Christmas Snowman Cookies
These Christmas snowman cookies are delicious to bite into, with a sugary sweet buttercream topping and a soft-to-bite-into sugar cookie texture. They’re super simple to make and totally adorable – making them the perfect cookies for a swap or to leave out for Santa!
These are some of the easiest cut out cookies to make – even a beginner cookie decorator can succeed!
Jenny Keller, author of the popular cookbooks Eat More Dessert and Cookie Class and owner of the destination bakery Jenny Cookies Bake Shop in Washington state, is kind enough to share her perfect sugar cookie recipe, baking tips, and decorating technique here.
Jenny uses this same cookie recipe for all of her amazing creations, whether they’re shaped like reindeer, Santas, or candy canes.
Ingredients and Equipment
The cookies themselves use pantry staples, so you probably have everything on hand. Jenny is a stickler for using real butter in the cookies and suggests using pure extracts when possible for the best flavors.
For the icing, make sure you have:
- Margarine: Not only is the margarine really light in color, which you want for that pure white snowman look, but it also spreads really well.
- Vegetable shortening: Unlike butter, vegetable shortening forms a crust when it dries. The crust makes the cookies easier to stack and pack up.
- Clear vanilla extract: This keeps the icing a pure white.
For the decorating, you’ll need:
- Black and orange food coloring for the eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Three piping tips:
How It’s Made
Start by whisking flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. You want a consistent distribution of the two ingredients.
In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together for two full minutes. This will incorporate a lot of air into the dough and help make the cookies light.
Tip: Use room temperature butter. Using microwaved butter that is too warm will change the texture of the cookies.
Next, beat in eggs and vanilla extract for about one minute or until the mixture is fluffy.
Mix in the flour mixture in four separate additions with your mixer on low speed.
Tip: Keep mixing to a minimum at this point. The more time you spend mixing, the more dense your cookies will end up!
The dough will come to a soft but not sticky ball. Wrap it in plastic and press it down with your hands to form a one inch thick disk.
Refrigerate the dough for a minimum of ten minutes to make it easier to roll out.
Preparing and Baking
When you’re ready to make the cookies, start by preheating your oven to 375 F.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out using a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter or glass of about that diameter. Dipping your cookie cutter in flour after every few cuts will keep the cutter from sticking to the dough.
Tip: Make sure that the dough stays chilled. If it starts to get warm, return it to the fridge to cool off for a few minutes before continuing. The cold dough will be easier to transfer to a cookie sheet and will hold its shape better during the bake.
Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a nonstick baking sheet, placing them about 3/4 inch apart.
Bake one sheet at a time for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the cookies are puffy. Let cookies rest for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.
Combine margarine (or butter) and vegetable shortening in a bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about two minutes.
Add half of the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until the mixture is creamy.
Finally, add the remaining powdered sugar, clear vanilla extract, and heavy cream, and beat on low speed for another two minutes or until the icing is again creamy and fluffy.
Divide the icing into three batches. Leave one batch plain white, mix orange food coloring into another, and mix black food coloring into the third. Jenny recommends using AmeriColor colors.
Load the plain icing into a piping bag fitted with a #1a tip. Cover the cookie in white by piping a large dollop onto the cookie to cover the entire surface.
Tip: If your icing ends up shaped like a chocolate kiss, gently tap the cookie on the counter to encourage the icing to settle.
Load the black icing into a piping bag fitted with a #2 tip. Carefully pipe dots to make the snowman’s eyes and smile.
Finally load the orange icing into a piping bag fitted with a #3 tip. Pipe on a cute orange carrot-shaped nose.
Let the icing harden at room temperature before serving.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Use room temperature butter. Using microwaved butter that is too warm will change the texture of the cookies.
- Beat the butter and sugar for two full minutes. This will incorporate a lot of air into the dough and help make the cookies light.
- Once you add the flour mixture to the dough, keep mixing to a minimum. The more time you spend mixing, the denser the cookies will be.
- Before rolling the dough, run a wet paper towel over your work surface. Then, sprinkle flour on the surface. The moisture will keep the flour from moving around as you roll. This tip is so smart!
- Make sure that the dough stays chilled. If it starts to get warm, return it to the fridge to cool off for a few minutes before continuing. The cold dough will be easier to transfer to a cookie sheet and will hold its shape better during baking.
- Line your baking sheets with parchment to avoid extra cleanup.
- Place the cut out cookie dough circles at least 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheets to make sure that they don’t touch as they bake.
- When they are done, let them rest for two minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.
This buttercream icing will form a crust in about six to eight hours. Once that happens, store the cookies between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container for up to four days or freeze for up to one month.
Never refrigerate sugar cookies or they will become soggy.
Yes! Replace the all-purpose flour in the recipe with equal amounts of gluten-free flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill brand).
The dough needs to be refrigerated for ten minutes to make it easier to roll. But, the great thing is that you can store it in the fridge for up to seven days until you are ready to use it, or freeze it for up to a month!
Get to know your own oven. All ovens bake differently. Check the cookies around six minutes to see how they are doing. If they are done, they will look puffy. If you over-bake them, they will still be great but they will be crispier.
Bake only one tray at a time unless you have a convection oven. Baking multiple trays at once can lead to uneven baking. And, always use the middle rack for the most even heat.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 cups salted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Buttercream Icing Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening
- 3 lbs confectioners’ sugar about 10 1/2 cups
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Snowman Decorating Ingredients
- 1 batch sugar cookies from above
- 1 batch buttercream icing from above
- black food coloring a few drops or until desired color is achieved
- orange food coloring a few drops or until desired color is achieved
- Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth or about 2 1/2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- Turn the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture approximately a quarter at a time, scraping the side of the bowl after each addition. The dough will form a ball around the paddle attachment and feel soft but not sticky.
- Wrap the dough ball in a piece of plastic wrap and press down to form a 1-inch thick disk. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes or store for up to 7 days tightly wrapped.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness, using additional flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Cut out the dough with a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter and carefully transfer circles with a metal spatula to a nonstick baking sheet, placing the cookies about 3/4 inch apart.
- Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack about 7 to 8 minutes, until puffy. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
- Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the gathered scraps until all the dough has been used.
Buttercream Icing Directions
- Combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating on low speed for an additional 2 minutes or until the mixture is creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream, and beat until the frosting is creamy and fluffy (about 2 minutes more). Add any food coloring, if using, and beat on low speed until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds or until the color is incorporated.
- Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month.
Snowman Decorating Instructions
- Divide icing into three sections and mix in food coloring to dye it as follows: 1/2 cup black, 1/2 cup orange, remainder undyed white.
- Fit one pastry bag with the #1a decorating tip and fill with white icing. Fit one pastry bag with the #2 decorating tip and fill with the black icing. Fit one pastry bag with the #3 decorating tip and fill with orange icing.
- Using the white icing, pipe a large dollop onto the cookie to cover the entire surface. If your icing ends up shaped like a chocolate kiss, gently tap the cookie on the counter to encourage the icing to settle.
- Using the black icing, pipe the snowman’s eyes and mouth.
- Using the orange icing, pipe a nose to resemble a carrot.
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