Baking snowflake sugar cookies this time of year has been a family tradition for over a decade. I’ve previously shared the recipe here and you’ve seen them also here, but it’s been a while and decided to repost it with updated notes. It’s a great recipe for any season and any shape of cookie you want to make, however it has truly become a fun family activity we look forward to during the holidays. The cookie is buttery and chewy and just so delicious, and the frosting adds the perfect touch of crunch and sweetness.

A little backstory on WHY snowflakes. Many Christmases ago, I decided to bake holiday cookies with my then toddler as a fun craft activity we could turn into a tradition. When I went to the store to pick up food coloring they were sold out of all the festive hues. So I’m thinking ok great, let’s not do color and go all white.  No artificial colors and easier cleanup! Let me tell you, it’s not a coincidence my daughter’s favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla. I may or may not have swayed her to pick what would be easiest to wash from sticky fingers and clothes! But then I realize it would be a little sad to make Santas and trees and candy canes in all white. So we picked the cutters that made sense — snowflakes. It ended up working out so beautifully since they are so easy to decorate and sticking to one kind of shape and color made baking huge batches super efficient. I’m all about that less effort, maximum impact way of life. They make wonderful gifts that are sure to delight. View the video here and the recipe below.


For the cookies:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. Salt
¾ c. Salted butter, softened
¾ c. white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the icing:
4 Tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups powdered sugar (about 1 pound)
6 Tablespoons warm water (+ additional 3-4 additional tablespoons for thinning)
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract 
Shimmer sugar

Prepare the dough:
1. In a medium bowl combine the flour and salt with a wire whisk.
2. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed.
3. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well mixed. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add the flour mixture. Blend on low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.
4. Gather dough into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm.

Make the cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. On a floured surface, roll out dough to a ¼ inch thickness. Dust rolling pin and cookie cutters with flour then cut dough into desired shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 13-15 minutes, right before edges turn golden (for that chewy texture). They might seem super soft and undercooked but they will firm up as they cool. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

Frost + decorate:
1. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the meringue powder and powdered sugar, then slowly mix in the water and vanilla extract while the mixer is running on medium-low speed. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, around 5 minutes.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time and stir well, continuing to add water by 1/2 teaspoon increments until you reach your desired consistency. 
3. Once your icing is the right consistency, scoop it into a piping bottle (or bag) fitted with a Wilton #2 or #3 tip. Pipe your sugar cookies and sprinkle with shimmer sugar.
4. Dry cookies at room temperature for 6-8 hours until the royal icing is completely firm.

Rolling the dough out on a marble countertop or pastry board (bonus points if you use a marble rolling pin) is highly recommended so it stays cold and is easier to work with.

For gluten free cookies I recommend using this flour. And I use this simple frosting recipe to differentiate it from our regular cookies.