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Best Holiday Sugar Cookies for 2022

Holiday sugar cookies are fun to make and a great way to start the most joyful season of the year. Start a tradition and make it a family activity that the kids will always remember!

mitten, snowflake, and snowman cookies

Cookies are my passion. I have made (literally) thousands of sugar cookies over the past ten years and have used the same recipe for almost all of them. But, this? This is the perfect cut-out cookie recipe.

You’re going to love this Christmas sugar cookie recipe, y’all. Before I share it, let’s cover some sugar cookie hacks. 

First, once you’ve got your dough mixed, place it in a baggie and get it nice and cold before attempting to roll it out. I chill mine for 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 10 minutes in the freezer. 

Second, use waxed paper below and above the dough when you roll it. This will keep the rolling pin from sticking and will leave you with perfectly smooth edges. 

Third, ensure level rolling by using a rolling pin with detachable rings or some other time-honored method. I (personally) use a different trick—paint sticks. I double them to get the height I like.

Fourth, get creative with your cookie cutters, especially during the holidays. There are so many ways you can use ordinary cutters to make extraordinary cookies. Just use your imagination!

Cupcake shaped Christmas cookies

Holiday Magic

There’s something so special about cookie-baking during the holidays.

All across the globe people gather in their kitchens to bake up all sorts of sweet treats.

The time-honored tradition of teaching the children how to bake and decorate cookies at Christmastime is one of the most cherished memories in many families. Maybe you like to bake traditional (non-roll-out) sugar cookies. Great! (I’ve got a terrific recipe for Sugar Crinkle Cookies.) Or perhaps you’re interested in Christmas Thumbprint Cookies or my Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter.

No doubt you’ve decorated cookies with loved ones a time or two through the years. 

red and white candy cane cookies

Whether it’s the yummy scent of the delicious golden cookies of the process of filling piping bags with oozy royal icing, there’s something to love about cookie-decorating day. 

But first, you must start with a good recipe. And I’m here to tell you, this one takes the cake! (Er, cookie.) So, let’s dive in! These are soft Christmas cookies, but they definitely hold their shape and are easy to cut.

blue and white snowflake cookies

Holiday Sugar Cookies Ingredients

You will find a full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here’s a quick peek at what you’ll need. These are simple ingredients, I promise! All of them are easy to find in any grocery store. In fact, you’ve probably got most of them in your pantry and refrigerator right now!

I’ve broken the lists down into 2 parts: cookies and icing.

Here’s what you’ll need for this easy sugar cookie recipe:

  • 2 sticks (one cup) salted room temperature butter
  • 1 extra-large egg (must be extra-large)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

You’ll need these items to make the royal icing. (This is the best Christmas cookie frosting!)

  • 3 tbl meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 t/l water
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar (omit this if you’re using Wilton’s meringue powder)
  • 2 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp real almond extract
  • One bag powdered sugar (7 – 8 cups)
Christmas tree cookies

How to Make Sugar Cookies

If this is your first time to make cut-out sugar cookies, don’t worry! This is an easy process. You’ll enjoy it immensely.

This process for these rolled sugar cookies isn’t difficult at all. In fact, it’s easy as long as you follow the directions.

Cream together the two sticks of butter at medium speed. I use my stand mixer with paddle attachment Add the sugars and egg, mixing well. You want it to be light in color and fluffy.

Next, add vanilla and almond.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add in increments to the wet ingredients, fully combining.

Chill the dough uniformly, and then roll dough using one of the methods indicated above (roller with detachable rings or doubled paint sticks). Make sure you have a level rolling surface.

Use the cookie cutters of your choice. You won’t need many. Just three or four Christmas cutters will go a long way!

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. Place shaped cookies on prepared baking sheets.

Bake at 375 for ten minutes or until light golden brown. Don’t over-bake.

Place on cooling rack to cool completely before attempting to ice.

Christmas cookies, red and white

How to Make Royal Icing

This is the perfect icing, whether you’re doing simple or intricate designs.

  • Put all items except powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Mix until frothy (less than a minute).
  • Add full bag powdered sugar and mix until incorporated (a few seconds).
  • Turn mixer on low and beat for five minutes non-stop until the icing is meringue-like in texture. Immediately cover with plastic wrap (touching the icing) and a damp towel above that.  
  • Now it’s time to color your icing. Scoop out about a cup of the icing into a small bowl and add your coloring gel.
  • (Note: Don’t use water-based food coloring, as it adds liquid to the recipe.) Mix thoroughly.
  • Add tiny drops of water until you get the colored icing to piping (toothpaste) consistency.
  • Scoop out half of it and put it into a piping bag with #2 tip. With the remaining icing in the bowl, add tiny bits of water (stirring non-stop by hand) until it reaches honey consistency.
  • You know you’ve reached the right consistency when you can drag a knife through it and it takes about 10 seconds for the line to close up again.
  • You can either put this flood consistency icing in a piping bag with a #2 tip or into a food-safe craft bottle with tip. 
  • Repeat the above process making different colors. 
red candycane sugar cookies

How to Decorate Holiday Sugar Cookies

Outline your cookies with the piping icing and flood them carefully so that the icing doesn’t drip down the sides. Make sure your royal icing is the right consistency!

