Holiday Sugar Cookies

Best Decorated Sugar Cookies for the Holidays

Sugar cookies are a wonderful treats for the holidays. Each holiday use different cookie cutters for the occasions. Fond memories of making cookies and decorating them with Mom. This recipe works great for doing simple to difficult designs. The sugar cookies come together in snap using food processor taking only minutes to make the dough. A good stand mixer like KitchenAid would also work fine too. The nice thing about food processor is you can process the sugar into finer constancy for better texture. Often the UK uses Castor sugar mixing into the dough better than regular granulated sugar.

Add extra flavorings if you like to sugar cookie recipe, like almond extract or lemon extract. If you can fined vanilla bean paste that is excellent flavoring for cookies and icings too. Also use unsalted butter when ever possible, don’t use margarine the dough doesn’t handle as well rolling out. Margarine just doesn’t have that good sugar cookie flavor that butter brings to the cookie.

Chilling the dough before rolling dough between two sheets of parchment paper. This technique helps keep the cookies tender, by not adding extra flour rolled into dough. Save extra scraps of sugar cookie dough after cutting out cookies. Using parchment paper techniques allows the rerolled a couple of times with no problems. The dough can be stiff when chilled so might have to put extra effort rolling from center outwards. The goal is to have between 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick dough, as evenly as possible.

Cutting out sugar cookies works best when cookie dough is cold, the cut out cookies tend to stick to cookie cutters. Flouring cookie cutters helps, by having a bowl of flour handy to dip the cookie cutter into flour. Another good trick is to peel the cookie dough off each side of the parchment paper. Just lifting parchment paper off cookie dough put paper back and dough and peel the other side of cookie dough. Next using cookie cutters cut out different shapes of cookies, dipping cookie cutters in flour often. Lifting cookies gently with offset spatula and place onto parchment lined sheet tray.

Making Royal Icing:

Royal Icing is simple to make by whipping egg whites, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt to light fluffy icing. This icing becomes hard as it drys, the bases for making color flow decorations onto cookies.

Sugar Cookies decorated using flooding techniques

The flooding technique is method by applying flowing Royal Icing onto cookies with piped boarders. This takes practice and good pipping skills. Be patient color flooding on cookies takes some time to do, but well worth the time and effort put into decorating.

Beating Royal Icing after adding Vanilla Bean Paste until very stiff peaks form.

How to make flooding colors to decorate cookies.

Using Classic Royal Icing base needs to be thinned out to proper consistency to pipe even outlines. Take about 1 cup of Royal Icing in small bowl, add a teaspoon of water to icing stirring will. The consistency is important to achieve proper flow when piped onto cookie. This could take 1 to 2 teaspoons of water to achieve nice piping consistency that hold shape when boarder is pipped onto cookie.

Adjusting the consistency of Classic Royal Icing for making boards

Use a larger writing tip fitted into pastry bag, filled with thinned out Royal Icing to make boarder around cookies.

Pipped Royal Icing Boarders flooded with thinned colored Icing.


Colored Flooding Icing to decorated cookies

Flooding Icing is easy to make using Classic Royal Icing, food color gel and water to achieve proper consistency. Take cup of Classic Royal Icing placed in bowl, add a few drops of food color gel and teaspoon water. Mix and check consistency, the icing should flow steady and pool then disappear. This could take a couple of teaspoons of water to achieve just right consistency.

Testing Flooding Icing consistency, notice how pools the disappear.

Once the right consistency is achieved the Flooding Icings can be poured into squirt bottles. Using the squirt bottles making the flooding process easier to apply to the cookies.

Holiday Sugar Cookies
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Holiday Sugar Cookies

Difficulty: Advanced Prep Time 60 mins Cook Time 14 mins Rest Time 2 hrs Total Time 3 hrs 14 mins
Cooking Temp: 350  °F Servings: 36
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


Buttery rolled out sugar cookie made in the food processor. Making fancy decorated royal icing cookies.

