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conversation heart sugar cookies decorated with colorful royal icing

We can’t make Valentine’s Day heart sugar cookies without cute little sayings on top!

I’d actually like to take this moment to apologize for how horrendous my piped writing is. I have zero talent writing on cookies and cakes. Zero zip zilch. Pen and paper, great! But once icing is involved, my hands lose control, get all floppy, and chicken scratch ensues!

conversation heart candies

Speaking of writing, one of the best parts of Valentine’s Day is reading all the writing on conversation hearts. Right? I get a KICK reading these things. Wicked cool, txt me, QT pie, fax me… I even saw a “giggle” and “sugar pie” in a bag recently. And the mustache!! Thank you for all the entertainment, Brach’s!

Let’s jump right into the cookies.

Today’s conversation heart lookalike cookies are a sugar cookie, pastel royal icing on top, and writing. I stuck with the shortest possible sayings and words because, well… you know my struggle.

bottles of gel food coloring and piping tips

We’re using royal icing for today’s sugar cookie decoration, but you can absolutely use buttercream like we do for these shamrock cookies

Tools You Need:

  1. Americolor Soft Gel Paste Color Kit. In my experience, this is the BEST coloring for royal icing. The color is rich and vivid. You only need a teeny drip for the pastel colors in today’s cookies. And for darker colors, 1 small drop. So these colors will last you a very long time! I used the yellow, deep pink color, violet, green, and orange. Red for the writing.
  2. Round Icing Tip #5. I use this for piping the royal icing on top of each cookie.
  3. Round Icing Tip #1. I use this teeny tip for the writing.
  4. Disposable piping bags. For the piping, of course!
  5. You’ll also need silicone baking mats, rolling pin, and a heart-shaped cookie cutter. You can use the same cookie cutter for these raspberry sugar cookies, too.
sugar cookie dough rolled out on silpat baking mat with heart cookie cutter

We’re using my trusty sugar cookies as the starting point. The cookies are soft and buttery with crisp edges. The dough holds its shape wonderfully in the oven. Sharp and precise; no misshapen hearts!

The most important part, like usual, is to chill the cookie dough. This ensures the cookies hold their shape. The unique part about this sugar cookie recipe is that you chill the cookie dough *after* rolling it out. After the cookie dough is prepared, divide in two, and roll out each portion. My little trick? Roll out your sugar cookie dough onto lightly floured silicone baking mats. The mats won’t slide around. Then use the mats for baking the cookies.

conversation heart sugar cookies decorated with colorful royal icing on a white plate

Some *short* conversation heart saying inspiration:

  • BFF
  • Love
  • Kiss
  • Hugs
  • Xoxo
  • Best
  • Sweet
  • Cute or cutie

I’m sure you can come up with more and that your writing will be beautiful!

conversation heart sugar cookies with colorful royal icing

Print
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conversation heart sugar cookies decorated with colorful royal icing

Valentine’s Day Heart Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 11 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours
  • Yield: 25 3-inch cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These decorated Valentine’s Day heart sugar cookies resemble conversation heart candies- so delicious and fun for the holiday!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (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 for added flavor: 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Royal Icing


Instructions

  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 on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, 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 so it’s 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″ thickness. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly ¼-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 heart cookie cutter, cut into heart shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd dough piece.
  7. Bake for 10-11 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.
  8. Make the icing: 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 5 minutes. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 10-12 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. Separate icing into 6 different bowls. Stir in 1 tiny drop of the following colors into each bowl, 1 color per bowl: pink, violet, green, yellow, and orange. The 6th bowl is for the writing. Use 2-3 drops of red.
  9. Add icing to piping bag fitted with round icing tip #5. Decorate cookies with colored icing. Use round icing tip #1 for writing. Do not cover cookies as icing sets. Icing will set within 2-3 hours.
  10. Decorated or plain cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Notes

  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. Easy Glaze: Instead of this royal icing, you can use my easy cookie icing if that’s easier for you. However, I find it nearly impossible to write with the glaze icing because it isn’t stable like royal icing.
  3. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: sugar cookies, valentine’s day cookies, heart sugar cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I was thinking about making some cut out cookies to send out to a few people to brighten their days. Think I will stick with the easy glaze and just put lots of fun sprinkles on them. I am too impatient/uncoordinated to try to write on them. I think yours look awesome, btw. The writing is VERY good!

    1. You can definitely use the easy glaze on these and fun sprinkles would be adorable! That would certainly brighten my day 🙂

  2. My husband and I made these. We found the decorating a little tricky but a fun project together. They were delicious, thank you for the recipe

  3. These are the best sugar cookies I’ve ever made! The recipe is straight forward, no-fuss and the results are absolutely wonderful. Thank you for the tip on rolling out the dough on silpat mats… genius! 🙂 These cookies were the least time-consuming sugar cookies I’ve made so far (and I’ve made a LOT), and they look beautiful and taste really great. Thank you for another awesome recipe, Sally!

  4. I’m debating between making these and your holiday cut out sugar cookies- the holiday ones seem like they’re easier to frost. Any preferences between the 2?

