Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies + Sugar Cookie Icing
Don’t have the time or skills to make fancy pipe-decorated sugar cookies? Today I offer you my absolute favorite EASY Sugar Cookie Icing and Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe for parties, picnics, and holiday baking endeavors.
You Can Make Amazing Cut-Out Sugar Cookies… Yes, You Really Can.
We all love the look of those intricately decorated sugar cookies that have been piped and filled with royal icing. When you buy them at a bakery you can tell a true artist has been at work!
Yet most home bakers don’t have the time, or practice, to make cookies like this when they need them for a party or event.
Our SUPER EASY Cut-Out Sugar Cookies are dipped in my personal favorite Sugar Cookie Icing, then lightly decorated with sprinkles. No piping skills are required!
Our Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
This is my most beloved cut-out sugar cookie recipe and sugar cookie icing, because it’s a sad truth that most “pretty” cookies don’t taste great… And I hate that!
Here’s Why You’ll Love Our Recipe
- This recipe makes delicate tender cookies with a mild spice flavor that can still hold up to being rolled and cut. *You can omit the spice if you like, for a true vanilla-flavored sugar cookie, but the faint “pumpkin spice sugar cookies” flavor really makes these cookies stand out!
- The cookie dough can be made days in advance, so it’s easy to roll and bake when you need it.
- The Sugar Cookie Icing is silky and dries with a satin sheen.
- The icing can be flavored with any extract and colored to use for any occasion.
- You can dip the cookies, instead of piping them, then wipe the edges with a toothpick to remove drippage.
- This method is great for bakers of all ages!
Here’s What You’ll Need…
Cut Out Sugar Cookies Ingredients
- Butter – Make sure to set unsalted butter out in advance to let it soften naturally. Softened butter beaten with sugar is what creates the delicate cookie texture. Do not melt the butter, just soften it.
- Sugar – Super-fine granulated white sugar is best.
- Salt – Table salt or sea salt.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice – This spice blend offers a light spicy note that really makes these cookies taste amazing, no matter the season. You can skip the spice blend if you like, for a simple vanilla cookie flavor, or swap the 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice with an apple pie spice blend.
- Eggs – Use two whole eggs, plus one extra yolk, to give the cookies extra richness.
- Vanilla Extract – For the quintessential comforting undertones.
- All-Purpose Flour – Make sure to stir and fluff the flour. Then scoop it into measuring cups and level.
Sugar Cookie Icing Ingredients
- Half & Half – AKA half milk and half cream, for a silky smooth texture and appearance.
- Flavor Extract – Use any extract you like! Almond, rum, lemon, and vanilla or my personal favorites.
- Powdered Sugar – To thicken and sweeten the cookies. If the icing is too runny, you can always add a little more powdered sugar.
Pro Tip: This icing combination creates a light glaze-style icing that can be used as a dip, spread with a butter knife, or even piped. It does not hold its shape quite like royal icing, but it tastes so much better. To make a slightly stiffer version for piping, add an extra 1/2 – 1 cup powdered sugar.
Necessary Baking Equipment
Here are the items you will need to make this recipe…
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Plastic Wrap – to wrap and chill the cookie dough in small sections
- Rolling Pin
- Baking Sheets
- Parchment Paper – this helps with even baking and makes it easy to move the cookies off the sheets after baking
- Baking Wire Rack/Cooling Rack – (optional) helpful for drying the cookies after dipping, but it’s not necessary
- Bowl(s) – for mixing the icing
- Food Coloring and Sprinkles – (optional) for decoration
- Toothpicks – for decorating
Roll Out Sugar Cookie Dough Tips and Tricks
- DON’T OVER MIX. It’s important to beat (cream) the butter and sugar together long enough to break down the sugar crystals and fluff the butter mixture. Don’t skip this step! However, once you add the flour you can over-mix the dough and make the cookies tough. Once all the flour is well incorporated, turn off the mixer.
- COLD DOUGH. In order to produce cut-out cookies with the perfect shape and texture EVERY TIME, the dough MUST be cold. Wrap your dough into several small disks, so you can take one piece out of the fridge at a time for rolling.
- FLOUR WELL. Don’t be shy when flouring your work surface. More flour means you will have an easier time moving the cookies to the baking sheets. Keep a small flat spatula nearby in case of counter-stickage.
- CUT CLOSE. The most tender cookies are the cookies that are cut out on the first roll. Try to leave as little space between your cutting as possible.
- GATHER & REROLL. The cookies on the second and third rolls will still be soft and tender, just ever so slightly less so. After each roll and cut, gather the dough, re-roll, and cut out as many cookies as possible.
(Also, see Recipe Instructions below.)
