Sugar Cookies 101

filed under: Miscellaneous on July 6, 2009

Wanna know how I decided to start making sugar cookies?  I saw Martha Stewart do it and thought to myself, “That look easy enough for me to do!”

So I went out and bought a bunch of supplies and baked cookies and started to prepare all the frosting for the cookies and I realized…this is a lot of work!

And NOT easy.

And then to top it off, they were not very tasty and they looked like baby poo with barely legible words on it.

Fast forward 3 years and I am still in learning stages, but now, you can sometimes read what I am trying to write and occasionally, they even taste good.

Thought I’d share how I have been doing things thus far, and if you have any tips or recommendations that would make my life easier, please tell me immediately just leave a comment whenever you get a chance.

This is the recipe I use.  It’s the kind that yields a thicker, more chewy cookie.  I am not a huge fan of the paper thin ‘crispers’ some grandmas I know try to pass off as sugar cookies.   You know who you are Grandma.


  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Roll em out, pick your favorite cookie cutter, bake for 6 minutes and cool for however long you want.

Now, to the fun part.

I use a version of Royal Icing…

1cup powder sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon milk
1 drop lemon juice

Except I usually make about 8 cups at a time.  Really thick, then I can just add milk if I need it to be thinner for ‘spilling’ and stuff.  Just grab a bowl, take about a cup of frosting out and then add the food coloring of your choice.

I always do the ‘line and spill’ method.
I make a thin outline of the cookie with a thick frosting (just use less milk).  Then I can go back and ‘spill’ in with a thinned out frosting.


I fill up some cheap pastry bags I get at Michaels and throw on the smallest tip I can find.

*When not using frosting thats in a bag, place bag in a drinking cup with a wet paper towel stuck in the bottom.  Your frosting and tip won’t get all hard and icky.

See that tiny little tip?  The harder your frosting the harder it is to use.  If you’re a beginner, use a really thin frosting.  You won’t have as much control over it, but you also won’t develop carpal tunnel.

Once you have filled in or ‘spilled’ your frosting, and let them sit for a few minutes, you can start decorating.

It was July 4th recently, so I had a pretty specific color pallet.


If you are a brave soul you can use fondant.  I adore this cookie…


…but I cannot stand how fondant tastes, so I don’t dare serve it to anyone.

I will have many more pictures in the next two weeks, as I have 2 very big projects coming up!  Wish me luck!





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  • Janis says:

    Once again your talent amazes me!!! They look positively delicious!!! Will you teach me???? This Christmas I will trek up there and the kids can play and we can cook. 🙂
    Have a blessed week!

  • Janmary, N Ireland says:

    They look amazing – not heard of sugar cookies – I wonder if we have them here in the disguise of a different name?

  • Laura says:

    YUM, they look delicious!! I love the thicker chewy sugar cookies too, so much better! Wanna make a few dozen next month for Braden’s 1st birthday? 🙂
    Have a wonderful week!

  • Amanda Jo says:

    Ooooh……sugar cookies!!!!! I loooooove sugar cookies. Would you think poorly of me if I wanted some for breakfast?
    I’m going to have to print out this post so I can keep it in my recipe box!

  • bethany says:

    If I hadn’t just finished a package of rolos for breakfast, I would be starving right now. Do you really have to keep posting pictures of cravable food?
    I so wish I had the talent in your pinky finger. You really don’t need that one for much do you? Seriously, where did you get the state cookie cutter. That would be so much fun when we’re studing American geography. The puzzle is getting a bit mundane. Have fun with all those cookies for the Mckpicnic. If things weren’t so crazy I would be really tempted to drive up there and meet you!

  • BP says:

    I always love the pictures of your cookies. You are so creative and talented, look forward to the upcoming projects you’ll be sharing with us too.

  • Julie in WA says:

    Your cookies are beautiful! Thanks for sharing this DIY process. I know I will be trying this soon.

  • Dea says:

    wow, you did an excellent job! Makes me think i can attempt something like that..ha ha yeah right! 😉

  • Dea says:

    I think that comment you left me has to be the best one ive gotten! It was so sweet, and it made me laugh! And i have actually heard that before, so that could be a possibilty! 😉 And thank you thank you thank you for that comment – it truely made my day! You are certainly someone special yourself!

  • Kelly says:

    YAY! i love cookie recipes and this is a good one…with icing and all! i might just give em’ a try!!! thanks for sharing!

  • Amy Seavert says:

    I love sugar cookies, but have never made them. I agree about the chewy rather than crispy… But, really, you only bake them 6 minutes??? Raw eggs? At what temp?
    Thanks for the recipe, I’m going to try it!

  • Karen@Surviving Motherhood says:

    OK, I have two problems.
    1. I am totally jealous of your creativity and skill.
    2. I am just on my way to work out and now all I want to do is eat these wonderful looking sugar cookies!
    Thanks a lot, Amanda!
    *silly grin*
    Love you!

  • Kristin says:

    I’m sending this link along to my sister who is the creative baker in our family. That used to be me somewhat…but I’m too busy now.

  • Tonya says:

    Your cookies really are delicious and beautifully decorated! I’m jealous!

  • carma says:

    Wow-eeee those are fantastic. I have given up making my own after the “sugar cookie incident” whereby my husband came home to me attempting to roll out the cookies and they were nothing but a sticky mess. I had been working on them for a considerable amt of time and he decided to make a wisecrack at which time I flipped out and practically started beating up the cookie sheet. He and my son still like to bring it up every now and then. Ha ha ha.

  • says:

    Thanks for the tips on making my blog a little more enjoyable. Appreciate it. Your tip was totally on. I was so tired when I posted that. I am surprised there were periods. LOL. I love your cookies. They are so adorable. You are very talented! Are you super mom? You have time to raise kids, write blogs, encourage other blogs and make beautiful cookies. I am amazed. Thank you for you for your support. You inspire me. And Audrey is so beautiful!

  • Artie says:

    I’ll teach you how to make your own yummy fondant if you teach me how to decorate beautiful cookies like that! You definitely deserved the grand champion ribbon at the fair. GORGEOUS!

  • Lydia says:

    Martha inspired me too, but I took a bit of a different route. I started a nonprofit organization called Drop In & Decorate Cookies for Donation. If you want to see how we do our cookies, check out my Flickr set on the site ( Also, for more help with flooded icing cookies, I always turn to a great blog called Bake at 350.

  • Candace says:

    What size are the tips you are using. The smallest my cake supply store carries is a 3!!

  • Amanda Rettke says:

    Hi Candace!  I do use a 1.  I get mine a Michaels, but I have gotten 1’s at Walmart too!
    Have a blessed day!

  • Candace says:

    Thank You!! I found another supply store a bit further away and they had 1s and 2s so I got a few of both! Hoping they turn out as well as yours!

  • Amanda Rettke says:

    Can’t wait to see Candace…. send pictures!! 🙂

  • Ana says:

    I don’t like the way fondant tastes either so I make my own with marshmallows, powder sugar and water.
    It comes out pretty good. See recipe and instructions here.
    The only other ingredient needed is Crisco and that is for your hands to help on the kneading.
    Everyone loved it.

  • Ana says:

    Here is the site:

  • Erica says:

    Wondering how much your recipe makes? I always want mine to be soft and wonderful like Target’s cookies, but they end up tasting more like ‘grandma’s’ cookies!