How to flavor sugar

Do you know how to make flavored sugar, or how to color sugar? These are simple tricks that makes your baking even sweeter. Making flavored sugar is an easy technique to add to your food and cooking repertoire — basically, all you have to do is combine a flavoring with the sugar, mixing and letting it sit until it has absorbed the flavor.

How to flavor sugar

Photos via CakeSpy unless otherwise noted

You can scent sugars with a variety of flavors, from vanilla to citrus fruits to flavoring extracts to exotic spices. You can even tint your sugar with various colors, too. The finished sugar is fantastic for finishing or cake decorating, but can also be used to add a subtle flavor to tea and lattes. You can even use the sugar to add to cake batter or filling recipes to create thoughtful and delicious flavors, such as those presented in the Craftsy course Creative Flavors for Cakes, Fillings & Frostings.

How to flavor sugar

Here are several ideas for how to flavor sugar.

How to flavor sugar
Photo licensed via Creative Commons by Flickr member George Atanassov

Vanilla sugar

  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 2 to 3 cups granulated white sugar

Note: Vanilla beans are expensive, so you may want to stretch it out as much as you can. One vanilla bean will delicately flavor up to 4 cups of sugar, but will distinctly flavor 2 cups.

Step 1:

Pour the sugar into an airtight container or freezer bag.

Step 2:

Slice the vanilla bean, lengthwise, and open it up gently. Use a small, sharp knife or a spoon to scrape the viscous black specks inside. Add the specks to the sugar, and give it a stir so they are evenly distributed.

Step 3:

Bury the pod in the sugar and seal your container. Let the sugar sit for about a week. When it is ready, remove the pod and pour the sugar through a strainer to separate large specks. Store in an airtight container.

How to flavor sugar

Flavored sugar using extracts

This is an easy method to quickly and easily flavor sugar in a variety of ways. You can even use vanilla extract, though the result is more subtle than the above method.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2-4 drops flavoring extract (for example: almond, peppermint, vanilla)

Step 1:

Combine the sugar and flavoring extract in a heavy duty, sealable freezer bag.

Step 2:

Seal the bag, and then shake vigorously for 1 minute, or until combined. The sugar will be slightly softer, almost the texture of brown sugar. The flavor will become more pronounced after a few days, but it will remain fairly subtle.

Store in an airtight container.

How to flavor sugar

Citrus sugar

  • zest from one orange, lemon, or lime (or, mix it up and use part lime, part lemon, etc.)
  • 1 cup sugar

Step 1:

Zest the citrus fruit. Finely chop the zest. Let the peel dry overnight, or place it in a low oven (100 degrees F) for about 20 minutes to dry. (This will keep the zest from adding too much moisture to the sugar and causing clumps.)

How to flavor sugar

Step 2:

Place the sugar in an airtight container or freezer bag. Add the zest, and stir to combine. Seal the container, and let the sugar sit for about a week, or until it has attained the desired flavor.

Store in an airtight container.

How to flavor sugar

Spiced sugar

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Note: Use ground spices, preferably freshly ground.

Step 1:

Place the sugar and spices in an airtight container. Stir until combined.

Step 2:

Store in an airtight container, and use in recipes or as garnish, as a finish to homemade pie crust, or this is particularly fantastic with teas or hot chocolate.

Since you are not adding any moisture to the sugar, this type can be stored in a shaker, or in an airtight container.

How to flavor sugar

Colored sugar

To make your flavored sugar even more special, you might consider tinting it, too: for instance, lime-scented sugar with a touch of green food coloring can really enhance the visual appeal of the corresponding flavor. Tinting is a snap, and can be combined with flavoring it. For best results, tint the sugar before flavoring it.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 drops liquid food coloring

Note: You can also use concentrated gel food coloring or powder food coloring. Use a toothpick to dip into the coloring and then dip it in the sugar and repeat the same steps. Far less coloring will be needed with the more concentrated color.

Step 1:

Place the sugar in an airtight freezer bag.

Step 2:

Add the food coloring and seal the bag.

How to flavor sugar

Shake vigorously. You will start to see the color incorporate, first as specks and then it will begin to distribute throughout the sugar. You can add more color if it is not vibrant enough for your liking.

You might also enjoy our posts on how to make confectioners’ sugar at home and making brown sugar at home.

Still hunting for homemade gift ideas? Today we’re sharing easy Flavored Sugar Recipes that make flavorful and fabulous edible gifts for the holidays!

