This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
snowman sugar cookies on a red plate

Welcome to Sally’s Cookie Palooza. If you’re new to this website, my annual Christmas cookie palooza hits right after Thanksgiving. It’s a huge cookie fiesta as we countdown until Christmas. 10 new cookie recipes in a row, unapologetically full of all the butter, sugar, sprinkles, and chocolate you could imagine. Time to switch gears on your rolling pins from pie crust to sugar cookies!

decorated snowman and snowflake sugar cookies

We’re kicking off with Snowman Cookies!

Start with my sugar cookies recipe and cut into holiday shapes. Any shape or size holiday cookie will do– I chose snowmen and snowflakes. But mostly snowmen because they’re so darn cute! Since the cookie shape is completely up to you, I really want you to focus on working with royal icing. I know decorating cookies with royal icing can be intimidating, but here’s what I’ve learned: set your expectations appropriately. Don’t expect to create a fancy intricate design if this is your first time. Start small and go from there. A lot of the decorated sugar cookies I create are extremely simple.

But again, you have to start somewhere. You CAN do this. Watch me make the cookies, shape the cookies, and decorate them:

Sugar Cookie Steps

  1. make cookie dough
  2. divide in two pieces
  3. roll out cookie dough
  4. chill rolled out cookie dough
  5. cut into shapes
  6. bake & cool
  7. decorate

Whenever I decorate sugar cookies, I always begin with a quality homemade sugar cookie recipe. A recipe that I can always depend on, so all I have to “worry” about is decorating. My go-to sugar cookie recipe produces soft sugar cookies with slightly crisp edges. It starts with butter and sugar creamed together. Add 1 egg and vanilla (sometimes almond extract, yum!), then flour + baking powder + salt. That’s it. Only 7 basic ingredients.

decorated snowman sugar cookies

My Sugar Cookie Trick

Notice in the video that I roll out the dough BEFORE chilling it in the refrigerator? That’s my trick! Why? The dough is so much easier to roll out before it’s chilled. But why are we chilling it? So the cookies keep their shape when baked. Wait, why divide in 2? Because it’s difficult to roll out a huge mass of dough. Dividing into smaller sections makes rolling out more manageable.

Roll out the doughs until to about 1/4 inch thickness. I like to do this directly on a silicone baking mat. Why? Because you have to chill the rolled out dough in the fridge. And you can’t really pick up a mass of dough you rolled out on the counter, right? Nor can you cut into shapes when the dough is this warm. So roll out on a nonstick surface that you can literally pick up, put on a baking sheet, and place in the fridge. So… make dough, divide in 2, roll out, chill. Got it?

rolled out sugar cookie dough with snowman cookie cutter

After the dough is chilled (you’ll have two of these rolled out doughs ↑↑), cut into shapes.

Then bake them.

snowman and snowflake sugar cookies on a baking sheet

Let’s Talk Royal Icing

Now let’s make royal icing. There are many ways to prepare royal icing and my favorite method is with meringue powder. Meringue powder takes the place of raw egg whites, which is found in traditional royal icing recipes. Both create a very sturdy and stable icing that hardens quickly on top of cookies. It’s awesome. Meringue powder eliminates the need for raw fresh eggs, but still provides the EXACT same consistency. You can find meringue powder in some baking aisles, most craft stores with a baking section, and online. I just buy it on Amazon in the 8 ounce container. Super inexpensive and it lasts me awhile.

This royal icing is just 3 ingredients: confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and water. The trickiest part is landing on the perfect consistency. Sometimes I need more water, sometimes I need less water. But the wonderful thing is that you can manipulate the icing to get the proper consistency by adding more water or more confectioners’ sugar. It’s awesome.

royal icing in mixing bowl

You can also use this easy cookie icing for decorating the snowmen cookies, but it’s difficult to pipe fine detail since it’s just a really thick glaze (unlike royal icing, which is quite sturdy). This icing doesn’t set/dry as quickly as royal icing and it’s not as easy to decorate with. That being said, sometimes it’s just the more convenient option! So give it a try if you prefer. (It will dry in about 24 hours, where the royal icing recipe below dries in about 1-2 hours.)

gel food coloring bottles, piping tips, and decorated snowman sugar cookies

Let’s Decorate Snowman Cookies

Like I mentioned above, I’m not a super fancy cookie decorator. Whenever I decorate sugar cookies, I grab a couple basic piping tips: a thin Wilton #1 tip and a wider Wilton #4 tip or Wilton #5 tip. I use the wider tip for big designs, outlining, and flooding. The white snowman’s body and red scarf are done with this wider tip, as well as the snowflakes. I use the thinner tip for smaller detail like the snowman hat, eyes, buttons, and nose.

