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Easy Recipe for Decorated Sugar Cookies



The holidays are quickly approaching and in our house and that means decorating cookies … lots of cookies.  Years ago I decided I would search high and low for a great sugar cookie recipe and figure out how other people decorated their cookies with smooth icing.  It drove me nuts that my decorated cookies weren’t smooth and I was stuck with a whipped icing look with maybe some sprinkles to dress them up.  So began my search.  After trial and error, I found a yummy recipe and I’m happy to share my favorite recipe for sugar cookies and royal icing so others can decorate cookies with their kids this holiday season.




The sugar cookie recipe is simple and takes very little time to prep and mix.  The dough is made with

  • 2 Cups of Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract


Step 1.  Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl, set aside.  In a larger bowl or bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar, mix until light and fluffy.  With a mixer running, add egg, milk and vanilla, mix until well combined.  With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture one cup at a time, mix until combined.   Step 2.  Transfer dough to a work surface. Divide  dough into two disks, return to bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Step 3.  Preheat oven to 350* Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.




Step 4.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1/8″ thickness. Cut into desired shapes and transfer to lined baking sheet, leaving an inch in between each cookie.  Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once or twice more.  Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Do not allow to brown, they will be too crispy.  Transfer to wire rack or slide parchment paper off baking sheet and onto a work surface to cool.  Recipe yields 2 dozen depending on the size of your cookie cutter.




Once your cookies have completely cooled, its time to decorate.  I make one batch of royal icing, divide and tint with color.  Again, a simple yet delicious recipe!




  • 2 Large Egg Whites
  • 4 Cups Confectioner (powdered) Sugar
  • 1 Lemon, juiced

Beat the egg whites until stiff and fluffy but not dry.  Add sugar and lemon juice, beat for one minute.  The icing may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days before decorating cookies.  I am NOT anything close to being a talented baker, so my advice is to skip the piping bags and get a few squeeze bottles to line and decorate your cookies.  This is by far the easiest way I have found to line the cookies, royal icing is too runny for a piping bag and fancy decorating tips.  Squeeze bottles can be found at Michael’s or other stores carrying baking supplies.




Decorating sugar cookies with royal icing is a two-step process.   First, line your cookies edge to create a border by tracing around your cookie. Once you have created a border, let it dry a few minutes, about 5 minutes, before filling in the cookie with icing.  Use a spreader to move the icing to the borders and the icing will flatten out creating a completely smooth coating.




When using multiple colors, let base color dry completely before adding another color or layer.  If you do not, the color will spread and will not keep its shape.  In the photo, I created a football and the state of Oregon.  Before adding the white piping of the football laces, I let the brown base icing dry completely, about 30 minutes.  I also let the first part of the lace dry completely before adding the second layer, or smaller parts of the laces to avoid spreading.




Decorating can a be a long process, so if you have little ones wishing to decorate along side you, try baking the cookies and mixing the icing the day before.  Do they look like to the cookies we see in Starbucks or fancy bakery shops? No, but you can create something fresh and just as nice with a little patience.  Happy baking!





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