Butter Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Southern Kitchen
Christmas cookie wreath

Serves: 8

Hands On Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes



4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups (3 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1/4 cup milk


1/4 cup water, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons meringue powder (see note)

4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

GEL food coloring (optional)


To make the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla bean paste until creamy. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the flour mixture, and continue to mix until combined. Mix in the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to mix just until blended.

Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

On a lightly floured counter or pastry slab, roll out one half of the dough until it measures about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into shapes using cookie cutters and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Freeze for 5 minutes.

Bake the cookies until lightly golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 3 to 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

To make the icing: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the water and meringue powder on medium-high until a slight foam forms. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla until the icing becomes light and airy, about 2 minutes. If it is not thin enough for decorating, beat in water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it has the consistency of pancake batter. Beat in food coloring if desired.

Decorate the cookies using icing spatulas or a piping bag. Serve.

About the recipe

These sugar cookies are extremely simple to whip together; the only caveat is that you want the dough nice and refrigerated before you go to roll them and put them on a sheet. Then, once you’ve cut your shapes out and placed them on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, pop them back in the freezer for 5 minutes before baking to ensure that the dough doesn’t spread. No one likes a snowflake that’s turned into a snowball. The finishing touch for presentation is up to you. You can store them in Christmas tins, or arranged them on a platter in a Christmas wreath as seen above.

Meringue powder can be found in the baking decor aisle of most supermarkets and big-box stores.

This recipe comes courtesy of the blog Darling Down South, where it first appeared.