Christmas Cookie Frosting
I’ve been perfecting my Christmas Sugar Cookies (cutouts) for 20+ years. This is the BEST Christmas Cookie Frosting recipe I use to top them!
Most people have strong opinions about politics, religion, global warming, etc.
I mean these are important things, so I get it, but I have opinions about cookies- especially cut-out cookies and the frosting that tops them.
- The cookie needs to be sturdy enough to hold a generous amount of frosting.
- Soft cut-out cookies only, please!
- Keep the sprinkles to a minimum… I’m trying to enjoy the frosting, not break a tooth.
- Finally, the frosting needs not to be sticky. I have children running around my house with cookies in their hands. I don’t need the frosting sticking to them and whatever they touch (and they touch EVERYTHING).
What Makes This the BEST Christmas Cookie Frosting?
This is a no-fuss frosting recipe.
Omit the almond extract if you don’t have any on hand.
Try other extracts such as peppermint, lemon, or rum. I have even seen cake batter extract in some craft and specialty stores!
You can add more or less heavy cream (or milk) to make the consistency that you need. If I’m spreading the Christmas Cookie Frosting with a knife, I use more cream. If I’m piping the frosting, I tend to make it stiffer and use less cream.
For a special twist sometimes I even use liquid vanilla coffee creamer.
If you make your frosting too runny you can add more powdered sugar to thicken it up.
Are you looking for a stiff frosting that dries completely hard?
Try my Small Batch Royal Icing recipe. I use it for cookies as well as for building and decorating gingerbread houses.
I’ve been perfecting my BEST Sugar Cookies Ever and this BEST Christmas Cookie Frosting for over 20 years.
These are the most popular recipes on my website and the most requested recipes from family and friends. You don’t want to pass this up!
Q and A about Christmas Cookie Frosting:
Can I use this Christmas Cookie Frosting on Valentine’s Day cookies? Halloween? etc.
- Yes! Use I use this frosting recipe for nearly every cookie I make all year long.
- You can use it to frost cakes as well!
Ewww shortening is DISGUSTING! How could you?!
- I’m sorry to ruin your life. There’s good news and bad news here. The good news is that you can use whatever frosting recipe you want! The bad news is that you have to follow this recipe to get the stated results.
- Shortening (Crisco is what I generally use) makes this a “crisping” frosting. It will hold its shape days after being piped onto cookies. It won’t melt or wilt and isn’t sticky like store-bought frosting tends to be. I can also stack cookies for freezing and/or transporting after the frosting crisps up (at least 2-4 hours).
- More good news- there are organic all vegetable shortenings available out there in Internet land. I linked to one at the bottom of this post.
I’m still disgusted about using shortening. I’m going to use butter. Can I use butter…?
- You can use 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening with similar results… but please don’t email me saying that the frosting didn’t crisp up and it didn’t hold its shape very well.
- If you want to use all butter, well then you are making American Buttercream. It’s delicious and I frost my cakes with it.
Everyone I know has a nut allergy. Can I omit the almond extract?
- You’re in good company; my son has a peanut allergy. My heart is happy that you want to accommodate all of the special dietary needs in your family and circle of friends. Bless you!!
- I personally use IMITATION almond extract. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education):
Avoid natural extracts, such as pure almond extract. Imitation or artificially flavored extracts generally are safe.
- Always best to check with the person you are serving the cookies to, and of course let their doctor or allergist have the final word. If you are uncomfortable, you can omit the almond extract and use all vanilla extract.
How long and how can I store this Christmas Cookie Frosting?
- Leftover frosting should be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use. It can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week and frozen for several months. Use leftover frosting just as you would freshly whipped frosting once it is warmed up and ready to spread. Bring it back to room temperature or to just slightly chilled.
Do I need to refrigerate frosted cookies?
- As I’ve always understood it the small amount of milk is stabilized by a large amount of sugar and considered safe at room temperature for two to three days. But of course, do what feels safe for your family. We eat these within 2-3 days.
Those are really bright colors! What food coloring do you use?
- I never use liquid food coloring (typical food coloring that you can find in the grocery store).
- I prefer to use food coloring gel such as Americolor or Wilton.
- You can find food coloring gel online (I link to it at the bottom of this post), at Hobby Lobby, JoAnne’s, Michaels, or even some Wal-Marts in the crafting/cake decorating section.
