The BEST Christmas Sugar Cookies EVER (and How to Decorate Them)

5 from 12 votes
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The BEST Christmas Cookies EVER begin and end with this soft, chewy, simple sugar cookie recipe. Decorate them with royal icing and you have the perfect gift for neighbors and friends!

Christmas cookies on a plate

The BEST Christmas Sugar Cookies EVER

We love these Christmas sugar cookies, but there are so many different kinds of Christmas treats and candies it’s impossible to pick a favorite! If it’s cookies you are looking for, we have dozens of cookie & brownie recipes to last you all year long!

Baking a big batch of traditional Christmas cookies is one of our favorite family holiday traditions. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas until we’ve pulled out the cookie cutters and created Christmas delights with our kids. There’s no need to buy them from the store; save lots of money and make them yourself! It’s such a fun way to spend a cold, winter afternoon with the littles (or not-so-littles). Give these traditional Christmas sugar cookies a try!

cute girls decorating Christmas cookies

What Are Rolled Cookies?

Decorated Christmas cookies with icing and sprinkles

Rolled cookies are cookies that are made by rolling out a stiff dough and then using cookie cutters to cut various shapes. Shaped sugar cookies (like the recipe below) and gingerbread cookies are an example of rolled Christmas cookies. Rolled cookies are the easiest to decorate because they stay nice and flat, even after baking. In my opinion, they are the most traditional Christmas cookies and most fun to decorate. Follow our guide and tips below to make these cookies perfectly every time!

How to Get Neat Edges on Christmas Sugar Cookies

I WISH I could take credit for this one because it is such an awesome baking hack. Full credit goes to Allie over at Baking a Moment. She suggests adding in some cornstarch to get the edges just right. She is the first person I have ever heard of who has done this and it worked beautifully! I swapped out a ½ cup of flour in my original sugar cookie recipe (our original recipe calls for 3 ½ cups of flour) for some cornstarch and it worked like a dream and I will always make cut-out cookies this way from now on! I give her full credit for this genius idea and highly recommend checking out her site for more genius baking hacks (and INCREDIBLY delicious-looking desserts and treats).

Sugar cookie dough cut into Christmas shapes

Use a rolling pin with guides to help roll out your dough to a perfectly even thickness (this one is my favorite). I like the ones where you can adjust the thickness by removing and replacing the different-sized rings. That way you can make them any thickness you want. I like mine on the thicker side so I like to use the ⅜ ring when rolling out my cookie dough.

What Supplies Do I Need to Decorate Christmas Sugar Cookies?

Plain undecorated Christmas sugar cookies

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the perfect sugar cookie: thick, creamy frosting atop a soft cookie, or shiny silky royal icing smoothly covering the cookie’s surface. For those shiny, beautifully decorated cookies, we recommend decorating Christmas cookies with royal icing. This recipe is so easy to make, and is enough to decorate dozens of your favorite Christmas cookies (see more on how to do this below).

Royal icing for Christmas cookies in bowls

If you’re not so much worried about presentation, but want to sink your teeth into a thick, creamy cookie, use our favorite cream cheese frosting. It’s so good, you could eat it by the spoonful! Top your Christmas sugar cookies with this luscious frosting to taste, add some sprinkles or candies, and call it a day!

Christmas cookies ready to be decorated

How to Decorate Christmas Sugar Cookies

You can decorate Christmas cookies like a pro– it’s easier than it looks! To decorate the Christmas Cookies like we did in the pictures above, we used royal icing and flood icing (flood icing is just royal icing that is watered down a little bit — you can find the recipes HERE). For sake of ease, we usually keep the royal icing white and use that for the outline but you can add color if you would like. Place the icing in a piping bag with a #3 round tip and outline the cookies. Then, thin the remaining icing out, place it in separate bowls, and add the food coloring.

