Move over, Cupid! These adorable, easy Frosted Valentine Cookies are anything but cookie cutter. Decorated with royal icing and lots of glitz, underneath is the best sugar cookie dough you’ll ever taste.
A box of decorated sugar cookies makes sweethearts swoon, as will Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting or No Bake Peanut Butter Bars— maybe even cut in the shape of a heart! For many more easy cookie recipes, preheat the oven, soften some butter, and start looking.
Homemade heart cookies— especially on Valentine’s Day— is the best way to make the people you love feel special. Even if you’re not big on baking, they’re easy to make, icing and all.
Easy heart cookies are perfect for little ones, too. You can make the cookies-- dough and all-- from start to finish, depending on the patience of your sous-chef. Or you can get the cookies and icing made in advance, roll up your sleeves, and have one big cookie decorating party a little later.
And finally, make a few more than you think you'll need. There's always someone out there who could use a little love.
Making Frosted Valentine Cookies for a school full of teachers and kids? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Valentine cookie ingredients:
- Baking powder.
- Butter. Softened, room temperature butter works best.
- Egg yolks. Save those whites for the cookie icing!
Royal Icing ingredients:
- Confectioner's sugar. If you ran out of powdered sugar, you can make powdered sugar from granulated sugar by whizzing it through a high-powered blender for a few pulses. (Measure it after you whizz it!)
- Egg whites. Or pasteurized egg whites. Or meringue powder. (Recipes for using each below.)
How to make sugar cookie dough:
An old family recipe that’s made with simple ingredients, these sugar cookies provide the perfect palette for lots of royal icing. By the way, these instructions sort of walk you through the process without giving exact recipe amounts. For specifics, scroll down to the recipe card.
- First, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt. Set this aside while you mix the wet ingredients.
- In the meantime, beat the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. A standing mixer or handheld mixer, with the paddle attachment on medium speed works best for this.
- Then add the egg yolks and the vanilla. Next, turn the mixer speed down to low and add the flour mixture, then the milk, until the dough is just incorporated.
- After that, scrape the dough out onto a floured work surface, shape it into a ball or disc, and wrap it up with plastic wrap.
- In order to make the dough easy to work with, chill the cookie dough for at least 2 hours—or up to 2 days in advance.
How to roll out, cut and bake sugar cookie dough:
- Now that the dough is made and chilled, you’re ready to roll—literally! Sugar cookies bake at 350 degrees, so preheat the oven.
- First, lightly flour a clean work surface. Place the cookie dough on the surface, but use a large sheet of waxed or parchment paper between the rolling pin and the dough.
- Then roll the cookie dough out to about 1/8” thickness. Remove the waxed paper and press the cookie cutters into the dough to make as many cookies from the rolled out dough as possible.
- Next, gently separate the cookies from the rest of the rolled-out dough. Move the cookies onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment or silicone baking mats
- Then scrape the remaining dough back into a ball and repeat the process, by rolling it out, cookie cutting, etc. If the dough gets too sticky, pop it into the fridge to chill for 10 minutes before starting again.
- Immediately bake the sugar cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. If you’re making thicker rolled sugar cookies, they could take a little longer.
- Finally, gently move the cookies to wire racks to cool. They must be absolutely, completely cool before you can decorate them.
How to make royal icing:
Cookie icing is as good as it gets with royal icing. Great for outlining, as well as flooding (aka, filling the outline). This economical recipe uses all the leftover egg whites from the cookie dough to make the icing.
However, if you don’t want to use raw eggs in the icing, substitute out an equal amount of pasteurized egg whites, or have a look at making royal icing with powdered meringue, down below.
By the way, this recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead, if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze leftover royal icing for up to 2 months. Zip-top freezer bags work great for freezing royal icing!
- First, beat the egg whites with the vanilla on high speed using a stand mixer or hand mixer and the whisk attachment.
- Then reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the powdered sugar until shiny and just incorporated.
- Next, turn the mixer back on high and beat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the icing is glossy and forms thick peaks.
- At this point, add food coloring if you have it, then transfer to piping bags or spread with a spatula.
How to make royal icing with meringue powder:
This recipe for icing without raw egg whites still gives a traditional royal icing look and consistency. You can buy meringue powder online, in well-stocked baking aisles, or in craft stores in the baking section.
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 9-10 tablespoons water, at room temperature
To begin, using a hand mixer or a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, beat all the ingredients together on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
Next, lift the whisk attachment up off the icing in the bowl. It should come off the whisk with a drizzle that evens out within a few seconds. If it takes more than 10 seconds, then add a little more water. Mix the icing again and repeat the process. (If the air has low humidity, you may need a few more tablespoons of water.)
Likewise, if the icing is too thin, add a little more sifted powdered sugar.
Tips for how to decorate cookies with royal icing:
This gorgeous cookie icing spreads like a dream and dries to a smooth, even surface within a couple hours. Don’t fret if your first few cookies look less than perfect. Chances are they’ll firm up beautifully, without a blemish.
- If you’re planning on using sprinkles, dragees, or colored sugar on the icing, work quickly; the surface of royal icing dries pretty fast. Make a few cookies at a time until you get into a rhythm.
- This stuff really is no-muss, no fuss. Instead of a piping bag, you can use a plain spatula, an offset spatula, or even a pastry brush to apply the icing.
- If the frosting begins to get too stiff, loosen it up with a few drops of hot water at a time. Stir until well-blended.
- You can be as creative as it gets when it comes to iced sugar cookies. Basic white vanilla royal icing looks amazing when dusted with glittery, sparkly sugar, festive sprinkles, sanding sugar, or nonpareils.
- Divvy a batch of icing up into little containers and color it as you wish with food coloring. Then pipe stripes, zig zags, or outlines onto the sugar cookies. Write names or candy heart sayings. Swirl wet icing with a toothpick for a marbleized look. Each one an edible masterpiece!
- Deep saturated colors, like bright red, can be tricky to achieve without using powdered color used by professional bakers. Sugar Art makes a line of master elite powder colors for royal icing that works well.
- Need to take a break? A damp paper towel on the surface of the icing helps keep the icing from hardening.
- Make it fun. That way you'll do it again next year, and you'll become known as the baker with the best Valentine cookies around!
Easy Frosted Valentine Cookie Recipe
For the Sugar Cookies:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter softened (2 sticks)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup milk
For the Royal Icing:
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 cups powdered sugar
To make the cookie dough:
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, or with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture and milk until just incorporated. Scrape dough on to a floured work surface, shape into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 2 days in advance.
To bake the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- On a floured surface, roll chilled dough between parchment paper or wax paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutters. Transfer to prepared baking sheets with an offset spatula.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. Scrape all remnants together and re-roll. If the dough becomes too soft or sticky, refrigerate an additional 10 minutes.
- Bake until the edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes (if thicker than 1/8 inch, they may take 10 to 15 minutes). Transfer to wire racks and cool completely before decorating with frosting (recipe follows).
To make the royal icing:
- In a standing mixer fit with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed, add the egg whites and vanilla and beat until foamy.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar until just incorporated and shiny. Beat on high for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy with stiff peaks.
- Add food coloring if desired, then transfer to piping bags or spread with a spatula. If using sprinkles or sugar, add quickly before the frosting hardens.
- To make in advance, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.