These Easter sugar cookies are the perfect sugar cookie recipe – crisp edges with a soft centre and so buttery and delicious. The marbled royal icing makes them so easy to decorate with all your favourite pastel colours and no skill necessary.
Why you’ll love it
With the prettiest pastel colours, perfect for Easter and the easiest method for decorating sugar cookies , you have to try these marbled Easter cut out cookies.
The cookies themselves are perfectly crisp but soft, buttery and sweet. They keep their shape in the oven making them the perfect cut out cookie recipe.
Gather your favourite cookie cutters and food colourings, and get the kids involved too because these are so easy and fun to make. They still allow for creativity too by adding as much or little of the colours as you like and you can even top them with sprinkles.
The royal icing on top of each sets crisp after a day or so (depending on how much liquid you add to it). You can also top them with chocolate – like these Donut Cookies.
Sugar Cookie Ingredients
Here are the ingredients you need for these Easter cookies.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Flour: Use plain flour / all purpose flour.
- Baking powder: Baking powder (NOT the same as baking soda / bicarb soda) is a leavener meaning it helps give some rise. Because we want these cookies to keep there shape, there is just a little baking powder to give texture but not enough for them to spread.
- Butter: Use unsalted butter for these cookies so you can control the salt level. It will need to be softened before starting.
- Sugar: I use caster sugar (superfine sugar) most often but you can use regular white granulated sugar.
- Egg: Use a large egg, at room temperature.
- Vanilla: Use a pure vanilla extract for the perfect real vanilla flavour. Steer clear of vanilla essence which is not a natural product.
- Milk: There is just a touch of milk in this recipe. Any milk or milk subs will work.
Royal icing ingredients
- Icing sugar: You may know it as powdered sugar or confectioners sugar but icing sugar is the main base to royal icing.
- Cream of tartar: Cream of tartar is added to give the icing more volume and a creamier texture. That said, you can leave it out if you don’t have it on hand.
- Meringue powder: This one is very important. It must be meringue powder – not powdered egg whites. You can generally find it in supermarkets but if not a specialty cake store will have it. Here in Australia, use Queen meringue and pavlova powder or White Wings pavlova magic.
- Vanilla: I also add a touch of vanilla to my royal icing.
- Food colouring: Stick to gel food colouring or powdered as these won’t water down your royal icing and prevent it from setting. Choose a few pastel colours in pink, purple, yellow, blue and green for instance.
You can also add some almond extract to the cookies for added flavour.
Tools you’ll need
- A stand mixer with paddle attachment is easiest but you can also use an electric mixer and large mixing bowl.
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters – I’ve chosen Easter cookie cutters here for obvious reasons, but these sugar cookies work for any occasion, so choose cookie cutters to match your occasion.
- Baking sheets / cookie trays – for baking the cookies on.
- Piping bags – I use disposable piping bags or even ziplock bags to easily run lines of colour through my white icing but you can certainly just do this with a spoon too and it will create different patterns.
- Small mixing bowls – for mixing your royal icing in.
- Wire rack – Not just for cooling the cookies, a wire cooling rack will also allow excess icing to drip off and away from your cookies.
How to make easter cookies
Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
- The sugar cookie dough: Start by beating together sugar and butter until creamy (you can use a hand mixer or stand mixer). Add the egg and vanilla and beat well, then add the dry ingredients in third portions at a time until it’s all just combined and clumping (photo 1).
- Shape and roll the dough: Pull the dough into a smooth disk (photo 2) then roll it out to about 4mm thick. Cut out shapes (photo 3) with your cookie cutters.
- Bake the cookies: Place the cookie dough shapes on a baking sheet, set about 1 inch apart (photo 4).
Chilling is optional with these cookies. Unless it’s particularly warm in your kitchen, they should be fine without any chilling. Just test bake 1 cookie first to see if you get any spread. Then you can chill or just go ahead and bake, based on the results.
Sugar cookies should be baked until they are just starting to turn golden. If they take on too much colour, they will end up being crispy all the way through when cooled. If you like this, go ahead and bake them until just golden all over.
For a perfectly soft centre cookie, the edges should just be crisp and starting to turn golden.
What is royal icing?
Royal icing is a type of icing that sets hard and is used for adding decoration to cookies and cakes. Made traditionally from icing sugar (powdered sugar) and egg whites, it can be made in different consistencies to allow the decorator more decorating flexibility.
You might think icing cookies is tricky but this marbled royal icing is the simplest method there is. Often, decorating cookies can require an outline, then the middle is flooded with a slightly runnier icing and then left to set.
With these sugar cookies, there’s no need to flood. The cookies are simply dipped into the royal icing and then left to drip and set on a wire rack.
How to make marbled royal icing
Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
- Split the icing: Start by transferring part of the icing to a small high-sided dish, with enough room to dunk the cookies in. Divide the remaining icing among 2-4 small dishes and mix a little colour into each.
- Make the marbled icing: Transfer the coloured icing to separate piping bags or zip lock bags. Cut off the tips, then drizzle a few lines over the main white icing (photo 5). Run a toothpick through the lines (photo 6) to create the marble effect.
