Two years ago during the holidays I tried royal icing for the first time.  It didn’t go well.  I was hoping for cookies like you see above, and instead I got these.  Thanks to the innumerable batches of cookies I’ve made since that first attempt, my royal icing skills and decorating speed have improved, and finally I achieved the pretty snowflakes I dreamed about.

I served these for our holiday party this weekend and everyone kept commenting that they were too pretty to eat.  But eat them they did, and they were enjoyed by all.

I know a lot of cookie decorators use disco dust to add an extra twinkle to their cookies.  It is very pretty, but I don’t feel comfortable consuming or serving anything labeled, “Non-toxic, for decoration only,” so instead I found these sugar pearls and sanding sugars in my pantry and went nuts.  I loved the way these cookies turned out and they made me want to throw a whole winter wonderland-themed party.  Not sure how much the guys would like that, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future :)

 I also made a plateful of these cute little mitten cookies to coordinate with the snowflakes.  I had left over cake sparkles and used them to make the cuffs of the mittens look fuzzy.

I had such fun making and decorating these cookies, and thought I’d share for anyone needing decoration inspiration.  If you are new to royal icing, check out my tutorial to make your first attempt much more successful than my own.  For the cookies, I used this recipe.  Normally I go with a vanilla bean and lemon zest flavoring, but the almond extract is just better suited for the holidays.  These designs were inspired by two totally gorgeous pink and blue winter party concepts I found on Hostess with the Mostess.

  • These look beyond beautiful. I can’t believe in 2 years you’ve become such a pro at royal icing! These are worthy to be sold on Etsy!!

  • Wow, Annie. Those are amazing. Congrats on making your dream cookies!

  • Anna

    Beautiful cookies!! It makes me want to haul out the cookie cutters and get started working some art!!

  • Those are so pretty I’m not even sure I could eat them!

  • wow! These look incredible!! Let’s hope in two years, my sugar cookies look less like the do now and more like yours – hoping they look entirely like yours is wishful thinking I think! Wow again!

  • Those cookies are lovely! Excellent job!

  • Laurie

    Spectacular!!! I’ve been looking high and low for a snowflake cookie cutter and kind find any shape but the flake…any ideas? I have PLENTY of snowflakes in my yard though!

  • Laurie

    Oops…that’s “can find” any shape but the flake. So much for spelling at 7:13 am and late for work!

  • Just beautiful! I am very impressed :)

  • So pretty! You did a wonderful job.

  • Very pretty!!! I know that takes some patience!!

  • Wow, these look gorgeous!!!

  • They’re gorgeous! I just for the first time tried to use royal icing on sugar cookies and they did not come out looking even remotely like your “bad batch.” They were far worse haha

  • Absolutely beautiful! Happy holidays to you and your family!

  • So beautiful! I tried to pull off pretty snowflake cookies inspired by Martha Stewart but it didn’t turn out so well. Love yours – please come and teach me :)

  • Lovely! I think I could practice for a lifetime and never achieve such gorgeous cookies…but I know my family will appreciate the practice efforts!

  • Those are the most beautiful snowflakes I’ve ever seen. Sugar-based or otherwise! I can’t take my eyes off them.

  • Absolutely beautiful!! I’m going to try to make something like this today, actually. What did you use for the pearl effect??

  • Your cookies (and all of your food) always looks so beautiful. You have piping patience that I could only dream of!

  • Laura

    Wow, wow wow! Those are absolutely beautiful. You should open a bakery and sell all of these beautiful baked goods you make!

  • Wow – those cookies are so beautiful!

  • Annie

    Sugar pearls.

  • These are absolutely beautiful! I haven’t tried royal icing yet, but it’s on my list!

  • LOVE these Annie! I really love the pastel holiday look, and these are gorgeous – great job!!

  • crustabakes

    Oh my. these are very very very pretty, and i love the pastel colours. I also made the candy cane biscottis featured on ur blog. It was a hit at my household!

  • These cookies are too pretty to eat! These are the most detailed designs I’ve seen. Absolutely beautiful!

  • These are gorgeous! I’ve never frosted with royal icing, but might be checking out your tutorial tonight since I’ve already baked my cut-outs. Thanks for sharing!

  • Anne

    Your cookies are simply beautiful! I made some similar ones; they were so much fun to make and decorate. What # tip did you use for the designs on the snowflakes?

  • I love sugar cookies! Great recipe. These are super cute too.

  • Terese

    I agree. These cookies are gorgeous! They are absolutely perfect.

  • Gorgeous!!! I made mittens and snowflakes for my holiday party too :)

  • Annie


  • Annie

    Meghan, be sure to check the FB page, I’m pretty sure it was you who won the Anthro apron!

  • every time you top yourself with each subsequent cookie design! you never fail us with your creativity & beauty. these are absolutely AWESOME, annie! i’m going to have to make these next time. :)

  • beautiful!

  • jeannette

    WOW Annie…beautiful!! …..tried using royal icing this weekend…had such high hopes when I started….was exhausted and frustrated after an hour…’s not easy!!! couldn’t get my white thin enough for flooding without comprising the whiteness of it….I guess I have to keep trying….I would love to be create cookies that look like this!!

