Sugar Cookies + Decorating Ideas

My family has been using the same sugar cookie recipe for years – ever since I can remember, actually. We make the cookies for many different occasions, especially birthdays and Christmas, and always have fun decorating them.

I think that’s the best thing about sugar cookies: they’re literally a blank canvas to cut and decorate into whatever you want!

I’m actually really surprised I haven’t posted this recipe yet, considering it’s such a favorite and makes an appearance in our house at least four times a year. It is very slightly adapted from a Betty Crocker cookbook from 1978, but my version is egg, dairy, and nut free! This recipe makes for soft, pillow-y cookies that can stand up to a good heap of frosting. Win.


Sugar Cookies (egg, nut, and dairy free)
makes about 5 dozen

– 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
– 1 cup margarine
– Egg replacer equivalent to 1 egg (I use Ener-G brand) prepared according to instructions
– 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1 tsp. cream of tartar

– Granulated sugar for rolling


  1. In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat together the powdered sugar and margarine. Start slowly so you don’t cover yourself in powdered sugar!
  2. Once it is smooth, add the “egg” and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  4. Pour 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the wet and mix. Add the next 1/3 and mix, then the final 1/3 and mix. Adding the dry ingredients in thirds prevents the cookies from getting tough and chewy.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours, preferably more.
  6. When the dough is ready, preheat oven to 375*F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Get out any cookie cutters you might like.
  7. Sprinkle granulated sugar on a clean, cool working surface. Take a big scoop of the cookie dough and place it on the surface, but return the bowl to the fridge (you want the dough to stay cold!). Using a rolling pin or just your hands, flatten the dough until it’s about 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick. To prevent sticking, sprinkle with more sugar as needed.
  8. Once the dough is rolled out, cut it into shapes, and place the shapes on the cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, or until golden and puffy. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to complete cooling.
  10. Repeat the process with the remaining scraps and dough.
  11. Once the cookies have completely cooled, begin decorating!
  12. Enjoy!

– If you want an extra smooth dough, sift the dry ingredients together before adding into the wet. I really like doing this, but if you don’t have the time/don’t want to, they will turn out perfectly still!
– For decorating, we use a store-bought frosting that is egg and dairy free. You could of course make your own, or if you do not want to frost them, the cookies are wonderful on their own!

Decorating ideas:

– Multi-colored frosting
– Mini chocolate chips (dairy-free, if necessary)
– White chocolate chips
– Butterscotch chips
– Sprinkles
– Mini M&Ms
– Licorice ropes
– Chopped up candy bars
– Dried fruit
– Shredded coconut
– Anything else colorful and edible!

As I mentioned before, this recipe has been a family favorite for a long time. Here are some favorite sugar cookies of the past…

Putting sprinkles on the cookies before they bake gives them this pretty bleeding color effect.


Christmas Cookies.


More recently, though, I’ve been bringing it over to the kids that I babysit. Decorating a giant cookie or lots of little ones makes for a great afternoon project! Just be sure you’re prepared for the sugar rush that comes from eating too many cookies and sneaking too many licks of frosting and bites of candies! πŸ™‚

Giant Cookie.

This one is best if you have little ones. Simply prepare the cookie dough as directed above, but instead of cutting it, form it into a giant circle.




P1030151I did mention the sugar buzz that ensues, right? πŸ˜‰

Smaller Cookies.

As it turns out, I don’t have any pictures of the littler cookies I’ve decorated with kids. However, the process is the same as above, of course. Multiple smaller cookies works best if there are more than two kids decorating.

Alien Cookies.

These little alien cookies were actually the reason I decided to write this post. My cousin’s 3rd birthday party was over the weekend, and it was Toy Story themed.


I love giving food as a gift, and I thought it would be cute to do Toy Story-inspired sugar cookies. Lots of ideas went through my mind (cowboy boots, hats, spaceships, horses, Mr. Potato Head), but I eventually decided on the Aliens. You know the ones.

These cookies could really be adapted for any kids who likes aliens – not just the Toy Story version. Here’s how I did them!:

First, I used a diamond-shaped cookie cutter to make the alien head. You could also probably use a football cutter. I then dyed most of a container of frosting green (I reserved some white for the eyes) and frosted the cookies.


The white frosting went into a plastic bag that I turned into a piping bag by snipping the end off. I just dolloped some little eyes on..


And then used mini chocolate chips for the pupils. I turned the chips so the point was facing down.


I drew a little alien to put on the package so the birthday boy would know what was inside…


Et voilΓ !



Anyway, I’m thinking as the months and sugar cookies go by, I’ll come back to this post and keep adding new decorating ideas. For now, I hope you enjoyed these!

What is your favorite way to eat/decorate a sugar cookie?

Have a great day!


  1. pickyrunner · · Reply

    Well you’ve officially sparked my sweet tooth at 8am. Thank you for that πŸ˜‰
    That giant cookie has my name on it. It’s not for sharing.

    1. You know, I think you might be on to something there. Sharing is overrated. πŸ˜‰

  2. I want to decorate with you! My problem is I eat all the toppings, forget the cookies, I just want the things on top!

    1. That is a definitely problem of mine too! We should have a virtual decorating party! πŸ˜‰

  3. Oh how fun!! I love cookie decorating, especially around the holidays! But any time works πŸ˜‰

    1. I agree, the holidays are especially fun…but then any day is a good day for a sugar cookie.

  4. Yum! That cookie recipe looks so simple and delicious! YUM!

    1. Thanks! It really is so easy!

  5. OMG! I cannot even look at your pictures because they make me want to bite my computer screen!!! I cannot even remember the last time I had a sugar cookie! 😦 But what I do remember is that when I was in 6th grade, I would eat 6 sugar cookies and a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar when I had lunch at the school cafeteria! Talk about a HEALTH NUT at a young age! lol – CLEARLY a joke.

    1. Wow. Now that’s what I call a lunch of champions! Too funny. That’s one thing I miss about being younger – no calorie worries! πŸ˜‰

  6. Christy · · Reply

    We love the cookies and you!

    1. Yay! Love you too!

  7. omg those colorful sprinkles on the cookies make me feel like a little kid again! Haha. Reminds me of my grandma’s cookies!

  8. […] than leftover Easter candy, I enjoyed a plate of Oreo chocolate ice cream and a few alien cookies at my cousin’s […]

  9. ladiesholiday · · Reply

    that looks like such fun- and the alien cookies are so cute– thank you for sharing this on the photo friday blog hop. cheers!

  10. […] Patriotic Cookie Pizza (use my sugar cookie dough as a […]

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