Cooking 101: Holiday Cutout Cookies

There’s nothing that feels quite like the holidays more than biting into an iced cookie shaped like your favorite decoration. Trees, snowflakes, candy canes, here at The Everygirl we are fans of them all! But going from dough to adorable treats can be intimidating. That’s why we enlisted Los Angeles baker Jessica Vargas to help us. Jessica owns Little Sparks Cookies and bakes hundreds of shaped cookies every day, year-round! Her delectable treats have a cult like following with stars like Mindy Kaling and are shipped all over the country to her devoted fans. And it’s not just because they are so cute—Jessica’s cookies taste even better than they look. We promise it’s possible.

While we couldn’t convince her to share her signature recipe, Jessica has provided us with a scrumptious no-fail alternative and invited us into her kitchen to show us exactly how to achieve perfectly shaped holiday cutout cookies. These make the perfect gift or you can bake them ahead of time and host a cookie decorating party with your close friends! All you have to do is follow her instructions and try not to eat all of your delicious creations before anyone else sees them. We know you can do it.

Holiday Cutout Cookies Recipe

Tools Needed:
Baking Sheet
Rolling Pin
Parchment Paper
Cookie Cutters
Angled Spatula
Food Coloring
Piping Bag & Tips

Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup of REAL unsalted butter, softened (2 standard sticks)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
2-3 tsp vanilla extract (or almond)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder

Start by mixing together your butter and powdered sugar in a mixer on a low setting. You must let the butter sit at room temperature and soften ahead of time. No microwave cheating! Next, add in the egg and vanilla extract. You can crack the eggs separately to make sure no eggshells get in the mixer. Once this is completely mixed, add in the flour little by little, followed by your baking powder. You know the dough is ready when it is not sticking to the sides of the mixer. If your dough is too gooey, add more flour. It’s not necessary to refrigerate dough before baking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Utilize a large space on your counter or table to roll out your dough. You can roll out cookies on a surface liberally dusted with powdered sugar or covered in parchment paper. Powdered sugar is preferable. Using your rolling pin, roll out your dough. Depending on the amount of space you have to work with, you can press all the dough at once or work in sections.

Roll out your dough to about 1/4 of an inch in thickness.

Using your cookie cutters, press firmly down. Make sure to leave about 1 inch between each shape. This makes them easier to grab with your spatula. 

Using your angled spatula, slowly work the tip underneath and scoop up cookies. Be very gentle with fragile cookies like candy canes. TIP: the more powdered sugar beneath your dough, the easier cookies are to scoop up. When there isn’t enough powdered sugar, the dough will stick to your work space. 

Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place your cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart. 

Combine any remaining pieces and reroll, repeating previous steps, adding additional powdered sugar to the surface, and changing cookie shapes if you desire. Once your baking sheet is full (usually about 9-12 cookies on a standard size), bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes. When you see the bottoms start to turn golden brown it’s time to remove the cookies from the oven. Don’t wait too long! Cookies continue to bake even after coming out of the oven.

Allow your cookies to cool for at least 15 minutes. This is the ideal time to start preparing your icing.

Icing Ingredients

2 pounds (one bag) confectioner’s sugar {907 grams}
3 tablespoons meringue powder
2-3 teaspoons oil-free extract or emulsion
1/2-3/4 cups warm water

Place the sugar and meringue powder in mixer bowl. Add water and extract and whisk slowly by hand before turning the mixer on. Once it is slightly mixed from the whisk, turn mixer on to its lowest setting. Whisking before starting the mixer prevents powdered sugar from flying all over your kitchen. Once your icing is mixed, transfer to a smaller dish that is easy to handle (we used a disposable cup) and add food coloring as desired. TIP: white icing is usually made with white food coloring. If you can’t find any at the store, you can order some here. Cover 1 cup of icing and set aside for piping. Do not refrigerate. 

Using a small angled spatula, place a dollop of icing into the center of your cookie and move the icing toward the edges. If you find that the icing is too runny and overflowing the sides, add additional powdered sugar.

After icing all your cookies, allow them to dry for at least 6 hours before attempting to pipe. If the cookies are not dry, the piping designs will bleed. 

Piping Ingredients

1 cup of base icing (previously set aside)
1-2 tablespoons meringue powder (start with 1 and add more to desired thickness)
1/2 cup powdered sugar

To prepare piping, combine 1-2 tablespoons of meringue powder and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to 1 cup of base icing that was set aside earlier. You want the consistency to be thicker than regular icing. Add desired food coloring. Using a piping bag and tip, spoon the icing into the bag. The easiest way is to wrap your hand around the outside of the bag and squeeze the end of the spoon once it is dipped in, ensuring you get all of the icing off. 

Decorate as desired. Once finished, allow cookies to sit for 5 hours before transporting them. Cookies should be stored in an airtight container or ziploc bag and NEVER refrigerated. 


feature image via Monica Wang Photography

  • kendall

    i’ve been eyeing the lulu’s in white!! so chic!

