Perfect for the 4th of July, these sugar cookies are decorated with a marbled red, white, and blue icing. They're so fun to make and even more fun to eat!
How in the world is it almost the 4th of July? This year has just been flying by!
One of the best parts about the 4th of July is the food, and if you're looking for something delicious to bake, I've got you covered. These soft sugar cookies topped with a red, white, and blue marbled icing are perfect for this patriotic holiday.
Let me show you how to make them!
What You'll Need
Before we get to baking, let's quickly chat about some of the key ingredients and tools you'll need. The full recipe can be found below!
- Unsalted butter - You'll want to use unsalted butter (rather than salted) in this recipe so you can control the amount of salt in the cookies.
- Eggs & egg whites - We'll use whole eggs in the cookie dough and egg whites for the royal icing. Be sure to use pasteurized egg whites for the icing!
- Whole milk - I prefer to use whole milk, but 2% or skim milk also work well here. I haven't tried making this recipe using plant-based milk, so I wouldn't recommend that.
- All-purpose flour - Be sure to use the spoon & level method when measuring out the flour.
- Powdered sugar - Sift it first to avoid any clumps!
- Water - This will help thin out the royal icing.
- Mixer - Personally, I like to use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment when making this recipe. However, an electric hand mixer will also work.
- Rolling pin - You can use any rolling pin you'd like, but I prefer to use a French rolling pin because it helps ensure that you roll the dough out evenly.
- Star cookie cutters - I like to use star cookie cutters to make this recipe, but feel free to use any shape of cutters you'd like!
- Baking sheet - This recipe calls for 2 baking sheets.
- Piping bag - You'll need two piping bags to make this recipe! I like to keep a stash of these disposable piping bags in my pantry for recipes like this.
How to Make These Cookies
Now let's make some cookies! This recipe may seem a bit complicated at first, but it's much easier than it looks. Here's all you'll need to do:
- Make the sugar cookie dough. Start by mixing together all the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients until just combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough and bake. Roll out the dough to ¼-inch thickness, then cut the dough out using star cookie cutters. Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet, then bake for 8-12 minutes at 350°F, or until the edges are a light golden brown.
- Make the royal icing. Whisk the pasteurized egg whites and vanilla extract until light and foamy, then gradually add in the powdered sugar. Add in the water one teaspoon at a time until you can make a figure eight with the icing that disappears in eight seconds. If the icing is too stiff, you can add in more water a teaspoon at a time. If it's too loose, you can sprinkle in small amounts of powdered sugar.
- Color a small portion of the icing red and another portion blue. When doing this, make sure to keep a larger bowl of icing white. When creating the colors, I usually do this in two smaller bowls, and I add the food coloring in gradually. Once the icing is ready, transfer each color to its own piping bag and cut a small tip in the opening.
- Drizzle the red and blue icing in straight lines over the white icing. Then, run a toothpick perpendicular to the lines to create the beautiful swirled pattern shown below.
- Dip the cookies! Dip the cookies in the icing one at a time, letting some of the icing run off before flipping them over and transferring to a wire rack to dry.
- Add more red and blue icing into the white icing periodically. As you continue to dip the cookies, the marbled icing will lose some of its color. Continue piping in lines of the red and blue icing to make the cookies bright and colorful.
- Top the cookies with sprinkles if desired. I never say no to sprinkles, so I added some red, white, and blue ones on top of these cookies. The icing will start to harden pretty quickly, so make sure to add them sooner rather than later.
Tips to Make This Recipe
These cookies are pretty simple to make, and the fun part is definitely the decorating. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making them:
- Make sure to use softened butter (not melted). When mixing together the butter and sugar, make sure your butter is just a little bit soft. If the butter has melted, the dough will be too soft, and you will have to refrigerate it for a longer period of time. If my butter is coming straight from the fridge, I like to warm it up in the microwave in 15-second increments until it is ready.
- Make sure to refrigerate the cookie dough before rolling it out. This lets the dough firm up, which makes it easier to roll out later. You can even refrigerate the dough overnight if you want to make the cookies in stages.
- Flour your surface well so that the dough doesn’t stick. Honestly, is there anything worse than cookies that won’t come off the counter? I will usually re-roll the dough once or twice, and I recommend flouring your surface well in between each roll.
- Use the figure-eight test to see when the royal icing is ready. After making the royal icing, make a figure eight in the icing with a spoon, and if it disappears within 8 seconds, the icing is ready to go. If the icing is too stiff, you can add in more water a teaspoon at a time. If it's too loose, you can sprinkle in small amounts of powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency.
Common Questions About These Cookies
You've got questions... I've got answers! If you have a question about this recipe that isn't answered below, feel free to leave it in the comments, and I'll jump in there to help you out.
Absolutely! I personally love to make these cookies in a few stages so that I’m not too overwhelmed all in one day. Tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, this dough can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the dough for up to 2 months — just let it thaw to room temperature before rolling it out.
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, this royal icing will last for about 3 days. However, I would recommend waiting to color the icing because the colors might become dull over time. When you are ready to use the icing, let it soften at room temperature, then thin/thicken it out as necessary with water/powdered sugar.
Yes, you can double (and even triple!) this recipe with ease. If you do so, I recommend separating the cookie dough into a few circular disks before refrigerating it. You will also want to roll the dough out in stages so that it’s a bit more manageable.
How to Store & Freeze
To store: You can store the baked cookies in an airtight container for up to one week.
To freeze: Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a frozen-safe zip-top bag before freezing. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 2 months. Just be sure to let it thaw to room temperature before rolling it out and baking.
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