It’s almost Galentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day – let’s make some cookies
Who doesn’t like a simple fresh baked soft sugar cookies with the mouth watering icing? It’s fun to make cookies for friends and Gal Pals, teachers and neighbors. This easy recipe makes two dozen cookies so you may want to double the recipe if you plan on gifting any cookies. The cookies bake beautifully and have a soft center, yummy!
The sugar cookie dough is nearly foolproof if you follow the directions carefully. I have provided two types of icing/frosting depending on your preference. My kids have always like a thicker type of cookie icing/frosting. I think cookies decorated with a royal icing are so pretty and delicate. It’s up to you!
These cookies freeze well, see freezing tips below.
Here is what you will need to make perfect sugar cookies:
- High quality cookie Sheets
- Rolling Pin
- Food Coloring: Liquid food coloring can alter the consistency of the icing, so I recommend gel food coloring. For the pictured cookies,
- Piping Tips/Squeeze Bottle:
- Piping Bag: If you’re using royal icing and a piping tip, you need a disposable bag for this technique.
- Cookie Sheets
- Mixer– I prefer my Kitchen Aid Mixer
- Parchment Paper or Silicone Mat
- Measuring Cup and spoons
- Mixing Bowls
What I look For A Good Sugar Cookie Recipe:
- Cookies that are easy to cut with cookie cutters
- Soft, thick centers with slightly crisp edges
- Irresistible buttery vanilla flavor with a zest of lemon
- Taste delish with or without icing
- Bake flat for easy icing
- Stay soft for days
- Freeze beautifully
- Delish with or without icing
- 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Consider adding a pinch of lemon zest or almond extract (1/2 teaspoon will do)
Royal Icing Ingredients: Royal Icing sets solid and is used at most bakeries. Cookie frosting recipe- see below.
This recipe includes meringue powder instead of raw eggs because the icing will set quickly but will not be hard and crunchy.
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
- 9–10 Tablespoons room temperature water
Sugar Cookie Frosting:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to cool room temp (still cool to the touch)
- 3 cups powdered sugar*, sifted if lumpy
- 1 tablespoon half and half or milk*, plus more as needed
- 1 ¾ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- pinch salt
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer (I like my Kitchen Aid Mixer) fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until the batter is smooth and creamy. Then add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract or lemon zest(if using) and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be relatively soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. Rub rolling pin with a small amount of flour. floured , roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) put the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F
- Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. It works great if you place the dough on the parchment paper . Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. (Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.)
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.
- After the cookies are cooled it's time to decorate! Decorate the cooled cookies with icing.
- Enjoy cookies right away or wait until the icing sets to serve them. Once the icing has set, these cookies are great for gifting or for sending. Plain or decorated cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature. For longer storage, cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
How To Make The Roya Icing: Royal Icing is thin and will lay flat on the cookies. If you prefer frosting, see below this recipe.
- Pour confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and 9 Tablespoons of water into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the ingredients until the icing is smooth . If it’s too thick, beat in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. I usually need 10 Tablespoons but on particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons. Keep in mind that the longer you beat the royal icing, the thicker it becomes. If your royal icing is too thin, just keep beating or add additional sugar. Either way it works.
- When applied to cookies or confections in a thin layer, icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. If icing consistency is too thin and runny, it will take longer to dry. If the icing is applied very thick on cookies, it will also take longer to dry. If you’re layering royal icing onto cookies for specific designs and need it to set quickly, place cookies in the refrigerator to help speed it up. See blog post above for make-ahead and freezing instructions.
Sugar Cookie Frosting Instructions:
Sugar cookie frosting:
Using a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and half of the powdered sugar until well-combined (starting out the mixer low and increasing to medium-high). Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar (while beating), followed by extracts, pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon milk. Continue to add more milk, a little bit at a time, until you get a creamy spreadable frosting. If desired, you can add food coloring at this point.
Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat well. Depending on how thick you want the frosting, you can easily adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar (to thicken) or more milk (to thin).
Frosting to spread or pipe:
Use a piping bag, small knife, or spreader to add the frosting to baked and cooled sugar cookies. Immediately top with sprinkles, if using.
Tip! When you make cookie dough, there is only a few ingredients which makes it easy but... it’s important that you follow the recipe closely. Creamed butter and sugar provide the base of the cookie dough. Egg is the cookie’s structure and vanilla extract adds flavor. I like to add lemon zest or almond extract for a tinge of additional flavor. How To Freeze: These sugar cookies freeze well up to 3-4 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. Remove from freezer and thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
If you like this recipe, you may also like my favorite pumpkin bread recipe here.