Royal Iced Sugar Cookies #fbcookieswap

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

Today, I share with you my all-time favorite treat to make for the holidays – Royal Iced Sugar Cookies. I absolutely LOVE baking, frosting, packaging and eating these cookies. Yes, they are labor intensive, but are well worth the time and effort. And I promise that they look more difficult than they actually are to make. After all, they are really just frosted sugar cookies. How you decide to frost them is completely up to you. I like to keep them classic, fun and colorful. For such a simple cookie, they are really pretty and impressive. People will comment that they look professional and taste better than they ever imagined.

I’ve made this recipe numerous times over the past few years. I continue to use this recipe because it works. The cookies not only look pretty but taste great as well. They are moist, decadent and full of flavor. I never really thought sugar cookies were anything special before I started making these. Now, I can’t stay away from them. Since I decided to participate in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year, I knew that these would be the perfect cookies to package up and send to a few other bloggers.

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

As part of The GreatΒ Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I received packages of cookies from three other bloggers. I received chocolate biscotti from Aubrey at Real Housemoms, Cinnamon Chipotle Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Lauren at Healthy Delicious and Milk Chocolate Shortbread Cookies from Meghan at Cake ‘n’ Knife. I love all the unique flavors of the cookies. You can ever go wrong with chocolate.

I was so happy to a part of the Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year so that I could share my Royal Iced Sugar Cookies with others.Β I hope that all of the recipients of my cookies enjoyed them as much as I do. If you missed the sign-up deadline for this year but would like to be notified about next year’s swap then go here to sign up.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies ~ so pretty and fun for the holidays!

Head over to my post on How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing for tips and techniques to create beautiful cookies.

Yields 2-4 dozen cookies, depending on size

Royal Iced Sugar Cookies
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    For the sugar cookies:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • For the royal icing:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. meringue powder
  • 5 tbsp. water


  1. To make the cookies, cream the butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Mix until dough clumps around paddle attachment. Chill dough until firm. Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters and then place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should not brown. Let cool then frost and decorate.
  2. To make the frosting, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed about 8-10 minutes, until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance. At this point, you will have the stiffest consistency of the icing that is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. (If you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.) Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing sealed in an airtight container at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
  3. Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by adding a small amount of water at a time, and stir by hand until fully incorporated. The icing should drip off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. (You can use a squeeze bottle or plastic bag with a hole in the corner but I just like to use a spoon to flood the cookies.) If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set until completely dry.


I recommend gel icing color to color your icing.

Source: Cookies from Annie’s Eats; Royal Icing from Annie’s Eats as adapted from Good Things Catered


  1. marcie

    I love your gorgeous sugar cookies, Ashley! I’m definitely a little decoration-challenged when it comes to cookies — I don’t tend to have much patience in that department. It’s definitely worth it here, because they are beautiful. I need to add royal icing to my growing list of things to try!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Marcie! You should definitely try them sometime. I don’t have a lot of patience either and I have zero artistic ability but I really love making these cookies!

  2. Meghan @ Cake 'n' Knife

    Your cookies are so beautiful!! I wish I could pull off cookie decorations like yours. Definitely trying this recipe this weekend!

    • Ashley

      Oh, I am sure you could pull it off, Meghan! They look intimidating, but I promise you they are much easier than they look once you get the hang of the icing process.

  3. Natalie @ Tastes Lovely

    Ashley! These cookies are almost too pretty to eat! Almost…*wink*. That first picture looks like it could be in Martha Stewart magazine, seriously. It’s gorgeous. Can’t wait to try these! The cookie swap sounds so fun too! I should try it next year.

    • Ashley

      Ha, I don’t think I’ve ever made anything too pretty to eat πŸ™‚ You are so sweet, Natalie! And you must join us for the swap next year.

  4. Ashley

    This is my go-to recipe for these cookies as well! I love making them – even though they do take some time … but the end result is so worth it! Yours came out so pretty! I love all the colors!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Ashley!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Jessica! You should definitely try them. Not only do I love how they look, but they taste great too!

  5. Julie @ This Gal Cooks

    These are so pretty, Ashley! I love the colors you used for the icing. Pinned!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Julie! I tried to use the small ornaments as inspiration for the colors.

