These easy decorated sugar cookies are a perfect treat for winter gatherings or holiday celebrations. This recipe creates cookies that keep their shape perfectly in the oven, without the need for chilling the dough. The royal icing, made safely with meringue powder instead of raw egg whites, is simple to whip up and perfect for decorating in lovely shades of white and blue.
Baking cookies during the holidays is a delightful activity that brings warmth and joy to the kitchen. It’s an easy and fun way to engage everyone, especially kids who love helping with cookie cutting, decorating, and of course, taste testing!
The process of making these snowflake cookies can become a cherished holiday tradition, creating lasting memories. Plus, it’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce little ones to the joys of baking. If you’re looking for more easy cookie recipes, consider trying our rich and minty Chocolate Peppermint Kiss Cookies, the creamy and refreshing White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, the cutest Grinch Cookies, or the classic Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.
Complete list of ingredients with quantities and instructions is located in the recipe card below
- Butter: Unsalted butter forms the base of the cookie dough, lending a rich, buttery flavor. Using unsalted butter lets you control the salt level. Ensure it’s softened to room temperature for easy creaming with sugar, leading to an even dough.
- Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the dough and provides structure. Creaming it with butter until light and fluffy is crucial for texture. This process should take 2-3 minutes for optimal results.
- Vanilla Extract: It enhances the dough’s flavor, pairing well with the buttery taste. High-quality pure vanilla extract is recommended for superior flavor. Feel free to experiment with other extracts like almond or peppermint for variety.
- Egg: An egg adds moisture and helps bind the ingredients. Room temperature eggs blend more smoothly into the dough, avoiding stiffness.
- Flour: All-purpose flour gives structure and texture. Accurate measurement is key: spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off to avoid too much flour, which can make cookies dry and crumbly.
- Baking Powder: This leavening agent ensures the cookies rise and become light. Check its expiration date; old baking powder can lead to flat cookies.
- Salt: Fine salt balances and enhances the flavors in the dough. It contrasts the sweetness and elevates the overall taste.
- Powdered Sugar (for Icing): This sugar creates a smooth, spreadable icing. Sift it to avoid lumps for a silky icing consistency.
- Meringue Powder (for Icing): It replaces raw egg whites, making the icing safe to eat and easy to prepare. It helps stabilize the icing and adds a bit of shine.
- Corn Syrup (for Icing): It gives the icing a glossy finish and a smoother texture, making it easier to work with.
- Water (for Icing): Adjusts the icing’s consistency. Start with less, then add gradually until the desired thickness is achieved.
- Food Coloring (for Decoration): Use it to add festive colors to your icing. Gel food coloring provides intense color without thinning the icing.
- Sprinkles (for Decoration): Add a playful touch to your cookies. Apply them to the icing before it sets to ensure they stick.
How To Make Decorated Christmas Sugar Cookies
- Preheat Oven: Set your oven to the right temperature (350°F / 180°) and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cream Sugar and Butter: In a mixer, blend sugar and softened butter until smooth and creamy.
- Add Egg and Vanilla: Mix in the vanilla extract and egg to the creamed butter and sugar.
- Mix in Flour: Gradually add flour to the mixture, kneading by hand if the dough becomes stiff.
- Roll and Cut Dough: Roll the dough out on a floured surface into ½ – ⅝ inch thickness, then using cookie cutters cut into shapes, and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake Cookies: Bake until they are just set (10-12 minutes), then allow to cool completely.
- Make the Royal Icing: Combine powdered sugar, meringue powder, vanilla, and water in a mixer. In a separate mix, blend the remaining sugar with corn syrup, water, and vanilla. Combine both to adjust the consistency.
- Color and Fill Icing Bags: Tint the icing with food coloring if desired and fill into piping bags.
- Decorate: Use the icing to decorate the cookies, adding sprinkles before the icing sets.
Tips for Perfect Decorated Sugar Cookies
- Room Temperature Butter: Ensure your butter is at room temperature for proper creaming with the sugar. This helps achieve a smooth and well-integrated dough.
- Avoid Overmixing: Mix the dough just enough to combine the ingredients well. Overmixing can lead to tough cookies, so stop as soon as the dough comes together.
- Even Rolling: Consider using an adjustable rolling pin for even thickness. This tool helps ensure your cookies bake evenly and come out with a consistent texture.
- Watch the Baking Time: Keep a close eye on your cookies to prevent overbaking. Perfect sugar cookies should be soft and tender, slightly golden at the edges. They’ll continue to cook a bit after being removed from the oven.
- Experiment with Flavors: While vanilla extract adds a classic flavor, don’t be afraid to try other extracts like almond, lemon, or peppermint. High-quality pure extracts can make a noticeable difference in taste.
- Have Fun: Remember, the best part of baking is the joy it brings. Involve your family or friends and enjoy the process without worrying about perfection. The fun and love you put in are what make your cookies truly special.
- Chill If Needed: If your dough becomes too soft or sticky while working, don’t hesitate to chill it for a bit. This can make rolling and cutting much easier.
- Icing Consistency: Getting the right consistency for your icing is key. It should be fluid enough to pipe but not so runny that it doesn’t hold its shape.
- Decorating Tools: Simple tools like toothpicks or small brushes can be handy for detailed icing work. They help in achieving precise and beautiful designs on your cookies.
- Storage Tips: Store your decorated cookies in an airtight container to keep them fresh. If layered, use parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking.
Give these decorated sugar cookies a try for a simple and enjoyable baking activity. They’re great for the holidays, and I’d love to hear how they turn out for you. Please share your feedback and rate the recipe!
Decorated Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 cups powdered sugar divided
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract divided
- ½ to ¾ cup water divided
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- Food coloring as desired
- Sprinkles as desired
To make the cookies:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter until smooth.
- Add vanilla and egg to the mixture, blending well.
- Change to a paddle attachment and gradually mix in flour until the dough forms and pulls away from the bowl sides. If the dough is tough to mix, knead it by hand.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about ½ – ⅝ inch thickness. Cut into shapes and re-roll scraps until all dough is used.
- Gently place the shapes on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, ensuring cookies are set but not overbaked.
- Let the cookies cool completely before decorating.
For the icing:
- start with combining 2 cups of powdered sugar, meringue powder, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla in the mixer using a paddle attachment. Mix on low for 30 seconds, then slowly add 3 teaspoons of water. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2-3 minutes until stiff. Transfer to another bowl and cover with a damp towel.
- In the same bowl, mix the remaining powdered sugar, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons of water, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Mix until smooth.
- Combine both icing mixtures and whisk until smooth. Adjust consistency by adding more water or sugar as needed. Aim for a texture that settles back smoothly within 12-15 seconds when lifted.
- Divide the icing into separate bowls and tint with food coloring as desired.
- Fill piping bags with colored icing and cut a small tip off for decorating.
- Decorate cookies as desired. If using sprinkles, add them before the icing sets.
- Handling Dough: If the dough becomes too soft while rolling or cutting, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. This will make it easier to handle.
- Icing Consistency: Adjust the icing consistency as needed for decorating. It should be fluid enough for piping but thick enough to hold its shape.
- Decorating Tips: Apply sprinkles or other decorations while the icing is still wet to ensure they adhere properly.
- Icing Setting Time: After decorating, let the cookies set for about 24 hours at room temperature on a cooling rack or baking sheet. This helps the icing harden properly for stacking.
- Storage: Store the cookies in an airtight container once the icing has set. They will keep well for up to a week at room temperature.
- Freezing Option: For longer storage, freeze the cookies in a freezer-safe container. They can be stored for up to 3 months and thawed at room temperature before serving.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.