How to flavor sugar

In years past, you’ve done cookies. You’ve done fudge. You’ve made cloth wreaths and rice pillows. You’ve baked tiny loaves of bread, and you’ve jarred caramel sauce.

What can you make your friends and family this year that you haven’t made them before?

How about Flavored Sugar Recipes!

How to flavor sugar

Flavored Sugar Recipes take minutes to make and are fun to give as gifts!

You can make nearly any variety under the sun, but today I’m sharing my 6 favorite flavored sugar recipes.

From spicy, to boozy, to flower scented, these sugars are wonderful to have on hand for stirring into coffee, sprinkling over oatmeal, or even sprinkling on plain sugar cookies.

How to flavor sugar

Simply add 1 cup of sugar to a small glass jar, then add in the additional ingredients and shake.

Over time the ingredients release their essence into the sugar and give it a wonderful scent and flavor.

It’s best to mix your Flavored Sugar Recipes several days in advance. However, if you are in a pinch for time, one day ahead will work.

How to flavor sugar

You can use plain granulated sugar, turbinado sugar, palm sugar, date sugar, any kind you like. But remember, the course sugars work best with moist add-ins because the are less likely to dissolve.

If adding wet ingredients to your Flavored Sugar Recipes, shake them well in a larger container, then let them air dry. They will clump a little while drying, so shake again to break up the clumps before jarring.

How to flavor sugar

You can even use culinary grade flowers like lavender and rosebuds.

These are great for adding to tea, scones, and shortbread!

How to flavor sugar

Most Flavored Sugar Recipes are inexpensive to make, so have fun experimenting with interesting flavor combinations.

And make sure to keep a jar or two for yourself!

Make quick work of flavorful, colorful sugars with these simple recipes. Then, find fun ways to incorporate them into your entertaining, desserts, and more.

We have a fun idea to share for making fruit-flavored sugars, which are both beautiful and pretty darn tasty. The flavor is concentrated, so you only need to use a little to pack quite a punch. These sugars are great for rimming cocktail glasses (think of this as a way to fun-up mocktails at a baby shower, too), sprinkling over oatmeal or yogurt, or decorating cookies and quick breads. Check out the how-to video to see how they’re made.

How to flavor sugar

Struggling to cook healthy? We’ll help you prep.

Cookies sprinkled with our Orange Sugar make for a zippy treat. Try this sugar on our Iced Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies.

A rim of Lemon-Mint Sugar is a natural on any of our Cold-Brewed Iced Teas.

If nothing else, a sprinkle of Peach Sugar on fresh summer fruit is a sweet way to add a little pizzazz to a simple dessert.

When fresh berries are in season, add a spoonful of Blueberry Sugar on fruit cobblers.

Add a hint of fruity sweetness to cottage cheese, yogurt, or ricotta cheese with the Strawberry Sugar.

Roasted apples are an easy fall-time dessert. Top the apples with Apple-Cinnamon Sugar for a hint of additional sweetness. We also love this sugar in our morning bowl of oatmeal or atop a multigrain hot cereal.

How to flavor sugar

No Snacktastic Sunday post again this week, because I had another one of those days where nothing goes right in the kitchen. Literally nothing.

First, I tried to make Shortbread Bites – my plan was to dip them in chocolate and put together cute little holiday cookie baggies for people at work. But, as it turns out, shortbread dough is NOT my friend. Super crumbly and tender, not at all conducive to slicing/moving. So when I tried to slice the finicky dough into teeny tiny squares and gingerly transfer them to my baking sheet…I mostly ended up with tiny piles of crumbled cookie dough. Sometimes the unbaked cookies would explode in my hand en route to the baking sheet. Other times, I would look at the dough funny and it would immediately disintegrate, probably in anticipation of my touch.


I can’t even tell you how many times I had to re-work the dough to get just a handful of cookies. Cookies that, by the time I was through with them, I didn’t even want to eat. Or look at, for that matter. Ugh.

How to flavor sugar

Up next in Tina’s Kitchen Misadventures: French Silk Pie. Gorgeous to look upon, made with the humblest of ingredients, and not at all complicated as far as recipes go. The only real “baking” involved was for the crust, and even then the expected effort was minimal. Just crush some Nilla wafers, mix with melted butter, press everything into the bottom of a pan, and bake. Easy peasy.

Cookie-based crusts are usually my jam. I’ve made lots of pies with crushed cookie crusts, and they’ve never given me a problem. It’s just crushed cookies and butter, for crying out loud! Fast, easy, and delicious!

