These decorated Valentine’s Day cookies resemble conversation heart candies—so fun for the holiday! My recipe for sugar cookies promises flavorful cookies with soft and thick centers, slightly crisp edges, and flat tops for decorating with royal icing. The dough comes together with 7–8 simple ingredients, and the cookies hold their cookie cutter shape in the oven.
Not to toot my own horn, but… I have absolutely *zero talent* when it comes to piping writing on cookies and cakes. Zero zip zilch. LOL. Pen and paper, great! Piping frosting on cupcakes and flooding icing on cookies, totally manageable! But combine writing + piping, and I completely lose control of my hand.
Recently, my talented assistant Stephanie came to my rescue, and helped me write on these conversation heart-inspired cookies. Because we just can’t make Valentine’s Day cookies without the fun little sayings on top!
Conversation Heart Candies
If you aren’t familiar with conversation heart candies, they are a Valentine’s Day staple here in the U.S. They’re like little edible love notes! Pastel-colored, a little chalky-tasting, and totally iconic, conversation hearts have been around for over a century. Did you know the company that produces them comes up with a new theme each year, and creates new sayings to go along with that theme? The sayings are usually sweet or funny, but can even be sassy or sarcastic!
But you don’t need to buy a bag of conversation hearts to make today’s recipe. You just need a rolling pin, a heart-shaped cookie cutter, and a little inspiration for what to write on top (I provide some suggestions below).
So Much to Love About These Valentine’s Day Cookies
These lookalike (but tasteabetter) heart-shaped treats start with my trusty recipe for sugar cookies. The cookies are soft and buttery with crisp edges. The dough holds its shape wonderfully in the oven. Sharp and precise; no misshapen hearts!
- Soft, thick centers with slightly crisp edges
- Irresistible buttery vanilla flavor
- Made from simple ingredients
- Leave plain or flavor with extracts
- Hold shape while baking
- Freeze beautifully
- Easy-to-follow recipe used by beginner and expert bakers alike
Reader Sharon commented: “I have made this recipe probably 50 times and I absolutely love it! It’s not too sweet so when you add royal icing it makes it just perfect. ★★★★★”
We’re using royal icing for today’s Valentine’s Day sugar cookie decoration, but you can absolutely skip the writing and top them with buttercream like we do for these shamrock cookies, or use this easy glaze cookie icing instead.
Overview: How to Make Valentine’s Day Cookies
- Make cookie dough. You only need 7–8 ingredients. With so few ingredients, it’s important that you follow the recipe closely. Creamed butter and sugar provide the base of the cookie dough. Egg is the cookie’s structure and vanilla extract adds flavor. I almost always add a touch of almond extract for additional flavor and highly recommend that you try it too! Flour is an obvious addition, baking powder adds lift, and salt balances the sweet. By the way, you can create these Valentine’s Day cookies using my chocolate sugar cookies too!
- Divide in 2 pieces. Smaller sections of dough are easier to roll out.
- Roll out cookie dough. Roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness. If you have difficulty evenly rolling out dough, try this adjustable rolling pin. Such a brilliant invention!
- Chill rolled-out cookie dough. Without chilling, these cookie cutter sugar cookies won’t hold their shape. Chill the rolled-out cookie dough for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Cut into shapes. If you need suggestions for cookie cutters, I love Ann Clark brand. (Not sponsored, just a genuine fan!) For the cookies pictured here, I used the 3.5-inch size from this set. You just need to make sure your heart cookie cutter is big enough to give you plenty of space to pipe the writing on—I think about 3 inches is good. You can use the same cookie cutter for these raspberry sugar cookies, too.
- Bake & cool. Depending on size, the cookies take about 12 minutes.
- Decorate. More on the icing below.
The Trick Is the Order of Steps
Notice how I roll out the dough BEFORE chilling it in the refrigerator? That’s my signature sugar cookie trick!
