Try this easy marbled sugar cookie recipe instead of sprinkle cookies! A simple cut-out sugar cookie recipe with powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar with beautiful marbled royal icing.
Cookie exchange ideas? Here are a few of our favorites and our reader favorites too! Crumbl Chocolate Chip Cookies, Pfeffernusse German Spice Cookies and these always favorite, traditional shortbread cookies or these lemon shortbread cookies.
I enjoy giving precise details in my recipe posts to lead my readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, use the Jump to Recipe to head straight there!
Why You Will Love Marbled Sugar Cookies
- Classic Twist – It’s a cut-out sugar cookie recipe with powdered sugar and homemade royal icing dyed with food coloring to create a mesmerizing marble effect, perfect for the holiday season.
- Traditional Vanilla Flavor – Enjoy the comfort of the traditional sugar cookie taste in each bite.
- Kids Love Them – This is a perfect sugar cookie recipe to make with the kids and a fun way to bring the family together for a festive treat!
- Butter | I used salted butter. However, if you use unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the recipe. Make sure it’s room temperature.
- Powdered sugar | Also called confectioners sugar and icing sugar.
- Egg | Bring the egg to room temperature before adding it to the recipe for the best sugar cookies. If you forget, simply submerge the egg in a bowl of warm (not hot) water for 5-7 minutes.
- Vanilla | Deepen the flavor with rich vanilla extract.
- Flour | I always use organic unbleached all-purpose flour, but classic all-purpose flour works great, too.
- Baking powder & Salt | A staple for any cut-out sugar cookie recipe.
- Royal icing | You’ll need powdered sugar, meringue powder, water, clear vanilla or almond extract and gel food coloring.
How to Make Marbled Sugar Cookies
Step 1 | Mix wet ingredients
First, cream the butter and powdered sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment at medium-high speed or using a hand mixer. Once the ingredients are light and fluffy, add the egg and vanilla until incorporated, mixing for about 1 minute.
Step 2 | Combine wet and dry ingredients
Next, sift and add flour, kosher salt, and baking powder to a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Then, with the mixer on low speed (so you don’t floof flour everywhere), slowly add ⅓ cup of the flour mixture at a time to the wet ingredients.
Scrape the sides of the bowl if needed. Pat the dough into two discs and wrap them in plastic wrap. At this point, the dough may be refrigerated overnight if desired.
Step 3 | Chill dough and prep for baking
Now, chill the sugar cookie dough discs in the fridge for about 30 minutes; this helps prevent them from spreading when they bake. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) and line a couple baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 4 | Roll and cut out cookies
When the dough is chilled, prep your work surface with a light layer of flour or powdered sugar. Then, roll the chilled dough to about ¼ inch thickness with a rolling pin and use a cookie cutter to cut out the first shape towards the edge, continue with the next cookie as close to the other as possible.
Place them on the prepared cookie sheet as you go.
- Don’t skip chilling the dough – It helps make perfect cookies by keeping the dough from spreading in the oven.
- If the dough sticks, rub your rolling pin and sprinkle the rolling surface with a little powdered sugar or additional flour.
Step 5 | Bake and cool
Next, bake the cookies for 9 to 15 minutes until the edges start to turn golden brown.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes. Then, move the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely before adding the marbled icing.
Step 6 | Make marble icing
Mix the powdered sugar with the meringue powder, water, and extract in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. Continue on high speed for a few minutes, then test the consistency by dipping a spoon or knife into the icing and lifting it up.
The icing is the right consistency when you drizzle it and it becomes a smooth surface within 5-8 seconds. If it’s too thick, add more water or a little more powdered sugar if the icing is too thin.
Step 7 | Add color to marble glaze
Now, separate the icing into three small bowls, add a drop of color into each bowl, and use toothpicks to swirl the gel food color into the white icing gently. It produces different shades as you swirl the color into the icing. Stop mixing the color before it evenly distributes to have the marbled effect. If desired, add different colors to the bowl and repeat the previous steps.
Step 8 | Ice cookies
Place a piece of parchment paper under a nice-sized wire rack to catch all of the icing drips. Then, carefully dip the top of the cookie in the royal icing, ensuring all edges are covered. Then, lift the cookies slowly and let the extra icing drip as you hold it over the bowl. Place the iced cookie on the cooling rack and continue with the remaining cookies.
Step 9 | Set and serve!
