Christmas Sugar Cookies with Easy Icing

These are my absolute favorite cut-out Christmas sugar cookies! My recipe for sugar cookies promises flavorful cookies with soft centers and crisp edges. You’ll enjoy this easy glaze icing, too. It’s a wonderful alternative to royal icing and makes decorating hassle-free!

christmas tree sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles

Let’s kick off the holiday baking season with classic decorated Christmas cookies. Nothing beats Christmas sugar cookies made from scratch and I know you’ll love this particular recipe. We’re using my classic sugar cookies and dressing them up for the holidays.

cut out christmas tree, candy cane, and snowflake sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles

Trust me when I say this is a sugar cookie recipe you need to try. It’s taken me awhile to find that perfectly soft-centered, yet slightly crisp edged recipe. The cookies maintain their cookie cutter shape in the oven and have a nice flat surface for decorating. There’s no crazy ingredients, so this recipe is easy and approachable for everyone.

I love royal icing, but it can be pretty particular sometimes. You need a very precise consistency in order for the royal icing to pipe and set appropriately– it definitely requires patience.

Easy Glaze Icing

But you can create gourmet decorated sugar cookies without even using royal icing! Use my easy glaze icing instead. The recipe is included below and I also have an Easy Glaze Icing page dedicated to it. You need confectioners’ sugar, water, vanilla extract, a touch of corn syrup, and a little salt. The corn syrup makes the icing nice and shiny, while the ratio of confectioners’ sugar to water keeps it thick. The icing dries hard and slightly crunchy, so you can easily stack these Christmas sugar cookies and travel with them.

To make decorating a breeze, use a squeeze bottle. They’re a little easier than piping tips.

This is a recipe that requires planning ahead. First, the cookie dough needs to chill. Chilling is a mandatory step. Before decorating the baked cookies, make sure the cookies are completely cool. If they are not completely cool, the icing will melt. To completely harden on top of the cookies, the icing needs at least 24 hours to set. If you love sugar cookies, but aren’t up for decorating with icing, you’ll enjoy my stained glass window cookies instead.

snowflake and candy cane sugar cookies

Christmas Sugar Cookies Video Tutorial

Craving More Christmas Cookies?

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candy cane and snowflake sugar cookies with icing

Christmas Sugar Cookies with Easy Icing

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 24 3-4 inch cookies and 3/4 cup icing
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Cut-out Christmas sugar cookies with crisp edges and soft centers. My icing recipe is so simple, making decorating hassle-free!



  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but makes the flavor outstanding)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Easy Icing

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (omit and replace with water for stark white icing)
  •  1 teaspoon light corn syrup*
  • 22.5 Tablespoons (30-38ml) room temperature water
  • pinch salt*


  1. Make sure you have allotted enough time (and enough counter space!) to make these cookies. The cookie dough needs to chill, the cookies need to cool completely, and the icing needs 24 hours to completely harden. If enjoying right away and hardened icing isn’t a concern, you’ll only need about 4 hours to make these.
  2. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamed and smooth – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combine, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with paper) onto a baking sheet, cover lightly, and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. Chilling is mandatory.
  5. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until very lightly colored on top and around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing. No need to cover the cookies as the cookies cool.
  7. For the icing, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, and 2 Tablespoons of water together in a medium bowl. It will be very thick. If you lift the whisk and let the icing drizzle back into the bowl, the ribbon of icing will hold shape for a few seconds before melting back into the icing. That is when you know it’s the right consistency and ready to use. If it’s too thick (sometimes it is), whisk in 1/2 extra Tablespoon of water. If desired, add gel food coloring. You can pour some icing into different bowls if using multiple colors. If not decorating right away, cover the icing tightly and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  8. Decorate the cooled cookies however you’d like. Squeeze bottles make decorating so easy.
  9. Let icing dry/set: Feel free to enjoy cookies before icing completely dries. Icing dries in 24 hours. No need to cover the decorated cookies as you wait for the icing to set. If it’s helpful, decorate the cookies directly on a baking sheet so you can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help slightly speed up the icing setting. Once the icing has dried, these cookies are great for gifting or for sending.
  10. Cover and store decorated cookies for up to 5 days at room temperature or up to 10 days in the refrigerator.


  1. Freezing Instructions: Plain or decorated sugar cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months before rolling it out. Prepare the dough through step 3, divide in half, flatten both halves into a disk as we do with pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, then freeze. To thaw, thaw the disks in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for about 1 hour. Roll out the dough as directed in step 4, then chill rolled out dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes – 1 hour before cutting into shapes and baking.
  2. Egg: Room temperature egg is preferred to be easily dispersed in the cookie dough. Good rule of thumb: always use room temperature egg if recipe calls for butter at room temperature or melted.
  3. Corn Syrup: This is what gives the icing fabulous shine. You may leave it out if you aren’t concerned about shiny, glossy icing.
  4. Salt: I know salt isn’t a typical ingredient in cookie icing, but my taste testers and I preferred that little pinch of salt. I use about 1/8 teaspoon. OR you can add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the dry ingredients in the cookie dough. I like it better used in the icing, though.
  5. This icing is enough for very minimal icing decoration on 2 dozen cookies. Icing recipe can easily be doubled. See Easy Glaze Icing page if desired.