Christmas cookie in a star shape with icing

Once you have it thinned and colored, pour the icing into individual squeeze bottles. Fill in the outlines on the cookies with the flood icing and then use a toothpick to fill in any little gaps (see pictures to get an idea of how this is done). You can do the swirl designs by adding dots of different colors over your base color and swirling with a toothpick. This is also how you get the “line of hearts” look (see picture below). Add sprinkles for more dimension and design. Be creative and have fun!

Sleigh Christmas cookie being decorated

Can Sugar Cookies be Frozen?

One of the biggest perks of making these Christmas cookies is the ability to make them ahead of time. Here are a few tips for freezing cookies:

  1. Make sure to freeze them individually, like on a cookie sheet, until they’ve cooled completely.
  2. Once frozen, you can layer them in a freezer safe container using wax paper or freezer paper in between the layers.
  3. It’s best if you freeze the unfrosted cookies, then frost before serving. But if you want to decorate the cookies with frosting, freeze completely not touching, until frozen solid. Then you can layer as directed above.

How Long Do Christmas Cookies Stay Fresh?

Once you’ve decorated your masterpieces, these yummy goodies will stay fresh when stored in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap on the counter for about three days. You can also chill them in the refrigerator (I love my sugar cookies chilled before eating). If you freeze them, keep them in an airtight container or a freezer bag and they’ll stay nice and edible for up to a month in the freezer.

Can You Take Cookies On a Plane?

If you’re planning to fly the friendly skies this holiday season, here’s a friendly reminder from our TSA friends: you can definitely bring homemade goodies like cookies, pies, or cakes on an airplane in your carry-on bags, as long as you allow it to be inspected by officials. So you can share your baked treats with loved ones no matter how many miles separate you. Which brings us to another point…

Can You Ship or Mail Christmas Sugar Cookies?

Yes! Put the cookie tin or airtight container in a heavy-duty cardboard shipping box and make sure the cookies are surrounded with shipping peanuts or newspaper. To keep your cookies soft and chewy, add a small piece of bread or slice or apple to the container, which helps keep their freshness.

Decorated Christmas cookies on a plate

More Delicious Christmas Cookies

In our professional opinion, the more Christmas cookies during the holidays the better! Here are some more of our favorites to make this time of year:

Not to mention even MORE of our favorite cookies and treats for the holidays:

Decorated Christmas cookies on a plate

The BEST Christmas Cookies EVER (and How to Decorate Them)

5 from 12 votes
The BEST Christmas Cookies EVER begin and end with this soft, chewy, simple sugar cookie recipe. Decorate them with royal icing and you have the perfect gift for neighbors and friends!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Cooling time 1 hr
Total Time 20 mins
Course cookies
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir until well combined. 
  • Cut COLD butter into cubes (they don’t need to be perfect) and add to the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if you are using a hand mixer). 
  • Add sugar and mix together until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  • Add 1 egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix until well combined. 
  • Add the flour/cornstarch mixture in and mix on low speed until crumbles form (if you are at a higher elevation and the crumbles seem a little too dry you can add a tablespoon or two of water–not too much though, you want it to be crumbly, not sticky). 
  • Remove crumbles from mixer and knead into a ball. Place between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to about 3/8-1/2″ thickness (however thick you want the cookies to be is how thick you want to roll it out– these cookies aren’t going to rise very much, if at all). 
  • Use Christmas cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the dough. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or parchment paper.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool COMPLETELY before icing with royal icing or cream cheese frosting, (see links below for icing/frosting recipes)

Video

Notes

For our Royal Icing Recipe and Flood Icing Recipe, click HERE. (This is the icing we used in the pictures above. Royal icing is ideal for beautiful, detailed decorating.)
For our Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe, click HERE. (Cream cheese frosting is great for those who care less about the fancy decorating and instead prefer thick, creamy frosting that you can eat by the spoonful)

Nutrition Information

Calories: 217kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 2gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 137mgPotassium: 25mgFiber: 1gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 245IUCalcium: 6mgIron: 0.8mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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