Sugar Cookies for Easter

These royal icing-decorated sugar cookies are perfect for Easter. Crispy on the outside and chewy in the center, these sweet and buttery vanilla-flavored cookies are perfect for dunking. They're beautiful and taste great, perfect for sharing with loved ones over the Easter weekend. Using

These royal icing-decorated sugar cookies are perfect for Easter. Crispy on the outside and chewy in the center, these sweet and buttery vanilla-flavored cookies are perfect for dunking. They're beautiful and taste great, perfect for sharing with loved ones over the Easter weekend.

Using colored royal icing to decorate these cut-out cookies is a fun activity for kids and adults alike, and the finished product is a delicious and visually appealing snack that can be given as a gift.

side close up of basket filled with Easter sugar cookies with coloured icing

I adore sugar cookies for many reasons, but their adaptability ranks high among them. This biscuit and cookie dough is perfect for making holiday treats or other special-occasion treats. This is the same dough I use for both my Valentine's Heart Sandwich Cookies and my birthday sugar cookies.

Cookies can be adapted to any holiday or event of the year by using cookie cutters in the appropriate shape. The dough can be made ahead of time and frozen without losing its quality.

If you're looking for more Easter-themed treats, try my Mini Egg Blondies or Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns.

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Ingredients

These sugar cookies and icing are incredibly easy to make, and you only need the following ingredients:

overhead shot of the ingredients for sugar cookies with text labels
  • Flour - Use self-rising flour
  • Sweetener - white caster sugar is my preference, but brown or raw can also work.
  • Room-Temperature Unsalted Butter
  • Flavor the cookies with hints of vanilla by adding vanilla extract.
  • An Egg - Use one large, room-temperature egg

I'm adorning the cookies with royal icing tinted with pastel food gels. The icing can be used for both "flooding" the cookies and drawing their borders.

The ingredients for royal icing are:

Be sure to sift the sugar for the royal icing before using it. Any imperfections will disappear after this. If you cannot find royal icing sugar, see the "Substitutions" section for suggestions.

Rather than using liquid food coloring, I suggest using food coloring gels. Gel ones are more concentrated in color than liquid ones, so you can get by with using much less of it. The icing's consistency will change if liquid is added to it, and it may become too runny or watery as a result.

A printable recipe card, complete with instructions and a list of ingredients, can be found at the end of this post.

Instructions

See how I baked these cookies by watching the video included with the recipe card.

To begin, cream the butter for a few minutes, or until it reaches a pale, fluffy consistency. Toss in the sugar and keep whisking for a further minute or two. Then, incorporate the dry ingredients with the egg and vanilla. Blend thoroughly until everything is uniform.

top view photos showing the process of making cookie dough

Cut the dough in half horizontally. Lightly flour a flat work surface, and then cover it with a silicone baking mat or a sheet of baking paper/parchment paper. After the dough has been rolled out to a thickness of at least 5 mm, it should be chilled in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight (just cover the top of the dough with some baking paper or clingfilm to prevent drying).

process shots showing how to roll and cut sugar cookies

After the dough has chilled, you can cut it into shapes with cookie cutters and place them in baking trays. All of the cookie dough should be used, so re-roll the scraps as many times as necessary.

Leave them in the oven for about 10 minutes. When the edges start to brown, they are done.

Do not worry if the dough softens too much to handle, as it can be chilled again for 30 to 40 minutes. After the cookie dough has been refrigerated, you can cut out the shapes you want and place them on a baking sheet. This will stop them from spreading any further and losing their forms.

Involvement in cookie-decorating

After the cookies have cooled completely, you can decorate them with the royal icing. This icing is perfect, as it can be used for both outlining and flooding the cookies, as was previously mentioned.