But this time, I think I must have pissed off some kitchen god somewhere, because when I pulled my crust out of the oven I discovered (to my horror), that it had collapsed. The beautiful high sides that I had so lovingly hand-pressed up the sides of the pan had collapsed in on itself and I was left with an ugly, flat thing with a lumpy outer ridge that should be ashamed to call itself a crust.

I was so mad that I just chucked the dish into the fridge and walked out of the kitchen for the rest of the day. The “crust” and I still aren’t speaking, but I’ll let you know if we reconcile and I decide to do something with it later…

How to flavor sugar

In between the cookies and the pie, I did manage to cook us something edible lunch – Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic, and grilled cheese minis. Delicious to eat, hard to photograph. I might have to recook/reshoot these two recipes for the blog later.

For now, I’m gonna stop whining and tell you guys about these awesome DIY flavored sugars. I first got the idea from my from Sarah, who recently used freeze-dried cherries to punch up the frosting in one of her cupcake recipes. I remember thinking it was a genius idea, because once you process the fruit into a fine powder, you can use it to infuse just about anything with intense fruit flavor (without the drippy, sticky mess fresh fruit would entail).

My first thought was to take Sarah’s lead and use freeze-dried fruit in cupcakes – I had a hell of a time with the frosting for chocolate covered strawberries a while back, and this would be the perfect solution. But then I decided I didn’t have the energy for cupcakes. So instead, my mind turned to other, faster/easier things…like flavored sugars.

How to flavor sugar

Cinnamon sugar is one of my favorite things for sprinkling/dipping/rolling, and it’s so easy to make. Just dump some cinnamon into a bowl of sugar, and stir. That’s it. Instantly delicious topping for anything and everything.

I figured that fruit-flavored sugars, with the help of freeze-dried fruits, would be equally easy. And…I was right! It takes about a minute to turn freeze-dried berries into finely-ground powder, and then all you have to do is mix it with regular ol’ white sugar. Pour it into a spice shaker, slap on a pretty label, and you’ve got yourself an awesome, giftable treat that’s both adorable and delicious.

You can use these flavored sugars in/on literally everything. As a sugar rim for cocktails. Sprinkled over oatmeal. Rolled all over cookie dough for extra pizzazz. As a flavor booster in a hot beverage (tea or cider, for example). Or, you know, you can be like me and smear some crackers with Nutella, then sprinkle raspberry sugar on top so it tastes like chocolate covered raspberries. ‘Cuz YOLO.

Happy Monday, everyone! And before you ask…

How to flavor sugar

There’s no doubt that moonshine, also known as unaged whiskey, packs in a strong punch. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to subdue its potent taste by adding almost any kind of fruit flavoring to it. These include raspberry, lemon, peach, watermelon, strawberry, lemon, or apple.

Learning how to flavor moonshine is actually pretty exciting as it can greatly enhance its taste. When you add flavor to moonshine, it will have a taste much closer to commercial spirits. You’ll be able to craft a variety of drinks, such as whiskey, vodka, bourbon, and a whole lot more.

Table of Contents

What Is Moonshine?

In simplest of terms, moonshine is the process of turning sugar into alcohol. The process begins with a mixture of fruits, starches, or grains processed to get the most of their sugar content.

Yeast will then feast on these, producing ethanol. Afterward, the liquid from the mixture will undergo multiple distillation process to the desired purity, proof, and clarity of the distiller.

Some recipes of flavored moonshine need this entire process to achieve the best possible results and subtlety on their flavor. However, you can easily create your own for your party this weekend with our guide on how to flavor moonshine.

Importance Of Using The Right Ingredients And Brewing Method

How your end product will smell and taste will depend on the raw materials you’ll use in the crafting process. Also, keep in mind that the brewing technique you choose is one of the most vital parts of producing a flavor-rich moonshine. Moreover, the character of your moonshine will rely massively on the way you take control of the distillation process. This includes how you make cuts out of your fermented wash.

How Do I Ensure My Moonshine Is Perfect Every Time?

If you want to make perfect moonshine all the time, make sure to only use a quality moonshine still kit. If you are utilizing a homemade or cheap still kit, the result of your final product can vary a lot.

The reason behind this is because those DIY kits will never provide you with the control you need over the production process. Hence, the result of your spirits will be quite different every time. As a result, it’ll be harder for you to make moonshine with a unique and distinct taste.