  • Megann

    Bess in grey suede!

  • Alli

    The Bess in grey is perfect for fall! So ladylike with a pair of boyfriend jeans and a cute blazer!

  • erdrasher

    I need a pair of red rubys for fall!

  • Christina H

    Love the Max boots!

  • Ellie

    Ooo I love the Emma boots in wine!

  • Amanda Worthington

    Love the Bess in gray! [email protected]

  • MGW

    I am dying for the Kali in Silver.

  • Misha

    I have been eyeing the Ciella in B&W stripe. Great giveaway, though I wish there was a discount code for current members too!
    [email protected]
    {emerald city diaries |}

  • Kaitlin Wertzbaugher

    cameron in black!

  • lily

    the sienna is so chic and edgy at the same time – must have!

  • Madison McGill

    Bess in grey suede! [email protected]

  • I love the Elizabeth in nude!

  • Clarice King

    I’m signed up on ShoeMint under unheldemail(at)

    My favorite from the latest collection is the Gold Foil Caroline. Looks very comfy!

    Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  • Love the Bess pump! I am all about suede shoes right now.
    [email protected]

  • Megan

    I love the Caroline’s in Gold Foil!!

  • Sara

    Cameron in Black!

  • Moira

    I love the Charley in Nude!!

    [email protected]

  • Kesha

    I would get the Lori wedges in black

  • Fatima Ibrahim

    I would choose the Kate sandals in black!

  • Page

    the bess pump in pink (or grey) would be awesome!! 🙂

    pagesong at hotmail dot com

  • The green suede Karen is super cute!

  • Massiel

    Bess in pink! [email protected]

  • Nitika Daga

    I love the Lola, in both colors!

    [email protected]

  • Meaghan

    Loving this latest addition of the Bess pump!

  • emily anne-marie

    looove the caroline loafer in gold!!


  • the funky Ruby in black!
    sarahooty (at) gmail dot com

  • Lindsay

    I love the Caroline in black!

  • Appolina in nude snake. They are gorgeous!

  • Erin

    Even though I live in Florida, I love boots! I would totally get Emma in wine!

  • Lauren Z

    I LOVE the Emma! Perfect for basically every single outfit I can think of. <3

  • Jenn G.

    I’ve had my eye on the Elizabeth lace-up nude heels for months–so chic and versatile! [email protected]

  • Pam

    Sienna In Black! So Edgy and Classic!
    [email protected]

  • Amanda

    I love the Emma boot in black!

  • Michelle

    Well I would choose the Caroline, but since I loved them so much I just actually bought them! Oh Everygirl, you’ve been bad for my wallet lately! If I win I would buy the other pair I’m drooling over, the Emma boot in black!

  • lindsey

    the max boots are awesome!

  • Jess Canfora

    cant get enough of the emma boots in black. fall couldnt get here any sooner so i can wear those around town. #essentialstaplepiece

  • Emily Willey

    I would get the Emma’s, so perfect for fall.

  • Kelly M.

    Bess in grey 🙂

  • Emily K.

    I love the Eila sandals!

  • Heather M.

    love the shiva in silver! loving all the metallic shoe options right now and am overdue for adding a pair to my rotation. maybe with my army green pants! yes please 🙂
    [email protected]

  • Alice

    Definitely the Ruby in the mint! Wearing the galaxy of studs on your feet!

  • If I won, I’d choose the lane in black!

  • Awesome giveaway:) I’m loving the Bess heels in like every single color:)

  • Denise Villanueva

    Kate heels in black!

  • Love the Karen in mint.

  • Staci P

    I would choose Bess in the awesome magenta!

  • Justyne M

    I would choose the Lulu shoes!

  • Holly

    LOVE the Yosi Samara Cap Toe!

    ([email protected])

  • Lisa E

    ohhh hellllooo, Milly in black. Please and thank you!

  • Kaley Renee Patterson

    The black Max boots!!! Love love love!!!

  • Amy

    bess in pink is just way too cute!

  • I’d choose a pair of Emmas or Carolines!

  • Joanne E.

    Emma boots in Black Suede

  • Colleen Boudreau

    I like the CARRIE heels.

  • Andrea Amy

    I would probably choose a comfortable flat like the yosi samara croco 🙂

    andrea_hockeygirl at hotmail dot com

  • Charlotte J

    The Milly in black 🙂 gorgeous!

  • Melodi Gibbs

    I would without a doubt pick the ULLA in coral/berry.

  • Georgia

    Hard decision! I’m loving the Lulu nude suede heels, the detailing’s stunning!

  • zoehunter are fun for autumn 🙂

  • Afton Hutson

    hello emma!

  • Grace Hotz

    Bess in grey… darrling!

