How do sugar cookies keep their shape

Decorate sugar cookies

Baking cookies this weekend? Let me help Today I share 5 simple and accessible Ways to decorate Christmas cookies. Decorated sugar cookies are the challenge of December baking and my goal with this post is to keep that pep up. If you're intimidated or nervous about making royal frosting and making adorable festive sugar cookies, you've come to the right place.

And so that you can understand and see everything, I will be LIVE! On my Facebook page today at 1:00 p.m. CET. I'll do the royal icing and decorate with you. If you can't reach me at 1:00 p.m. EST, the video will always be saved to my video archive shortly after it finishes. Scroll down to the LIVE video section to find it.

Before we start decorating, let's go through my sugar cookie recipe. This recipe creates soft sugar cookies with sharp edges and a nice flat surface to decorate with. They have a distinct vanilla flavor and taste amazing on their own! You are my favorite.

The dough

Only 7 ingredients: Butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt.

With so few ingredients, it is important that you use them all because each has a very important purpose. Buttercream + sugar forms the basis of the cookie dough. This creates a butter-flavored base and incorporates air into the cookie dough, creating lighter, textured cookies. Egg is the structure of the biscuit. Vanilla gives flavor. I also like to add some almond extract so that these sugar cookies taste particularly good. It's optional, but I suggest you try it! Flour is an obvious addition, baking soda adds buoyancy, and salt makes up for the sweetness. So many * small ingredients * do theirs * great work * to create a nice sugar cookie.

You can season with different extracts or spices such as cinnamon or pumpkin pie. I actually prefer a pinch of cinnamon. So good!

The dough is nothing unusual, but my method is unique.

The method

I discussed this a few weeks ago, so I'll just bring it up lightly again today.

This sugar cookie dough will take some time in the refrigerator to set the butter and ensure the cookies hold their shape in the oven. Instead of chilling it as a large piece of dough (see the picture above in the bowl!), Roll out the dough and then chill it in the fridge. The dough is much easier to roll out before cooling. To make this even easier, divide the dough in two and then roll it out. It's a lot easier to work with smaller servings.

I like to roll out the dough on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Why? Since we're going to chill the rolled out dough in the refrigerator ... are we just going to save this rolled out dough? No! Roll it out on a non-stick surface that you can literally pick up, put on a baking sheet, and put in the refrigerator.

A visual:

I made a separate post for my favorite royal icing. If you ever need a royal icing on the cake, I wanted you to find it in one easy place. It's my favorite because it's easy to work with, tastes great, sets quickly, and doesn't require raw egg whites. And best of all, it doesn't have a hard cementitious texture. It won't break your teeth like other royal ice cubes!

Here is the recipe for sugar cookies written for you. After that, you'll see how to decorate every fun shape pictured today!



You can make 5 super easy Christmas cookies with this extremely easy sugar cookie dough!


  • and 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled) 2 and 1/4 cups (280 g) All-purpose flour (Spoon & leveled)
  • baking powder1/2 teaspoonbaking powder
  • salt1/4 teaspoonsalt
  • (1 and 1/2 sticks; 180g) unsalted butter 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks; 180 g), softened to room temperature unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
  • (150g) granulated sugar3/4 cup (150 g), Granulated sugar
  • large egg , at room temperature 1 large egg at room temperature
  • s pure vanilla extract2 teaspoonspure vanilla extract
  • Optional for taste: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • royal icing


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Put aside.
  2. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar at high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (if used) and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape up the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on a low heat until combined. If the dough seems too soft, you can add 1 tablespoon more flour until it has a better consistency for rolling.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each serving on a piece of parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the non-stick silicone mat) about 1/4-inch thick. The rolled out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Stack the pieces on a baking sheet with parchment paper in between and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. If chilling for more than a few hours, cover the top piece of dough with a piece of parchment paper.
  6. After cooling, preheat the oven to 177 ° C. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Take one of the pieces of dough out of the refrigerator and cut it into shapes using one or more cookie cutters. Roll the remaining dough again and keep cutting until all is used up. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough.
  7. Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Make sure you turn the baking sheet in the middle of the baking time. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then place them on a rack to cool completely before decorating. I like decorating cookies right on baking sheets so I can stick the entire baking sheet in the fridge to put the icing on the cake. Place the cooled cookies back on the baking sheets.
  8. Decorate with royal icing.
  9. Decorated or plain cookies stay freshly covered for up to 1 week at room temperature or in the refrigerator.


