From holiday gatherings to everyday indulgence, our irresistible sugar cookies topped with delicate royal icing are sure to be the star of any dessert table.
Are you craving a sweet treat that is not only delicious but also visually stunning? Decorating sugar cookies for Christmas? But aren’t you so great at decorating them? Then, these easy sugar cookies are just for you!
We can hand paint macarons for days, whip up a unicorn cake with no problem, and even cook up Tetris cookies. But slaving over holiday cookies is just NOT for our short attention span. Especially when we see the Monet’s of sugar cookie art on Instagram from the cookie pros.
So then we decided, “hey if you can’t make them perfect, make them crazy”! We wouldn’t say that’s a great motto to live life by or anything, but with cookies, it’s a winner!
This classic combination of soft, buttery cookies and smooth, glossy icing is a beloved favorite for any occasion. Whether you’re baking for a holiday gathering, birthday party, or simply want to indulge your sweet tooth, we’re guiding you through an easy and foolproof recipe to create the perfect sugar cookies with royal icing.
Get ready to impress your friends and family with these delectable homemade treats that are as delightful to look at as they are to devour.
Ingredients Needed for Homemade Sugar Cookies
Softened unsalted butter — We used salted butter to balance out the sweetness of all the candy toppings. You can use unsalted butter for an extra sweet sugar cookies recipe. It is crucial that your butter is softened so that the butter can blend well with all the other ingredients to get a creamy texture.
Granulated sugar — Any type of sugar is fine. Just make sure it is white sugar and not brown sugar.
All-purpose flour — Sub with almond flour for gluten free cookies
Vanilla extract — You’ll get the best results with pure vanilla extract. Imitation vanilla will do too.
Room temperature egg
How to Make Chewy Sugar Cookies
1 — Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2 — In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract.
3 — In a separate bowl for your dry ingredients, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Gradually add this dry mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined.
4 — On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes and carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Place them 2-3 inches apart.
5 — Bake in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes, until they’re firm enough to move. Transfer the cookies to cool completely on wire racks.
Ingredients Needed for Royal Icing
Gel food coloring — Optional. Gel food coloring is preferred over liquid food coloring, as it adds color without adding extra liquid to the icing. Start with a small amount and adjust as needed.
How to Make Royal Icing
1 — In a mixing bowl, mix the meringue powder and powdered sugar on low speed.
2 — Slowly add in the water and almond extract on medium speed for about 6 minutes. The icing should form small peaks and will be smooth, glossy and thick when ready.
3 — If using food coloring, divide the icing into separate bowls and add a few drops of coloring until you achieve the desired shades.
Frosting Your Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
1 — Outline the edges of the cookies with a thicker consistency of royal icing using a piping bag fitted with a fine round tip. Allow the outlines to set.
2 — Fill in the outlined areas with a thicker icing consistency of the same icing. Typically, you should fill the middle with thinner icing. BUT because you’re going to be heavily decorating the cookies, you’ll need plenty of extra icing for the toppings to stick. Plus, you don’t want your candy to bleed into the icing and get all gross in color!
3 — Use toothpicks or decorating tools to spread and smooth the icing, ensuring even coverage.
4 — Immediately add in your toppings before the royal icing hardens and won’t allow a good bond.
Creative Sugar Cookie Topping Ideas
For this particular purpose, we made these in December so we were going with a Christmas sugar cookies theme. However, whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging your sweet tooth, there are so many fun ways to decorate your cookies to transform them into delectable works of art.
Plus, if this is your first time making sugar cookies, adding on toppings will easily conceal any newbie mistakes. So have fun and experiment!
- Mini candy canes
- Mini marshmallows
- Jimmies sprinkles
- Nonpareils sprinkles
- Edible confetti
- Chocolate chips
- Crushed candy
- Crushed cookies
- Shredded coconut
- Zest of lemon, oranges or limes
- Chopped nuts or seeds
- Colored sugar
- Jam or jelly
- Fresh fruit slices for mini fruit pizza cookies
- Candy eyeballs for a Halloween dessert idea
Recipe Notes and Tips
Chill the dough before shaping:
If time permits, we highly recommend chilling the sugar cookie dough before cutting the dough into your desired shapes. Chilling the dough will help maintain its cut out shapes. To do so, divide the dough in half, form into two disks, and wrap in plastic wrap. Splitting up dough will make it easier to roll out. Then, refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or until firm. If chilling overnight, store in an airtight container.
Cookie dough thickness:
Most sugar cookie recipes recommend that you roll out the dough with a 1/4 inch thickness. But in order for the cookies to withstand the weight of the icing and all the toppings that we used, you’ll want the cookies to be extra thick! If you’re simply just icing your sugar cookies, a 1/2 inch thickness is fine.
What to do with leftover cookie dough:
When cutting out the shapes, you’ll have lots of leftover scraps. Don’t throw them away because the extra dough can be used for additional cookies. Just roll all the extra scraps into dough balls and flatten it out with a rolling pin. You can also freeze cookie dough for up to 3 months.
Avoid over mixing the royal icing:
Over-mixing can lead to air bubbles in the icing, which can affect the smoothness of your decorations. Mix on low speed and avoid overdoing it.
Royal icing is typically the frosting of choice for sugar cookies. However, you can also try cream cheese frosting or Italian meringue buttercream frosting.
How to store:
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. If stacking the decorated sugar cookies, line each layer with parchment paper or wax paper. The cookies will also keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
More Delicious Cookie Recipes
Now that you’ve made sugar cookies at home, try your hand at whipping up our other cookie recipes —
- Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Dipped Butter Cookies
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
- No Bake Chocolate Almond Cookies Recipe
- Snickerdoodle Cookies
Easy Sugar Cookies Recipe
- Hand or stand electric mixer
- Mixing bowl
- Baking sheet
- Cookie cutters
- Piping bag and round tip
For the sugar cookies:
- 1 cup salted butter softened
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 3 cup all-purpose flour plus addition flour for rolling the dough
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg room temperature
For the royal icing (yields 4 cups):
- 4 cup powdered sugar
- 3 tbsp meringue powder
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Gel food coloring optional
To make the sugar cookies:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well. Stir in the vanilla and almond extract.
- In a separate bowl for your dry ingredients, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Gradually add this dry mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until just combined.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out desired shapes and carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Place them 2-3 inches apart.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 6-8 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes, until they're firm enough to move.Tranfser the cookies to cool completely on wire racks.
To make the royal icing:
- In a mixer, combine the meringue powder and powdered sugar on low.
- Slowly add in the water and almond extract on medium speed for about 6 minutes. The icing should be forming small peaks and will be thick when it’s ready.
- Optional: If using food coloring, divide the icing into separate bowls and add a few drops of coloring until you achieve the desired shades.
To decorate the cookies:
- Outline the edges of the cookies with a thicker consistency of royal icing using a piping bag fitted with a fine round tip. Allow the outlines to set.
- Fill in the outlined areas with a thicker icing consistency of the same icing. Typically, you should fill the middle with thinner icing. BUT because you're going to be heavily decorating the cookies, you'll need plenty of extra icing for the toppings to stick.
- Top with your desired garnishes.
Don’t forget to share your sugar cookies with us on Instagram using the hashtag #sugarandclothloves. We always love seeing all of your creations! Looking for more quick and delicious recipes? You can find them all right here!