Sugar Cookie Tips and Icing Tips

Wow..who knew sugar cookies would spark so many questions. I appreciate all of your kind words on my cookies. You can tell with my white and black Halloween cookies I am a “simpleton”. I tend to go for the clean look. Kinda like my Christmas lights..ALL WHITE PLEASE!Ok, so I thought I would post some of my tips for making sugar cookies. I am by NO MEANS a professional cookie decorator(now I said nothing about not being a professional cookie eater) so these are just my tips I live by and they have not steered me wrong each time I have made decorated cookies(the whole 3 times I have made them). I am using a different icing recipe from when I made my snowflakes and apples that doesn’t require you to make a separate outline on the cookies and having to let that outline dry(see the apple cookies). Thus saving time and icing! With the new icing, you outline the cookie and then immediately (with the same icing) ice the center of the cookie

See my no fail sugar cookie tips below.

Remember a cookie professional I AM NOT, so I hope I did not forget anything

sugar cookie tips

You can see the outline from the icing on the apples..the new recipe I use eliminates this look.

The snowflakes were my first bout with sugar cookies


Print These Tips HERE

1) Remember “sugar cookies” and “Cut out sugar cookies” are two totally different animals.
If you try to make your standard soft and chewy sugar cookie recipe and roll it out and use cookie cutters, you will get a big blob of nothing. You have to go with a more sturdy “cut out recipe”.

2) Once my dough is mixed I divide it into 2 portions I roll it out in between 2 pieces of parchment paper(it is a sticky dough). I roll them to 3/8″. Having some of those spacers that you slip on to the ends of your rolling pin ensure your cookies are all even in thickness. Also, want to know the best rolling pin available on the market? A piece of PVC pipe!
Its cheap and you can cut it to whatever size you want it. I had my hubby cut mine to 2 feet so I could roll large pieces of fondant.

3) You dough MUST, I repeat MUST be cold. Especially before baking. After you roll your dough to 3/8″. Put it in the fridge for 2 hours in the parchment paper to rest and chill.

4) Cut your dough…Use your cookie cutters and cut out your desired shape. Remove the excess dough and re roll to 3/8″ between parchment paper and put back in the fridge until well chilled again. You also must put your cut out shapes back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes before baking.

5) Never EVER EVER use a hot or warm cookie sheet. It will start to melt the cookie dough before it ever reaches the oven.

6) Un greased cookie sheet! Do not use cooking spray, butter, parchment paper or a silicone mat.
These items may cause your cookie to spread a bit and we want the least amount of spread.

7) Keep an eye on your cookies. For the thickness of 3/8″, mine baked for 12 minutes.
You do not want the edges to brown. You want that nice uniform pale color all the way around.

8) Keep on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

9) The cookies must be completely cool before you begin icing.


The below recipe allows you to make one icing thickness and use it from start to finish in the decorating process.

1) Sugar cookie icing is not a lick the bowl type of icing. It is very sweet and really only tastes good when paired with the cookie.

2) Make sure the bowl you use for mixing your icing is free on oil and grease.

3) The best tip size in my opinion for the bottom smooth icing is a #4 round.

4)I tint the icing with paste food coloring. If you use the liquid food coloring it thins out the icing too much. And the paste makes the colors more vibrant without having to use a whole bottle of the liquid stuff.

5) Color the icing a tad bit darker than you would like the finished color. It dries a bit lighter.

6) Fill your icing bag by placing your bag in a cup with a wet paper towel in the bottom. Also use this cup to hold your icing bag when you are not using it. The wet paper towel keeps the icing from leaking all over the place and the tip from clogging.

7) Using your #4 tip, outline the cookie 1/4″ in from the edge of the cookie. Then immediately fill in your cookie using the same tip. Please note the filling in of the cookie does not have to piped on perfectly. If there are any missed spots, take a tooth pick and smear the icing into the missed spots. Carefully lift your cookie and shake it from side to side to help the icing level itself out. It might not look completely smooth. But it will smooth out as it drys.

8) If there are any air bubbles in your icing, pop them with a pin and gently shake your cookie from side to side to even it out again.

9) Let your iced cookies dry for about 4 hours before you do any of your design work. If you do it while the bottom icing is wet, the colors will bleed.

10) For making my decorations on the cookie, I use a #1 or a #2 tip.

11) Shaky hand? Try resting your elbows on the table while piping or even try holding your breath.

