A foolproof recipe for the sugar cookie dough and royal icing that we use for Easter cookies. Find out more about the easy techniques for decorating these cookies and learn about the story behind these treats from Martha.

Martha Stewart Living, April 2019


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

2 hrs 45 mins
1 hr 20 mins
Makes 20 to 30


Royal Icing


Instructions Checklist
  • Cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and cognac until well combined. Add flour mixture; beat on low until just combined. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough evenly and shape into 2 disks; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 45 minutes and up to 5 days.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Refrigerate until very firm, about 30 minutes, or freeze 10 minutes. Stamp out shapes. Transfer cutouts to prepared sheets, about 1 inch apart. Reroll scraps; stamp out more shapes and transfer to sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes, or freeze 10 minutes. Bake until set and golden around edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks; let cool completely.

  • Royal Icing: In a bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, egg whites, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice until smooth. If necessary, add more lemon juice or confectioners' sugar to reach desired consistency. Divide and tint with gel-paste colors as desired. Pour some into squeeze bottles for detailing.

Cook's Notes

For richer flavor, refrigerate the dough for at least one day and up to five.

Store decorated cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Note that raw eggs (used in the icing) should not be consumed by pregnant women, young children, the elderly, or anyone with compromised health.