For coloring the icing, I strongly recommend gel colors. I prefer Americolor’s color kit. I’ve had this for a year and haven’t even made a dent in most colors. It’s a GREAT set to have in your kitchen!

decorated snowflake sugar cookies

Snowman Cookie Decorating Tips

  • Start small– don’t attempt super intricate designs if you’re a beginner.
  • Take your time. Don’t expect to rush through it!
  • There will be some uglies. There are always some uglies. 🙁
  • Have fun. Invite friends or family over, grab your kids, or host a cookie decorating day. Make an afternoon or evening of it. Make some chocolate chip cookies to munch on while you work!
  • Don’t stress! It’s just a cookie!
decorated snowman sugar cookies

Have fun decorating; I can’t wait to see your cookie creations!

See Your Snowman (and other shapes) Sugar Cookies!

collage of sugar cookie images

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
snowman sugar cookies on a red plate

Snowman Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 24 (4-inch) cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Christmas sugar cookies are so much fun to decorate! Here’s how to make adorable snowman sugar cookies for your holiday cookie trays.


  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks; 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (yields an outstanding flavor!)

Royal Icing

  • 4 cups (480gconfectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoonmeringue powder
  • 910 Tablespoons room temperature water
  • black, orange, and red food coloring (I love this food coloring kit)


  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (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.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. If the dough 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 paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat (I prefer the nonstick silicone mat) to about 1/4-inch thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Stack the pieces, with parchment paper between the two, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper.
  6. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a snowman cookie cutter, cut into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd dough piece.
  7. Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating. I like to decorate cookies directly on baking sheets so I can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help set the icing. So place the cooled cookies back on baking sheets.
  8. Make the icing: Watch the video of the icing above so you get an idea of what the final consistency should be. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed for 1.5 – 2 minutes. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. (On particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons water total.) If it’s too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners’ sugar.
  9. You’ll need 3 small bowls: one for red icing, one for black icing, and one for orange icing. Spoon 1/4 cup of icing into each bowl. The rest of the icing will remain white. Stir red food coloring into 1 bowl until you reach your desired shade. Stir black food coloring into another bowl until you reach your desired shade. (I find that black always dries darker so stop adding coloring when you reach a dark gray.) Finally, stir orange food coloring into the last bowl until you reach your desired shade. Spoon icings into piping bags (reusable or disposable).
  10. Decorate: You can watch the video of me decorating the cookies in the beginning of this blog post. Using round icing tip #5 or round icing tip #4, outline and flood the snowmen with white. (Leave room for the black hat!) Allow to set. I put the baking sheet in the refrigerator to speed it up. Using this same piping tip, pipe the scarf with red icing on top of the white icing. Using round icing tip #1, pipe the hat, eyes, and buttons with black icing. Using this same piping tip, pipe the nose with orange icing. Icing will completely set in about 2 hours at room temperature.
  11. 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.


  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 as directed in step 5– no need to chill for 1-2 hours, 45 minutes should be plenty.
  2. Almond Extract: I love flavoring this cookie dough with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract as listed in the ingredients above. For lighter flavor, use 1/4 teaspoon.
  3. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Rolling Pin | Snowman Cookie Cutter | Silpat Baking Mat | Cookie Sheet | Cooling Rack | Americolor Food Coloring Kit | Piping Bags (Reusable or Disposable) | Wilton #1 Frosting Tip | Wilton #4 Frosting Tip
  4. Snowflake Sugar Cookies: I used this snowflake cookie cutter, the round icing tip #4, a big blue sprinkle bead in the center, and sprinkled white sparkling sugar on top.
  5. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: Snowman Sugar Cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Hi Sally!
    Will adding food coloring to the sugar cookies work? I want to make blue whales, not sure if this will work out ?

    1. Hi Jessica, I would recommend a gel food coloring so that you aren’t adding extra liquid to the batter!

  2. These are the cutest cookies ever — I admire your skill and patience. I’ve never made this kind of cookie before, but those snowflakes and snowmen are an inspiration!

  3. Hi Sally, Can a flavor extract like vanilla or almond be added to the royal icing without compromising its quality? I have had “professionally decorated” cookies w/ royal icing before that had zero or a bad taste. I make sugar cookies every year, but have not done royal icing, but want it to have that same flavor profile with the cookies. Thanks!

  4. Just took these out of the oven, they turned out perfectly! I’ve been looking for a sugar cookie that doesn’t spread, and this is my new go-to 🙂
    Also a special thanks for listing the ingredients in grams as well as cups and the oven temp in Celsius- as a baker in Europe it’s always frustrating to have to convert every American recipe!

  5. Sally,
    Can you prepare royal icing in advance ? & where is it best stored when made?

    1. Hi Ren, Royal icing can be made in advance. But be sure it’s covered in a very airtight container so that it doesn’t dry out and can be put in the fridge. You will most likely need to give it a good stir and maybe even thin it out a bit before using it!