  • Jenny

    These are so pretty. You have inspired me to try decorating with royal icing. Thanks for sharing all your gorgeous cookie creations.

  • Aaaaamazing!! I could only dream of making cookies that looked like that! You are a true artist.

    Heather from WhipperBerry

  • these are so beautiful. i don’t really do anything with cutouts or sugar cookies. i have no cutters and not much counter space. definitely need to start!

  • these are truly beautiful! Have a Merry Christmas, anne

  • Gorgeous!!

  • Those are absolutely gorgeous!! I LOVE the mittens with the little fur cuffs ;)

  • Tara

    This is the post I needed to see today. Now I have to go find a snowflake cookie cutter! These are perfect…you are in the wrong business. I can’t stop staring at them. Wow!

  • Brooke G

    Your cookies are goregous!! I tried royal icing for the first time this year, using your sugar cookie recipe and your tutorial, and they came out really well for my first attempt! I am now trying to find any excuse I can to make some sugar cookies so I can try again :)

  • Haley

    These are absolutely beautiful!! I was just wondering when you recommend putting on the sanding sugar? Do you put it on when the icing is almost dry so that the sugar doesn’t sink or absorb into the icing? Thank you so much! :)

  • Beautiful! I love the pastel colors!

  • Your cookies are always so beautiful! I have always been afraid to use royal icing, but I think I need to start!

  • Carilyne

    Really Annie? Really? This is the second time you do this to me this week. Yesterday I made a souble batch of your sugar cookies and left the dough in the frige. This morning i woke up bright and early to go on a mission to find Snow flake cookie cutters. Now, as my cookies are cooling I opened up your page to find your Royal icing recipe and I am faced with these Gorgeous snowflake sugar cookies. Now my goal is to make them look at least half as beautiful as yours.

  • how playful!! I love the colors and you have a really steady hand by the looks of it :-0 I’m jealous

  • Annie

    I used the sanding sugar only on the ones with thick detailing icing, so I sprinkled it immediately after piping. But, I have used it before on the flooding icing and still just sprinkled right after flooding. As long as the icing isn’t too thinned out, it should not sink.

  • oh my goodness, those cookies are SO beautiful, much too pretty to eat! i am so amazed by your baking and cookie decorating talent!

  • Annie I am inspired by your perseverance to make royal icing cookies! I have made a few batches (that take forever to decorate) and am slowly getting better, but I still don’t think i could make anything that would resemble how beautiful these snowflakes are! Love em :-)

  • Kim

    So beautiful! Makes me want to make more cookies. I have been practicing with the royal icing. Just haven’t mastered it like you. Seems like I might be doing something wrong as the piping just breaks off after it has dried on the cookies.

  • liza

    wow! i have never seen such beautiful cookies in my life. amazing.

  • Angie


  • Meredith

    How do you do it?? Have a family, a job (as a physician, no less!), and make a new treat every day?? I’m amazed!

  • Sally

    Omg, I just made a batch (wasn’t even planning on it until I saw this post, luckily I had all of the ingredients on hand!)and these sugar cookies are divine! Easy to make, hold their shape well and are super tasty-yet light, if that makes sense.
    Looks like my husband’s coworkers are going to have a batch of sugar cookies coming their way tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Wow! Those cookies look amazing! And I’m sure they tasted delicious.

  • Do you sleep? I would have to work through the night to find the time to decorate these like this. Beautiful beautiful work. Lovely.

  • absolutely beautiful!

  • these photos are just breathtakingly gorgeous my dear.
    happy holidays to you!

  • HB

    I am usually drawn to bright colors but these are absolutely GORGEOUS!!! And yes! Perfect for a winter-wonderland party! Can’t wait to see and read details about your latest holiday party!!!!!

  • Those cookies are just gorgeous! I also dream of making cookies like that, but mine, unfortunately, don’t look as good as your “rejects”!!

  • So pretty! Голяма Красота !!! Beautiful!

  • Betsy

    WOW!! Absolutely gorgeous! Your site is terrific btw. I am looking forward to checking out the new updated version. It seems like every time I think of something I want to do or learn how to do, there it is on your page. I visit it everyday and have tried some of your recipes. Happy holidays and a blessed new year to you!!

  • Allison

    Happy Holidays Annie, I’ve really enjoyed your blog ever since I came across it! P.S.- the cookies are beautiful!

  • These are beautiful! Nice work!! And I love the new blog look!

  • Oh My! These cookie are SO SO cute! Absolutely gorgeous, so elegant. Beautiful…I am running out of words :-)

  • These are so beautiful! I decorated sugar cookies w/ royal icing for the first time this past week, and they came out pretty well given I’d never attempted them before, but these cookies are what I’m aiming for! So whimsical and wonderful :)

  • Annie, this are the most gorgeous cookies I’ve ever seen! As I said it many times, you’re incredibly talented!

  • Gorgeous! I found these through Pinterest, you do an amazing job!!