Let's decorate!

Here's what I learned about decorating sugar cookies: Set your expectations accordingly. Start basic and go from there. With every batch you improve.

* Use my royal recipe. Icing sets in completely in about 2 hours at room temperature. If you have royal frosting cookies for certain designs and you need to harden them quickly, put cookies in the refrigerator to speed them up.

You will need the following:

  • Cookie Cutters - I love this set. It has a snowflake, gingerbread man, Christmas tree, snowman, and more!
  • Couplers - only needed if you're using the same frosting color but need to switch tips.
  • Piping bags - I prefer the 16-inch size for decorating.
  • Gel food coloring - Get the whole set. I love these colors for royal icing, cake batter, frosting, etc. They are highly pigmented so you don't need as much color.
  • round pipe tips

I don't create intricate designs for my cookies because (1) I'm bad at it and (2) my hands are too shaky. I prefer a simple approach and all it takes is a few piping tips. I always use the # 5 Wilton piping tip to outline the biscuit and top it with frosting. This is a wonderful basic piping tip to have in your collection. For every detail I use a thinner round tip like Wilton Piping Tip # 1 (super thin), Wilton Piping Tip # 2 (slightly larger), Wilton Piping Tip # 3 (slightly larger), or Wilton Piping Tip # 4 (slightly larger than that !).

Are you just getting started? I suggest # 1 (smallest), # 3 (medium), and # 5 (largest group). With these three you can do anything basic.

1. Christmas trees

  • green + brown + red food coloring (link)
  • Piping bag (link)
  • Piping Tip # 5 and # 3 (Link and Link)

Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the cookie dough with the dry ingredients. (Optional, but delicious !!) Color 3/4 of the frosting green until you get the shade you want. Use the remaining 1/4 of the icing to color half brown and the other half red. * Remember, the colors dry always darker!

To create three "steps" on your trees, route the center of the Christmas tree with the # 5 piping tip. Whistle the top and bottom of the Christmas tree with the number 5 pipe tip. If you have asterisks, carefully place one on top. Let set. Pipe the brown tree trunk with the No. 5 piping tip. Guide red dots with piping tip # 3.

Not interested in the “steps”? Outline the whole tree and fill it with the number 5 piping tip. Let that set. Then guide the tree trunk and the red dots over it.

2. Striped candy canes

  • red food coloring (link)
  • Piping bag (link)
  • Piping Tip # 5 and # 3 (Link and Link)

It's easier than you think, I promise. Color 1/3 of the frosting red until you get the shade you want. Just keep in mind that the red icing will dry darker - so don't go overboard with the food coloring. Sketch and flood the entire candy cane white with the # 5 piping tip. Before allowing this set, route diagonal red lines up with the # 3 piping tip. Run a toothpick around the white border. The toothpick pulls the red to create the "swirly" look.

3. Snowman

  • red, black + orange food coloring (link)
  • Piping bag (link)
  • Piping Tip # 5 and # 1 (Link and Link)

Collect 3 small bowls. Add 1/4 cup icing to each bowl. Let the rest of the frosting white. Stir the red food coloring in a bowl until you get the shade you want. Stir the black food coloring into another bowl until you get the shade you want. (I find that black always dries darker, so stop staining when you reach a dark gray.) Stir the orange food coloring into the final bowl until you get the shade you want. Sketch and flood the entire snowmen white using Piping Tip # 5. (Leave room for the black hat!) To freeze. Using the same piping tip, place the scarf with red icing over the white icing. Pipe the hat, eyes and buttons with the piping tip 1 with black icing. Use the same piping tip to cover the nose with orange icing.

4. Snowflakes

Use a round piping tip (# 4 or # 5 piping tips are perfect) to glue a simple snowflake design onto the biscuit. I put an edible blue “mermaid bead” in the middle and sprinkled it with white sugar to make it look snowy!

5 Stars

Easiest of all. These are my maple cinnamon star cookies topped with the royal icing. Sketch the entire star and use the number 5 pipe tip to flood it white. Top with sprinkles.

Have fun decorating! Share your decorated cookie photos with #sallysbakingchallenge or #sallysbakingaddiction on Instagram or send me an email, tweet me or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group. 🙂