Mix a small amount of food coloring gels into each batch of icing, and then place each shade in its own disposable piping bag. Create a tiny hole by snipping off the very end of each bag. Each piping bag can also be fitted with a thin, round piping nozzle, though this is optional.

overhead view of the royal icing in the bowl and in piping bags

Make sure each cookie has a defined perimeter by first drawing a line around it. It is simpler to outline the entire batch at once, let the icing dry, and then begin to flood the areas inside the borders. Instead of filling in the cookies randomly, work from one end to the other (top to bottom or bottom to top) or fill it from the edges towards the center when flooding them with icing.

overhead shots showing the process of decorating Easter sugar cookies

Spread the icing to the edges you missed with the toothpick or skewer, and then tap each cookie a few times on the counter (or give it a very light shake) to ensure an even coating.

Do not add any more colors or decorations to the cookies until the icing has dried completely. Black food coloring gel can be used instead of a marker to create the appearance of eyes.

top view of Easter sugar cookies with royal icing on a wire rack

Sugar — Granulated sugar can stand in for caster if you don't have any.

In place of vanilla extract, you can use almond extract.

Big egg - even a medium egg will do.

If you can't find royal icing sugar, you can substitute regular icing/powdered sugar and meringue powder. In the clip down below, you'll see me using exactly that! You can make icing out of 480g of icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of meringue powder, and 9-10 tablespoons of water at room temperature.

It is also possible to make royal icing from raw or powdered egg whites if you don't have any meringue powder (which can be purchased online or at specialty bakeries). Combine 6 tablespoons of raw egg whites with 460g of icing sugar (about 3 egg whites). Mix the ingredients for four to five minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer. Coloring the icing to taste is optional.

side close up at stack of sugar cookies with top one missing a bite

Variations

For a vegan alternative to traditional sugar cookies, try Tom's Vegan Sugar Cookies recipe on Project Vegan Baking. In addition, you can find instructions for making vegan royal icing there.

To make gluten-free cookies, swap out the regular flour for gluten-free flour of the same quality. Likewise, gluten-free baking powder should be used.

These Easter cookies are delicious with or without the icing. Simply eaten on their own, they are scrumptious.

Change the flavor by substituting another extract for the vanilla. Try almond, lemon, or orange extract. Freshly grated citrus zest, such as lemon or orange, can be added to cookie dough for an extra burst of flavor.

Substitute melted dark or milk chocolate for the icing and make chocolate-dipped cookies. Chocolate can be further embellished with the addition of sprinkles.

top view at sugar cookies decorated with coloured royal icing

Equipment

  • Whether it's a stand-alone or portable electric mixer
  • Pin for rolling
  • Paper for baking
  • Floor mat made of silicone (not required)
  • Easter-themed cookie cutters (I opted for eggs, rabbits, and hens).
  • You can use zip-lock bags with one corner snipped off in place of piping bags.
  • Skewers, toothpicks, etc.

Putting Away and Freezing

Cookies, whether undecorated or decorated, can be kept fresh in an airtight container for up to 6-7 days at room temperature. Cookie dough, whether plain or decorated, can be frozen for up to three months.

Make sure the icing is completely dry before freezing cookies that have been decorated with it. Place the cookies in a single layer on baking paper in the freezer-safe storage container. Let them defrost at room temperature for a full day.

And you can store cookie dough in the freezer for up to three months! Cookie dough, as directed, should be cut in half. Make a flat disc out of each half, double-wrap it in cling film, and place it in the freezer. After 45 minutes at room temperature, the cookie dough should be rolled to the specified thickness (around 5mm). Cut into shapes and bake after chilling for an additional hour.

top view at Easter sugar cookies with icing on a baking sheet

The royal icing can be prepared two to three days in advance. Put it in a more manageable bowl or container, cover it tightly, and store it in the fridge. Be sure to let it warm up to room temperature before using. To recombine any separation, whisk it for a few seconds. If it's too tight, a little water will do the trick.

It's possible to store this frosting in the freezer for up to three months. Place the royal icing in a resealable plastic bag and press out as much air as you can. Let it sit out at room temperature or in the fridge for a full day to defrost.

