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Best Sugar Cookie

Is it just me or is cookie decorating actually the best part of baking?  Give me some freshly baked cookies, a piping bag full of frosting, and some sprinkles and I will be one happy girl!  Cookie decorating is hands down one of my all time favorite sports… I mean baking activities in the kitchen!  When it comes to baking cookies, the sky is the limit. With some of the best cookie recipe options like Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snicker Doodle Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, it feels so hard to choose which recipe to bake!

Baking with Kids

Lately I’ve been really trying to get Charlie and Claire involved when we cook and bake.  I think teaching your kids how to make recipes is a great skill to learn early on. Whether you’re decorating cookies or baking with kids, it’s  an exciting way to sneak some quality family time in! A win-win, right?!  Just wait until the kids are old enough to do the dishes, I’ll really have it made- I am half kidding guys! ;)

Decorating Cookies with Kids

It always seems like such a beautiful combination – spending time with my favorite people doing one of my favorite activities- decorating cookies… But don’t let me over glamorize this to you guys! ;)  It turns out that baking and cooking with young kids can end up pretty chaotic, pretty fast. Who would have guessed, right? ;)  I’ll never forget the time that Charlie dumped a HUGE container of sprinkles all over the floor and it felt like an eternity to clean up. Months later, I would find a sprinkle or two in the most random places LOL.

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe

We are huge cookie fans in the Johnson house and when I say cookies, I mean our family-favorite Sugar Cookie recipe. I have been using this sugar cookie recipe for at least 12 years now.  These sugar cookies are the most easiest cookies to decorate.  Every cookie recipe comes with a story, right?!  Many years ago,  I started trying to perfect the best Sugar Cookie and ended up with this recipe! They are so easy and foolproof, plus by adding a little almond extract to the dough, you end up with the most perfectly sweet sugar cookie recipe.

Ingredients for Best Sugar Cooke Recipe

Once I finally cracked the best Sugar Cookie recipe code, these cookies slowly become a tradition for almost every holiday – especially on Valentine’s Day! I’ve learned the best sugar cookie recipes have ingredients like sugar, flour, butter, milk and almond extract! That’s why I wanted to share the recipe with the kids and spend some time this year baking and decorating together. With a little planning and a few precautions, this ended up being a fantastic afternoon of cookie decorating!

Bake your Sugar Cookie Recipe in advanced-

The real secret to success? I baked the Sugar Cookies ahead of time. I know, it’s kind of like cheating, but sooooo worth it. When the kids are older I’m sure we will have loads of fun baking batches of these cookies.  At their young ages (2& 7), I can only hold their attention for so long! Besides, I thought the cookie decorating part would be much more entertaining for all of us!  Looking back, I am SO happy we planned our cookie decorating party this way. One of the best things about this sugar cookie recipe is how well the cookies keep. I baked these sugar cookies a full day before and they were still perfectly soft and delicious with a crunchy and chewy consistency. Plus with this sugar cookie recipe the cookies always, always, always hold their shape. It is seriously baking magic! So while baking, I used a cookie cutter and cut each cookie into little heart shapes! If you’re making them in advance, just be sure to keep them in a sealed container and stack with sheets of parchment paper between them.

Make your icing / Frosting Recipe

You can make your icing recipe when you’re baking the cookies in advanced or decorating cookies with the kids.  Totally your call! ;) Or heck, you can even buy pre-made icing or frosting at the grocery store.  Do what’s easiest for you!  Charlie and I really loved making the icing recipe together in just a few minutes.  I have had other times I made an easy icing recipe  beforehand and stored it in the fridge or on the kitchen counter in room temperature overnight.  All you need is sugar and water to make cookie decorating icing that spreads and holds it’s shape. Even the bakeries I used to work at would make their icing recipe using these ingredients.   Even if you do make the icing recipe ahead, I still totally recommend letting your kids help pick the colors. After our delicious icing was ready, I quickly divided it out into little bowls and turned the gel food coloring dye over to the kids! They loved getting creative with the colors and I think it made the actual decorating cookies all the more fun for them.  Just seeing the colors swirl into the icing recipe was beyond fascinating.

Prep Your Cookie Decorating Table

Once you’re ready to start decorating cookies, make sure that your table is ready to handle the mess! Either set your kids up on a surface that can be quickly wiped down or spread out some butcher paper or a disposable tablecloth from the dollar store over the surface before the icing recipe comes out! This way no matter what, you won’t be stressed about messes and clean up will be a breeze!

Fill Piping Bags with Icing & Decorate Cookies

After your surface is ready, all you have to do is fill up the piping bags with icing, set out the cookie decorating supplies, and let the kids take it from there. With all the heavy lifting out of the way, the kids are free to simply enjoy decorating as many cookies as they want. And with everything done in advance, I could focus on having fun with Charlie and Claire and decorating a few cookies of my own ;) You’ll have an absolute blast seeing how creative your kids can be with decorating sugar cookies!    With only a few simple preparations, cookie decorating will become one of your all time favorite activities.  Happy cookie decorating!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes

Sugar Cookie Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups butter softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups flour


  • To make the sugar cookie dough, first add salt, baking powder, and flour to a medium sized bowl and whisk together; set aside.
  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on high speed until fluffy and light in color.
  • Add eggs and vanilla to mixer, only mixing until combined.
  • Add in dry ingredients in two parts; adding half of the mixture at a time.
  • Wrap dough in two packs using plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour to overnight.
  • When ready to roll out, pull one sugar pack out at a time from the fridge and sprinkle flour on your work bench as needed while rolling to help with stickiness. Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick and use any cookie cutters you’d like!
  • Once cookies are cut into shapes, let chill in fridge for at least 1 hour (I froze mine overnight).
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 12-17 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies; you’ll want them slightly golden brown around the edges.
  • Next, to make the royal icing, in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and egg whites and beat on low until incorporated, then increase speed to high for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add food gel if desired for different colors.
  • Decorate cookies as you please!

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Planning a Cookie Decorating Party? >  Join The Conversation

Cookie decorating is such a wonderful family activity.  If you’re planning a birthday party, decorating cookies is the perfect fun-filled activity to make your heart sing!  What cookie recipe do you plan on making?   Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snicker Doodle Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies? With pretty cookie cutters, sprinkles and a piping bag full of icing, you will be all set for the best cookie decorating party in town!

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