  • Megan Bower

    I love the Yosi Cap Toe in nude. I’ve been looking for a nude flat and this one is so cute.

  • pinky sade

    the katie flats! too cute!
    gagaslab at gmail dot com

  • Natasha

    Lynne Sandal in cognac/black

  • Amber

    I adore the Bess and the cute Milly boots too! So cute!

  • I love the Karen in mint!

  • Loren

    I love the Charley in Tan!!!

  • Courtney C.

    I would choose the Emma in Cognac Suede!

  • martha

    I really Love the Bess in Pink!!

  • Amanda

    Bess in Pink Suede is the perfect pop of color!

  • Brittaniens

    Caroline in Gold Foil!!!! LOVE!

  • Katie

    Love the Emma in Black!

  • Anjli

    LOVING the Milly in Black! Perfect for fall/winter with a leather jacket and wax-coated jeans!

  • Esther Stone

    The Bess in pink!

  • I love the Bess pumps! SO classic.

  • Christina Schneider

    The Emma in olive!

  • I’m loving the Sienna for fall!

  • Kayla

    The Emma is perfection for fall!

  • ashmcgee

    I would love the Appolini in Nude!

  • Jillian Stevenson

    I love the Jordane in gray. Please!!

  • Jennifer

    Appolina in Black would be ideal parties!

  • Kristine W.

    I’d get the Emma boots! Couldn’t decide on a color though lol 😛

  • Bess is such beauty – perfect day to night shoe. I’ll take them in black, please =) [email protected] (Oh, and good luck to all of you lovely ladies!)

  • Emily L

    i love the caroline loafers! and the bess in blue!

  • TrishCF

    I love the black Cameron flats!

    [email protected]

  • Amy

    I LOVE the Milly’s in Taupe Snake!

  • Melissa Campbell

    I have been lusting over the Jordane lace up wedges for a while. They would be the perfect transition piece from summer to fall! [email protected]

  • I’d love the Emma in black! Great for winter!!!

  • Rachael H.

    I LOVE the yosi erica flats! so sweet! thanks for the chance!

  • Celeste

    I am loving the Karen pumps, especially in black. // Thanks for the chance, I love Shoemint!

    [email protected]

  • I think the Caroline loafers have my name on them!

  • legothatmego

    I’m in love with Ruby! Ruby Red. [email protected]

  • Emilie C.

    I’d choose a pair of Yosi Samra t-strap flats!

  • Taylor Crislane Diehl

    The Caroline in Tan Leather is the perfect fall shoe that will go with everything! Love Shoe Mint & TheEveryGirl 🙂

  • Jamie

    Love the black Kate strappy heel.

  • Hi !

    ––––––––– If I won , I’d choose the Emma Bootie in Wine Suede because it’s the perfect color for Fall & the brass buckles add a great touch .

    Thank you so much for the chance ! 🙂

    — Nicole O.

  • Tina Martinez

    Love the Jordane in grey! Gorgeous little Booties!

  • Joanny Dion Ouellet

    The emma in black is perfect!

  • Ashleigh

    The emma in wine would be the perfect shoe to add to my Fall wardrobe! ([email protected])

  • Patti

    I love the

  • Booored

    love the bess
    [email protected]

  • Nicole

    I would love Bess in gray !!!

  • ✨sereeeeeena✨

    I love the the Shiva in fuchsia, so chic.
    [email protected]

  • Katelin Schroeder

    Lola Black! <3

  • Annie

    Loving so many of these boots– the Emma’s are fab.

  • Love the lola!
    hef117 (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Christina Kwan

    Emma in wine suede would be the best addition to my fall wardrobe! [email protected]

  • Stefanie gladden

    I love the Emma boots in black!

  • meredith

    I love the emma boots!

  • I love the Kali flats, so probably those! : )

  • marybeth


  • lynnsdisqus

    I’d choose the Lily boots since I’ve been wanting a pair of combat-inspired boots!

  • Rebecca Ann

    I love the Max boots!! Those would be so fun to wear out this fall and winter!

    Thanks so much for this amazing opportunity!
    [email protected]

  • Janet

    OMG the Bess is so perfect for work!!! Any of the colors are cute the grey is so versatile

  • Jen

    I love the Elloise heels!!

  • Elisabet

    I love the caroline loafers!

  • Kandidly Kelsey

    I would buy the Emma boots. They’re to die for!

  • rob

    I like katie!

  • Sara Bloom

    I’m in love with the Milly in Taupe Snake! Bold and understated all at the same time.

  • Jess

    This was such a great frosting recipe!! Such pretty cookies 🙂

    • The Everygirl

      They’re delicious, too 🙂

  • Nikki Laraja

    These cookies are the cutest, thanks for sharing!

  • This is perfect! I was actually looking for a nice cut-out cookie recipe this morning, so this makes my life easier 🙂 Thanks and Merry Christmas!
    xx, Marie