The Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe for Decorating With Royal Icing

Unicorn-Shaped Sugar Cookies with Pink Icing

Every beautifully decorated cookie begins with a solid sugar cookie recipe. It needs to have plenty of butter, as that’s what makes it easy to roll and re-roll the dough as you wield your cookie cutter. The cut-outs should also be able to hold their shapes well during baking and not puff too much, regardless of whether they’re baked when the dough is chilled or warm.

This recipe delivers on all three fronts. No matter which shape you choose to create — the unicorns pictured above, hearts, even adorable cacti — this sugar cookie recipe is the blank canvas you need any time you want to decorate with royal icing.

Classic Sugar Cookies

Yield: 4-5 dozen, depending on the shape of your cookies


  • 1½ cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Instructions

    1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Wrap and chill the dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

    2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s ¼” to ½” thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter.

    3. Place the cookies 1″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6-8 minutes.

    unicorn sugar cookie

    Once done, let the cookies cool completely before decorating.

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    6 Responses to “The Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe for Decorating With Royal Icing”

    1. familysem8505899

      Could you perhaps also provide information in grams? I always weigh all ingredients. Thank you!

    2. Ivonne Oquendo

      A little suggestion, how about if you freeze the cutted dough for 5 to 10 minutes to help with keeping the shapes. Hope it help!

    3. eileen_gi10411575

      It does look like a little detail was lost in the mane and around the hooves. I normally bake my cookies without a raising agent but a definite change in taste of cookies, BUT perfect shapes. Any suggestions?