We all know them, we all love them. Those pink frosted sugar cookies from the grocery store. Soft and fluffy, with a generous swirl of pink tinted buttercream and rainbow sprinkles. Is there anything happier in all the world?
I mean, seriously, if you can look at this spread and not crack a smile… well, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.
This recipe was adapted from my first book, where I originally topped it with an amazeballs cookie dough frosting (yes, it’s as crazy good as it sounds).
The cookies on their own aren’t earth shattering, in fact, they could be described as a bit boring. They’re noticeably less sweet than the sugar cookies you may be used to, and that’s entirely intentional, in anticipation of the added sweetness from the frosting. Together, a complete cookie-and-frosting package, it’s nothing less than perfection, to say the least. Where a sweeter cookie would become too much when topped with a thick layer of American buttercream, but the balance here is spot on, with just the right amount of sugar to satisfy, and a hint of almond and a salty finish.
I made these cookies in preparation for this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Which, as tradition has it, gets a new style of cookie in the logo each year. We’ve had chocolate chip, chocolate white chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and molasses crinkles. I figured it was high time a pink frosted sugar cookie made an appearance, and the results couldn’t have been any more delightful! (Related: if you’re a food blogger and want to participate in this year’s swap, be sure you’re signed up for the notifications list to get an email alert as soon as sign ups open (likely in the next 4-6 weeks!)
This recipe uses half butter and half shortening for the cookie base. If you used all shortening your cookies would stay softer longer, but lack some of the unctuous butter flavor. If you used all butter you’d get proportionally more flavor, but the cookies wouldn’t be quite as soft. I found the mix of the two to be the best balance. The same for the frosting, the little bit of added shortening makes the frosting more stable and fluffy in texture, which is especially helpful if you’re making these on a hot day.
So the next time you’re feeling down might I suggest rolling up your sleeves and indulging in a bit of baking? Because once you whip up a batch of these amazingly soft cookies, complete with a slathering of buttercream and a sprinkle of happiness, you won’t be able to help but feel a little bit better about the world.
Life is better with rainbow sprinkles.
Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) unflavored vegetable shortening, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unflavored vegetable shortening, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar (or more as needed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- food coloring (optional)
- sprinkles, for decoration
- Whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl until incorporated. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and shortening together until smooth. Add sugar and beat on medium-high speed, 1 to 2 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add dry ingredients in two batches, mixing on low speed, until flour is incorporated and no dry spots remain. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Split dough into two pieces and roll half on a lightly floured surface to an even 3/8-inch thickness (this is significantly thicker than you might be used to for normal cut-out sugar cookies, that thickness is the key to the cookies’ softness). Cut into 3-inch circles using a round cookie cutter or a drinking glass. Arrange cut rounds on baking sheet, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space between them.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until tops are set and bottoms are just beginning to turn light golden brown. Do not overbake. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool completely before frosting. Repeat with remaining dough.
- To prepare frosting, combine butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high speed until smooth and very fluffy (there should be no visible chunks of butter or shortening. Be sure both ingredients are entirely room temperature or you will likely end up with undesirable chunks).
- Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until frosting reaches desired consistency. Mix in vanilla and food coloring as desired. Spread frosting onto cooled cookies with an offset spatula. Decorate with sprinkles. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days, though cookies will be best if enjoyed within 1 to 2 days for optimal softness.
Did you make this recipe?
Let us know what you think!
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Could I substitute coconut oil for shortening?
Definitely! The cookies might not stay quite as soft for as long, and you’ll have a hint of coconut flavor in the final product. :)
Did you recently change the recipe to have shortening?? I really want the old recipe:( I’ve made it many times and it was my favorite!!
Nope, it’s the same as it’s always been, it uses a mix of butter and shortening for the best of both texture and flavor. Were you maybe thinking of the vanilla almond sugar cookies? Those use all butter: https://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2010/12/vanilla-almond-sugar-cookies.html
I just made these I followed recipe exact and I don’t know what happened but the batter is really crumbly.
We love this recipe. Not overly sweet. The cookies stay soft.
These look amazing! I have a friend who’s dairy-free…could I substitute Earth Balance for the butter without ruining the texture and flavor? Thanks!
Hi Lani! I haven’t tried it personally but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work. You could also use all shortening (unflavored or butter flavor) as well. Let me know how they turn out if you try it!
Does it matter if I use a regular salt or kosher salt? What’s the difference, if there is any?
These look gorgeous! Could I replace the shortening with butter? Will it affect the taste or texture? Definitely want to give these a try! <3
You could substitute butter and your cookies would probably still taste fabulous, though they won’t be quite as soft after baking (or stay as soft after a day or two). When you really want that pillowy soft texture, shortening is the only way to acheive that, unfortunately!
I made these with my kids. I made a couple of minor adjustments…I added lemon peel to the cookie dough and substituted half of the sugar with powdered sugar. My husband said they are the best sugar cookies he has ever had. The frosting is especially yummy. That butter makes all the difference.
Thanks for sharing, so glad you enjoyed them! I love the addition of the lemon. :)
I would LOVE to send a dozen of these to my brother in college (they’re his favorite types of cookies). Do you think these would travel well – I would cool them and do 2 day shipping? Could you offer any suggestions?
I think they would… maybe pack them in an airtight container with small pieces of parchment/waxed paper in between so the frosting doesn’t stick. Try to send them the day they are made, otherwise freeze them and then frost them right before shipping. As long as it’s not super hot where they are going (the buttercream might melt if that’s the case) I think they’d make it there just fine. :)
These look delicious and SO pretty! I am super excited for the cookie swap this year, especially now that this beauty is going to be part of the logo!
These are my favorite kind of store bought cookies! I can’t wait to try this for Christmas. Thank you!! :D
Thanks for the shortening and butter tips! I never knew the secret to uhmazing sugar cookies, but you’re helping cure that. Thanks!
Yay, yay, yay, I can’t wait to see this year’s gorgeous new logo, Lindsay! These cookies are SO pretty! <3 xo
Just looking at these cookies is making me so happy! Of course, eating them would make me even happier, which I totally plan to do ASAP. ;) Pinning!
They look absolutely perfect and a million times better than any Lofthouse or grocery store bakery cookie!
And I can’t believe it’s already time to start thinking about the cookie swap…I feel like holiday baking season is going to be here in the blink of an eye!
OMG, these are too pretty to eat!! And I can’t wait for the FB Cookie Swap. It was a blast last year!!
Oooooh my goodness these are ADORABLE! I’m going to have to try these, I’m always on the lookout for a better cookie frosting. They totally made me smile :)
These cookies look incredibly amazing. I wish I was eating them for lunch today instead of last nights leftovers!
These cookies are so perfect! I love how bright and happy they are. Can’t wait for this year’s cookie swap! :)
“Life is better with rainbow sprinkles.” I so agree. And these cookies are so pretty, just looking at them makes me happy.
Ok seriously. This is the happiest thing on the planet. I’ve seen a lot of posts on a lot of food blogs of a lot of sprinkled things. But this just tops it all. LOVE!!
Ooh yum! We don’t really have frosted cookies in the UK but these look absolutely delicious! Love the colours you’ve chosen