On the other hand, using a high-quality still kit will give you more control over every part of the process, from temperature to the pressure level of the barrel.

Furthermore, applying the exact methods and ingredients will enable you to produce moonshine that has the right amount of alcohol level. Likewise, the taste will be perfect every time.

How To Add Fruit Flavor To Your Moonshine

Step 1:

Measure the fruit of your choice. Make sure that its weight is six times more than the water you need for your moonshine recipe.

You may also use juice concentrate. Simply calculate one-fifth of the water’s weight called for in the recipe by dividing the amount of water by five. Then, measure this amount of juice concentrate.

Step 2:

Use a food processor to puree your fruit and strain any leftover large pieces. For pre-made juice concentrate, make sure to strain it of any seeds, pulp, or large pieces. You want the liquid to be as smooth as possible so use a fine sieve strainer for this. If your liquid came out thicker, that’s acceptable as well. Just make sure to remove any chunks in there.

Step 3:

Measure the amount of liquid fruit puree or remaining pre-made juice concentrate you have after straining. To know the exact amount of water you need, subtract the amount of liquid puree from the amount of water indicated in your moonshine recipe.

Step 4:

Add your liquid puree or juice concentrate to the measured water. The combination of these will equal the original amount of water required in the recipe of your spirit.

Step 5:

Follow. the instructions on your moonshine recipe, including the ingredients you need to infuse it with to finish crafting your flavored moonshine.

A little tip:

If you want to add flavor to a distilled moonshine, simply add sugar to your fruit puree or juice to the level of sweetness you want. Then, pour that into the spirit. Doing this method will lessen the overall alcohol content since the flavored liquid will dilute it.

Should I Age My Moonshine?

Aging your moonshine can make a tremendous difference in the taste of your spirits. This is the reason why a lot of brewers store their products in barrels for many years before selling them on the market.

Although you can consume any flavored spirit on the very same day of its distillation, plenty of distillers recommend waiting at least a month. Also, storing it in a darker place will enhance its taste further. Following this simple method will make your moonshine more refined.

Ways On How To Enhance The Taste And Flavor Of Moonshine

Fresh wood chips

Using new wood can age moonshine more in comparison to old wood. It is advisable to apply fresh chips to old ones since your spirit will acquire a woody taste from old chips. Moreover, very old chips can affect the flavor of your finished product negatively.

Sweet bourbon essence

Sweet bourbon essence can help intensify and enhance the taste of moonshine. You can filter it in a muslin cloth and then incorporate the sweet bourbon essence into it.

Afterward, you can go ahead with bottling your spirit into 700g bottles. Make sure to store them in a cool, dark place for at a month or even more to heighten its flavor. This will enable you to achieve a bourbon taste that’s both mellow and smooth to drink.


If you want to adjust the taste of your spirit, just add around 5 teaspoons of white or caramelized raw sugar per liter of your moonshine. You can add more sugar if you want it to be sweeter. Keep in mind that the taste of your final product will still mainly depend on the preference of your tastebuds.


Now that you know how to flavor moonshine, you’ll surely be the center of attention in your up and coming dinner party or other events. Flavored moonshine is a delight to make. You can even try mixing it with exotic fruits like mango to create new refreshing flavor.

Introduction: Easy Citrus Flavored Sugar

How to flavor sugar

How to flavor sugar

How to flavor sugar

Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, tangerine or grapefruit are wonderful ingredients for making your own flavored sugars.

This tutorial will show how to make lime sugar, to use in pastry, desserts and mohito’s! 🙂

You can adapt this tutorial to make other flavored sugars, for example by using vanilla beans or cinnamon.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Step 2: Zest

Cut of the zest from your citrus fruit with a sharp knife or zester (zest is the outer layer of the peel without the white part).

Then cut it in little peaces (I switched from my small knife to a large chef’s knife).

Step 3: Let It Dry

Let your zest dry in the open air, or put it in a oven for 15 minutes (40 degrees Celcius / 100 degrees Farenheit).

According to probablepossible you could also put the zest in the sugar and let it dry there. See the comment below 🙂

Step 4: Mix and Enjoy

Mix the dried zest with the sugar, the longer you wait, the more flavor the sugar will get, now it’s just pleasant to the eyes.

