It’s not Christmas without fun, decorated Christmas Sugar Cookies! This sugar cookie recipe is nice and thick so it can hold up to the royal icing you top them with. We’ve included our favorite royal icing recipe so you can decorate these Christmas cookies with your favorite Christmas decor.
It’s not really Christmas at our house until we start baking and today I have the best Christmas sugar cookie recipe for you. These adorable cookies will get everyone in the holiday spirit!
Why This Recipe Works
Not all sugar cookies are created equal and this recipe is the perfect one if you want thick and delicious iced cookies.
First, the cookies. They’re thick and sturdy which makes them perfect for icing and decorating!
They’re sturdy, but they taste amazing. They are flavored with vanilla and almond extract and have the best texture that is so tender and delicious.
I use royal icing to decorate them and I’m showing you how to make several cute designs. Everyone will think you went to pastry school!
- All-purpose flour – Do not use a different type of flour, you won’t get the best results.
- Corn starch – This prevents the cookies from spreading when they bake so they are the right thickness for decorating. It also gives them a nice soft texture.
- Salt – even sweet things need a few pinches of salt!
- Unsalted butter – Leave it out to soften at room temperature before making the cookies so you can cream it with the sugar.
- Granulated sugar
- Large egg – I like to use a room temperature egg because it’s easier to mix into the dough when it’s not cold.
- Vanilla Extract
- Almond Extract – If you don’t like almond just add a little more vanilla extract to the recipe.
How to Make the Cookies
Sift the flour, corn starch, and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk to combine and then set the bowl aside.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Turn the speed to low, and add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix until the dough comes together. Once it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, it’s ready to use.
Take the dough out of the bowl and form the dough into a disc. Wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
Once the dough is chilled, unwrap it and roll it out with a rolling pin so it is 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out circles. Try to cut out as many as you can before rerolling the dough out to cut more. Place the cutouts on the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies for 12 minutes at 375°F. Turn the tray halfway through the baking time so the cookies bake evenly.
Cool the cookies on the pan for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
How to Decorate Holiday Sugar Cookies
Royal icing is great for decorating because it hardens when it sets. You can make designs as intricate or as simple as you want.
Homemade royal icing is easy to make with just a few ingredients:
- Powdered sugar
- Meringue powder – This ingredient makes this recipe so easy. If you can’t find it, please be sure to read the Pro Tips section with alternatives.
- Room temperature water
- Gel food coloring – I like to use gel colors because they are a lot more vibrant.
Mix the powdered sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Using the whip attachment, whip them while slowly adding the water.
Whip the mixture for seven to ten minutes or until it thickens it starts to hold small peaks. At this point, turn off the mixer and lift up the whisk. If the mixture drips off and melts back into the rest in the bowl within seconds, it’s ready.
For these cookies, I divided the icing so I could make several icing colors: red, green, yellow, orange, blue, black, and brown. I also kept quite a bit of the icing plain white.
You don’t need to do all of these colors. I recommend deciding ahead of time which kind of designs you want for your holiday sugar cookies and then tint your icing.
Most of my decorated Christmas cookies have white backgrounds with a few that have a blue background, so I start with blue and white first. Fill piping bags with each color (if you are using both) and then tie off the top of the bag with a rubber band.
Place a wet piece of paper towel in the bottom of a drinking glass. You can set the piping bag in there (tip-side-down) and the paper towel will keep the tip moist, making it easier to pipe.
Christmas Sugar Cookie Design Ideas
Start by piping an edge around each cookie. Then you can pipe more icing into the center and use a toothpick to smooth it into an even layer.
For all of these cookie designs, I let the white background set before adding more icing. Here are the designs I did:
- Christmas Trees: Pipe green icing over the white in a back and forth motion, starting wide at the bottom and shortening it as you make the tree. Let it set and then add little red decorations (or other color you like) finishing with a gold star on top and a brown trunk at the bottom.
- Christmas Lights: Pipe a black line – I did a “Z” shape and a “V” shape. Let it set and the pipe little colored lights, alternating the colors as you go.
- Wreath: Use green icing to pipe little leaves in a circle around the edge of the white icing. Let it set and then add little red holly berries for decoration.
- Rudolph: Use two black dots for the eyes, brown for the antlers, and don’t forget the red nose!
- Snowman: This is simple and cute! Add two black eyes, little dots for the mouth, and a little orange triangle for the carrot nose. If you’re feeling steady, try adding the face while the white background is still a little wet. The colors you add will sink in so you have a smooth surface for the icing.
- Snowflakes: I use blue icing for the background and once it’s set, pipe on a snowflake design.
- Berries and Stripes: Pipe green stripes and then fill in the spaces with small red dots.
- Sprinkles: Want to keep it really simple? Pipe the background color and, while it’s still wet, add some Christmas sprinkles. They are simple and so cute!
Cookie Cutter Tip: If you don’t have a 2 1/2″ cookie cutter, you can use a glass, mason jar, or ramekin that is approximately the same size to cut out your cookies.
