different coloured iced cookies covered in sprinkles on a sheet of baking paper
4.67 from 6 votes

Easy Iced Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 55 cookies
Calories: 82kcal
Author: Marie Roffey
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The best iced sugar cookies are easy to make and delicious and these ones are both of those things. This post is packed with everything you need to know from the classic sugar cookie recipe to making perfect royal icing for cookie decorating.
Course: Afternoon Tea, Dessert, Snack, Sweets
Cuisine: American, Australian
Keyword: easy iced sugar cookies, iced sugar cookies, royal icing for cookie decorating, sugar cookies, sugar cookies recipe

Ingredients

FOR THE EASY SUGAR COOKIES

  • 225 g (1 cup / 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 355 g (2+3/4 cups) plain (all-purp) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

FOR THE ROYAL ICING

  • 4 1/4 cups (630g) icing (powdered) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water (notes)
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder (notes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

FOR THE COOKIES

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment recommended but not absolutely necessary. Beat the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes on med-high until lightened and fluffy. Scrape down the sides a couple of times during the process.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.
  • Add the flour and beat on low, until all incorporated.
  • Take the dough out of the mixer, divide in two and shape into disks, 1 inch thick, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (you can also freeze it at this stage – see notes in post).
  • Preheat the oven to 180C / 340F / 160C fan forced. Line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle a little flour over the top.
  • Roll the dough out to about 4-6mm thick (up to ¼ inch), adding a little flour only if required to stop it sticking, then use cookie cutters to cut out shapes.
  • Transfer the shapes to the baking trays and chill for a further 10 minutes before baking: 9-10 minutes until they look dry and have slight colour change on the edges for soft cookies or 14-16 minutes and until golden for very crisp cookies.

FOR THE ROYAL ICING

  • Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attached.
  • Add the water, meringue powder, cream of tartar and vanilla.
  • Mix on low until everything is combined.
  • Turn it up to high and beat for about a minute.
  • Now you have a basic royal icing. Add water ½ to 1 teaspoon at a time to get the consistency you like. Stiff but pipable for outline, settling in 8-10 seconds for dip icing, settling in 10-12 seconds for flood icing.
  • Divide the icing among small bowls and add 1 drop of food colouring to each. Mix well.
  • Place a wire cooking rack over a tray lined with baking paper.
  • Dip the top of each cookie into the icing, scrape a little on the side of the bowl, then turn, icing side up, onto the wire rack. Lift and drop the cookie gently (only about 1cm) to smooth out and level the surface of the icing.
  • Do 3 at a time, then sprinkle the top with sprinkles. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Notes

Equipment used: stand mixer or electric handheld beater, cookie cutters, rolling pin, cookie sheets
  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon
  2. All ovens vary – always test for doneness 3-5 minutes before the recipe suggests
  3. 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).
  4. The butter should be just softened enough that your finger will make a slight dent when you press on it - not so soft that your finger goes through or that it's greasy.
  5. If you are doing outlines, allow them to set for 20-30 minutes before proceeding with flooding.

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