Sugar Cookie Icing Tips and Tricks
- WHISK. Mix the icing with a whisk to remove all clumps.
- TAP. Although the whisking is necessary, it creates a lot of bubbles. Once the icing is well combined, tap the bowl on the counter a few times to bring most of the bubbles to the surface.
- COLOR. If desired, split the icing into several smaller bowls and add food coloring for decorating.
- DIP. Yes, you can spread or pipe this icing, but the easiest method is simply dipping the face of the cookie into the icing, then tilt the cookie to the side and let the excess icing drip off back into the bowl.
- TOOTHPICKS! Toothpicks are a highly underrated tool when it comes to cookie icing. Use a toothpick to pop any unwanted bubbles in the glaze, before the icing dries. Also use a toothpick to wipe off excess icing around the edges, before laying the cookies on a baking rack.
- DRY. Our best sugar cookie icing is pretty delicate the first couple hours, and will crackle when touched, but it does set up over time. For best results, allow the cookies to dry on racks for 3-4 hours after decorating.
But What If I’m A Decorating Expert?
This cookie glaze is a fabulous tasting icing, but it does crackle a little under pressure, a bit more than traditional cookie icing. If you want a thicker sturdier icing for meticulous piping use classic Royal Icing.
Royal Icing Recipe
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 10 tablespoons water
Combine in an electric mixer and beat for approximately 2 minutes. It should be thick and smooth.
After decoration, allow the cookies to dry for 2-3 hours before moving.
Is this favorite cookie icing good for piping bag designs?
You can also pipe this icing if you like. It is not quite as firm as royal icing, but the taste and texture are MUCH better! Add 1/2 – 1 cup extra powdered sugar if needed until you get to the right consistency. It would be easier to outline the shape with the color needed/wanted and then flood (or fill) in that outline.
Sugar Cookie Variations
We are crazy over the barely-there pumpkin spice sugar cookies flavor. But if you want to switch things up…
- Skip the spice blend for classic vanilla-flavored cut out cookies.
- Swap the spice blend for cocoa powder for a barely-there chocolate note in the dry ingredients.
- Swap the vanilla extract for almond extract or lemon extract.
- Jimmie sprinkles can be added to the cookie dough for confetti cookies.
- Cookie Pops! Gently press a lollipop stick into the side of each cookie before baking. Then ice and decorate.
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Store The Extra Cookies
These cookies can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, for up to a week.
You can freeze this recipe at various stages and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Wrap and freeze the dough for later use.
- Wrap and freeze the baked undecorated cookies, to decorate at a later time.
- Wrap and freeze fully decorated cookies. Wrap each cookie individually in plastic to protect its appearance.
Can I Use Frosting Instead of Icing?
I use icing for this recipe because it is thin, therefore less sweet than frosting. Yet you can make sugar cookie frosting instead. Use our buttercream frosting recipe and add gel food coloring to change up the designs from cookie to cookie.
How Do I Double This Recipe?
If you are looking to make more than one batch of cookies, the recipe card at the bottom of the post has a “serving scale” that you can use to adjust how many cookies you want to make. So no matter how many you choose to make, you will end up with perfect sugar cookies!
More Favorite Cookie Recipes
- Best Sugar Cookies (for soft round cookies)
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Scottish Shortbread
- Lemon Crinkle Cookies
- Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Perfect Linzer Cookies
- Christmas Cookies by RecipeTin Eats
- Mini Meringues Recipe by Cooking LSL
Check the printable recipe below for nutritional information including calories, carbohydrates, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin percentages. Make sure to share this recipe on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe with Sugar Cookie Icing
For the Cut Out Cookies:
For the Sugar Cookie Icing:
- 2/3 cup half & half
- 1 teaspoon extract flavor of choice
- 4 cups powdered sugar
For the Cut Out Cookie Recipe:
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy—5 minutes. Add the salt, pumpkin pie spice, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat to combine.
- Slowly add the flour until the dough in smooth. Then separate the dough and wrap it in 4 separate pieces. Place in the fridge and chill for at least one hour. (Could be made weeks in advance.)
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove one disk at a time. Flour a work surface and roll the disk out to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Work fast and cut the cookies as close together as possible. The more times you roll out the dough the tougher it gets. Use a thin spatula to transfer the cookies onto the baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 6-9 minutes. Cool completely on the cookie sheets before moving.
For the Sugar Cookie Icing:
- Whisk the half & half, extract and powdered sugar together until smooth. Add food coloring if desired. Dip and face of each cookie into the icing. Use a toothpick to wipe the excess icing off the edges of the cookie and to pop the air bubble in the surface of the icing. Then set on a rack to dry.