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!
The BEST Christmas Cookies EVER
Baking a big batch of traditional Christmas cookies is one of our favorite family holiday activities. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas until we’ve pulled out the cookie cutters and created Christmas delights with our children. 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 an afternoon with your kids.
What Supplies Do I Need to Decorate Christmas Cookies?
Icing bags (reusable or disposable)
Icing tip couplers
Decorating tips – I used a Wilton #3 round piping tip for the outlines- you can get them on Amazon (here) for about $1 or any craft store
Gel food coloring
Squeeze bottles – these can be found on Amazon, at Walmart or any craft store for about $1 a piece.
Toothpicks – These are to help you fill in the tiny little gaps and smooth over the icing
Christmas Sprinkles – get creative and have fun with any kind of sprinkles you can find!
What Frosting is Best for Christmas 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).
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, found in this recipe here. It’s so good, you could eat it by the spoonful! Top your Christmas sugar cookies with this luscious icing, add some sprinkles or candies, and call it a day!
How to Decorate Christmas 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.
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!
Can Christmas 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:
- Make sure to freeze them individually, like on a cookie sheet, until they’ve cooled completely.
- Once frozen, you can layer them in a freezer safe container using wax paper or freezer paper in between the layers.
- 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 on the counter for about three days. If you freeze them, they’ll stay nice and edible for up to a month in the freezer.
Can You Take Christmas 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 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.
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 1/2 cup of flour in my original sugar cookie recipe (our original recipe calls for 3 1/2 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).
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:
- Elf Cookies
- Chocolate Orange Cookies
- Grandma’s Soft Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread Cookies
- Andes Mint Cookies
- White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Brownies
- Easy Crock Pot Peanut Clusters
How to Make the BEST Christmas Cookies Ever
The BEST Christmas Cookies EVER (and How to Decorate Them)
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 cream together until smooth, 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)