The BEST Christmas cookie frosting recipe for decorating cut out sugar cookies + my tips for dyeing the frosting the perfect holiday colors!
Psst! Use this recipe to make my 5 EASY Christmas Cookies for Kids!
Why I Love This Christmas Cookie Frosting:
- Uses 5 Simple Ingredients: this recipe requires just powdered sugar, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, almond extract (optional) and a little salt.
- Perfect Consistency For Piping: this sugar cookie frosting is perfect for spreading or piping onto cut out Christmas cookies.
- It Slightly Hardens: this buttercream develops a light crust so that you can (carefully) stack them for transport.
- Tastes Amazing: this homemade sugar cookie frosting is flavored with both vanilla and almond extract, making it the perfect pairing for my sugar cookie recipe! The rich and creamy texture tastes like a $5 bakery sugar cookie!
Need a fun gift for bakers? Check out the Best Rolling Pin for Sugar Cookies!
Tips & Tricks for Perfect Frosting & Decorating
- Butter: Using room temperature butter will give you the best sugar cookie frosting results.
- Spreading Tips: this frosting is great if you simply want to spread it with a butter knife or offset spatula.
- Piping Tips: If using a piping bag, my favorite “basic” tips are Wilton Round #5, Wilton Round #10, Wilton #22 Star Tip. You don’t want to use a super tiny tip (like the Wilton #2) or the frosting will not come out easily. You can also just cut the tip off a plastic Ziploc bag and use that for simple designs.
- Food Coloring Gel: The Wilton Color Right Set is my favorite for gel food coloring, but you can use regular food coloring too. Scroll to the next section for all my frosting coloring tips!
How to Mix Perfect Christmas Frosting Colors
Nothing is worse than mixing up a perfect batch of buttercream & sugar cookies, only to ruin them with questionable shades of colors! So today I’m sharing my formulas for the best Christmas sugar cookie frosting colors. Feel free to use these as a starting point and add more coloring until you get the shade you want. You can always add more coloring, but you can’t take it away!
Ratios: This buttercream frosting recipe makes a total of 2 cups of frosting, which will frost about 24 cut out sugar cookies depending on their size. Since many like to dye their frosting multiple shades, I created these formulas per 1 cup of frosting but you can simply double the amounts to dye the entire batch!
Food Coloring: I’m using Wilton Color Right Set, which I HIGHLY recommend if you’re looking for a set that will allow you to create any kind of color.
White frosting: Don’t feel like using food coloring? White frosting is fun for candy canes, snowflakes, snowmen, fluffy parts of mittens. Then, simply use sprinkles or other candies top to decorate!
How to Make Christmas Red Frosting
A common problem with red frosting is that you have to add a lot of food coloring before getting the perfect shade; only to leave it tasting like chemicals – yuck!
- Per 1 cup frosting: 4 drops Wilton Crimson + 2 drops Wilton Red
- Red frosting is perfect for: stockings, santa, candy cane stripes, mittens, ornaments, reindeer noses
How to Make Christmas Green Frosting
- Per 1 cup frosting: 1 drops Wilton Blue + 1 drops Wilton Yellow
- Green frosting is perfect for: Christmas trees, wreaths, Christmas lights
How to Make Gingerbread Frosting
- Per 1 cup frosting: 2 drops Wilton Brown + 1 drop Wilton Yellow
- Brown frosting is perfect for: gingerbread men, trunks of Chrismas trees, reindeer
Easy Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas:
- Christmas trees sugar cookies: Use emerald green, lime green, or mint frosting (above) and decorate with white sanding sugar for snow or sugar pearl sprinkles for ornaments.
- Candy Cane sugar cookies: Use white sugar cookie frosting (above) with red stripes.
- Gingerbread sugar cookies: Cover the cookie with brown frosting then use a piping tip to pipe white frosting details. I love using Wilton black pearls for eyes.
- Snowflake sugar cookies: Use white or mint green sugar cookie frosting (above) and sugar pearls and white sanding sugar as snowflakes.
- Mittens sugar cookies: Use red or lime green sugar cookie frosting (above) and sprinkle with chocolate chips for buttons!
- Snowmen sugar cookies: Use white sugar cookie frosting (above) and sprinkle with white sanding sugar or white nonpareils for snow. Use black sugar pearls or mini chocolate chips for eyes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to refrigerate this sugar cookie frosting?
This sugar cookie frosting recipe is made with butter and powdered sugar (no milk!) which means you can leave it at room temperature for 2-3 days. However, if you don’t plan to frost your cookies right away, place the frosting in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. When it’s time to frost, let it sit out at room temperature to soften then re-beat it with a mixer to fluff it back up.
If you live in a hot climate where the kitchen tends to be warm it’s best to store sugar cookie frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Can I freeze frosted sugar cookies?
Yes! You can freeze frosted sugar cookies for up to 2 months in an airtight container. I do not recommend longer than that because the frosting will crystalize over time and the cookies will start to lose their flavor. To thaw, allow the sugar cookie to sit out on the counter for 1-2 hours before eating.
Can I freeze just the frosting?
Yes! Place sugar cookie frosting in an airtight container (ideally with saran wrap directly over the frosting for a double layer of protection). Freeze for up to 2 months. When you are ready to use it, remove it from the freezer, allow it to thaw to room temperature, and re-beat it with an electric mixer to fluff it back up. This sugar cookie frosting recipe can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
Can I omit the almond extract?
Yes! The almond extract in sugar cookie frosting recipes enhances the vanilla flavor but it is optional. If you have nut allergies or just want a plain sugar cookie flavor, just omit the almond extract and add more vanilla to taste.
Can I use other extract flavorings?
Feel free to experiment with this buttercream frosting! Try adding a few drops (to taste) of peppermint extract, lemon flavoring, strawberry flavoring, or coconut extract for new sugar cookie frosting flavor ideas! I LOVE adding a few drops of coconut extra; it gives it such a subtle but unique flavor (I know it sounds weird but it’s good!).
Other sugar cookie icing recipes for sugar cookies
While this buttercream is my favorite for the best tasting cut-out sugar cookies, I also have a couple of other types of cookie icing you might like!
- Easy Sugar Cookie Icing: This is great if you want a quick & easy glaze icing recipe (as it’s relatively fast drying). It’s good for one-color designs but doesn’t completely harden like traditional royal icing.
- Royal Icing: if you want a sugar cookie recipe that hardens, you will need to use a royal icing. This is a more time-intensive type of icing that requires more skill, but results in smooth and hard icing.
Christmas Cookie Frosting
The best fluffy vanilla sugar cookie buttercream frosting! With a blend of vanilla and almond extract, this recipe is perfect for spreading on soft cut out sugar cookies to make the ultimate decoorated Christmas cookies!
- 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I use 1 1/2 for a more prominent flavor; see note for substitution tips)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Food Coloring
Before you begin! If you make this, will you do me a huge favor and leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe? This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.
In a large mixing bowl, add butter, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Cream together on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until blended together.
On medium/low speed begin adding in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until all is incorporated.
Turn mixer to high speed, and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired (divide into different bowls for multiple colors).
Spread on top of cooled sugar cookies or place frosting in a large piping bag with a metal tip (see post above for my favorite tips) to achieve a more intricate design.
Makes 2 cups of frosting, which is enough to generously frost about (24) 2.5" circle cookies.
Last Step! Please leave a review and rating letting me know how you liked this recipe! This helps my small business thrive so I can continue providing free recipes and high-quality content for you.
Read through post above for helpful ingredient tips, piping tips, coloring formulas, storage tips, and more!