Sugar Cookies for Decorating

The best part of making these family-friendly cookies (other than eating them) is decorating them!

Serves: 6Prep: 2 hours 40 minutesCook: 20 minutesTotal: 3 hoursDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 6


  • 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled
  • 1 1⁄3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon softened cream cheese
  • 1 drop food coloring, optional


  • In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In small bowl, whisk together egg and vanilla.
  • In food processor, add sugar; lock lid into place. Process until sugar is finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add chilled butter; process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add egg mixture and flour mixture; process until no dry flour is visible and mixture forms crumbly dough, about 30 seconds.
  • Carefully remove processor blade. Use rubber spatula to transfer dough to center of large sheet of parchment paper on counter.
  • Use your hands to pat dough into 7”x9” oval. Place second large sheet of parchment on top of dough. Use rolling pin to roll dough into 10”x14” oval (⅛” to ¼“-thick).
  • Slide dough (still between parchment) onto baking sheet. Refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Line second baking sheet with parchment.
  • When dough is ready, remove dough from refrigerator. Gently peel off top sheet of parchment. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes. Use spatula to transfer shapes to parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced about ½” apart. (If dough becomes too warm and sticky to transfer shapes easily, return it to refrigerator to firm up again, about 10 minutes.)
  • Bake cookies until beginning to brown around edges, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to cooling rack; let cookies cool completely on baking sheet, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in second medium bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, softened cream cheese, and 1 to 2 drops food coloring (if using) to make glaze. Use clean rubber spatula to stir until very smooth.
  • Use small icing spatula or back of spoon to spread glaze in even layer on cookies, starting in middle and working your way to edges. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle with sanding sugar, sprinkles, crushed cookies or candy, if desired. Serve.