12) After all of your decorating is complete, it is very important that your icing COMPLETELY dries. I usually dry my cookies for about 12-16 hours. Just dry them on the cooling racks out in the open.

13) Once dry, you can wrap them individually or stack them on top of one another with parchment/wax paper between the cookies.

14) If kept airtight they last quite some time. The longest they have been kept around in my house is 7 days. But some people say they can last a month.


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract or a mix of both
3 cups ap flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 30 minutes before baking the cookies

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs and the extract and beat to incorporate.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

Divide the dough into 2 portions and roll to 3/8″ thick in between 2 sheets of parchment paper and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Remove the dough and cut your desired shape. Place the formed cookies back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Take the scraps and re roll them to 3/8″ in the parchment paper and re chill before cutting out again.

Bake your cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookie.

Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before icing.
*I have no clue the origin of this recipe, I have had it forever and it was handwritten*
by antonia74

6 oz(3/4 cup) warm water

5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

2 1/4 pounds powdered sugar

*If your meringue powder does not have any vanilla flavor in it, you can add a teaspoon of CLEAR vanilla.
In a mixer bowl, pour the warm water and the meringue powder in and whisk for about 30 seconds until frothy.

Add the cream of tarter and whisk for another 30 seconds.

Pour all of the sugar in at once and place on the mixer.

Using your paddle attachment, on the lowest speed, mix slowly for 10 full minutes.

Icing will be thick and creamy.(like ElmersGlue)

Cover the bowl the a damp cloth to prevent drying and crusting.

If you find the icing too thick, you can thin it by adding in water by the Tablespoon.


  1. 1

    Leslie, you are so impressive and have a great talent for decorating desserts! I absolutely love the Halloween ones.

  2. 2

    thank you thank you thank you thank you! You are my cut-out sugar cookie savior! 🙂

  3. 3
    ***Holly*** says:

    Okay, you've inspired me to get started on Halloween cookies. I guess it's really never too early for cookies. 😉 I'm planning to try your icing recipe!

  4. 4
    Clumbsy Cookie says:

    Great tips Leslie! I'm sure they'll help a lot of people that never tried their luck at decorating cookies. Your directions are very clear and simple to follow, well done!

  5. 5
    VeggieGirl says:

    Stunning cookies and awesome tips!! Thank you!!

  6. 6

    Thanks for the tips. I don't know if I'm daring enough to decorate cookies yet, but when I am I will definitely use them.

  7. 7
    Mini Baker says:

    Thanks for the great tips… I will be making some this weekend! (you will soon see!)
    ps. you're my favorite!!
    -Mini Baker

  8. 8
    TheKitchenWitch says:

    This baking retard thanks you!

  9. 9

    ohhh miss fancy pants! I still love those apples, I remember those fondly. My icing skills are that of Sesame Street–not good, no.

  10. 10

    ooooooooo my gosh, this is EXACLTY what i have been looking for.
    T H A N K Y O U !!!

  11. 11
    Fahrenheit 350° says:

    I usually turn my plastic bag (yes I'm a simpleton) inside out and form a bowl where I want to put the icing, but good grief putting it in a cup would be soooo much easier!

  12. 12
    TheFitnessFreak says:

    Thanks for the great tips and recipes! You make beautiful cookies!

  13. 13

    Wow! Thank you so much for this post! I just got an adorable new ghost cookie cutter on amazon. Now I might actually use it to make cookies!! haha

  14. 14
    Leslie M. says:

    Your a Genius Les!! I am coming to your house!!! I will just watch will you bake and decorate! I'm not sure I have the patience for this! But your cookies are GORGEOUS!!! Bet they taste even better than they look which is really hard, but I know that every thing you make is a master piece!!!
    The other Les

  15. 15

    wow…thanks for the great tips. I have learned so much and I have always wanted to make these type of cookies.

  16. 16

    I am so impressed with your talents. My cookies always look like a mess. Can't wait to try your recipe and tips.

  17. 17
    Coleen's Recipes says:

    Great tips. Your frosting looks very professional!! I'll bet these are a huge hit for any holiday. I like the red (a true red is hard to come up with).

  18. 18
    ♥peachkins♥ says:

    these are amazing sugar cookies!

  19. 19

    what a helpful post! thanks, leslie. and by the way, i'm with ya on the white christmas lights. 🙂

  20. 20

    I don't think there is anything more fun than decoorated cookies. And yours are fantastic! Going to copy your ideas…

  21. 21

    This is an AMAZING post. I have yet to try using Royal icing, so this is such a life saver 🙂

  22. 22

    Thanks for the tips and recipes. I might torture myself, I mean give this a try for the kids' Halloween parties! :))

  23. 23

    You definitely have the knack for decorating! Love the skeleton cookie!What a helpful blog post!