- Dip the cookies: Dip the tops of each cookie into the icing (photo 3). Allow some to run off, then turn the cookie upright onto a wire rack to drain and set. Make sure to allow excess icing to run off otherwise it will run down the sides of your cookies.
Tips and tricks
- Plan ahead: You’ll need to plan ahead when making sugar cookies.
- If it’s warm, you may need to chilling time, so factor that in.
- You’ll also want time for the cookies to cool completely before icing them
- and time for the icing to set. Royal icing needs at least 24 hours to harden completely, though these are completely edible before the icing is totally set.
- If adding sprinkles, do so while the icing is wet.
- Make sure to use softened butter so that it creams with the sugar properly. Also a room temperature egg will blend into the mixture properly, not cold egg.
- Royal icing consistency: If your royal icing is too thin, it will run off the cookies and not set as hard. Err on the side of thicker. So long as the icing smooths, when you tap the cookie lightly on the bench, it’s thin enough. You can thicken with more icing sugar or thin with more water.
Can you freeze sugar cookies?
Yes, you can. You can freeze sugar cookies baked or just the dough however, they are best frozen without the royal icing decoration.
Place them in an airtight bag or container and freeze as normal for up to 2 months. To thaw, just remove from the freezer and thaw in the fridge overnight or even at room temperature still covered.
How to store sugar cookies
Store sugar cookies (both decorated and undecorated) in an airtight bag or container in a cool place. They will keep well for 2-3 weeks.
These carrot, easter bunny and easter egg sugar cookies are perfect for stacking and boxing up with pretty ribbon for gifting at easter time.
Want to try these easy easter cookies?
If you try this marbled Easter sugar cookies recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you, and it helps other readers too!
Other recipes you’ll love
- Chocolate Easter Egg Cookies
- Easy Iced Sugar Cookies
- Homemade Custard Creams
- Chocolate Pistachio Cookies
- No Bake Marshmallow Easter Egg Slice
- Cinnamon roll cookies
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FOR THE SUGAR COOKIES
- 390 g plain (all-purp) flour (3 cups / 13.8oz)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup caster sugar or white granulated sugar (200g / 7oz)
- 113 g unsalted butter, softened (½ cup / 1 stick / 4oz)
- 1 large egg, room temp
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3-4 teaspoons milk
FOR THE MARBLED ROYAL ICING
- 4 ¼ cups icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar (585g / 1.3lb)
- ⅓ cup water (80ml)
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder (or Pavlova Magic) (notes 1 & 2)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food colouring in 2-3 pastel colours
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Cookie cutters – any shape will work
- Baking sheets / cookie trays
- Piping bags or zip lock bags
- Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced and line 2-3 large cookie sheets with baking paper.
FOR THE SUGAR COOKIES
- Sift together flour and baking powder.
- Beat the butter and sugar until lightened. Scrape sides of bowl. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat well, scraping down the bowl a couple of times until well mixed.
- Add flour mixture in 3 parts. Keep mixer on low and mix until it comes together as a dough. If it looks too crumbly and isn’t coming together, add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of mil until it starts to form big clumps of dough. Be patient. Don’t add more milk than necessary.
- Bring the dough into a smooth ball with your hands and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Roll it to about 3-4mm thick (notes).
- Use cookie cutter of choice to cut out cookies. Re-roll the dough as required but get as many out of each rolled batch of dough as possible.
- Space the unbaked cookies at least an inch (2.5cm) apart and bake for 10-11 minutes, turning the trays halfway, until just starting to turn gold on edges. Remove from oven and carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
FOR THE MARBLED ROYAL ICING
- Place the icing sugar, water, cream of tartar, meringue powder and vanilla into a glass bowl (if using a handheld beater) or bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
- Beat on low until all combined then turn it up to med-high for about 1 minute. Now you have a basic royal icing.
- Add water 1 teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you are after. You want it to be runny enough to slowly run off a spoon and leave a visible trail for 8-10 seconds (notes).
- Portion ⅓ of the royal icing between 3 small bowls. Add a little colouring to each and mix well. Transfer each coloured icing to its own piping bag or small snap lock bag.
- Place ⅓ of the remaining royal icing into a small high-sided plate – using just a third of the white at a time means you can refresh your bowl as needed.
- Set a wire rack over a baking paper lined tray.
- Cut a very small corner off each of the coloured bags and drizzle lines of coloured icing over the white icing then drag a toothpick through to marble it.
- Dip the tops of the cookies into the icing then turn them with the icing facing up, and place onto the wire rack to drain and dry. They will take at least 24 hours to fully set.
- Please take a moment to rate this recipe. I really appreciate it and it helps me create more recipes.
- Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons)
- Meringue Powder: White Wings Pavlova Magic or Queen Meringue Powder is available in supermarkets in Australia. Meringue powder is NOT the same as powdered egg whites and can be purchased online or in cake decorating supply shops if you can’t find it in your grocery store.
- For best results, you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- The thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the cookies will be when finished cooking. The thicker you roll it, the softer the finished cookie will be. I like them 3-4mm as this creates a nice crispy edge and soft centre.
- For the icing consistency: a trail in the icing should be visible for 8-10 seconds. Too runny and it will all run off the cookies. To thick and it won’t set nice and smooth.
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