How to make stunning Snowflake Cookies with the easiest, no-fail recipe that requires just one bowl and no chilling. Decorate with royal icing.

Snowflake cookies with royal icing and sprinkles on a table.
  • This is a 1-bowl recipe – no one wants to be doing loads of dishes over the holidays.
  • You only need 5 basic ingredients to whip these beauties up.
  • The “reverse creaming” method of adding the butter directly to the flour mixture ensures cookies that hold their shape beautifully and are lovely and tender. 
  • No chill. (Just like my kids, ha.) Most cut-out decorated cookies require a 1-hour (or more) chill time before rolling and cutting. The ingredient proportions and technique of this recipe make that step unnecessary. Cookies faster, yay!
Mixing the dry ingredients.

Snowflake Cookie Ingredients

Here are some notes on a couple of the standout ingredients:

  • Butter: To minimize the number of ingredients to source, I used salted butter (since that’s what everyone tends to have on hand). Substitute unsalted butter if you like, and double the salt in the recipe. Adequate salt is super important to balance the flavor of this cookie.
  • Flour. All-purpose flour is all you need for this recipe.
  • Flavouring. Vanilla extract is what gives the cookies their classic sugar cookie flavor. I love to add the zest of one lemon in addition to make lemon snowflake cookies (but it’s optional).
Forming the dough into a ball.

How to Make Them

Here is the path you’ll need to take to whip up a batch of the beauties.

You’ll need to make up the dough using the reverse creaming method of adding the butter to the dry ingredients and then adding in the egg and vanilla. 

The dough will then be rolled out while soft, cut, and baked.

Once cooled, you’ll then ice them with their sweet royal icing and enjoy adding a touch of sparkle as the final step. 

Cutting out snowflake shapes from rolled-out cookie dough.

Here are the instructions on how to make them:

  1. First, add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix them for 30 seconds to aerate them a bit. Use a low speed for this step. 
  2. Beat the butter into the flour on a slow speed with a paddle attachment and then slowly increase to a medium to high speed. The goal is to have a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs. You can also use an electric mixer for this.
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until the dough comes together. If the mixture hasn’t come together, dump it out onto a counter and form it into a ball with your hands. Shape it into a disk. 
  4. Rest the dough for about 15 minutes so that it can hydrate.
  5. While you wait, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  6. Roll the sugar cookie dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper with a rolling pin, to a 1/3” thickness. Do this on a lightly floured surface to avoid any sticking.
  7. Flour the edges of your snowflake cookie cutter and cut out the cookies. If the edges seem crumbly, then press them together until smooth again. If you struggle with a clean release from the cutters, cover the dough with plastic wrap and pop it into the freezer to chill it up a bit.
  8. Bake the cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake 2-3″ cookies for 10 minutes or until the edges turn golden. Add a minute of bake time for every 1” larger cookie size. 
  9. Transfer your cookies onto a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.
Unbaked cookie shapes on baking sheet.
Baked, undecorated snowflake cookies on parchment paper.

How to Decorate Snowflake Cookies With Royal Icing (The EASY WAY)

I love using a simple dunk method for flooding a cookie. It makes a beautiful, smooth, glossy icing icing that looks professional that takes 1% of the skill and effort that piping does.

  1. Make royal icing. I’ve been using meringue powder to eliminate need to buy a carton of pasteurized egg whites, but if you don’t have that on hand, swap in my easy royal icing recipe.
  2. Thin it out to “flood” consistency by adding water by half-teaspoonfuls until it passes the “10-second test”. The test can be done by running your spatula through the bowl of icing and counting the seconds it takes to settle back to a smooth surface. (The thicker the icing, the longer it takes to settle.) When the icing is thin enough to smooth back out in 10 seconds, it’s ready to use.
  3. Dunk the cookie facedown in the icing. Do this by holding the edges, and only dipping the surface of the cookie.
  4. Holding it facedown, let the excess drip back into the icing bowl, then flip the cookie over and place it on the counter.
  5. Grasp the edges of the cookie and give it a quick back-and-forth shake on the counter to level out the icing.
  6. Add sprinkles (or coarse sugar crystals for a sparkly effect) to the wet icing.
  7. Let it dry for at least 8 hours before you pack them up.

You can alternatively use pastry bags to pipe designs onto your snowflake cookies, but keep in mind that on a 1-10 skill level of baking, decorating beautifully with royal icing is a difficulty 10. (TikTok makes it look so easy.)

Dunking snowflake cookie in royal icing.
Shaking cookie on counter to settle the icing.

Make Ahead Instructions 

Here are a few things you can do ahead of time if you like:

  • You can make your royal icing up to 3 days in advance of icing the cookies. You’ll need to ensure to store the icing in an airtight container and make sure it remains in the refrigerator. 
  • Prepare the cookie dough up to 3 days in advance. Roll it out first as indicated, then chill it till firm before wrapping it well with aluminum foil (easier) or plastic wrap.
  • Bake up your batch of cookies ahead of icing them and freeze them until you’re ready. 
Snowflake cookies decorated simply with royal icing.

Storage Instructions 

You can store your cookies (once the icing is completely set) in an airtight container at room temperature for about a week. Freeze them for up to 3 months.

Adding sprinkles to wet icing.

FAQs

Do you put sprinkles on cookies before or after baking?

Add your sprinkles after baking and icing your cookies, while the royal icing is still wet. This way, they will stick to the cookies and won’t fly off as you pick up your cookies.

How long does it take royal icing to dry?

It takes at least 8 hours for royal icing to dry and set enough to pack cookies into storage containers without risk of damaging the icing.

How do you make a snowflake out of icing?

