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Frosted Sugar Cookies Recipe

Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."

Frosted sugar cookies

Frosted sugar cookies

Soft Sugar Cookies and Frosting Recipe

As a child, shopping for school clothes bored me to tears. My mother's only recourse was bribery: the promise of a frosted sugar cookie from Mrs. Fields' cookie factory would always get me up and out the door.

Sugar cookies are one of my favorites because they contain only a few ingredients that you probably keep in the pantry. You can easily whip up a batch in a few minutes, and they are so much more delicious than the store-bought variety. But plain ones can be boring without a little embellishment.

Buttercream frosting turns ordinary sugar cookies into something special. Stay around until the end of the article for easy techniques you can use to decorate cookies for any occasion. This basic sugar cookie dough is so versatile that it can be tweaked with a variety of ingredients for special tea cookies.

Keep cookie dough on hand for last-minute emergencies by double-wrapping dough logs and freezing them for up to six weeks. Or store cookie dough in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Now let's make these delicious treats!


  • Choose real butter for the best flavor.
  • Baking powder produces soft, cake-like cookies; choose baking soda for a chewier texture.
  • Always use Rumsford brand baking powder or another aluminum-free product to avoid metallic-tasting cookies.
  • Cookie dough will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator. Wrap it well.
  • Freeze cookie dough for up to six weeks. Wrap in plastic and store in a Ziplock freezer bag, so it doesn't absorb odors. Write cookie type and date frozen on the outside.
  • To thaw cookie dough: leave it in the refrigerator for several hours.
  • Baked, unfrosted cookies can be frozen for up to four weeks.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

15 min

10 min

25 min

32 cookies (3-inch)


  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Using a spatula, mix with butter and egg mixture just until combined.
  3. To bake cookies: If using baking soda dough, form into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. If using baking soda dough: chill the dough, roll it out 1/4-inch thick and cut into rounds with a cookie cutter or drinking glass, or press balls of dough into flat, 1/4-inch thick disks. Place them on a cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 375°F for 10–12 minutes or until edges are beginning to turn golden. Remove cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to remove them from a cooling rack or the kitchen counter.
  5. Cool cookies completely before frosting. See below for the buttercream frosting recipe.
  6. To store cookie dough: form dough into 2 logs and keep in the refrigerator until ready for use, up to 2 weeks.
  7. Cookie dough can also be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
  8. Serve sugar cookies with hot coffee, black tea or a tall glass of cold milk. Enjoy!

Delicious Variations

  • Roll cookie dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture before baking for snickerdoodles.
  • Drizzle melted dark chocolate over frosted sugar cookies.
  • Sprinkle frosted cookies with colored sugar.
  • "Paint" frosted cookies to suit the occasion.
  • For tea cookies, add to cookie dough: 1 tablespoon of orange zest, 1/2 cup slivered almonds and 1/2 cup Craisins (dried cranberries). Serve unfrosted.

Buttercream Frosting

Here's how to make some delicious buttercream frosting for your sugar cookies.


  • 1 cup butter, softened or vegetable shortening (Crisco)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 4–4 1/2 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar


  1. Place butter and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip until fluffy.
  3. Gradually add powdered sugar and whip for several minutes until light, fluffy and of spreading consistency.

Color frosting with a few drops of food coloring or wild berry sauce.

How to Decorate Cookies

Sprinkle colored sugar over the buttercream frosting. You can also experiment with brightly colored candies or anything that strikes your fancy.

What Are Sugar Sheets?

Sugar sheets bridge the gap between cake decorating and scrapbooking. They can be used to personalize frosted sugar cookies for special occasions or just for fun.

Available in a variety of bright colors or elegant designs, they are edible and can be cut into any design you can imagine with a pair of scissors, an X-Acto knife or a stamp. Lay the shapes atop frosted sugar cookies or cupcakes for professional results.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Questions & Answers

Question: What type of frosting can I make with white granulated sugar?

Answer: Epicurious has a very good recipe for French buttercream that uses granulated sugar.