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. 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. Happy baking! xo. Emma

Aunt Judy's Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings 36 cookies
Author Emma Chapman


  • 1 1/3 cups softened butter
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 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.

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