- I prefer gels because you only need a few drops to get a vibrant rainbow of colors.
Christmas Cookie Frosting
- 1 Cup shortening, such as Crisco (*see notes)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract, *nut allergies see notes
- 8 cups powdered sugar, about a 2 lb bag
- 1/2 Cup heavy cream , or whole milk (more or less added to desired consistency)
- Food coloring, if desired
- In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl for use with your handheld electric mixer, place shortening and extracts. BEAT until creamy (at least 1 minute).
- ADD powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
- ADD cream 2-3 Tablespoons at a time, alternating with the powdered sugar.
- MIX until creamy. Use more or less cream (or whole milk) to reach desired consistency. (I like for it to be smooth enough to pipe through a piping bag, but still a bit more firm than typical store-bought frosting.)
- ADD a 2-3 drops of gel food coloring if desired.
- You can omit the almond extract. Replace with vanilla.
- You can omit vanilla and almond extract and use 1 teaspoon peppermint extract.
- Whole milk or heavy cream will be okay in this recipe.
- Use more or less cream to reach our desired consistency. For spreading with a knife you may want more cream, for piping in bags you may want a firmer frosting so you can use less cream.
- If you omit the shortening and decide to use all butter that is okay but the frosting will not crisp up and you will not be able to stack the cookies.
187 Comments on “Christmas Cookie Frosting”
Made this frosting with half butter half crisco and it’s AMAZING!! Absolutely delicious !!
can margarine/oleo be substituted for shortening? (it’s not butter)
I had high hopes for this recipe. But it was absolutely disgusting. Tasted like glue. The shortening is a terrible idea. Wasted so much powdered sugar and no one would eat all the cookies!
I made this frosting to decorate my cut out cookies and it was great! Very easy to make and dried well enough to stack. Just sweet enough to compliment my cookie recipe. This will be my “go to” cookie frosting.
Can I make frosting the night before?
Can I make the frosting the night before?
Thank you! I have made the prettiest decorated cookies in past years only to have the icing get smooshed. THIS is exactly what I was looking for! Taste delicious too.
LOVE this frosting! I followed the recipe exactly with one exception… someone recommended using butter flavored shortening so I did that. It does slightly yellow the frosting so it’s not a bright white but I think it adds a delicious flavor. Adding food coloring gel offset the off-white anyway. It turned out perfect for knife spreading and piping (I did both with the same batch). There was about a pint of it left over after icing 40 average sized cutout cookies but I only divided it into 3 colors (no coloring, red, green). If you’re cookie decorating with kids, I would imagine you might not have leftovers 😁
I did the same with butter flavored Cisco. Also used peppermint rather than almond. Yummy
This cookie recipe is amazing and the frosting (yes, even with Crisco was fabulous) – my family loved them! Thank you for sharing.
This icing is awesome. perfect for frosting cookies. Taste delicious and keeps it shape when stacking cookies.
I’ve been looking for a recipe like this forever. I bake many kinds of cookies for the holidays and the iced sugar cookie is a challenge. I want them to taste and look great. I can’t wait to try this
Do you have much success using black food coloring like to make tuxedo cookies? Every time I try to use black I have to use way too much and it makes the cookie taste terrible.
I personally use Wilton color right food colorings, especially when I need to use black or red. When I use these food colorings I find I don’t need to use as much food coloring and there is no bad taste with it.
Can I use edible food markers on this frosting once it hardens?
This frosting “crisps up” enough to stack the cookies but doesn’t get as hard/firm as royal icing.
Habitant l’Europe, j’aimerais obtenir la conversion des tasses en g ou cl
8 tasses de sucre ? en g
1/2 tasse de crème ? en cl
Que signifie :1 raccourcissement de tasse, comme Crisco?
Que veut dire : shortening?
Je vous remercie.
This frosting is EXCELLENT on the In Katrina’s Kitchen “Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever”. My only modification for this frosting is adding a dash of fine sea salt.
NOTE: Shortening is just another on the list of dietary fats. I use the trans-fat-free Spectrum Organic All-Vegetable Shortening—it’s ethically produced and a VERY clean product.
You mentioned you could stack these cookies. How do you do that without messing up the frosting?
I loved the cookies. But frosting was a hot mess. I made it in advance. It would not stick to my cookies. I hated that I had all my cookie and all my frosting colored and bagged and I yelled at the frosting as I piped.
