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!

frosted christmas cookies candy cane snowman holly and christmas tree shown with text best christmas cookie frosting

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.

Best Sugar Cookie Frosting- perfect for cut out cookies
  1. The cookie needs to be sturdy enough to hold a generous amount of frosting.
  2. Soft cut-out cookies only, please!
  3. Keep the sprinkles to a minimum… I’m trying to enjoy the frosting, not break a tooth.
  4. 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).
decorated christmas cookies snowman candycane snowflake tree holly

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.

Best Sugar Cookie Frosting Recipe

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:

Best Sugar Cookie Frosting perfect for Christmas Cookies

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.
Tips, Tricks and Recipe for the Best Sugar Cookie Frosting

Christmas Cookie Frosting

I’ve been perfecting my Christmas Sugar Cookies (cut outs) for 20+ years. This is the Christmas Cookie Frosting recipe I use to top them!

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  • 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.


Calories: 748kcal, Sodium: 9mg
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unfrosted sugar cookies in Christmas shapes laying on a flat surface

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