To make a snowflake out of icing, fill a plastic bag with royal icing and snip one the corner. Squeeze icing out of the hole to pipe a snowflake design on top of your base royal icing layer. First pipe a “plus” symbol (+), then make an x shape that crosses the center of the + to form a starburst design. From there, you can add small dots or v shapes to the tips of the lines (like an arrow). You must use a thicker consistency (15-20 seconds on the time-to-settle test) for the designs to stay intact.

How do you get sugar crystals to stick to cookies?

To get sugar crystals to stick to your cookies, sprinkle them on while the icing is still wet. Let it dry completely before moving the cookies.

Can you freeze snowflake cookies?

The sugar cookie snowflake cookies can be frozen after baking, before or after icing them. Store frozen cookies in airtight containers for up to 3 months.

Pro Tips and Tricks 

Here are a couple of pointers for beautiful snowflake cookies:

  • Make sure your butter is lovely and soft. Here is how to get your cookies to room temperature in a jiffy.
  • Best to bake your small cookies and large cookies separately if using different cookie cutter sizes as the baking time will differ.
  • It’s often easiest to press the cookie cutter into the dough and then remove the dough scraps from around the cuts you made, leaving your shapes behind on the parchment paper (rather than trying to lift your shapes out of the dough).
  • Allow your royal icing to set for eight hours before packing them into containers. You can eat them sooner than that, but you don’t want to crush your icing by loading the cookies up before they’re completely dry.
  • After you’ve rolled it a couple of times, the butter may get softer. If you’re finding it tricky to easily lift the dough shapes pop the whole thing in the freezer for a few minutes.
  • Slide a rimless baking sheet under your rolled-out dough and pop the whole thing in the freezer for a bit if you’re finding it hard to lift the shapes out.

Other Festive Recipes You Won’t Want To Miss

Note: the video shows just the yolk being used but I tested the recipe several times after shooting and prefer whole egg.

Snowflake cookies with royal icing and sprinkles on a table.

Snowflake cookies (1 bowl, 5 ingredients, no chill) 

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 22 cookies
Dessert
American
Keyword Snowflake Cookies

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (12.5 oz per batch – weight method strongly recommended)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup salted butter softened and cut in cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest finely grated or 1/2 tsp lemon extract (optional)
  • 1 batch royal icing

For royal icing

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 tsp meringue powder
  • 5 tbsp water (plus more as needed)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Add flour, sugar and salt to bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds to combine and aerate the ingredients.
  • Add the butter and beat on low speed to incorporate. Gradually increase speed to medium-high as the butter breaks up, then beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Add egg, vanilla and lemon zest (if using). Beat on medium-high until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. If you have a strong mixer, the dough may come together on its own. If not, dump the crumb-like mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper and gently press and knead it together into a disc.
  • Roll dough out between sheets of parchment paper to 1/4” thickness.
  • Dip cookie cutters in flour, then cut shapes out of dough. Use a floured offset spatula to lift the dough cut-outs and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake in center of oven. For 3” cookie shapes, bake 10-12 minutes or until very edges start to turn golden and middles look less shiny. Add 1 minute more for every 1” larger cookie size (or the cookie will have a raw flour taste in the middle).

For royal icing

  • Combine all ingredients in bowl of stand mixer and beat on low speed until the sugar is all moistened, then increase speed and beat for 1-2 minutes on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
  • To the rest of the icing, add more water 1/2 tsp at a time until you can run a spatula through the icing and it settles back to flat in about 10-15 seconds
  • Dip cookies one at a time in the frosting by holding onto the edges and dipping just the surface. Let excess icing drip back into the bowl before quickly flipping the cookie and placing it on the counter.
  • Gently hold the edges of the cookie and give it a quick back-and-forth shake on the countertop until the surface is smooth. You can go in with a toothpick or the tip of a paring knife to pull the frosting into any gaps and details of the outline.
  • Add sprinkles if using, then let icing dry for at least 8 hours before packing the cookies into containers.

Video

Notes

  • Royal icing recipe with egg whites instead of meringue powder here: https://foodess.com/royal-icing-recipe/
  • This recipe yields about 20 snowflake cookies with a 3” cutter. You may double or triple this recipe as you like.
  • Double the salt in the mixture if you wish to substitute unsalted butter.
  • It’s often easiest to press the cookie cutter into the dough and then remove the dough scraps from around the cuts you made, leaving your shapes behind on the parchment paper (rather than trying to lift your shapes out of the dough).
  • Allow your royal icing to set for eight hours before packing them into containers. You can eat them sooner than that, but you don’t want to crush your icing by loading the cookies up before they’re completely dry.
  • After you’ve rolled it a couple of times, the butter may get softer. If you’re finding it tricky to easily lift the dough shapes pop the whole thing in the freezer for a few minutes.
  • Slide a rimless baking sheet under your rolled-out dough and pop the whole thing in the freezer for a bit if you’re finding it hard to lift the shapes out.

Nutrition

Calories: 112kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 38mgPotassium: 15mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 193IUCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Snowflake Cookies



Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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Jenny
Jenny
1 month ago

The recipe says a large egg, but the video says yolk. Will either work?

Last edited 1 month ago by Jenny
Shannon
Shannon
1 month ago

5 stars
Loved this icing technique so much that I tried it with my students- such a hit! Thank you!

Kathleen Carlson
Kathleen Carlson
1 month ago

5 stars
I love this recipe and the method for icing the cookies work amazingly well. I will never ice cookies another way again! Thank you

Shannon Jany
Shannon Jany
1 month ago

5 stars
This was an absolutely game changer for icing my Xmas cookies!! 10/10 🥇

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