Painted Holiday/Christmas Sugar Cookies




About: depotdevoid is short for The Depot Devoid of Thought, the place where you go when you lo...

This is a holiday cookie recipe that is fun for kids and grownups alike. I fondly recall making these with my mom and my brothers every Christmas, and now I've continued the tradition with my own daughter.  The cookies are simple to make, taste great, and kids LOVE decorating them! 

So without further ado, on to the recipe!

***UPDATE 5/3/10:  Post a picture of your own painted cookies and I'll send you a DIY patch!***


Step 1: Gather the Ingredients and Utensils

For one batch of cookies (I usually make a double batch), you will need the following ingredients:

1 3/4 cup Flour (sifted)
1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Butter (softened)
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

For the glaze you will need these ingredients:

1 pound bag of Powdered Sugar (you may need more later, so get 2 bags)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
about 1/3-1/2 cup water

In addition to the actual ingredients, you will also need the following:

Food coloring
Rolling pin
Mixing bowl
Electric mixer (not required, but it makes things WAY easier)
More flour for the rolling surface
Cookie cutters
Paintbrushes (new ones!)
Toothpicks (good for detail work)
Cookie sheets
Tin foil

As of 2011, I've started using my homemade food coloring pens when I make these!

Step 2: Make the Cookies

Note: it's best to do this the night before, since you have to chill the dough for a while.

Mix up all the cookie ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, softened butter, sugar, vanilla). This comes out as a pretty dry dough, that's why the electric mixer is so nice. You really need to make sure the dough is smooth, and since it's so stiff, it's really hard to do that by hand.

I've found that sometimes the dough ends up so dry that it doesn't mix properly. If this happens, put a few drops of water in and mix some more. Don't put in more than just a few drops at a time, as too much moisture in this mix really messes things up.

After the dough is mixed up smoothly, cover it with some plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge. My mom says that overnight is best, but you can get by on a few hours if you have to.

Once your dough has thoroughly chilled out, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. I mean it about the preheating, too! I don't usually bother when I'm cooking, but these only go in the oven for a few minutes, so it's important to do this.

Dust a section of your counter with flour, and roll the dough out to about 1/8 to 3/16 inches thick. Get your kids involved here, and cut out some cookies. After you've cut out as many as you can, mash up the scraps, roll them out again, and cut out some more cookies. You can usually do this three or four times before the dough has gotten too much flour mixed in. Aside from the cookie cutters, I also like to grab a couple of glasses with different sized openings and make a few round cookies. These are good for just painting whatever you'd like instead of just coloring the shape.

Don't bother greasing your cookie sheets, these don't really stick to them. Lay out your cookies, leaving a little room for them to expand, and put them in your preheated oven. Cook them for about 8 minutes, checking after 6 minutes. These cookies are very thin and will go from done to burned in a VERY short period of time! When light brown, remove and let them cool a bit before you take them off the sheet. Set the cookies on a sheet of foil and let them cool all the way.

Step 3: Glaze the Cookies

The glaze is kind of tricky, but only because it's hard to get the consistency right.

Pour the bag of powdered sugar into a mixing bowl and add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and about 1/3 cup of water. Mix thoroughly. You want to get it to a point that when you put it on the cookies, it will spread out and smooth out on top, but not so thin that it just runs off the edge. I recommend getting it to a point that looks right to you, and testing it by spooning some onto a cookie. If it just sits there as a big glob on the top, add a little more water and try again. If it flows off the edges and won't stay put, add some more powdered sugar.

Once you've glazed all your cookies, let them stand for a while so the glaze sets up. Sometimes, this takes an hour, sometimes it takes four or five.

Next up, the really fun part!

Step 4: Paint!

It's usually best to lay out some newspaper for this part, since it tends to get a little messy.

Grab a small bowl or a plastic lid (or an ice cube try), a couple of cups of water, your paintbrushes and toothpicks. Lay out the cookies on the newspaper, and very delicately paint them. If the glaze turned out well, it should have hardened into a smooth sheet on top of the cookie, perfect for painting on. Use the bowl or lid as a pallet to mix up your food coloring on.

I absolutely LOVED doing this when I was little, and my daughter loves it now. It's a lot of fun, and you get to eat it when your done!

I've now started using my food coloring pens in addition to the paintbrushes, they let you add a lot of detail!

Step 5: Eat!

That's it! Enjoy the fruits (or cookies) of you labors, and eat them up!

I hope you enjoyed my instructable. As always, please take a moment to post a comment or leave a rating. If you decide to make some of these cookies, please post a picture of the finished product, I'll send you a patch!



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    10 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I have a question. How many cookies does the icing cover? A single batch or a double batch? I'd like to try your recipe and idea, but I also need to know how much icing this makes so that I don't end up not having enough or having too much. Thanks in advance.

    3 replies

    Usually this recipe makes a bit too much, there's always some left over. If you're concerned about overdoing it, I recommend making about 3/4 as much as the recipe calls for.


    Thanks! Cookie season is over for now, but I'll keep it in mind for the next time I'm busy making cookies.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Oh right okay thank you!! i think i might have to make some they look great! :)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I think so . . . I've always called it powdered sugar, but the bag says "Confectioner's Sugar."


    10 years ago on Introduction

    this makes me miss Shianne even more than normal at holiday time. : ( But now i have the recipe the boys and i will make them!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Ah, memories. And somebody always makes an eyeball, don't they?
    Last Halloween I bent my biscuit cutter into an egg shape, and painted a bunch of hockey mask cookies.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If I had kids to amuse, I would absolutely do this! Nice job.