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Sugar cookies recipe and decorating tips

Updated on June 28, 2011

A good sugar cookie recipe is hard to find and that is why I have decided to share the one I use. It is by far the best recipe I have ever used for sugar cookies and it's almost fail proof.

Sugar Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter flavored shortening (Please do not substitute. U sing butter or margarine will give you different results.)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Directions: In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove cookies from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.


By lining the cookie sheet with parchment paper you get a less crispy cookie and the bottoms will be a lighter shade of brown from baking.Also they will not stick to your cookie sheet.

You can roll the cookie dough out between two sheets of parchment paper. This will keep your rolling pin clean and counter tops clean. This tip also let's you roll the dough out without adding more flour to the recipe from the rolling and cutting using a floured surface.

When rolling out the dough, use a ruler to measure the thickness of the dough at the edge to make sure your dough is at the desired thickness for uniform results.


There are many ways and recipes to ice sugar cookies depending on the look and taste that you are going for. I will include three different recipes for different decorating results.

Soft and fluffy icing recipe (like the famous Lofthouse cookie icing)

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • Food coloring

in a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, confectioners' sugar, almond extract and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desire.

Royal Icing (used for piping outlines. Dries hard and shiny)

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder (can also substitute 2 egg whites)
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water

Beat all ingredients at low speed for 7 to 10 minutes, or until icing forms peaks. Tip: Keep icing covered with a wet kitchen towel at all times. Icing can dry out quickly.

Add more water to the above recipe to make icing easier to spread or flood for filling in outlines.

Glaze ( used to flood or fill in small outlines and can be used for dipping)

  • 1 cup powdered sugar,
  • 1T. clear corn syrup
  • 2 T. water.

Mix very well. Stir icing between each use as it will try to seperate. best used for small surfaces.

Icing tips:

Royal icing can be used in a pastry bag with a round #2 or #3 decorating tip for outlining. If pastry bags are not available you can used small zippered sandwich bags by cutting a small piece of the bottom corner.

You can also use pastry bags or zippered sandwich bags after royal icing is thinned to fill in outlines. You can also use a spoon, knife or decorator spatula and paint brushes.

Let outline dry for at least one hour before filling. If you plan on adding additional decor on top of fill in let icing dry for 2-3 hours.

If using pastry bags for filling in use toothpicks to spread icing and fill in any gaps between filling and outline.

After your cookies using royal icing have dried you can then stack and wrap in plastic wrap or stored in air tight container. This will keep cookies soft for days.

I hope you guys enjoy these recipes!


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    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      1/2 teaspoon salt. so sorry i didn't include it. :)

    • profile image

      Robbie 5 years ago

      I need to know about the salt too... How much do we use? PLEASE answer, I really want to make this recipe... Thanks!

    • profile image

      Jen 6 years ago

      The directions call for salt but the ingredients doesn't have it listed?

    • profile image

      Linda 6 years ago

      How much salt should I use in the cookie dough?

    • Chuck RitenouR profile image

      Chuck RitenouR 7 years ago from Front Royal, Virginia

      Love cookies...can't eat them as much any more. No I'm not watching my "girlish" figure....I'm!

      It will be a pleasure following you...under other conditions, a stranger following you would be a stalker....just saying.

    • sheryld30 profile image

      sheryld30 8 years ago from California

      Thanks for the tips. I will try this. Love it! Thanks! :)

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 8 years ago

      Great recipe and wonderful ideas, yum yum!

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Dolores, they do make a mess but worth it. I love sugar cookies, I could eat them all day everyday but I have decided to change my fat ass ways and have to lay off the cookies. Now I just get to make them for other people and can only sneak a bite or two. LOL, don't tell anyone I'm cheating on my doet though.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Mmmm. love them sugar cookies, especially with icing. Every Christmas we make a ton of them, boy, what a mess but so much fun!

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Aww, Thnaks LM. I keep a few hidden myself so no fear of me ratting you out. I'm so glad I don't have to dye Easter eggs anymore. My kids are to big for that. I love the fluffy icing too, but don't get a chance to use it very often, everyone wants the highly detailed decorated cookie, sometimes you just need a big flat fluffy cookie. At least I do anyway. LOL.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      I should have, Gwendy. I really should have. I still have a trail of pink stain on the ceiling from an egg-dying mishap that I have yet to paint over. It gets a little crazy around here.

      The cookies are delicious!!!! I was so excited to try your new recipe, and it didn't disappoint. I hid a couple in one of the top cabinets. Not even the hubby knows they're there. We'll keep that between you and me. :-))

      We didn't use the fluffy icing. One new recipe at a time.... but the royal icing and glaze are always a hit on sugar cookies--especially ones made from your recipe!

      I don't mean to gush, but they really were THAT good.

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      I know what you mean about the sticks. When I was growing up we used to go to a bakery on saturdays and my favorite thing was these donuts on a stick. They just tasted better than any kind of donut.

      No chance of me getting bored today LM. I have a cake to bake and crumb coat and laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and sweeping and mopping to do. The house works really doesn't ever end. I'm thinking you should line your kitchen with parcment paper. LOL.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      The girls will decorate them this afternoon. I bought several of the cookie pans that have the groove for the sticks. We use them alot. I'm not sure why the stick makes them taste better, but whatever works, right?

      If you get bored around your house, come on over and help me clean up the frosting off the walls and ceilings!

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      LM, yes I will. The trick to that is to put the sticks in before you bake them. Also make sure that the more you bake the less cooking time you will need for each batch as your oven will be completely heated and your cookie sheet gets warmer. Some people say to let your oven preheat for a full 30 minutes to make that the ccore is heated correctly. Good luck.

      Are your kids helping to decorate? That should be a lot of fun.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      I'm going to attempt these today, but I think I'm going to put them on sticks. If I screw them up, will you drop ship me a box? :-)

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      G-ma, I'm not sure you might have to ask Christoph. I think he set it up.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Thanks Angel when is it again?? hee hee :O) Hugs

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      G-Ma you are always invited to my parties!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Glad to hear you are better, although I was not aware you weren't feeling well my dear...Love cookies too especially when someone else makes them yummm can I come to the party too...G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 8 years ago from Oklahoma

      Cr, you can come over anytime for a cookie. Actually they might be available soon sold on the web. I'm a little worried about my job security and have been looking into different ways to make a few bucks and this might be one of them.

      Laughing Mom, Thanks. I like em but I've got a huge sweet tooth. I'm glad I'm up and around too. I usually never get sick but I have had a sinus infection 6 times this year. We are in the middle of a drought and it's so dry around here. Static electricity id terrible too. Can't touch anything without getting zapped. We got our first moisture of the winter the other day so maybe it will get better soon. I hope so anyway.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      Wow! These look delicious! I'm glad you're up and around again.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

      When are you having everyone over for a cookie party, Gwendy? You have to now! I'm not gonna sit around here craving homemade sugar cookies forever! Let me check my schedule...let's see...I'm available.....anytime!