Finally, let the cookies sit until the icing has set. After about two hours, serve your delicious and beautiful marbled Christmas cookies!
- This recipe was made with these quality cookie cutters, but you can use your favorites!
- You’ll likely need two or more baking sheets for this recipe.
High Altitude Marbled Sugar Cookies
These homemade sugar cookies were tested at sea level and high altitude. Here are the adjustments you should make when baking at a higher altitude:
- Increase the flour by two tablespoons
- Reduce the powdered sugar to 1 ¼ cups
- If the dough is a little dry, add a teaspoon or two of water and mix well
- Bake as directed
It’s not really Christmas time without Christmas cookie recipes! If you think this is the best sugar cookie recipe, try more of my easy recipes, like these White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, these Scottish Shortbread cookies, and homemade Eggnog Gooey Butter Cookies – Yum!
Variations & Substitutions
Marbled Cookies for All Occasions: Play with the colors you use to make these cut-out cookies fit for any special occasion or event. For example, red, white, and blue dye produces festive Fourth of July Cookies, and pink and purple make a fun design for your kid’s next birthday party! Another excellent idea is to make marbled heart sugar cookies for a bridal shower or Valentine’s Day event.
Extracts: Experiment with the easy sugar cookie recipe using different extracts, like almond, raspberry, caramel, or my homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract.
Sprinkles: Add sprinkles on top of the royal icing for an extra festive flare!
Gluten-Free Marble Sugar Cookies
While I am not gluten-free, many of my family and friends are, so I try to provide options for adapting my recipes to be gluten-free. Replace the flour with a good gluten-free all-purpose flour (I like King Arthur).
- These baking pans (made in the US) are my favorites and comne with a great cooling/baking rack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frosting and icing are two ways to top baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and more. They are often used interchangeably, though they are different. Icing is usually thinner and hardens as it dries, while frosting is thicker, fluffier, and creamier due to added ingredients like cream cheese or butter. Like this vanilla buttercream!
Classic sugar cookie icing is very similar to royal icing. Both are delicious and presentable for cut-out sugar cookies, but royal icing is known for hardening very well, as it dries and makes flooding easier.
You’ll end up with 30 to 35 cookies, depending on the shapes and sizes of the cookie cutters and the thickness of the dough when rolled out.
Sure! An excellent way to prep the cookies ahead of time is to make the dough, roll it into a ball, and pat it flat into a disk or two, wrapping it with plastic wrap. Then, keep it in the fridge for up to two days before completing the recipe. When ready, let the dough come to room temperature for about ten minutes before rolling it out, cutting the shapes, and baking the cutout cookies.
Leftover iced cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about two-four days and last for about a week days when kept in the fridge.
If you stack the cookies on top of one another, use wax paper or parchment paper between each to keep the icing from sticking.
Can you freeze sugar cookies?
For a month of storage, freeze the cookies in an airtight container. It’s best to keep the icing separate if you’re freezing the cookies to make ahead. However, if you want to freeze the cookies iced, allow the icing to fully harden, then add wax paper between layers to avoid sticking.
How to freeze cut out sugar cookie dough
I love freezing cookie dough. Freeze powdered sugar cookie dough wrapped well in plastic wrap and then placed in a ziplock baggie; freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge roll and cut and bake as directed.
What to serve with marble sugar cookies
Best drinks to serve with marbled sugar cookies
The Best Christmas Morning Chai Recipe (Dutch Bros)
This holiday season enjoy this copycat Dutch Bros Christmas Morning Chai recipe. A chai latte that is spicy and flavorful chai tea mixed with half and half and swirled with white chocolate syrup. Delicious hot or cold.
Homemade Eggnog Latte Recipe (Starbucks Copycat)
Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with my rich, creamy Copycat Starbucks Eggnog Latte recipe. This homemade eggnog latte is so simple to make and so festive to drink! Enjoy this warm eggnog coffee drink before a crisp morning walk, or as a special treat on a chilly afternoon.
Best cookies for your Christmas cookie exchange
It’s so fun to create a festive and fun holiday cookie platter or for a cookie exchange, here are a few tried and true fan favorites for you to try! Be sure to browse all of my holiday sweets.
Best Copycat Crumbl Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
This classic Crumbl chocolate chip cookie recipe is a perfect copycat of the real thing. Packed with milk chocolate chips, this no-chill copycat Crumbl cookie recipe will become a family favorite. Learn how to make these incredibly popular cookies right at home!
