Sugar Cookies

What says Memorial Day Weekend more than a barbecue?  And at all barbecues there needs to be dessert!  So why not make some decorated sugar cookies?!

I won’t lie to you, decorating cookies is time consuming definitely if you’re as much of a perfectionist as I am.  Of course you don’t have to take it to the next level like I do, but I have added some tips at the bottom on an easy design that I do often.

The way that I decorate sugar cookies is with a Royal icing.  Royal icing is made from 3 ingredients: confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder, and water.  Meringue powder is dried egg whites with some cornstarch in it to keep it from clumping.  I use meringue powder in Royal icing because it is pasteurized so leaving cookies at room temperature or outside in the sun isn’t putting anyone’s health in danger; compared to fresh egg whites.

To make the Royal icing add all 3 ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and turn it to high.  You have to whip the egg to stiff peaks or else the icing won’t set and will be extremely runny.  The action of whipping the reconstituted egg whites makes the tight proteins loose.  These now looser proteins get incorporated with air that gets whipped in and results in a stiffer icing.

Now that you have some background, time for the recipes!


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and sea salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream butter and sugar for 4 minutes.
  4. Add the egg and extracts, mix together.
  5. Mix in the flour into the wets.
  6. Divide the dough in half.  With one half; on a generously floured counter-top roll out to 1/4 inch thick.  Use whatever cookie cutters you want and transfer to the oven.
  7. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, they should look a little under cooked.
  8. Continue to roll and cut dough until it is all used.



  • 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 7 teaspoons warm water
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment add all ingredients into the bowl.
  2. Whip the icing on high speed for 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.



  1. Divide the icing into different bowls and add food dye.  When not using a color, cover the bowl with a wet paper towel to keep the icing from drying out.
  2. Have a basic design in mind before you start so you’ll know how many colors you’ll need.
  3. I start by piping an outline with thick icing.  cookies7
  4. After outlining all cookies, thin icing by slowly adding water until it’s watery.
  5. Flood the inside of the outline with the watered down icing. cookies8
  6. You can either wait for the cookies to dry or do one of my go-to designs.  With another color, with a toothpick place dots. cookies9
  7. Next using a toothpick drag it though the top of the dot and through the bottom. cookies10

Now time to get decorating!


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