How to Decorate Sugar Cookies: 20 Fun Ideas
Looking for cookie inspiration? Your search ends here. We've compiled our 20 best decorated sugar cookie recipes that you can make all year long. Whether you're baking for the holidays (check out our 25+ Best Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipes), Halloween (kids will love these easy Frankenstein Cookies), or just because (how adorable are these Chocolate Butterflies?!), these are our best-ever sugar cookie decoration ideas.
Iced Shortbread Cookies
These are perfect for the holidays because they are so versatile and make for a fun project with kids.
Christmas Cookies 4 Ways
Sugar Cookie Mittens
Cozy up with these fun and festive Sugar Cookie Mittens for the holiday season. Pour a glass of milk, pull up a seat by the fire, and prepare to indulge in a fabulous sweet treat.
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
We think 1/8 inch is the perfect thickness for a crisp, buttery cookie, but this dough can be rolled to 1/4 inch thick if you prefer a soft texture.
5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
When glazing, use a shallow bowl that will accommodate the entire cookie.
Iced Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies
Whole-wheat flour adds a layer of complexity to these cookies that all-purpose flour can't achieve; the wheat in the whole grain actually enhances the flavors of butter and vanilla. Unlike classic royal icing, which starts with a pound of powdered sugar, we use just 1/2 cup and thicken it with Greek yogurt. Looking for festive colors without the chemicals? Try naturally colored sparkling sugars (such as those from India Tree), which use colorants derived from plants.
Rudolph's Christmas Sugar Cookies
Start with refrigerated sugar cookie dough to make these adorable reindeer cookies. Kids can help place Rudolph's eyes, mouth, and antlers.
Big Crunchy Sugar Cookies
Sparkling sugar cookies are holiday classics. These goodies, which earn their name from a coating of coarse sugar, received our Test Kitchens highest rating.
Sparkling Snowflake Sugar Cookies
Adults will love these elegant cookies, made with a touch of brandy. And they're great for a Hanukkah party.
Light Bulb Sugar Cookies
These treats are as cute as can be, and their taste is just as memorable. Because they're made with sorghum syrup, ginger, vanilla, and cardamom, their flavor is a change of pace from the usual sugar cookies. Serve the light bulbs separately, or thread several of them on a decorative ribbon or string as a party favor or gift.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
These Christmas sugar cookies are the ultimate easy holiday baking project. Serve them plain or top them with our super simple 3-ingredient icing (we love the subtle citrus flavor it brings to the cookies). Looking for more classic holiday inspiration? Check out 55+ Easy Christmas Cookies next.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
What’s tastier than a regular sugar cookie? A Chocolate Sugar Cookie. We love the versatility of this recipe. Simply pick your favorite cookie cutter or turn it into a cookie cup that can hold a tasty filling. The cookie dough can be made ahead and chilled a day or two before baking. We’ve included our recipe for frosting, so you can decorate your cookies. We chose various dog cookie cutters and gave each one a festive holiday sweater. This Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe will be a hit with your cookie swap friends and Santa.
Halloween Spider Cookies
Landing somewhere between adorable and slightly spooky, these Halloween spider cookies are sure to fulfill all your creepy-crawly sweet needs for your upcoming Halloween festivities. Using a classic cut-out butter cookie dough keeps the edges of your spider cookies shape neat and clean—no worries about the cookies expanding when they bake. Decorate these Halloween cut-out cookies with black gel icing, royal icing, candy eyes, orangle and black sprinkles, or whatever fun decorations you have on hand. These cookies make for a playful, spooky food craft that grown-ups and kids alike can enjoy.
Prepare for a sweet scare when these adorable Halloween ghost cookies are all iced, decorated, and ready to party. Super easy and kid-friendly to make, these butter cut-out cookies coated with royal icing are the perfect dessert for your Halloween spread. Candy eyeballs add a playful, whimsical touch to these spooky treats, but you could also use black icing to draw eyes on your ghost cookies. Using a classic cut-out butter cookie dough keeps the edges of your ghost cookies shape neat and clean—no worries about the cookies expanding when they bake. Whip up a batch with the kids and let them go to town with the decorating for a fun Halloween kitchen activity.
Starting with refrigerated, store-bought cookie dough, these cooky Frankenstein cookies are an easy Halloween baking project to whip up this year. That said, packaged cookie dough is made to spread, so if you’d rather your Frankenstein cookies have rectangular or otherwise shaped faces (as opposed to these round-faced cuties), you can use a classic cut-out cookie dough that will better hold its shape. Follow the same method for coloring the dough, and then simply cut it into the shapes you want (freehand or using rectangular cookie cutters). In the recipe below, we provided a suggested path for decorating your Frankenstein cookies, but definitely feel free to go about designing and decorating these tasty little monsters however you please. If you’d rather, you can bake the green cookies plain and decorate as you please using only icing pens once they have cooled. Keep in mind—it’s OK if they’re a little messy, they are monsters after all.
Pumpkin Pie Cutout Cookies
Bake the cookies up to five days ahead, and store in an airtight container. To make our wind cookies and leaf cookies, we used round cutters and swirly piping to represent the wind, and various sizes of leaf-shaped cutters for fluttering foliage. For more on decorating cookies, visit southernliving.com/cookietips.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Who said sugar cookies have to be basic? You can make unlimited cookie variations with these chocolate sugar cookies. Just break out your favorite cookie cutters and start creating. If you'd rather have vanilla sugar cookies, this recipe still works: Omit the cocoa, increase the flour, and beat in some vanilla extract with the butter (see the last step in the recipe for specific instructions and ratios). Truly, this chocolate sugar cookie recipe simply can't be beat.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out 25+ Very Merry Christmas Cookie Recipes next.
Cut-Out Butter Cookies
Cut-Out Butter Cookies are as pretty as they are yummy. A very simple recipe with all your major pantry ingredients, these cookies are easy and straightforward. Make sure you have enough time to let the dough chill for 1 hour. Make the holiday baking season memorable with fun cookie cutters. Starfish and seashells add a beachy, nautical flair to your holiday celebrations. Use sanding sugar, sprinkles, nonpariels, and candy beads for decorating.