sugar cookies with royal icing

I’ve always thought that sugar cookies decorated with royal icing were beautiful, and probably way too difficult for my hardly-artistic self.  Luckily for me, Annie over at Annie’s Eats has a fantastic tutorial with the perfect level of detail for me to get these (mostly) right the first time.  I tried to keep it pretty simple, and I was really happy with how these turned out.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make anything too fancy, since I have about zero artistic talent AND don’t have the steadiest hands, but for now I’m more than content to be able to make something like these!


For the cookies:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 ½ cups sifted flour

For the icing:

  • 4 cups (1 lb.) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. meringue powder
  • 5 tbsp. water


To make the cookies, cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.  Add in the powdered sugar and mix until well combined.  Mix in the egg and then the extracts, combining thoroughly after each.  In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt.  Add to the butter mixture and mix on low speed just until combined.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.

When the dough is thoroughly chilled, roll it out on a well-floured surface to 1/4″ thickness.  Cut out with cookie cutters, re-rolling the scraps until all the dough is used.  Bake the cookies on parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheets for 7-9 minutes, or until set (the bottoms should not brown).  Move to wire cooling racks to cool completely.

To make the royal icing, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the icing loses its shine and has more of a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.  At this point, the icing will still be very stiff.  Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated.  Continue to add water a small amount at a time until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.  Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie.  Let stand until the icing sets.  Keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it doesn’t start to harden.

Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container.  Thin it out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and reincorporates back into the icing in the bowl within about 5-10 seconds.  If you go too far and the icing is too thin, just add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.  Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or piping bag), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it do so.  Allow to set completely (I left mine out overnight).

Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired!

For some great pictures of what the icing should look like at each stage, check out the tutorial linked below.

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

Source: Annie’s Eats

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