    1. The cookie recipes are the same 🙂 But the glaze icing is easier to make (the icing on the holiday cookies, you just whisk all the ingredients together)– however, that icing takes a day to fully set. This royal icing sets in no time and is easier to use when decorating.

  5. Hi.
    Making these lovely cookies for Valentines this year.
    Unfortunately some of the cookie dough got left on the counter with some parchment over it for an hour or so forgot to get it into the fridge. Now it’s quite dry. How do you suggest I revive it? Is there a way to save it or do I toss?

    1. Hi Melissa! Moisten your hands with a couple drops of water and rub onto the dough. Then roll it out again. It should be workable!

  6. These cookies were super easy to make! You’re writing was soo good!! Mine looks like a 3 year old . Thanks for such an easy recipe!

  7. Making my 2nd batch in 3 days! Family loves them! This is my new go to sugar cookie recipe! Thanks, Sally!!!

  8. so great i love these the are so cute and a no fuss cookie everyone at my school love them and my family. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  9. Any substitution for the meringue powder since that’s the only ingredient I don’t have?

    1. You can find my easy glaze icing recipe paired with my Christmas sugar cookies. However, it’s thinner than royal icing and doesn’t provide the same sharp detail that royal icing decorations do. It also takes a good 24 hours to dry.

  10. Hi Sally! I am going around the neighborhood tomorrow and delivering these cookies I can’t wait. Thank you for the recipe!

  11. I made these for my wheat allergic son with cup 4 cup GF flour, and they turned out amazing! I followed your recipe just changed out the AP flour and they were perfect! I can’t believe I never rolled them out and then chilled, then cut out… THANK YOU! such a simple yet brilliant step! They didn’t spread!

    1. We’re so glad to hear that worked well for you, Jessica — thank you for reporting back!

  12. Hi Sally
    How would I mail these delectable treats to the grandchildren in another city?
    Naomi

  13. Hi, I love this recipe! But when the cookies came out they were stuck to the parchment paper. What could I do to prevent this?

    1. Hi Kristina! Some parchment paper brands have a “right” side and a “wrong” side. Make sure you’re using the smoother side if that’s the case. Also letting the cookies cool a bit more before removing should help them come off. Hope you love the cookies!

  14. Hi! Are these sugar cookies sturdy enough to mail to a college student? I They would be a wonderful surprise for my son.

    1. Hi Deny, we haven’t tested it ourselves, but some readers have reported success using 1:1 gluten free flour swaps in our cookie recipes. We’d love to know if you give it a try!

  15. These were delicious and the recipe was easy to follow. I don’t normally like sugar cookies but these were not too sweet. Definitely try this one out!

  16. Can I use something other than Meringue powder? I have none, and this is not how I’ve made royal icing before. Any substitutes I could use, or just leave it out?
    Thanks!

    1. Hello! Meringue powder is essential for this royal icing recipe. You could this this easy icing instead, or use another recipe for royal icing you’ve enjoyed before.

  17. Hi! can i use egg whites instead of meringue powder because unfortunately where i live we don’t have this resource. If i do use egg whites how many do i need?
    Thanks:)

    1. Hi Alice, Some recipes use fresh egg whites but that would require a different recipe. We don’t have one, but luckily there are many options if you’re going that route! Or if desired, try this easy glaze icing which does not require meringue powder or egg whites.

    1. Hi Lezlie, I don’t recommend a food processor for creaming butter and sugar. You could use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and do it by hand, but it requires a lot of arm muscle.

  18. These cookies are delightfully crisp, light, and soft, and I would eat them every day if I could. Haven’t tried the icing yet as it’s difficult to come by meringue powder where I live. Thanks for the recipe!

  19. All kinds of YES! To this recipe! Mine came out as the perfect light, crisp, oh-so buttery butter cookies. This recipe’s a keeper! Only tiny modification I made was substituting 2 Tbsp of brown sugar for 2 Tbsp of the recipe’s 3/4c white granulated sugar.

  20. I really loved these cookies. This recipe has now replaced my prior cut out sugar cookie recipe. Can’t wait to make them for the next occasion!

    1. Hi Sissy, we don’t recommend it. Best to stick with butter here!

  21. Hi, Sally. I’ve made the chocolate sugar cookies twice and will make these for Valentine’s Day to send to the grandkids. I just bought the 8 oz squeeze bottles you recommended in the Halloween cookies to make outlining and flooding easier. However, I found that I only needed half a batch of royal icing and I wonder if the smaller amounts will work in those bottles? Thanks for your advice.

    1. Hi Owain! See step 5: the cookie dough needs to chill for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days. 1-2 hours would be just fine – hope you love them!

  22. My first time making cut outs. Thank you for the detailed explanation and video. The only problem i had was the baking time. Mine never really got golden on the edges even after 16 minutes in the oven. I have an oven thermometer so the temperature was accurate. Any other ideas.? I followed the recipe exactly. The cookies were fabulous even after being in the oven for so long. Thank you

    1. Hi Lynne, It doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong, especially if they turned out well. We are so happy you enjoyed them!

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