Growing up, the holiday season always meant lots of quality time in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies with my mom — now I do the same with my little ones.
Because these Christmas sugar cookies are so simple, they’re a great way to get kiddos involved in the kitchen.
The actual cookies themselves come together quickly and if you have little hands to help, they can pour the ingredients while you mix. However, their favorite part will likely be picking out their favorite cookie cutters and shaping the dough before baking.
If you’re making these on your own, you can get fancy with your icing and apply it however you like using a piping bag and toothpicks or any other tools that you prefer. With littles, I like to put the icing in a squeeze bottle — it minimizes mess and it’s easier for them to use.
The best part about these Christmas sugar cookies is that they’re nearly foolproof. It’s a classic recipe that results in the perfect sugar cookie that’s soft in the center and slightly crunchy around the edges.
The next time you want to whip up some cookies in the kitchen (holidays or not!) try this recipe — and be prepared for all of the compliments you’re going to get!
Why You’ll Love Christmas Sugar Cookies
Nearly everyone enjoys sugar cookies, especially during the holidays. Here are just a few reasons to really fall in love with this recipe.
- Simple – The ingredients are ones that you probably have handy and the process to make them is straightforward.
- Portable – These are perfect for a holiday cookie swap, a bake sale, or to take to holiday parties — just pop them in a container (or wrap them on a pretty plate) and go!
- Customizable – With such a simple base, it’s easy to dress these up with whatever ingredients you like.
- Classic – New, creative recipes are always fun to try, but there’s something special about enjoying traditional treats, especially during the holiday season.
One of the great things about these sugar cookies is that these simple ingredients are likely already in your fridge and pantry. If not, you can easily grab them at the grocery store.
- Unsalted butter – Few baked goods call for salted butter — make sure that you use unsalted butter for this cookie recipe since there is an addition of salt to the cookie dough.
- Egg – Large size eggs are standard for baking recipes.
- Vanilla extract – Using pure vanilla is always preferred over imitation.
- Powdered sugar – Also called confectioner’s sugar, this fine sugar dissolves quickly when mixing.
- All-purpose flour – Check your flour to make sure you’re using all purpose flour and not self-rising.
- Salt – Salt helps to balance the flavors and bring out the sweetness of other ingredients.
- Baking powder – This leavening ingredient helps the Christmas sugar cookies to rise.
- Egg white – Make sure to separate the egg whites from the yolks. Use the extra yolks for another recipe (like to make a cake more moist)
- Lime juice – You can juice a lime or use the bottled variety.
- Powdered sugar – Also known as confectioners’ sugar, this fine sugar gives the icing its silky texture.
- Red gel food coloring – You can use any variety that you prefer from your grocery store (or online).
- Sprinkles of choice – Choose festive sprinkles or any particular color that you like.
How To Make Christmas Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are among the easiest of the popular holiday cookies to make with just a few simple steps.
- Beat wet ingredients. Combine the butter, egg, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Beat until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture begins to get creamy.
- Add dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder). Mix all ingredients together on low speed until a dough forms.
- Chill. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap then place in the refrigerator from 1 hour up to overnight.
- Roll. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut. Using the cookie cutter shape of your choice — we like to use stars or Christmas trees. Cut out the cookies and place them on the cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper.
- Bake. Bake Christmas sugar cookies until they have crisp edges that are a light golden brown.
- Cool. Allow the cookies to cool briefly on the baking sheet. Then, transfer the warm cookies to a wire rack (in a single layer) to cool completely.
- Beat egg whites. Add egg whites and lime juice to a large bowl of stand mixer. Beat the whites and juice on high speed until the mixture is frothy.
- Add powdered sugar. Add the confectioners’ sugar in small batches. Continue to mix until all of the sugar is completely incorporated. The mixture should be smooth and shiny when finished.
- Color the icing. Spoon half of the mixture into a medium bowl. Tint it with the red gel food color. Fill each separate piping bag with each of the icings.
- Decorate. Decorate the cookies by outlining the outer edge first. Then fill the center with plenty of icing. Spread the icing using a toothpick. Ensure that the layer of icing is even.
- Sprinkles. Add the sprinkles to the top of the cookies while the icing is still wet and allow them to set.
While these Christmas sugar cookies are fantastic as is, they’re also a perfect canvas for creating your own unique version.
- Spices – Add cinnamon, ginger, and/or nutmeg to the batter or sprinkle on top for warm flavor.
- Chips – Add white chocolate, dark chocolate, or milk chocolate chips for more sweetness. You can also try peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips.
- Dried fruit – Fold in craisins, raisins, or diced dates for a fruity take on this traditional cookie.
- Peppermint – Crush candy canes or other peppermint candies and fold them into the dough before baking.
- Extracts – Swap out some or all of the vanilla extract for espresso extract, almond extract, or your personal favorite.
- Nuts – Crush pecans or walnuts and sprinkle over top or add to the dough.
- Zest – Add some lemon, lime, or orange zest to the dough or the icing for bright fruit flavor.
- Sea salt caramel – Instead of icing, spread caramel on top of the cookies and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Sugar – Instead of sprinkles you can use colorful sanding sugar to decorate the tops of the cookies.
- Topping – Swap out the Royal Icing for a cream cheese frosting instead (just be sure to refrigerate the cookies if you do).
Storage and Freezing
Storage: These Christmas sugar cookies do not need to be refrigerated. Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.
Freezer: Freezing is not recommended because Royal Icing does not freeze well.
More Cookie Recipes
Christmas Star Cookie Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Egg white of 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoon lime juice
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Red gel food color 3-4 drops
- Sprinkles of choice
- Line your baking tray with parchment paper and it keep aside.
- Take butter, egg, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until it’s combined and turns creamy.
- Add flour, salt, and baking powder into the butter mixture and mix all together to form a dough.
- Cover and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C.
- Once chilled, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out star shapes using a star-shape cookie cutter (I used the middle one from the set – 2.3 inches).
- Bake the cookies for about 8-10 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes in the baking tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- ROYAL ICING:
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer (or hand mixer) combine egg whites and lime juice and beat on high until frothy.
- Add powdered sugar in batches and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and the mixture looks shiny.
- Turn speed up to high and mix till the mixture becomes thick and starts to hold peaks.
- Divide the icing into two equal parts and tint one part with red gel food color. Keep the other part as it is (white).
- Put both the icings in different icing bags and decorate your cookies.
- Outline the cookies with the icing first, keeping a little space on the edges of the cookies. Then flood the cookies with the icing; use a toothpick to spread the icing so it’s evenly filled.
- Sprinkle sugar pearls on top of the cookies while the icing is still wet. Allow to set.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!