FAQ's

Do you know the distinction between royal icing and glaze icing?

Only icing sugar or powdered sugar and water are needed to create a glaze icing. Comparatively, royal icing, which also includes powdered egg whites, is harder and much more sturdy but is also much more fragile and therefore more prone to cracking. Royal icing will produce shiner, thicker, and neater results, but both types of icing can be used for decorating purposes. Furthermore, royal icing sets noticeably faster than glaze icing and is not as sweet.

Is it okay if I replace the royal icing on these cookies with glaze?

You can, but the glaze icing will have a different appearance. Due to its watery consistency and reduced thickness, it cannot produce as sharp an image.

For example, what exactly is the meringue powder?

Dry egg whites, cornstarch, sugar, citric acid, and a few other additives are what go into making meringue powder, a unique ingredient. Royal icing and other stabilized frostings use it frequently in baking and decorating.

Is powdered egg white the same as meringue powder?

Indeed, there is a minor distinction between them. Egg white powder consists of dried and ground up egg whites. As was just discussed, meringue powder contains a number of other ingredients. From my own experimentation, I can say that either one can be used to make royal icing.

Please assist, my dough is extremely sticky.

Incorporate a few more tablespoons of flour into the dough. The dough can be refrigerated both before and after being rolled to the proper thickness. If you roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper, it won't stick to the paper or the rolling pin. The silicone baking sheet can also be used to roll out the dough directly onto.

How can I guarantee uniform thickness when rolling out my dough?

The dough should be rolled out with a special pin that can be adjusted to the desired thickness. You can find them in stores that specialize in kitchenware, including ovens and mixers, or on baking supply websites.

Why didn't my cookies keep their shape?

The cookie dough probably wasn't chilled enough, which caused this. By refrigerating the dough for at least two hours (or better yet, overnight), the butter will become more solid. This will prevent your cookies from spreading too much in the oven and will help them keep their shape while baking.

overhead shot of sugar cookies with icing on a plate

Top tip

Put the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour if it's too sticky to roll.

Making cookies requires a lot of elbow grease, but it will be much less of a chore if you work with smaller amounts of Keep all dough in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Halfway through the baking time, switch the orientation of the trays/sheets containing your cookies. That way, your cookies won't get too brown on one side and won't dry out while baking.

In between decorating each batch of cookies, make sure the icing piping bags are clean.

top view of bunny-shaped sugar cookies with icing

Use the "Save This Recipe to Pinterest" button on the recipe card or any of the images above to save this recipe for later.

Please take a moment to rate this recipe and/or leave me a comment if you make it, or any other recipe on Anna Banana. As much as I enjoy getting feedback from you, know that it aids other readers who are considering attempting the recipe.

