrant, sparkly finish (you’ll definitely end up with red-stained fingers no matter which sugar you use, but that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make). —Jessie Sheehan
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Makes 16 cookies
cups (packed; 300 g) light brown sugar
cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
chilled large egg yolks
tsp. vanilla extract
cup (54 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
tsp. baking soda
tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
tsp. red gel food coloring
cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
cup red sanding sugar (preferably Betty Crocker; about 2 oz.)
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Vigorously whisk 1½ cups (packed; 300 g) light brown sugar and 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled, in a large bowl until lightened in color and smooth and glossy, about 30 seconds. Whisk in 2 chilled large egg yolks and 1½ tsp. vanilla extract. Adding one at a time and whisking after each addition, sprinkle in ⅔ cup (54 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt. Whisk in 2 tsp. red gel food coloring, then add 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour and fold in with a rubber spatula just until the last streak of flour disappears (be careful not to overmix).
Pour ½ cup red sanding sugar (preferably Betty Crocker; about 2 oz.) into a small shallow bowl. Divide dough into 16 equal portions (about 3 Tbsp. or 55 g each) and roll each portion into a ball. Roll each ball in sanding sugar to evenly coat, then divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2″ apart.
Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, until puffed up and tops begin to crack, 12–14 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets 5 minutes (they will collapse as they cool), then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
Do ahead: Cookies can be baked 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature, or freeze in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 month.