Let me explain why I do this. Just like when you’re making chocolate chip cookies, to prevent the cookies from over-spreading, the cookie dough must chill in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough right after you prepare it, then chill the rolled-out dough. (At this point the dough is too soft to cut into shapes.) Don’t chill the cookie dough and then try to roll it out because it will be too cold and difficult to work with. I divide the dough in half before rolling it out and highly recommend you do the same. Smaller sections of dough are simply more manageable.
Here’s another trick! Roll out the cookie dough directly on silicone baking mats or parchment paper sheets so you can easily transfer it to the refrigerator. Pick the whole thing up, set it on a baking sheet, and place it in the refrigerator. If you don’t have enough room for 2 baking sheets in your refrigerator, you can stack the pieces of rolled-out dough on top of each other (with parchment or baking mat in between).
Royal Icing Is Best for Writing on Cookies
This royal icing is my preferred sugar cookie icing because it’s easy to use, dries in a couple hours, and doesn’t have a texture comparable to hardened cement. (It’s actually on the softer side!)
I make the royal icing with meringue powder. Meringue powder takes the place of liquid raw egg whites, which is found in traditional royal icing recipes. It eliminates the need for fresh eggs, but still provides the same consistency. You can find meringue powder in some baking aisles, most craft stores with a baking section, or shop for meringue powder online.
The trickiest part is landing on the perfect royal icing consistency. My royal icing video is included in the written recipe below, so use that to help guide you.
Tools You Need for Decorating These Heart Sugar Cookies
- 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, violet, green, and orange; and red for the writing.
- Disposable or reusable piping bags.
- Coupler(s): If you only have 1 piping tip and want to decorate with multiple colors of icing, keep the tip on the outside of the bag by using a coupler so you can easily transfer the piping tip to other bags of colored icing.
- Round Icing Tip #4: For piping the royal icing on top of each cookie (outlining and flooding).
- Round Icing Tip #2: For piping the writing on top of the iced cookies.
I stuck with the shortest possible sayings and words because, well… you know my struggle. Some *short* conversation heart text inspiration:
- Me & U
Have fun with it, and don’t worry about making them look perfect. You can even skip the writing for plain pastel Valentine’s Day cookies. Your Valentine will appreciate your efforts no matter what. 😉 And all that practice will get you ready for decorating Easter cookies a few weeks later!
More Valentine’s Day Desserts
- Valentine’s Day Cupcakes
- Sparkle Sweetheart Cookies
- Red Velvet Cake
- Lava Cakes
- Homemade Chocolate Truffles
See even more Valentine’s Day dessert recipes.Print
Valentine’s Day Cookies
- Prep Time: 2 hours
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 6 hours (includes icing setting)
- Yield: 20 3.5-inch cookies
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
These decorated Valentine’s Day heart sugar cookies resemble conversation heart candies—so fun for the holiday! I include the full set of special tools and equipment I use in the Notes below.
- 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled), plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks or 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but makes the flavor outstanding)*
- 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I use and recommend Domino brand)
- 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
- 9–10 Tablespoons room-temperature water
- gel food coloring kit for tinting (or any gel food coloring)
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld 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.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be a bit soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2–3 large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. If it’s sticking to the bottom, run your hand under it to help remove it. Using a heart cookie cutter (pictured cookies use the 3.5-inch size), cut the dough into hearts. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. (Note: It may not seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.)
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11–12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheets halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
- Make the icing: I have a video for how to make royal icing below. Use that as your guide for this step. Combine sifted confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and 9 Tablespoons of water in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat 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, beat in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. I usually need 10 Tablespoons, but on particularly dry days, I may use up to 12–14 Tablespoons. Keep in mind that the longer you beat the royal icing, the thicker it becomes. If your royal icing is too thin, just keep beating it to introduce more air OR you can add more sifted confectioners’ sugar. Yields about 3 cups of icing.