Baking Tip: Cookies baked on parchment paper will bake faster than ones on a silicone mat.
Cookie Storage Tip: Once cooled, keep plain baked cookies in an airtight container until you are ready to decorate them. Decorated cookies will keep for one to two weeks at room temperature.
Royal Icing Ingredient Tip: If you can’t find meringue powder, royal icing can be made using three egg whites and four cups of powdered sugar. Just keep in mind that icing will be made with raw egg whites, which can be a health concern for some.
Icing Storage Tips: You can make the icing ahead of time and freeze it. Freeze it in a freezer bag, and it will keep well for up to three weeks.
How cute will your cookie platters be with these sweet decorated Christmas cookies?! They will be the hit of the holiday season, I’m sure! Once you try them, I know they will be one of your favorite Christmas cookies to make – they are at our house!
More Christmas Cookie Recipes!
- Red Velvet Thumbprint Cookies are a twist on a classic cookie and always a hit. Perfect for all of your cookie platters!
- Gingerdoodles combine two favorite holiday cookies in one! They are soft like snickerdoodles with the flavor of gingersnaps. So good!
- Everyone will love Peppermint Pinwheels! These are always the first to go at cookie exchanges!
- Christmas Snickerdoodles are so festive! They are your favorite soft and chewy cookie dressed up with decorative sugar for Christmas.
- Christmas Crack is an easy Christmas candy that’s always a hit!
- Festive red and green cookies that make the perfect Christmas Cookie for cookie trays!
- Chocolate Peppermint Cookies with double the chocolate for all of you chocoholics out there!
Did you try this recipe and love it? Rate the recipe, please! Seriously though, a five-star rating below will make my day!
If you snap a photo, please be sure to tag me on Instagram at @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats so I can see your amazing Christmas sugar cookies!!
- 2-1/2 c All Purpose Flour
- ¼ c. Corn starch
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ¾ c. Butter Unsalted room temperature
- ¾ c. Granulated Sugar
- 1 Large Egg room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ½ tsp Almond Extract
- 4 c. powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp Meringue powder
- 9-10 Tbsp water room temperature
- Gel Food Coloring optional
- Sift the flour, corn starch and salt into a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Run a whisk through it to mix well and set aside.
- With a stand mixer, In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and the sugar together, on medium speed, until creamy, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the mixer to low and add the egg while beating, then add the vanilla and almond extract.
- One cup at a time add the flour mixture until it is well incorporated. The sugar cookie dough will pull away from the mixing bowl at this point.
- Take the dough and form a ball, then flatten out into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Take a rolling pin and roll out to about ¼” – ½” thick.
- Using a 2-1/2” round cookie cutter, cut as many discs out of the dough as possible and place onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat (or parchment paper).
- Take the remaining dough and mold into a ball again and roll out again. Cut out more cookies until all the dough has been used.
- Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for 12 minutes. Turn the tray around half way.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little on the baking sheet before transporting to a wire rack.
- Once cooled completely decorate as desired.
- Add the powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl attached to your stand mixer, as well as the meringue powder and stir a little to mix.
- Using your wire whip, turn on your stand mixer on a low speed and slowly add the water. As the powder subsides you can turn up the speed to medium.
- Whip the mixture well for about 7-10 minutes, until you start to see tips forming.
- Check the consistency of the icing. If it falls off the wire whip and melts back into the bowl of icing within 5-10 seconds then it’s perfect.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap until you are ready to use it.
- Take a piping bag and a number three tip and place into a tall glass, folding the edges over the outside of the glass. This is the easiest way to fill up an icing bag with less mess.
- Use a rubber band to tie the top of the icing bag. Place a piece of wet paper towel in the bottom of the glass, this will help the tip stay moist while you are working.
- If you are using other colors, pour a little of the remaining icing into a small bowl and mix in a little of the food color until you reach the desired color.
- If your cookies have a white background, which most of mine did (in the images), use the piping bag to pipe the icing around the outside edges, and then fill the middle. Use a toothpick to spread the icing evenly.
- Leave cookie to set while you move onto the next, or if you are using sprinkles on your cookies sprinkle them on at this point, while the icing is still wet.
- Use the colors you have mixed and a toothpick to create the designs on the cookies. If you are putting a design on the white background let the white set first before you start with your next color.
Wreath: Use green icing to pipe little leaves in a circle around the edge of the white icing. Let it set and then add little red holly berries for decoration. Rudolph: Use two black dots for the eyes, brown for the antlers, and don’t forget the red nose! Snowman: This is simple and cute! Add two black eyes, little dots for the mouth, and a little orange triangle for the carrot nose. If you’re feeling steady, try adding the face while the white background is still a little wet. The colors you add will sink in so you have a smooth surface for the icing. Snowflakes: I use blue icing for the background and once it’s set, pipe on a snowflake design. Berries and Stripes: Pipe green stripes and then fill in the spaces with small red dots. Sprinkles: Want to keep it really simple? Pipe the background color and, while it’s still wet, add some Christmas sprinkles. They are simple and so cute!