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Consuelo! But nothing I make is ever too pretty to eat πŸ™‚

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    • Ashley

      Thanks, Megan!

  7. Kelly

    These are such gorgeous cookies Ashley πŸ™‚ I love all the pretty colors and ornaments, you did a fantastic decorating job! The recipients of these cookies were very lucky to find these waiting for them πŸ™‚ Pinning these magnificent beauties πŸ™‚

    • Ashley

      Thanks for your sweet comments, Kelly! And thanks for pinning!

  8. JulieD

    These so are sooo cute! So glad you joined in on the cookie swap this year! πŸ™‚

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Julie! I am so glad that I was able to participate this year. And thanks so much for hosting!

  9. Joanne

    I need to channel some of your royal icing skillz!! These are beautiful!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Joanne! πŸ™‚

  10. Kim (Feed Me, Seymour)

    I am SO impressed with your skills! I made a big batch of royal iced sugar cookies last year and they looked nothing like this. So fancy and posh. Love them!

  11. Kailey

    Can’t wait to try these! Where did you get those super cute cookie cutters??

    • Ashley

      I purchased the cookie cutters as a set at Michaels Stores a few years ago. They are all copper and were such a good deal at the time. I’ve looked every year since then and haven’t been able to find them again.

  12. Sarah & Arkadi

    These cookies look perfect! So artistic that I just want to look at them all day long!

    • Ashley

      Thanks so much, Sarah & Arkadi!

  13. ela@GrayApron

    I have never seen them so beautiful! I love those pastels πŸ™‚ ela

  14. Meg

    They’re absolutely beautiful — I love them! My mother-in-law is quite talented with the royal icing and whips up snowflake cookies every year that taste as good as they look (no mean feat, I think). I adore yours, and the cookie swap is such a fun idea!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Meg! You should definitely join us for the swap next year!

  15. Julie @White Lights on Wednesday

    These cookies were so pretty Ashley, and delicious too! I loved that you used pastels. My boys couldn’t get enough of picking out different Christmas shapes to eat. Thank you so much for such a fun treat!

    • Ashley

      Julie, I am so glad that you and your boys enjoyed them! Thanks for the sweet comments πŸ™‚

  16. Rachel @the dessert chronicles

    I am so in love with your cookies!! Too cute! They look so professional too. Decorating with royal icing is definitely a ton of work, but I also think the end product can’t be beat :-)!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Rachel! The end result is definitely worth it.

  17. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl

    Woah, you did such a great job with these cookies! You’re a cookie pro girl, the shapes and light pretty colors look gorgeous!

  18. Amy @ Homey Oh My!

    These are too cute to eat!!! I’d eat them all though πŸ™‚ Cute ornaments, too!

    • Ashley

      Ha, me too! They are never too pretty to eat!

  19. Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes

    Wow Ashley these look so good! I have to give it to you, because I lack patience when it comes to sugar cookies but I always love the end result. I love how clean and detailed yours are!

    • Ashley

      Thanks so much, Jessica! They do take a little time which is why I don’t do them that often. But they are worth it, especially for the holidays!

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  21. Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats

    Seriously, these are amazing. And I totally agree, they look professionally done. Very impression Ashley! Can’t wait to check out your tips and tricks on decorating! πŸ™‚ Pinning to my Christmas Treats Board

    • Ashley

      Thanks for pinning, Krista! Have a great week!

  22. Zainab @ Blahnik Baker

    WOW!! These are so beautiful!! I love decorated cookies but can never get them to look this pretty. Heading over now to the tutorial to learn a few tips from you.

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Zainab! I hope that you have a great weekend!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Ashley!

  23. Joan - My Cookie Clinic

    Ashley, These cookies look great. I love the pastel colors too. I dropped by from Julie’s Marvelous Monday’s link party. Enjoy the holidays!

    • Ashley

      Thanks for stopping by, Joan! Happy Holidays!

    • Ashley

      Thanks, Julie! I really love making these cookies!

  24. Shareba

    Ashley, these are so adorable!

  25. Gloria // Simply Gloria

    Ashley, this has actually been my new favorite obsession …. decorating cut out cookies. These are absolutely gorgeous! (=

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  29. Jeni

    I am a beginner baker and have never heard of meringue powder…what is it and where do I find it? Are there any substitutions for it?