Keywords: christmas sugar cookies, cut out sugar cookies

How to Make Christmas Sugar Cookies

Start with room temperature butter. You should be able to press your finger into the stick of butter and make an indent easily, without your finger sliding anywhere. Firm, but not cold.

stick of room temperature butter

The cookie dough is relatively soft and thick. I compare the cookie dough to the consistency of play-doh. Before chilling the cookie dough, roll it out. Yes, roll the cookie dough out before chilling! With all of my recipe testing, I learned that this method is so much easier than chilling the cookie dough as a whole and then trying to roll out a cold chunk of dough.

To make rolling easier, divide the sugar cookie dough in half– it’s easier to roll out smaller sections of dough. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Place on a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator.

After chilling, cut into shapes with cookie cutters.

3 images of sugar cookie dough ball, rolled out sugar cookie dough, and cut out snowflake and candy cane sugar cookies

Bake until the edges are very lightly browned.

stack of snowflake sugar cookies

Whisk all of the icing ingredients together. If you drizzle a little icing off the whisk into the bowl, the ribbon of icing will hold for a few seconds before melting back into the icing. That’s when you know it’s the right consistency.

2 images of dry icing ingredients in a glass bowl and icing in a glass bowl

At this point, you can color the icing if desired or just begin decorating.

A squeeze bottle makes things easy. Have fun!

squeeze bottle piping white icing onto snowflake sugar cookies


  1. Hi sally! Great cookies! Great icing! But… I am still really learning how to frost. I have been using a piping bag for decorating more intricate cookies ( we picked an antique truck with a Christmas tree in its bed) and struggling with the details of the cookies. Any chance you have a video tutorial on tips and tricks of using royal icing for pretty designs? Also do you recommend the royal
    Icing or the glazed icing for the designs? Thanks so much! Love your site!

    1. Hi Christine! I’m so glad to help. You may find the video in my regular Sugar Cookies recipe post helpful. For a more intricate look, use royal icing. See my Sugar Cookies post for lots of detail/listed differences between the two icings.

  2. Hello, can I tie dye these cookies? I’m dying to try it.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Donna, Yes you can add color to both the cookie dough and/or the icing. Have fun!

  3. Hi! I’ve tried sugar cookie recipes in the past and I’ve always wondered, when you chill the dough, is it better to put it in the fridge or in the freezer? Sorry for the silly question… And thank you!

    1. Hi Claudia, we recommend the refrigerator. Do not use the freezer to speed it up as it won’t chill evenly.

  4. Silly question, but you say it takes 24hours for the icing to dry…where can I keep the cookies during that time? Can I leave them un covered on the kitchen counter for the 24 hrs?

    Also, is there anything you recommend to replace the egg in the cookie? I was going to try and make this for my parents who don’t eat eggs. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Rain! Yes, that’s correct– leave out on the counter as the icing dries. See step 8. For the egg– I have very little experience with egg free baking recipes and the best egg replacements to use. They’re a crucial ingredient in some cookie recipes, including this one. However, I do have a section on my website with naturally egg free baking recipes— ones where eggs aren’t really needed.

  5. Hi Taylor, you could be over-measuring the flour. I recommend spooning and leveling (or weighing) it. Keep the mixer running though– the dough will eventually come together as long as you followed the recipe. It may just need more beating together to smooth out and combine.

  6. This recipe turned out amazing! I will definitely be hanging onto this one for future sugar cookies. Thank you for the tips too.

  7. Hello, I would love to add peppermint to the cookies. Can that be done and if should I leave out the almond extract?

    I love this recipe and the cookies held their shape. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kayla, Yes! You can swap out the almond and use peppermint instead

  8. Thank you!!! Perfect timing for Blizzard cookie making tomorrow!

  9. These are the best sugar cookies I’ve ever made!! I’m making a second batch upon request from my husband. They came out perfectly and taste so unbelievably good.

  10. I made these because they looked very tasty, But they took an excruciatingly long time, and even though I followed the recipe word to word they turned out hard and tasted terrible. I’m not sure why I did everything right I even chilled the dough rolled out. I wouldn’t recommend these cookies.

  11. Hi Sally, I had a quick question about the icing. I am making a DIY cookie kit with icing for my friends and family for Easter (for the first time) A total newbie when it comes to icing. Would this icing be good enough for the DIY kits? also, how long would it last at room temperature?
    Also, one of my close friends is allergic to eggs, would you have a substitute for Eggs?

    Thanks so much

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anila, You can make the icing 2-3 days in advance and store it in your filled and airtight piping bags or squeeze bottles in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before using. Enjoy!

  12. Loved this recipie!! Have made several times love the almond flavor!changed it up by adding ,coconut,lemon flavoring instead off almond, all Delicious!!

  13. What should we do if are using two colors of icing? Do I need to let the first color dry first for 24 hours, then decorate on top of that? Thanks so much!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Kate! It depends on the final look you are trying to achieve. You certainly can if you want a layered look, but you can see in our pictures (like the candy cane cookies) that we alternate the colors at the same time. This works for simpler designs. For more intricate decorating, you might be interested in our royal icing recipe. Hope this helps!

  14. Susan S Mayotte says:

    I used the icing in this recipe on Sally’s Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies, and it worked perfectly. I had my grandchildren paint the icing onto the cookies (which I had made in advance) since piping is too hard for them right now (ages 4 and 6). Then we used a variety of sprinkles to make cookies that looked beautiful, stored well and traveled well. The biggest plus was that the decorating was easy and a lot of fun for the kids and for me! Sally’s is my “go to” for baking recipes now!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sounds like such fun! We’re so glad you and your grandkids enjoyed using this easy icing recipe, Susan.

  15. Is there a substitute I can use for the light corn syrup?

    1. Honey works as a substitute in this icing recipe.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally