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Christmas sugar cookies with royal icing are golden brown and crisp on the outside, but soft and tender inside. The best and festive gourmet holiday cookie. |

Christmas Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

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5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Sam | Ahead of Thyme
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 24 cookies
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Christmas sugar cookies with royal icing are golden brown and crisp on the outside, but soft and tender inside. The best and festive gourmet holiday cookie.


Sugar Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Royal Icing:


Make the Sugar Cookies:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together using a hand mixer (or stand mixer) on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Turn the mixer to low speed and add baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour and mix until combined.
  2. Form the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic cling wrap. Freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate until firm (at least 1 hour, up to overnight).
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a half sheet baking pan with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  4. Remove the dough from refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is 1/4-inch thick. Use Christmas cookie cutters to cut out cookie shapes.
  5. Transfer the cookies onto the lined baking sheet, placing them 1-inch apart. Re-roll any scraps and repeat to cut out more cookies.
  6. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown. Let the cookies cook for a couple minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely (preferably overnight, if icing).

Prepare the Royal Icing:

  1. In medium mixing bowl, combine confectioners' sugar with meringue powder.  Add water and vanilla extract and beat with a hand mixer on medium-high speed, until smooth. If you find that the icing is too thick, add a little water (a teaspoon at a time). If you find the icing too thin, add a little more sugar.
  2. To colour the icing, add gel food colouring. You can also use liquid food colouring, but this will have a slight effect on the consistency of the icing. You may need to add a little more sugar to get the consistency right.


Equipment used: measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, hand mixer (or stand mixer), rolling pin, Christmas cookie cutters, half sheet baking pan, wire cooling rack, piping bags and piping tips (or squeeze bottle).

Make ahead instructions: You will need to plan ahead and give yourself enough time when making these cookies. First, the cookies need to completely cool before icing for at least a few hours. Otherwise the icing will get too runny from the warm cookies and won't set properly. Second, the icing needs a few hours, up to a day, to completely set and harden, otherwise it can easily get smudged when storing, handling, or transporting. If adding multiple layers of icing, you need to allow the bottom layer to dry first, at least 30 minutes. 

How to store: Store sugar cookies in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to one week.

How to freeze: Sugar cookies freeze beautifully. Store them in an airtight container, layered in between pieces of parchment paper and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Chill Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American