Cooking Instructions

overhead close up of cookies in shapes of bunnies and eggs
Print RecipeMake a Printed Copy of the Recipe Pin Recipe
Sugar cookies dipped in royal icing, which are both sweet and buttery.
  • Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients. Set aside
  • Cream the butter in a mixing bowl on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until it becomes pale and fluffy. Stir in the sugar and cream for another minute or so. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract at high speed until completely incorporated. As necessary, scrape the bowl's interior.
  • To the butter mixture, add the flour mixture and stir until incorporated, preferably at a low speed.
  • Cut the dough in half horizontally. Set up a floured baking sheet or silicone mat on a flat surface. Half the dough should be spread out on the baking paper or silicone mat, and then covered with another sheet of baking paper. Flatten the dough to a thickness of about 5 millimeters by rolling it between two sheets of baking paper. Place the rolled dough in the refrigerator (if stacking, make sure the top one is covered with baking paper as well). Put in the fridge for at least an hour, and preferably overnight.
  • Once everything has chilled, set the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Celsius fan) Use parchment paper to line the baking sheets. Take a piece of the chilled dough that has already been pre-rolled. Cut out the desired shapes using your preferred cookie cutters. In order to use up all of the dough, simply re-roll the scraps. Transfer the second piece of chilled dough and proceed as before.
  • Using a spatula, move the cookies to a baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes on the oven's middle rack, turning the sheet over once. When the edges start to turn a very light brown, they are done. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature.
  • Put the sugar and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer with beaters to combine the two for about 2 minutes. As soon as you take your whisk out of the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out (if you "draw" a line with the dripping icing and it disappears and melts back into the rest of the icing in 10 to 12 seconds, you're good to go).
  • Add a little more water, one teaspoon at a time, if the icing is too thick. In order to thicken the icing, more sifted royal icing sugar can be added if necessary.
  • Separate the icing into bowls and tint each with a few drops of food coloring gel. Make the icing the desired color by stirring it with a toothpick or skewer (use a new toothpick for each color). Put the icing in piping bags and snip off the very end of each one.
  • Once the ink has dried for a few minutes, trace the borders of each cookie. When you are ready, begin "flooding" the cookies with the icing. Instead of doing things in a haphazard fashion, try working from the top down or from the outside in towards the middle. If there are any holes in the icing, you can plug them with a toothpick or skewer. After you've piped the icing into the cookie, tap it gently a few times to get an even coating. Put the cookies aside to dry completely before decorating them further.

I only ever use metric measurements for my recipes. You'll get more reliable results from digital scales, so I suggest investing in some. In the recipe, I've included a conversion to US customary, but bear in mind that I haven't tried it out myself.

  • If you can't find royal icing sugar, you can substitute 480 grams of regular icing/powdered sugar, three tablespoons of meringue powder, and nine to ten tablespoons of room temperature water. Raw egg whites and sugar are all you need to make your own royal icing. 460 grams of powdered sugar for decorating can be combined with 6 tablespoons of egg whites (roughly 3 whole raw eggs).
  • When rolling out the dough, use two sheets of parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking. Put the dough in the fridge for 30-40 minutes if it's too sticky to handle.
  • Cookie decorating piping bags with tiny round nozzles are optional.  
  • Cut the very end off of each piping bag if you won't be using the nozzles. What you need is a tiny hole that generates a thin stream of water.
  • Be sure to wait until the cookies are completely cool before decorating.
  • Make sure the icing is completely dry before adding any more icing decorations.
Precautions for Freezing and Storage: Cookies, whether unfrosted or decorated, can be kept for a week if stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Cookies, whether unfrosted or decorated, can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. Cookies iced with icing can be frozen by stacking them between sheets of baking paper in a freezer-safe container. It's possible to store cookie dough in the freezer for up to three months. Flatten each half of the dough into a disk and cut in half. Use two layers of cling film to store each component in the freezer. The dough should be defrosted in the refrigerator and allowed to sit at room temperature for 45 minutes. After an hour in the fridge, roll out the dough, then proceed with cookie cutting and baking. Two to three days is plenty of time to make royal icing and store it in a sealed container in the fridge. It may have separated during storage or refrigeration, so give it a good whisking before using. Before placing the royal icing in a zip-lock bag for freezing, make sure as much air is removed from the bag as possible. Put it in the fridge or let it thaw at room temperature. Maintains quality for up to three months in the freezer.
Serving: 10 g | Calories: 162 kcal | Carbohydrates: 29 g | Protein: 1 g | Fat: 5 g | Animal Fat: 3 g | Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 1 g | Oils with a high monounsaturated fatty acid content: 1 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 18 mg | Sodium: 30 mg | Potassium: 14 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 21 g | Vitamin A: 151 IU | Calcium: 8 mg | Iron: 1 mg
Comment on how it's working out for you Put a comment here or post a photo and tag @anna_wierzbinska on Instagram. Any time you make one of my recipes, I'm always excited to see your twist on it.

You can trace the origins of this dish all the way back to March of 2020. In March of 2022, it was revised with new photos, a new video, and updated cooking instructions.

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