Aunt Judy’s Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

If you happen to listen to our podcast, then you know that this sugar cookie recipe has been much requested. Ha. During the holidays, I made a double batch of this recipe, packaged them up, and left them on friends’ porches. You can even mail some to a friend and make their day.

I had multiple friends text me after to get the recipe so they could make them with their families, and after talking about it on our podcast, I’ve had even more requests.

So, today I am sharing Aunt Judy’s Sugar Cookie Recipe with an easy royal icing frosting, as well. This recipe comes from my MIL (aunt Judy is her SIL) and I’ve updated it just a little from its original version.

The original sugar cookie recipe calls for a half butter and half Crisco mix, but I always make these with all butter. And, Aunt Judy tops her sugar cookies with a simple glaze, but I like to add royal frosting. As you can see, I am no expert-Pinterest-pro-level sugar cookie decorator. This recipe is simple enough that anyone can have success with these and I’ve gotten enough reviews and requests at this point that I think I can safely say this sugar cookie recipe, although simple, is excellent!

From the below recipe, you will be able to make around 36 standard size cookies and enough royal icing for all. You can cut this recipe in half, or you can double it if you want to make a LOT.

The key to cutting any recipe in half (or making smaller in some way) is to start with the eggs. So, recipes with an even number of eggs are typically much easier to work with.

For sugar cookies, I feel like the biggest question is always “do I have to chill or freeze the dough?” If you are making shaped cookies, you don’t want the dough to puff or change when they bake—you want them to hold their shape. I’ve tried this recipe every way, and I find that chilling and freezing is not necessary.

Unless you have started with melted butter, as opposed to softened (like you forgot to set the butter out and then left it in the microwave a bit too long). In that case, I would go ahead and chill the cut dough shapes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before baking.

This royal icing recipe is VERY simple but can be changed up slightly if you like. Some people like to add just a little bit of lemon juice in place of some of the water to cut the sweetness. You could add a small splash of vanilla extract.

And of course, you are welcome to add food coloring. But this basic recipe works well all on its own too. Try our Slice and Bake cookies or our festive Candy Cane Cookies if you love a good cookie recipe! Happy baking! xo. Emma

Love to make and decorate cookies? Check out these posts!

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4.15 from 7 votes

Aunt Judy’s Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword royal icing, sugar cookies
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 36 cookies
Author Emma Chapman


  • 1 ⅓ cups butter softened
  • 2 cups white sugar granulated
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Royal Icing

  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 5-6 tablespoons water


  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Then stir in the eggs and vanilla until just combined.
  • In another mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Then stir the dry ingredients in with the wet until a dough forms.
  • On a floured surface, roll the dough out so it's 1/4-inch thick or a little less. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat.
  • Bake at 350°F for 6-8 minutes. The centers may look a little undercooked, but the edges should just be beginning to brown. Remove to a cooling rack and they will firm up.
  • To make the royal icing, simply whisk together the meringue powder, powdered sugar, and water. Start with five tablespoons and add an additional one (or two) as needed. The mixture should flow in thick ribbons, but not be super runny. Use a piping bag or ziplock to pipe the frosting onto the cooled cookies.
  • The cookies are best if left to set overnight, but you can also consume them immediately if you like. The frosting will get harder as it sets, so this is best if you plan to transport the cookies anywhere.
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Made these once and they turned out perfect. Made them again and they spread all over even after chilling. Thinking maybe the butter was different? I added about a cup of flour extra and it worked much better.

  • 5 stars
    Ok, these are AMAZING. I generally love baking but I actually hate making sugar cookies (unpopular opinion haha) but I decided to give these a chance with my kiddos today…
    Holy crap. You’re not lying, they really don’t spread!!! My kids rolled and re-rolled and sculpted the dough, and the shapes still looked right when they came out of the oven! Well. Their “cookie snowmen” did not look right but that’s the snowman’s fault lol. My kids even used itty bitty cookie cutters (like the kind you use to cut cute veggie shapes), which I thought would end up ugly blobs, but instead they’re the most adorable tiny cookies ever. I did refrigerate the most abused dough before baking just to give it a better shot. But I don’t think I really needed to.
    This dough is soooo stinking easy to mix and tastes amazing, too. It reminds me of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough in all of the best ways. I love that stuff, but I recently discovered my kids have food coloring sensitivities, plus I prefer baking from scratch. I’m delighted to find a replacement! Thanks Emma (and Aunt Judy)!!

  • 3 stars
    Consistency was completely off. Followed the recipe to a tee and it came out like sand. Needed to add another egg and additional vanilla extract, and that gave me a better consistency and tasted delish.

  • 1 star
    I followed the recipe exactly. This recipe has too much butter and about a cup less flour than it needs. The cookies cane out misformed and thin. I changed the recipe, took out 1/3 cup of butter, added 1 extra cup of flour, chilled for 30 min. Much better outcome. I make different sugar cookie recipes all the time. This one was off.

  • Hello Emma! I would love to bake those cookies, but I have a question. Since I live in the Netherlands, we almost never work with cups here. So if you say use 2 cups I can of course work with that haha. But what do you mean with 11/3 cups?

  • 5 stars
    I’ve been wanting to try to bake sugar cookies for so long, so I deffo need to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing, they look amazing xx

    Hannah |

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