Make this delicious Christmas sugar cookies recipe decorated with royal icing for the holidays. These holiday sugar cookies are soft and sandy and perfect for a cookie decorating party with kids during vacations.
Best sugar cookie recipe
When the festive season comes around, everyone loves to make lots of delicious Christmas sugar cookie recipes perfect for celebrating the holiday season.
And these cut-out sugar cookies decorated with royal icing are a favorite way to start the cookies season with their fun shape of Santa Claus, reindeer, snowman, snowflake, Christmas trees, or candy cane.
They are made with a very easy homemade classic sugar cookies recipe that has a soft, sandy texture and holds its shape perfectly when cut with cookie cutters.
These sugar cookies are iced with a homemade royal icing recipe that is very easy to make with only 2 ingredients, powdered sugar, and water, and is ready in less than 5 minutes.
These easy Christmas sugar cookie recipe are perfect to make a decoration activity with the kids at home who will have fun during the vacations decorating the cookies.
Decorated Christmas cookies are also great to give to friends and family during the holidays, as gifts to teachers or just to enjoy with your family.
Ingredients you need for this recipe
Sugar cookie dough
These soft sugar cookies are made with a homemade buttery shortbread dough that gives it that delicious, soft texture. It is perfect for making cookie cut-outs with cookie cutters and keeps its shape while baking.
Here are the ingredients needed to prepare it, to see the quantities scroll down the page to see the recipe card.
- Butter: Use only unsalted butter and take the butter out 30 minutes beforehand, it should have a softened texture.
- Powdered sugar: You can use granulated sugar but it is best to use powdered sugar for a soft, sandy texture.
- Eggs: One medium egg at room temperature.
- Flour: Use wheat flour which you can replace with a gluten-free flour mix.
- Vanilla extract and salt: Essential for flavoring the cookies.
- Spices: You can flavor sugar cookies by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon ground or a pinch of pumpkin pie spice mix or gingerbread spice.
- Cocoa: Replace ¼ of the flour with unsweetened cocoa powder to make chocolate sugar cookies.
- Flavoring: almond extract, lemon extract, citrus peel, orange, etc.
- Baking powder: You can add a pinch of baking powder or baking soda for even softer sugar cookies, it might just be a little bumpy.
Sugar cookie icing
To decorate Christmas cookies, we usually use royal icing which is a basic white icing that can create beautiful decorations on the top of cookies.
There are several recipes for royal icing such as the egg white and icing sugar recipe or this very easy version with just only powdered sugar and water and made without light corn syrup ou meringue powder.
We generally use very fine sugar such as powdered sugar, which can be replaced by icing sugar or confectioners sugar mixed with a liquid such as water or fresh lemon juice.
This cookie icing can easily be colored with gel food coloring and then used with a piping bag to decorate the top of the sugar cookies.
You can also add other decorations in addition to the icing to add texture and color such as :
- Sugar: Sprinkle directly on top of the royal icing while it is still fresh, you can use white granulated sugar or colored sugar.
- Sprinkles: Sugar pearls, nonpareils, and other sugar decorations.
⚠️ You will find all the quantities and complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of the page.
How to make Christmas sugar cookies with royal icing
1 - Make sugar cookies dough
Cream butter and sugar
- Place softened butter and powdered sugar in a large bowl.
- Mix with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes until you have a creamy butter texture.
- Add egg and vanilla extract and beat again for 1 minute to incorporate.
Tip: You can use an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the flat spatula attachment to make the blends.
Add dry ingredients
- Add flour and salt and mix again with an electric mixer at medium speed or with your hands until you get a homogeneous dough ball.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Tip: You can immediately roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and place it in the freezer for 15 minutes before cutting it with a cookie cutter.
2 - Cut out sugar cookies
- Roll out the cookie dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface to a layer about 3-4 mm thick.
- Cut out the dough with a cookie cutter and gently move the cookies pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 170°C and bake cookies for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.
- Let the cookies cool slightly on the cookie sheet before moving them to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
Tip : To cut perfect shapes, place the rolled out dough in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, before baking them, they will keep their shape while baking.
3 - Decorate sugar cookies
- Place powdered sugar and water in a large mixing bowl.
- Using an electric mixer, mix on high speed for about 3-4 minutes until thick and smooth.
- Separate the icing into medium bowls and add your coloring in small amounts and mix until you have a smooth colored icing.
- Place all icing in piping bags and decorate your baked cookies.
- Sprinkle with sugar or pearls immediately before the royal icing hardens.
- Let your decorated Christmas cookies dry completely on the work surface for about 1 hour.
Tip: the texture of the icing should be thick and a bit runny, if the icing is too thick add a small amount of water and mix again and if it is too liquid then add more powdered sugar.
How to store decorated sugar cookies?
Homemade Christmas cookies can only be stored at room temperature, in the fridge, the royal icing may melt because of the humidity.
Place your cookies in a storage box with an airtight container to protect them from moisture and keep them for 1 week.
Can we freeze Christmas cookies?
You can freeze the Christmas sugar cookies alone without the royal icing for up to 3 months in a storage box or bag. Allow coming back to room temperature slowly.
Tips for making sugar cookies
- Use an electronic scale to properly measure the amount of flour and get the right texture of dough.
- Use room temperature ingredients, especially for the butter which must be well softened.
- Let the dough chill, it will be easier to handle and will have more flavor.
- Place the rolled-out dough in the freezer for a few minutes to cut out perfect cookie shapes.
- Do not overbake, cookies will firm up as they cool and keep a soft, sandy texture.
More Christmas cookie recipes
- Iced gingerbread cookies
- Snickerdoodle cookies
- Chocolate crinkle cookies
- Linzer cookies
- Spritzgebäck cookies
- Mini gingerbread house recipe
- Berry pavlova recipe
- Strawberry mini pavlova recipe
- Halzenut yule log (buche de Noël)
- Chocolate Christmas Yule log
- Gingerbread layer cake
- Gingerbread village cake
- Hot chocolate bomb
- Chocolate truffles
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