Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing

burlap heart banner, cookies and a single red rose setting on a red table cloth.

Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing

Who loves a yummy Sugar Cookie and Royal Icing?  Well, who doesn’t, right? Our family loves a yummy melt in your mouth Sugar Cookie beautifully decorated with royal icing.  I enjoy decorating them for holiday’s, birthdays, weddings and more.. Now, I have my go to recipe for Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing. But, for this post I wanted to try a new and possibly better recipe for Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing.  

Here are some of my sugar cookies.


My search began on Pinterest where I found many worthy recipes.  Testing several of the highest rated recipes. All great recipes and yes delicious.  However, my taste tester hubby wasn’t over the top crazy for any of them. He said, “The bar is set pretty high” and he wasn’t certain there would be a recipe better than mine.  Ahh, what an amazing compliment.

Food Network

Next, I headed over to the Food Network.  I clicked around a bit, hitting on all my favorite Food Network star chef’s before entering Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing in the search bar.  On this day, the top recipe was developed by Alton Brown. With a 4.5 star average from 1115 reviews. The review ratings were great, as were the comments.  My next recipe test would be from Food Network’s star, Alton Brown. 

Sugar Cookies Ingredients

This recipe called for all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, milk, unsalted butter (softened), egg (beaten) and powdered sugar.  My curiosity got the best of me, I pulled out my tried and true Sugar Cookie recipe for a quick comparison. There were minor quantity differences, I use salted butter and mine didn’t have any milk. 

ingredients: flour, powdered sugar, sugar, butter, baking powder, milk, salt and egg.

Softened Butter

It’s important that the butter is softened.  After a quick squeeze test, I knew my butter wasn’t ready.  Has this ever happened to you? What’s a baker to do, right?  There are a few options; delay until the butter is softened, pop it in the microwave (Noooo, never!) or use an alternative and quick method to speed up the softening process.  Let’s go with the alternative quick tip method

Quick Tip

This tip has saved me countless times and without added time delays. What you’ll need:  sticks of butter, boiling water, two glasses or large coffee mugs, glass or paper plate and potholders.  It’s necessary for the glasses/mugs to be large enough that the wrapped sticks of butter don’t touch the glasses or mugs.

Once your water is boiling pour it into your glasses/mugs.  Let it rest in them until they are hot to the touch. This doesn’t take long.  Once the glass/mugs are heated use your pot holders and pour the water out. Stand your butter on end and set a heated glass/mug over each stick of butter. Walk away for a bit, gather your other ingredients together and allow the heat to transfer from the glasses to the butter.  Within no time, you’ll have perfectly softened butter. Do you have a quick tip to soften butter? If you do, please drop it in the comments section below!

Combining the Dry Ingredients

I’ve always sifted my dry ingredients together (except sugar) and that is also a part of Alton Brown’s recipe.  If you have a sifter great, if not, use a fine mesh strainer. Either method or kitchen tool will work. Once the dry ingredients are thoroughly sifted together, set the bowl aside.


Mixing bowls, measuring cup with flour and a bowl filled with flour.

Butter, Sugar, Eggs and Milk

Place softened butter and sugar into a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat together.  I blend until thoroughly mixed and the color is consistent. In a separate bowl beat milk and eggs together, then add to butter sugar mixture.  Combine together thoroughly.

woman beating egg in a mixing bowl.

Dry Mix into Wet

Slowly add the dry ingredients to your stand mixers bowl.  Continue slowly combining them together until all the ingredients are blended and pulling away from the mixing bowl.  Alton Brown recommends separating the dough into two parts, placing each part into a zip lock baggie. Cool cookie dough in the refrigerator for two hours prior to rolling out

Rolling Out the sugar cookies Dough

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  What you’ll need: two pieces of parchment paper, cookie cutter, rolling pin, spatula, powdered sugar and several cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.   I always roll out my sugar cookie dough between two pieces of parchment paper. Why? Glad you asked, lol. This prevents rolling pin lines on my rolled out cookie dough.  

The ideal thickness for rolled out cookie dough is ¼”.  You could “try” to eyeball this or use two ¼” wooden dowels, placing one on each side of your dough or use rubber spacers on your rolling pin.  

Cutting out and Baking

Use confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) to coat your work surface, rolling pin and cookie cutter.  Yep, that’s right, use powdered sugar. Alton Brown suggests confectioners sugar/powdered sugar instead of flour.  Explaining the confectioners sugar won’t make the cookies tough or hard. This is a great tip and I’ll use this from now on!

After rolling out the dough use your cookie cutter of choice and press straight down.  Then slide a spatula under your cookie cutter to transfer the cut out dough to your cookie sheet.  Another great tip I’ll continue to use.

Once your cookies fill your tray place in the freezer for 10 minutes and then in the oven they go. 

Total baking time is 7-9 minutes and rotate from upper to lower rack halfway through baking time.  Remove cookies once baked and allow them to cool to room temperature before removing them to a cooling rack or storage container.

Final Cookie Thoughts on Sugar Cookies

These cookies are delicious!  I will use this recipe again. My 5 year old grandson said, “Noni (grandmother) these don’t need frosting, they are so good”.  I agree! The tips Alton Brown shared work well and I’ll continue using them over and over again.  

three frosted cookies on paper plate,

Royal Icing

This recipe is also courtesy of Alton Brown and from the Food Network.  This royal icing recipe rated 5 stars from 148 +/- people. The 5 star rating makes this recipe a must try. 


There are only three ingredients for this recipe.  You’ll need; pasteurized egg whites, vanilla extract, and confectioners sugar.  


Making the Royal Icing

Alton Brown’s recipe calls for pasteurized egg whites.  Using my measuring cup, I measured out the egg whites.  Pour egg whites into a mixing bowl, in my case, it’s my stand mixers bowl.  Add vanilla and beat until frothy. Meanwhile, sift the powdered sugar and then slowly add into the mixture until sugar is incorporated, creates peaks and is shinny.  This should take 5 to 7 minutes. Store in airtight zip lock baggie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Royal Icing for Outline, Flood and Design

I separated the icing into three different bowls.  One colored red for outlining, another thinned in red for flood consistency and a outline consistency in white for the heart design. 

After preparing the icing all that’s left to do is frost the cookies. 

Thoughts on Royal Icing

My initial thoughts were 5 stars for the icing.  It was easy to work with, had a nice consistency both for outlining and flooding.  My 5 year old grandson had no problem decorating cookies for all the people he loves.  The frosting was firm and soft once dried. But, it did not retain its color and had a splotchy appearance.  Not good.  

Contain of Meringue Powder

I will continue to use my tried and true royal icing recipe.  My recipe uses meringue powder instead of pasteurized egg whites.  I prefer its color retention, storage and ease of use.  

Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing

 I enjoyed the research and taste testing from this blog post.  So, did my husband and family, lol. Planning, staging and photographing these cookies was fun.  I was able to mix up the style and I hope you enjoy the images from this shoot.

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5 Responses

    1. You’re welcome! I’ve used the butter tip more times than I can count.
      Thank you, for stopping in and I hope to see you around the blog again, soon.

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