Anna Olson’s Decorated Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Prep Time
1h 15 min
Cook Time
14 min
3-4 dozen cookies

These cookies from Anna Olson will become a staple decorating cookie for any occasion. The sugar cookie dough is easy to roll and holds its shape once cut and baked, and the royal icing handles whether piping or flooding and sets firmly, giving the cookie strength so it won’t break if wrapped or stacked for gifting.

Related: Chocolate Chips Cookies a la Anna Olson

Notes: You can store these baked cookies, iced or plain, for 10 days in an airtight container at room temperature. They actually will keep for longer (about 1 month), if they are completely covered with royal icing. You can freeze undecorated baked cookies for up to 3 months. (Do not freeze decorated cookies as the icing may crack.) Thaw the cookies to room temperature before decorating.

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cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
cup icing sugar, sifted
large egg yolks
tsp vanilla bean paste
2 ½
cups all-purpose flour
tsp fine sea salt
recipe Royal Icing (recipe follows)
Decorator’s sugar, dragées and other edible décor, for decorating

Royal icing

cups icing sugar, sifted
Tbsp meringue powder
Tbsp warm water
Food colour paste (optional)



Prep time includes decorating and chilling. Cook time includes setting and air-drying.

Step 1

Using electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the icing sugar. Starting on low speed, work in the sugar, and then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Step 2

Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla. Add the flour and salt and beat just until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

Step 3

Preheat the oven to 325°F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

Step 4

On a lightly floured surface, knead 1 disc of dough a little to soften it and then roll it out to just under ¼-inch thick.

Step 5

Use a 2- or 3-inch cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Arrange on the baking trays, 1- inch apart. Repeat with the second disc of dough, re-rolling any scraps as needed.

Step 6

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until slightly golden at the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Step 7

Prepare the royal icing for flooding or piping. Decorate the cookies as you wish, sprinkling with decorator’s sugar or adding dragées or other edible décor. Allow 4 to 6 hours for the icing to dry.

Step 8

For the royal icing, place the icing sugar, meringue powder and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until the icing sugar is incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the icing comes together and is fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Step 9

To make a “flood” style of icing that spreads over the surface of the cookie, add just a little more water until it spreads on its own but completely covers the cookie (thicker than glaze). You can always add more water or icing sugar, as needed. Add food colour paste in small amounts, as desired.

Step 10

Spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe an outline on the cookie and then fill it in with icing, or pipe dots and use a toothpick to swirl the colours. Allow 4 to 6 hours for the icing to dry.

Decorated blue and white sugar cookies on a plate

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