  24. 24
    Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer says:

    So adorable and your tips could not have come at a better time. Holiday season is just around the corner so I need to get ready!!

  25. 25

    I LOVE your tips – they are very clear and easy to follow! One question – does the new icing recipe still require an outline but just make it look like you didn't outline? Your Halloween cookies have such a smooth outer surface, but the recipe indicates you outlined. Sorry for my confusion!

  26. 26

    great tips! i want to get in the kitchen and make me some sugar cookies. i love how pretty yours are!

  27. 27


    Such a good question.
    Yeah I guess that does sound confusing.
    With the old icing outline the cookie and then let the outline dry for 2 hours and then flood the middle with a thinner icing.
    With the new one you still outline the cookie but then you can immediately ice the center with the same icing without having to wait for the outline dry. Thus making for a smoother look.
    Does this make sense? Makes sense in my twisted head! lol

  28. 28

    Great Tips, Leslie!
    Beautiful cookies. I am going to give a try after our big move…

  29. 29

    Great tips! I would have thought you were a professional 🙂

  30. 30
    Simply Life says:

    Wow, those cookies came out looking perfect! Thanks for the tips!

  31. 31

    Wow, your cookies look amazing! So pretty and yummy looking, too.

  32. 32
    youngwivestales says:

    Ok,so I love to bake cookies, but I have yet to try the whole sugar cookie thing, and I am so greatful for this post!
    I actually bought a Betty Crocker pre-packaged sugar cookie bag and am a bit ashamed… lol but I haven't used it yet either because I still have no idea how to make them :S lol

  33. 33

    I am in the middle of making your Halloween cookies right now. The cookies are very tasty and rolled out easily. I made your icing recipe and it works great! I did need to add a lot of water but I wasn't surprised because it's a lot drier here than in Florida, .
    I can't wait to add the finishing touches once the white is dry!
    Thanks for the cute idea!

  34. 34

    Great post and great blog! I also am a cookie decorating enthusiast- it's my therapy. Keep on doing what you're doing!

  35. 35

    How far in advance can I make the dough? Can I make it and roll it out and leave it in the fridge for a couple days?

  36. 36

    Thanks for the question.
    I have made the dough one day, cut the shapes the next day and then baked them the next day. so I am sure the dough would be safe for up to a week in the fridge. Remember the key to a sugar cookie not spreading is for it to be SUPER cold when you bake them

  37. 37

    I was googling to find out what I did wrong with my sugar cookies! They were so soft and hard to work with AND my icing was super thin and wouldn't for neat lines for piping. I found a few things out that I didn't do correctly from your very informative post 😀 Thanks so much! Now I'm better prepared for round 2!

  38. 38
    Marian (Sweetopia) says:

    Some great tips and great looking cookies!! I'd agree with them all! I have some similar and otherwise here if you'd like to check it out:

  39. 39

    Thanks for these great recipes will try these at home.

  40. 40

    This is SOOOO helpful to me. My first batch of sugar cookies (using a different recipe) tasted great, but I made a terrible mess with the icing and they looked sloppy. Going to use your decorating tips and I hope the second batch comes out a bit neater.

  41. 41

    this is the same recipe i use!! (minus the baking powder)

  42. 42

    So glad I found this! I’m making cookies for a bachelorette party (the ones with panties and stuff, lol), and have never had successful sugar cookies. You are a life saver! My only question is how many cookies does this recipe yield?

    • 43

      Thanks so much for your comment.
      As for the yield of the recipe, it all depends on how big your cookie cutter is. I always make a double batch of cookies, because I tend to use bigger cutters and having dough leftover is always better than running out.

  43. 44

    I am so excited about this sugar cookie recipe! I have 2 kids away at college that LOVE to get cookies in the mail-I am making these this week. I have always failed at making cut out sugar cookies, but I feel like I can do this, thanks to you 🙂


  1. […] I like to use royal icing when I decorate my cookies. The icing hardens sort of fast so you have to work quickly when outlining and flooding. Here’s the recipe I use for royal icing. As far as the cookie recipe, I found this great blog called The Hungry Housewife. She’s amazing and I got most of my cookie inspiration from her. For her tips and recipe on cut-outs click here. […]