Holiday Cookie Countdown: The BEST Sugar Cookie Cut-outs and Paint-on Icing

sugar cookie cutouts

I think sugar cookies are a very personal thing. I won’t claim to have the best recipe for everyone, but this is, hands down, the best recipe I’ve ever found for my family.

Here’s what this recipe is:
Rich and buttery; with hints of vanilla and almond
Holds its shape incredibly well (no spreading)
Crisp and crunchy on the outside; tender on the inside

Here’s what this recipe is NOT:
Thin and crispy

Some people really like those crisp, paper-thin sugar cookies. I am not one of them. I like a nice thick, buttery, tender cookie with a crispy outer crust. This recipe is actually one used for cookie bouquets so the dough is nice and sturdy.

For the icing, when I’m decorating with my kids I do not want something where we have to pipe on a border and then flood it with runnier icing. That looks great, but it’s too complicated. I discovered this paint-on icing at a cooking class, and it’s the easiest and most beautiful alternative. It dries smooth and shiny.

Tip: Refrigerating the dough just before baking is key to the cookie holding its shape and not spreading. Don’t skip it!

Holiday Cookie Countdown: The BEST Sugar Cookie Cut-outs and Paint-on Icing

Holiday Cookie Countdown: The BEST Sugar Cookie Cut-outs and Paint-on Icing



3 cups (13.5 oz) all-purpose flour*

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks butter, unsalted, softened (8 oz)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Paint-on icing:

1 cup powdered sugar

4 teaspoons milk

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

gel or paste food coloring (as desired)


For cookies:

*I highly suggest weighing the flour if you have a scale. If you don't have one, make sure you're lightly spooning the flour in the measuring cup then sweeping to level it off. (Don't dunk the whole cup in the flour.)

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, salt and both extracts and mix until combined.

Slowly add flour mixture (1 cup at a time) and mix just until incorporated

Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.

Pinch off half the dough and keep the rest chilled and covered while you work with the first half. Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/4-inch thick. Cut the cookies into shapes, re-rolling dough once to use scraps, and place the cut cookie shape on a parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheet. Place the whole cookie sheet back in the fridge (or on your porch/garage if it's cold) for 30 min. (This will ensure the cookies don't spread when you bake them.) Repeat with other half of dough.

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake the cookies for approximately 8-10 minutes or just until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

For icing:

Combine powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup and extract. Add food coloring as desired. Repeat in as many colors as you like. If icing thickens over time, add more corn syrup.

Use a small, clean paint brush to paint on cooled cookies. Add sprinkles or other decorative items.

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  1. […] sugar cookies always seem to turn out thin and crispy, but not this year.  With the help of this recipe from Sugar Mama Cooks, I finally found […]

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