    I featured these on my blog today, feel free to stop by & check it out :)

  • Marie

    Hello Annie!
    Not sure if anyone as asked you before or if you answered but I was wondering how long ahead of time do you make your cookies I would love to make them and offer them on the 24th but it’s still a whole 10 days away. Do you think I should wait a bit more? WWAD?


  • Marie

    Hello Annie!
    Not sure if anyone as asked you before or if you answered but I was wondering how long ahead of time do you make your cookies I would love to make them and offer them on the 24th but it’s still a whole 10 days away. Do you think I should wait a bit more? WWAD?


  • Anonymous

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • Weekend treats coming …… :-)

  • Weekend treats coming …… :-)

  • Weekend treats on the way ….. :-)

  • Weekend treats on the way ….. :-)

  • Judianne

    I love the new layout! Just wondering how you pipe your ends so perfectly. When I pipe a line of icing, I get these jagged little tips and yours are perfect and round. I’m wondering if it has to do with consistency. Any advice (tips)?

  • Rtjuly19

    I love your decorated cookies. I wish I found your decorated cookies earlier. I also decorated cookies last week and sent them to my family and friends. The cookies didn’t survive in the mail. In other words, they were crushed when it reached its destination (not your recipe). I was devastated when I heard it because I worked so hard for it. I packed it so well with padding and everything. I guessed it’s the cookie recipe I used.

    Have you tried sending your cookies by mailing them across the state? Or do you think your cookies are the sturdy kind that would stand mailing? Thank you. I might try to use your cookie recipe next time.

  • Bamskitchen

    These cookies are too beautiful to eat. Take Care

  • Telza

    I made these for my boss and my landlord this weekend and they were a big hit! Although my decorating skills are still lacking.

  • Ro

    Wow! those cookies look amazing! Can´t wait to try your recipe! Can you tell me if these are soft or crispy cookies? Thank you!

  • debbie c.

    Um, these are the most beautiful cookies I’ve seen. So pretty!

  • Anonymous

    Why thank you!

  • KT7

    After years of hunting down the perfect sugar cookie recipe I finally found it! Thank you!! They are delicious! Perfect balance of soft/ hard!!! Absolutely love them! Can’t wait to try so many other things from your site! Thanks for sharing!

  • carissa

    these look amazing…are they hard to decorate them like that?

  • Bonnie

    hi annie, my icing tend to have pointy tips after piping details. does this happen because the icing is too thick? – bonnie

  • Anonymous

    Yes, it’s probably just a tad too stiff. I struggle with that problem myself but have found that making it just a bit thinner than I think looks right ends up preventing the point problem.

  • Bonnie

    thank you!

  • cass

    wow these are s pretty

  • Joellyn

    When you hand these out for ‘goodie bags’ how far in advance do you bake these? And how long can these cookies last?

  • annieseats

    Please see the FAQ page. Thanks!

  • Kaylene

    i agree, they’re too pretty to eat.

  • Jan

    These are so beautiful. There is no way I could ever come up with the patience to do this. Feel free to make my holiday sweet and send me some!

  • Com Mãos de seda Midian Lima

    Olá Annie. Tudo aqui é simplesmente perfeito.. Amei suas receitas. Um ótimo lugar para se pedir socorro! Bjos!

  • Melissa

    Hey Annie,
    I hope I’m leaving this on the right post. I’ve read through some other posts/comment sections and the faq and I haven’t seen you address this yet so here goes! I’ve been asked to make sugar cookies with royal icing for an out of state bridal shower. While I’ve made these cookies many times before I’ve never shipped them. Do you have any tips or suggestions on packing and mailing these cookies so they don’t get destroyed en route to the shower?
    Thanks so much for any input you can give me. I’m a long time reader and I have loved growing in the kitchen with you over the years. You’re a huge inspiration to me! Your blog always inspires me and pushes me to try new things in the kitchen that I never thought I could do. Your blog is always the first place I check if I need a recipe or idea. Thanks again Annie!

  • annieseats

    Hi Melissa,
    I have shipped these cookies a few times. First I would say it depends on the needs/wants of the people hosting the shower. Will the cookies be individually packaged as favors or will they just be set out on a platter or something? If they will be packaged, I would go ahead and do that on your end. Every little extra bit of padding will help. I don’t have specific instructions on exactly how to package them for shipping because that depends on number of cookies, size of boxes, The main thing is to just have plenty of padding, probably more than you think you need, and use multiple boxes if necessary. One thing I can say is that I always put the cookies in a small box or boxes, and then put those inside a larger box or boxes with plenty of packing material filling the larger box. Does that make sense?

  • Melissa

    I believe the cookies will be placed on a platter for guests to eat during the shower. And it does make sense thank you for your input! I was doing some google searching on this and packing it in multiple boxes within a bigger box with lots of padding was a common suggestion so I’m glad to know you’ve found this had worked for you. I was just so worried about the cookies being messed up while being shipped so thank you for reassuring me!

  • Beautiful cookies!! I’m going to try decorating some right now!