I don’t normally take time to negatively review recipes but in this case, because I was baking cookies for Christmas and this icing was attached to the cookie recipe and neither came out tasty in the least, I not only wasted an entire bag of powdered sugar, way too much Crisco, among others, I need to say this recipe is absolutely not worth the time and effort. The icing tastes like Crisco, so if you don’t like the flavor of Crisco, no amount of extract and sugar can fix it. Very disappointed.
For those of you that asked if coconut oil can be substituted for Crisco in this recipe, the answer is YES! I used 1/2 coconut & 1/2 butter in the frosting recipe.
Just finished making these cookies using both the cookie & this frosting recipes & the result was awesome! This will now be my go to Christmas cookie & frosting recipes. For those that have tree nut allergies, I substituted butter rum extract for the almond extract, so yummy!
Thank you for these 2 recipes, I will definitely make these cookies again & again.
I made this today! It is AWESOME! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. It has made all the difference.
This is an excellent recipe (along w/the sugar cookie recipe). I’m told my cookies are the best sugar cookies in the fam. 🙂 For the frosting, you can use butter flavored Crisco, I do every time and works like a charm without the taste that comes w/Crisco. Enjoy!
These were so easy and perfect for my Christmas cookies! Highly recommend! If you want consistency like a Lofthouse sugar cookie, make sure you stick with the baking time and don’t overbake them!
Hi- have you ever used 1:1 swap of coconut oil for Crisco? I was looking online at some other possibilities. Obviously there will be a coconut flavor, but will the consistency be right?
I have not tried this!
Can you substitute coconut oil for shortening?
By far THE BEST frosting I’ve every made.
I use this every year and only make one change – double the stated Almond extract. We like a strong almond flavor.
I need a chocolate frosting recipe for your chocolate cutout cookies. Could I add cocoa powder to this recipe ?
How far in advance can I make this?
Up to 2 weeks if refrigerated and sealed tightly
can your frosting be frozen
This was such a hit with six year olds. I made cookies in the shapes of ice cream cones and they decorated for hours. I made cookies the night before. Thank you
Love the sugar cookie recipe paired with this icing!! It’s the BEST. So quick question. Could I use it on a cake or do you have an icing for a cake that’ll harden slightly like this one? Thanks!
Can I use water instead of milk or cream?
Hi, have you ever made the icing the night before & put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it?
Have you ever decorated any graduation cookies using this icing?
Hello. Sorry if I missed this somewhere, but is this the Crisco in the Can or the Brick? And does it have to come to room temperature first.
Good question! It is the same product and can be used interchangeably.
Can you freeze any leftover frosting?
When I added the food coloring it curdled… any ideas why? I used Wilton gel from Joanns.
I am so sorry to hear that! Wow! I have not had success with Wilton food coloring. I prefer Americolor. But it should definitely not curdle! What a mess.
Hi there ! The recipe looks great. Can I sub butter for the shortening? If how much would you use?
Do you have a good icing recipe for these?
She has notes in here about using butter instead of Crisco.
About how many cups of frosting does this recipe make??
Wonderful Frosting! I gave Cookies as Christmas gifts and my cookies were AMAZING! TY for sharing ❤️
May I ask if the crisco should be 1 cup melted or solid form
Delicious, but doesn’t want to stick to the cookies. I’m sure I did something wrong, any ideas?
You can add some more milk and make it a little wetter.
Do you use 2 cups of Shortening or 1 cup of shortening for the 8 cups of Powered Sugar? In one part that talks about using butter it mentions to use 1/2 cup of shortening and 1/2 cup of butter. I wanted to try this recipe.
If you are using just Crisco, it is 1 cup. If using butter and Crisco, it is half and half.
Do you use Crisco with butter flavor or plain?
I’ve been using this recipe for the last 4 years and everyone loves it!
Can you use coconut cream for those with dairy allergies?
I don’t see why not!
Hi Jane, just wondering how did it turn out with Coconut cream? I’m lactose intolerant 🙂
Goats milk is a great substitute for cows milk for people who are lactose intolerant.
Made this frosting today for my sugar cookies and have to say it turned out great, will surely use it again, thanks.
I Used the cookie and frosting recipe! It’s perfect, lots of cookies and enough frosting for all the colors! The flavor is great, the almond extract is a must!