- Separate icing into 6 different bowls. (Or fewer bowls, depending how many colors you want.) 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. For that, stir in 2–3 drops of red. You won’t use the red icing for a couple hours after the base icing sets, so place a damp paper towel directly on the surface of it. This prevents it from hardening.
- Spoon or pour the pastel icings into piping bags (disposable or reusable) fitted with round piping tip #4. If you only have 1 tip and want to decorate with multiple colors of icing, keep the tip on the outside of the bag by using a coupler so you can easily transfer the piping tip to other bags of colored icing. Decorate cookies with colored icing by piping a border around the edges and then filling it. Let the icing-covered cookies mostly set, uncovered, for at least 2 hours before adding writing.
- Spoon or pour the red icing into a piping bag (disposable or reusable) fitted with round piping tip #2. Write desired words/messages on the cookies (ideas/suggestions listed in the post above!). Writing icing will set within 2–3 hours.
- Decorated or plain cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
- 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 45–60 minutes before cutting into shapes and baking.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer) | Baking Sheets | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Rolling Pin or this Adjustable Rolling Pin | Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutter | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Color Kit | Disposable or Reusable Piping Bags | Couplers | Meringue Powder | Wilton Tip #4 | Wilton Tip #2
- Room Temperature: Room temperature butter is essential. If the dough is too sticky, your butter may have been too soft. Room temperature butter is actually cool to the touch. Room temperature egg is preferred so it’s quickly and evenly mixed into the cookie dough.
- Flavors: 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. Instead of the almond extract, try using 1 teaspoon of maple extract, coconut extract, lemon extract, or peppermint extract. Or add 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon. If using lemon extract, you can also add 1 Tablespoon lemon zest.
- Easy Glaze Icing: 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 that icing because it isn’t stable like royal icing.
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips, my 10 must-have cookie baking tools, and here’s the best way to ship cookies!
Keywords: valentine’s day cookies, heart sugar cookies
Reader Comments & Reviews
Mine came out way to dry.
I love this recipe I will try it
This is the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever found. Love making these for the holidays and birthdays. They turn out perfect every time! Thanks Sally!
Excellent recipe. We all love the cookies. I was out of almond extract so instead added a smidge of fiori di sicilia. Tasty! I used a brown butter frosting rather than the royal icing. I’ll be keeping this recipe for future holidays!
Such a great and easy recipe! I used the alternate icing recipe with corn syrup, and it worked out really well!
The best!! The cookie and the icing pure perfection!
I made sugar cookies yesterday for Valentine’s day, so disappointed in this Just made the Valentine’s sugar cookie. the flavor was not there. And I did add the almond extract. So disappointed
I’m making these today but am confused by the measurements. 2-1/4 cups of flour was around 360grams, not the 281 grams you mention. Am I missing something?
I just decided to measure out all ingredients instead of weighing them, which is not what I usually do for baking.
Hi Kerry! We consistently weigh 1 cup of spooned and leveled flour as 125g, and that is how the recipes on this website are tested. We recommend using 281g. You can read more about properly measuring baking ingredients!
I made this cookies today and they were perfect! I had the dough in the fridge for about 2.5 hours and it was easy to work with and so easy to cut out hearts. I used the royal icing and they taste great together!
Thank you for helping me conquering sugar cookies!! These are perfect!
I have been looking for a good cut out cookie recipe for holiday decorating for awhile and this recipe is a real winner. It tastes great and excellent texture. I made with her buttercream frosting recipe
This sugar cookie recipe has become one of my faves!! So easy. And I’m not good at decorating but I made heart shaped cookies and dunked them in the icing and put on sprinkles! Yummy!!
I love love love this recipe sally!!!
Hi Sally, I wanted to make a box out of cookie to fill with some homemade truffles I’m making! Will this cookie hold up or is it too soft? Thanks!
Hi Stella, a cutout sugar cookie like this should hold up well as a box. You can use some royal icing to help hold it together like we do for our gingerbread house. You may want to bake them for just a minute or two longer so they are even sturdier. Hope you enjoy it!