Valentine's Day heart sugar cookies with royal icing are the perfect festive treat to make this year. They are golden brown and crisp on the outside, but soft and tender on the inside, and decorated with cute love messages using a meringue-based royal icing. They are seriously the best gourmet holiday cookies to gift to your loved ones.
Whenever a holiday rolls around, my go to cookie is always sugar cookies. They are just so easy to make and fun to decorate for whatever occasion that it is. Some other popular Valentine's Day treats to make are Raspberry and White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles, and French Macarons.
You will need the following ingredients to make these cute Valentine's day heart sugar cookies:
- unsalted butter - If you only have salted butter on hand, you can use it, but leave out the extra salt in the recipe.
- granulated sugar
- vanilla extract
- baking powder
- all-purpose flour
- royal icing - Easy to make with confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, water, vanilla extract.
- gel food colouring - for decorating the cookies with different colours.
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
You will also need the following kitchen tools and equipment:
- measuring cups and spoons
- mixing bowls
- hand mixer or stand mixer
- rolling pin
- 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter
- half sheet baking pan and silicone baking mat (or parchment paper)
- wire cooling rack
- piping bags
- couplers - for securing the tips to the piping bag.
- no. 5 round tip for the base colour and no. 1 round tip or no. 2 round tip for piping the letters.
How to Make the Best Valentine's Day Heart Sugar Cookies
- Make the dough: 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. 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).
- Cut out the cookies: 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 ¼-inch thick. Use 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut out heart cookie shapes. Transfer the cookies onto a half sheet baking pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing them an inch apart. Re-roll any scraps and repeat to cut out more cookies.
- Bake: Bake the cookies at 350 F preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown. Let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
How to Make Easy Royal Icing for Heart Sugar Cookies
Once you have made the Valentine's Day heart sugar cookies and allowed them to cool completely, you are ready to start making the royal icing. Traditionally, royal icing is made with raw egg whites, but you can actually use meringue powder in place of the egg whites (as we did) and still get icing that hardens beautifully with the same taste, texture and consistency as royal icing.
To make royal icing:
- Combine ingredients: In a 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.
- Add colour: 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.
How to Decorate Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
- Use a no. 5 piping tip to outline the base colour on the sugar cookie, leaving about ⅛-inch from the edge, and fill in the inside. To get the icing completely to the edges, use the back of a spoon to spread the icing to the edge.
- Allow the base to dry enough so that when you add icing on top, it won't smudge or blend into it. It doesn't have to be fully set, but set enough, about 20-30 minutes.
- Use a thin no. 1 round tip to write cute Valentine's Day messages on the cookies.
Storing and Freezing Sugar Cookies
- 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.
- Plan ahead. You will need to plan ahead and give yourself enough time when making these cookies. The entire process spans over the course of a several hours, up to a day:
- 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.
- 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.
- If not using royal icing. If you decide not to decorate the cookies with icing, then you don't need to plan too far ahead or wait for the cookies to cool down or set. These cookies taste great both plain or iced.
More Cookie Recipes
- Raspberry and White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Heart Cookies
- Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- M&M Cookies
- Slice and Bake Pecan Shortbread Cookies
- Jam-filled Thumbprint Cookies with Almond Glaze
- The Best Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies
Did you make this recipe? I would greatly appreciate a comment and rating below, letting me know what you thought of the recipe. You can also snap a picture and tag me on Instagram @aheadofthyme or share it on the Pinterest pin so that I can follow along.