  30. Melissa

    If someone is allergic to nuts is there a substitute I can use instead of almond extract?

    • Ashley

      Hi Melissa, you can omit the almond extract all together, or substitute an additional 1/2 tsp of vanilla for the almond extract.

  31. Kristin

    These are so cute. I decided to try the cookies and icing for my daughters birthday party. About how long does it take for the icing to set completely?

    • Ashley

      Hi Kristin, I usually let the icing set for at least 12 hours.

  32. Sarah

    I made this sugar cookie dough and followed all instructions, but the dough is really slimy when I try to work with it. It doesn’t have the normal texture of sugar cookies. I was just wondering if that was how it was supposed to be.

    • Ashley

      Hi, Sarah! The dough is not supposed to be slimy. I’m not sure what would have made it that texture given the ingredients. It sounds like maybe the dough needs to be chilled longer, until firm. This recipe is my favorite for sugar cookies because it is so easy to work with when firm.

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  34. Tessa

    Hi I am wondering if you used real butter or just margarine? Thank you!

    • Ashley

      Hi, Tessa! Always use real butter πŸ™‚

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  36. Kelly

    Hi Ashley I also made the cookies today they are in the fridge chilling but it was not very firm. The directions do say 1 1/2 tsp of almond extract and 1 tsp of vanilla? The dough taste like it has way to much almond. Thank you

    • Ashley

      Hi, Kelly! I’m happy to hear you made the cookies. I just made 4 batches today too! You can adjust the almond extract if you want. Once they are baked, I think the almond extract is just perfect. I usually chill the dough for a few hours or even overnight. It will get firm. Enjoy!

      • Kelly

        Thank you and yes they did firm up and they are very good.

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  39. Michaela

    I’m wondering how to color the frosting does the food coloring go in during the 8-10 mixing part or after ? And will it make the icing watery?

    • Ashley

      Hi Michaela! Color the icing after your follow all of the recipe instructions above. I recommend using gel food coloring.

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  42. Megan

    I was wonderinf if it was possible to just use vanilla instead of using vanilla and Almond extract? What would be the recommended amount if using jsut vanilla? Thanks!

    • Ashley

      Hi, Megan! You can just omit the almond extract but I highly recommend using it if you can because it enhances the flavor of the cookies.

  43. Claudia Roitman

    I just have discovered your blog, which I absolutely love! your pics and recipes look so adorable and yummm. I cannot wait to make these sugar cookies and decorate them with royal icing which I always though as a daunting thing to do, Myself being a fondant kind of girl. Thanks for sharing your recipes Ashley I highly appreciate it.. Regards from Venezuela.

  44. Vicky Swanepoel

    How long can you keep the cookies? I would like to make it a week before the party to reduce pressure on timelines for organizing the rest of the stuff.

    • Ashley

      Hi, Vicky! These cookies keep for quite some time (a few weeks). I almost always make them a week ahead of time and store them in an airtight container. Enjoy!

  45. Meghsn

    Do your cookies spread when baking with this recipe?

    • Ashley

      If the dough is chilled until firm then the cookies will not spread.

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  51. Julie

    Gosh, those are beautiful cookies! I’m going to try the Royal icing tips and directions! Thanks for the help!

  52. CiaoFlorentina

    Those mittens, I’m in love ! I wanna frame them in my kitchen πŸ˜‰

  53. Mandy

    I made these for our daughters volleyball tournament this weekend. I used a round cookie cutter, the royal icing, and Wilton’s decorating pens to draw a volleyball on them. They were awesome!! The girls, coaches, and parents loved them. Everyone asked me if I had special ordered them from a bakery! Thanks for sharing!

  54. Amanda Mohr

    Hello, I was wondering if the dough could be frozen?
    Or should i make the cookies and freeze them and then decorate later? (This would be easiest so i can bake all in one day!)

    I need to make a bunch for a baby shower one weekend and a baby shower the next weekend too! Just wondering how to should go about it.

    • Ashley

      Hi, Amanda! Sorry for the delayed response. Yes, the dough can be frozen, however I always make these cookies in advance and store them in a sealed airtight container. I’ve made the cookies up to 2 weeks in advance and they are still very fresh when serving.

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