I’ve done a full post on how to do all of this, so instead of repeating the information here, check out my post on hand-painting cookies, but for now, what are you waiting for?

Grab those kiddos and start some holiday baking projects! 

Why Not Try Buttercream?

If you enjoy cookie decorating, check out my Creamy, Dreamy Buttercream Frosting. It makes Christmas cookies so yummy!

More Holiday Sweet Treats

These are the best Christmas sugar cookies ever! You’re going to love them. But there are other options for the holidays, too!

If you’re like me, you enjoy a variety of sweet treats during the holidays. I’m nuts about my Mexican Wedding Cookies (also known as Snowballs). They’re great at Christmas-time. I’m also a fan of this Mint Oreo Trifle, which is terrific during the holidays.

If you’re looking for something sweet to serve your family for Christmas breakfast, you might want to check out these Easy Cinnamon Rolls from Canned Biscuits. They’re simple and tasty!

What to Expect from these Sugar Cookies

After weeks of trying over and over again to come up with the best sugar cookie recipe, I finally hit on it with this one! I think it’s the addition of powdered sugar that makes the difference.

These cookies hold their shape but they are still soft sugar cookies. They lie flat on top if rolled properly, which makes them perfect for my royal icing recipe!

Use your favorite cookie cutters with this recipe. The cookies will hold their shape!

Variations on this Sugar Cookie Recipe

To mix things up a little, try the following ideas:

  • Use brown sugar instead of white.
  • Throw in some chocolate chips.
  • Add sprinkles to the dough.
  • Do you love pecans? Add brown sugar and chopped pecans.
  • Add flavors to your sugar cookie icing. (Almond, butter, orange, lemon, etc.)

Questions People are Asking about Sugar Cookies

Question: How do I store these cookies?

You can store the baked cookies in an airtight container. You can store dough in the freezer for up to two months.

Question: Do I have to use cut-out cookies or can I paint other types of cookies?

You need a level cookie, so if you want to use a different flavor (say, my Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies) you would have to add more flour to thicken up the dough.

Question: Does sugar cookie dough have to be refrigerated?

Yes, you always want to refrigerate it because the cookies will spread when they bake otherwise.

Question: Why do I need a wire rack to cool the cookies?

They have to be completely cool from top to bottom before they can be iced. Using a wire rack will allow air to rise up from the bottom.

Question: Is a Stand Mixer Important for cut-out cookies?

This cookie dough is really stiff so you’ll wear out an electric hand mixer pretty quick! (Ask me how I know.) Keep an eye on your hand mixer if you decide to go that route.

Question: Do cutout cookies have to be iced?

No, but this recipe isn’t particularly sweet by itself. It depends on the icing to add sweetness.

Here are some other recipes I think you’ll like:

Chocolate Cherry Almond Christmas Cookies – I found these delicious morsels of goodness at Julia’s Simply Southern.

Easy Christmas Fudge – Stacey at Southern Bite sure does make some delicious treats, and this is one of my favorites!

While you’re at it, check out these Buttery Whipped Shortbread Cookies, which I found at Sweet Little Bluebird! They look so yummy.

Happy baking, y’all!

variety of decorated holiday sugar cookies

Holiday Sugar Cookies

Yield: 30 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Celebrate the season with these colorful and delicious holiday cookies!

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (one cup) salted butter
  • 1 extra-large egg (must be extra-large)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp clear vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 1/2 tbl meringue powder
  • 1/2 cup + 2 t/l water
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar (omit this if you’re using Wilton’s meringue powder)
  • 2 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp real almond extract
  • One bag powdered sugar (7 - 8 cups)

Instructions

Cookies:

  1. Cream together the two sticks of butter.
  2. Add the sugars and egg, mixing well.
  3. Add vanilla and almond. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. Add in increments to the creamy mixture, fully combining.
  5. Chill the dough, and then roll using one of the methods indicated above (roller with detachable rings or doubled paint sticks).
  6. Bake at 375 for ten minutes or your preference. Don’t over-bake.

Royal Icing: 

  1. Put all items except powdered sugar into a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix until frothy (less than a minute).
  3. Add full bag powdered sugar and mix until incorporated (a few seconds).
  4. Turn mixer on low and beat for five minutes non-stop until the icing is meringue-like in texture. Immediately cover with plastic wrap (touching the icing) and a damp towel above that.  
  5. Now it’s time to color your icing. Scoop out about a cup of the icing into a small bowl and add your coloring gel. Mix thoroughly. Add tiny drops of water until you get the colored icing to piping (toothpaste) consistency. Scoop out half of it and put it into a piping bag with #2 tip. With the remaining icing in the bowl, add tiny bits of water (stirring non-stop by hand) until it reaches honey consistency. You know you’ve reached the right consistency when you can drag a knife through it and it takes about 10 seconds for the line to close up again. You can either put this flood consistency icing in a piping bag with a #2 tip or into a food-safe craft bottle with tip. 
  6. Repeat the above process making different colors. 
  7. Outline your cookies with the piping icing and flood them carefully so that the icing doesn’t drip down the sides.

Notes

Don’t use water-based food colorings, as they add liquid to the recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 48 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 18mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 0gSugar: 8gProtein: 1g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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