  6. Hi Sally,
    I made the snowflake cookies for my Sister-in-law’s baby shower and they were beautiful…but the royal icing never set. It looked just like your video in terms of texture when I put it on the cookies but even after all night in the fridge, the flooded cookies were tacky to the touch. I ended up serving them anyway and was asked what the frosting was because it tasted like fluff! Ha! Any idea what could have happened?

    I love all of your recipes–you have inspired me over the last several years!!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Liz, royal icing doesn’t dry well in the fridge. I let them air dry on the counter at room temperature and have never had a problem!

  7. I want to make halloween/fall sugar cookies, have you ever tried adding in some pumkin pie spices to your sugar cookies?

    1. Hi Theresa! I love adding 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to the cookie dough to make pumpkin spice sugar cookies. Tastes wonderful!

  8. Sally, I made roll-out cookies yesterday for next weekend when I host my co-workers for a cookie decorating evening. Before I started, I remembered this blog post, so I found it and read it. I followed your directions about rolling out the dough, refrigerating it, and then cutting out the cookies. I rolled out the dough on parchment paper, stacked the dough 3 layers high on a cookie sheet, and placed in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
    I can’t tell you how much easier this method was than what I’ve done previously!!!! Thank you for the awesome tips!!!!!

  9. Making these with little kiddos tmw (minus the royal icing) and wondering, if they’re all cutting at the same time, would the pans of yet to be baked cookies need to go in the fridge while waiting their turn to bake? (I’ve made 2 batches of dough, so 4 sheets) Thanks!

    1. Hi Jillian! Cold shaped cookies always hold their shape better, so if it’s taking a few extra minutes to shape all the cookies, placing them in the refrigerator for a few minutes right before baking is a good idea.

  10. Ohhh Sally, what a beautiful recipe.
    I have been baking for approx. 37 years. This has to be one of the most delightful cut out sugar cookie recipes I have come across. Made them last night and they are great!
    Thank you for sharing.
    Diane Taylor

  11. LOVE this cookie! By following your directions, they cut out beautiful and sharp. Made 26 snowmen for my grandsons Christmas party. I think the children will be happy! There is a learning curve on the consistency of the icing, but turned out pretty good. The cookie is not too sweet and perfect with the sweetness of the royal icing. Husband gave me a rolling pin a couple years ago that has spacers on either end, so you can get an exact thickness product and it was perfect for this type cookie. THANK YOU for sharing this great recipe!!

  12. Hi Sally! I tried the Royal Icing Recipe but i did not get the fluffy texture as i can see in the picture. Any idea why?

    1. Hi Jinane, Royal icing actually should not be fluffy – just a nice smooth consistency so that it pipes without showing any lines. Although if you wanted it fluffier you can actually mix it faster to incorporate more air.

  13. Is there some trick to keep the parchment paper from becoming part of the dough in the fridge? This is my first cookie flop from this website … the dough was so hard to work with. (Delicious, though!)

    1. Hi Jen, let the dough sit on the counter for 20 minutes or so. As it softens up a bit, the parchment will come loose.

  14. Hi Sally,

    I can’t wait to try this recipe, my only problem is , I live in Germany and I don’t know where I can find Meringue Powder. Is that really necessary for the icing or can I use something else instead? My kids would absolutely love these cookies since it will remind them of the Starbucks cookies we used to buy in the USA.
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Filiz, meringue powder is necessary for our royal icing recipe, but there are plenty of recipes available that use egg whites instead. You could use the same decorating technique detailed above with a different royal icing. This recipe from Once Upon a Chef looks promising: Let us know if you give them a try!

  15. Are your baking temperatures as stated for a convection oven or conventional oven

    1. Hi Jeannie, All of the recipes on this site are written for conventional settings. Convection ovens are fantastic for cooking and roasting. If you have the choice, we recommend conventional settings when baking cakes, breads, etc. The flow of air from convection heat can cause baked goods to rise and bake unevenly and it also pulls moisture out of the oven. If you do use convection settings for baking, lower your temperature by 25 degrees F and keep in mind that things may still take less time to bake.

  16. If I made the cookies on Saturday, but won’t serve them until Friday (plans changed!), should I freeze the undecorated cookies or can I just seal them and refrigerate for a few days?

    1. Hi Steven! Plain or decorated cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature.

  17. I made these and they were a winter hit!
    Sally I was wondering if i can replace the almond extract with lemon extract and how much should i add?

    1. Definitely! Instead of the almond extract, try using 1 teaspoon of lemon extract.

      1. OMG I made a new batch with 1tsp vanila extract and 1tsp lemon extract. It was the perfect ratio! Thanks for sharing these recepies <3

Leave a Review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.