Sugar Cookie Dough

Cookie Dough

Royal Icing

Sugar Cookie Instructions

  1. Cookie Dough prep

    Whisk egg, vanilla, salt, and almond extract together in small bowl. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in second bowl.

  2. Food Process sugar and butter

    Process sugar in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add butter and process until uniform mass forms and no large pieces of butter are visible, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg mixture and process until smooth and paste-like, about 10 seconds. Add flour mixture and process until no dry flour remains but mixture remains crumbly, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

  3. Making the sugar cookie dough in the processor

    Turn out dough onto counter and knead gently by hand until smooth, about 10 seconds. Divide dough in half. Place 1 piece of dough in center of large sheet of parchment paper and press into 7 by 9-inch oval. Place second large sheet of parchment over dough and roll dough into 10 by 14-inch oval of even 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer dough with parchment to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat pressing and rolling with second piece of dough, then stack on top of first piece on sheet. Refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1½ hours (or freeze for 30 minutes). (Rolled dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)

    I find it's best to refrigerate the cookie dough in rectangle pieces covered with plastic wrap, over night. Be sure to let sugar cookie dough come out of the refrigerator for good one to two hours before rolling out between parchment paper.
  4. Baking instructions

    Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimless cookie sheet with parchment.  

  5. Working with 1 piece of rolled dough, gently peel off top layer of parchment. Replace parchment, loosely covering dough. (Peeling off parchment and returning it will make cutting and removing cookies easier.) Turn over dough and parchment and gently peel off and discard second piece of parchment.

    Rerolling cookie dough between parchment paper should be chilled in refrigerator for good 15 to 30 minutes before cutting into shapes.
  6. Using cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes. Transfer shapes to prepared cookie sheet, spacing them about ½ inch apart.

  7. Bake until cookies are lightly and evenly browned around edges, 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

  8. Let cookies cool on sheet for 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely.

Royal Icing

  1. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip all ingredients on medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until glossy, soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.

    Keep the royal icing covered with plastic wrap all the time, royal ices forms crust quickly if exposed to air.
  2. Coloring Royal Icing

    In small bowls put about 1 cup of royal icing add food color gel and mix with spatula until the color is incorporated. Adjust with more color to the desired shade. Add 1/2 tsp of water to icing to adjust right piping consistency.

  1. Coloring Royal Icing

    Place about 6 ounces of royal icing in small bowl.

    I use 4 ounces squart bottles to color flow. So you need more icing for boarder work. When coloring icing the boarder icing needs to be the same coloring.
  2. Add gel coloring to the right shade of color needed. Stirring with spatula until well incorporated. 

    Pastel colors work the best for Spring decorating, Christmas uses more brighter deep colors. The gel colors works the best with royal icing.
  3. Adjust constantly for piping boarders.

    Adding 1/2 tsp of water to bowl of icing at a time to achieve good flow but still holds shape. Place in pastry bag fitted with #5 tip for larger cookies, This will make nice heavy boarder.

    I make my own pastry bags out of parchment paper. Cutting 15 inch square of parchment then cutting to make triangle. Rolling parchment paper around from tip to tip forming cone. I staple bags by seam to prevent them loosing shape.
  4. Testing the flow of the icing is important.

  5. Adding more water 1/2 tsp at time too icing to form good color flow. The flow of icing should smooth back too icing leaving no trace of shape. Don't add too much water to icing makes harder to dry. The icing should flow and smooth out within 5 seconds. 

  6. Line up your baked cut out cookies for easy decorating.
  7. First pipe boarder around cookies.

  8. With squirt bottle filled with flowing royal icing fill in most of the area with icing. Than take tooth pick and push icing to fill in the spaces.

  9. Using sprinkles and piping make decorative touches to cookies.

Keywords: Sugar Cookies, Decorated Cookies, Holiday Decorated Cookies
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