Best Ever Sugar Cookies & Royal Icing

This sugar cookie dough recipe is a hand-me-down from a friends mom, so you know it’s good! The dough handles very well and bakes into tender and sweet sugar cookies that we LOVE. The yield is about 5 dozen when using standard cookie cutters, so it’s perfect for sharing or doing a cookie-exchange.

Painted Fork | Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing

Painted Fork | Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing
Painted Fork | Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing
I’ve also included a recipe for my favorite royal icing, which has that classic vanilla-almond flavor combo with a splash of lemon to cut through some of the sweetness. This royal icing is nice and firm, so you can stack the cookies once completely dry.


Painted Fork | Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies and Royal IcingSimple recipe for classic cut-out Christmas sugar cookies with the perfect royal icing for decorating. Makes about 5 dozen 2-inch cookies and icing dries hard for stacking and sharing. | #paintedfork @paintedfork

Best Ever Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 cup butter, softened (not melted!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 cups a.p. flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest


  1. Cream butter and sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in eggs, vanilla, lemon zest. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cover and chill dough for at least 1 hour before use. (or freeze in plastic wrap for future use; thaw in fridge overnight)
  4. Roll out portions of dough on powdered sugar (instead of flour – genius!) and cut into desired shapes. Dust off excess powdered sugar and keeps scraps and extra dough in the fridge between uses. Repeat until you run out of dough! Keeping your cookie dough cold when not in used prevents spreading and helps your cut out shapes look nice and sharp. Yield is usually about 5 dozen with 2″ cookie cutters.
  5. Your chilled dough should be slightly firm. If it’s soft and shiny, your butter is starting to soften. Simply place it back in the fridge for a few minutes.
  6. Bake ~7-8 minutes at 400°F; allow cookies to cool 5 mins on the pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will be pale and that’s ok!
  7. Decorate with my favorite royal icing recipe. Set aside and allow to dry completely before stacking — about 15 minutes.

cropped-cropped-cropped-paintedfork-800x418.png | @paintedfork | #paintedfork

Favorite Royal Icing

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder (I have been using Wilton brand and love it!)
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, as needed


  1. Beat ingredients together in a large bowl, adding small amounts of water gradually until smooth and creamy. Icing should be slightly thick with soft peaks (like a glue) and not runny. Add additional flavoring as desired.
  2. Divide icing into different bowls and add food coloring as desired.
  3. Decorate cookies and set aside to dry for 10-15 minutes or until icing has turned matte in color and is smudge-free.
  4. Enjoy!

cropped-cropped-cropped-paintedfork-800x418.png | @paintedfork | #paintedfork

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