Best Chilled Sugar Cookie Recipe (Copycat Crumbl)
You are in for a HUGE treat with this easy copycat Crumbl Cookie Recipe for the best Chilled Sugar Cookies, ever. Using simple pantry ingredients, in 30 minutes you will enjoy, large, soft, buttery cookies, frosted with an amazing almond buttercream frosting.
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These easy recipe for 5-Ingredient Raspberry Cheesecake Thumbprint cookies are as beautiful as they are simple to make. Soft and buttery, with the bright taste of raspberries, these melt-in-your mouth beauties are sure to become one of your favorite cookie recipes.
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Nothing screams Christmas cookies like white chocolate peppermint cookies! Using crushed candy canes, these are soft, chewy, minty cookies; the perfect addition to any Christmas cookie tray.
More sugar cookie recipes
- Oatmeal Sugar Cookies
- Joy’s Classic Sugar Cookies
- Pan Banging Sugar Cookies
- Best Chilled Sugar Cookie Recipe (Copycat Crumbl)
- Easy shortbread recipe
Don’t forget to chill your dough, ensuring they hold their shape while they bake.
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Easy Marbled Christmas Sugar Cookies Recipe
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Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temperature (I used salted butter, if using unsalted, add ¼ teaspoon salt)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar reduce to 1 ¼ cups for high altitude
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or try vanilla bean paste too
- 3 cups all purpose flour I used unbleached (plus 2 tablespoons for high altitude), sifted is best!
- 1 teaspoon baking powder reduce to ½ teaspoon for high altitude
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons water if needed, high altitude
Marbled Royal Icing
Sugar Cookie Dough
- Mix the butter (1 cup) and powdered sugar (1 ½ cups) in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium-high speed until they are well combined and creamy. This process is called “creaming.”
- Add the egg (1) and vanilla (2 tsp) and mix until combined.
- Sift flour flour (3 cups), salt (¼ tsp), and baking powder (¼ tsp) together in a separate bowl.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients little by little. Mix at low speed until well combined. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl so it is all mixed in. For high altitude, if dough seems to dry, add a few teaspoons of water to the dough, mix to combine. Pat the dough into 2 discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill!
- Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. It’s important to chill so that your cookies do not spread.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) – High Altitude 375°F (190° C). Add some parchment paper onto your baking sheet and set aside.
- Once chilled, on a lightly floured or powdered sugared surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thick and using your favorite cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes, placing them on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until the edges turn golden.
- Allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.
Marble Royal Icing
- Mix your powdered sugar (2 ½ cups), meringue powder (1 ¼ tablepsoons), 3 tablespoons of water and desired flavor extract (½-1 teaspoon) with a stand mixer using a whisk attachment. Beat the icing ingredients together on high speed for about 2 minutes. Place a spoon or knife into the icing, and lift it up. It should drizzle down and smooth out in about 5 – 8 seconds. If it looks too thick, add more water little by little because it could easily get too thin. If it’s too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. The icing should be about a flooding consistency.
- Separate the frosting into three bowls and using a toothpick, add a drop of coloring onto it and swirl it on the white icing. If you are using two colors, repeat the same with another color in that bowl. You will notice the first color in this case, I used green, and as you swirl you will notice different shades across the icing. Continue by adding your second color onto the toothpick, in this case red, and do the same. Swirl it around the icing.
- Keep in mind that the icing will harden quickly, so make sure to cover anything not being used right away.
- Dip the top of the cookie in the royal icing mixture. Make sure all of the edges are covered. Lift the cookie carefully and let the extra icing drip off the cookie by holding it over the bowl. Place it on a cooling rack to set, but keep in mind some of the icing might drip a bit.
- Continue to do it for the color you like in each of the bowls. In the other one, I only used blue coloring on the white icing, and the last one I only used red coloring. Repeat the process for the cookies, until you have finished them all.
- Let the cookies sit until the frosting has set for about 2 hours.
High Altitude Marbled Sugar Cookies
- Increase flour by 2 tablespoons.
- Reduce powdered sugar to 1 ¼ cups
- If dough seems too dry, add 1-2 teaspoons of water.
- Bake as directed
I used these cookie cutters – but use your favorites!
Place a sheet of parchment under the cookie rack to catch the drips for easier clean-up.