You could use this sugar in pastries, on desserts, on bread with butter, on fruit salads and in drinks like mohito’s! 🙂

Extra tips: Put it in a blender to make your own powdered sugar. Use it to make flavored frosting or butter cream. (Thanks to -RoyaleWithCheese- and chazortiz)

How to flavor sugar

How to flavor sugar

National Coffee Day is September 29, just in time for the early tinges of autumn that make a hot cup of java all the more appealing. But as you prepare for sweater weather, it may be worth reconsidering what you add to your mug.

Pumpkin spice lattes may taste delicious, but they’re loaded with sugar (mostly added sugars from syrups and sweeteners), and end up spiking your blood glucose levels. When that blood sugar comes crashing down, you’ll be even more tired than you were pre-latte. Even worse, the American Heart Association says added sugars can increase your risk of dying from heart disease. (Keep in mind that even honey, agave nectar, and molasses are considered added sugars. As for naturally occurring sugars in produce and milk products, you typically don’t need to worry about those unless you’re limiting your calorie intake.)

(Ditch processed foods and try the naturally sweet, salty, and satisfying meals from Prevention’s Eat Clean, Lose Weight & Love Every Bite!)

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy coffee—for many of us, it’s a nonnegotiable!—or even sweetened coffee, for that matter. The trick is to boost flavor without added sugars or too much cream so you can enjoy the health perks of your brew: Research shows regular coffee drinkers have less risk of heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Power through your day without crashing using one of these six tasty coffee flavorings:


How to flavor sugar

Let’s start with a classic swap: Nix that packet of sugar for a teaspoon of cinnamon to flavor your java and distract from its bitterness—without added sugar and calories. Make sure you’re using pure powdered cinnamon (not cinnamon sugar), or consider storing your coffee beans with a few sticks of cinnamon to infuse them with flavor.

Natural cinnamon does even more than elevate your brew: A study from the Human Nutrition Research Center found that just ½ teaspoon of the spice every day can increase your cells’ sensitivity to insulin. This is the opposite effect of added sugar, which can contribute to insulin resistance.

This is your body on sugar:

Unsweetened cacao powder

How to flavor sugar

Stirring cacao powder into your coffee is one of the easiest ways to reap the benefits of chocolate’s flavanoids, which are antioxidants that can help ward off environmental damage to the cells and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Even more, it lends your coffee the rich flavor of pure chocolate without added sugar—unlike a syrupy mocha. Look for a product that’s unsweetened and 100% cacao powder. One to try: Navitas Organics Cacao Powder (Buy now: $10,

Vanilla extract

How to flavor sugar

If you’re an avid vanilla latte drinker, you don’t have to give up your favorite flavor to keep sugar in check. Remember that vanilla is just that—a flavor—not a sugar, so get down to its root with a few drops of vanilla extract in your coffee. Vanilla extract has 0 calories and 0 sugars (compare that to the 80 calories and 20 g of sugar in a serving of vanilla syrup flavoring). Start with one drop and add to taste; a little goes a long way. (This one tweak to your coffee order can prevent weight gain.)


How to flavor sugar

Just 1/2 teaspoon of this autumnal staple will give you all those warm-and-cozy fall vibes you love in your brew, especially if you pair with a touch of cinnamon or cardamom. To make a spiced coffee, drop a pod of green cardamom into your coffee beans before grinding and sprinkle your brewed coffee with nutmeg and cinnamon (or just stir ground cardamom right in with the other spices).

Keep in mind, a teensy bit of nutmeg is all you need: As little as two teaspoons to two tablespoons can actually produce a high similar to that of marijuana, with potential side effects like nausea, heart palpitations, and hallucinations, according to Columbia University.

Ground coconut flakes

How to flavor sugar

Hang on to summer vibes with the tropical flavor of unsweetened coconut flakes in your coffee (One to try: Let’s Do Organic Shredded Coconut Unsweetened, $3.49, Shake them into your coffee beans when grinding—think 1 tsp per cup—for delicious flavor minus the unhealthy sugars. (Love iced coffee? Here are 6 surprisingly tasty ways to upgrade your favorite drink.)

Coconut flakes are also a good alternative to pouring coconut oil in your mug—we’re looking at you, bulletproof coffee lovers. The American Heart Association advises limiting coconut oil due to its high levels of saturated fat.

Orange juice

How to flavor sugar

Thank the state of Arizona for this wacky but refreshing combo. Orange juice topped with espresso exploded in popularity in Phoenix last year (possibly because AZ grows many citrus fruits). This odd mix goes by a variety of names at coffee shops, from “Good Morning” to “Sunrise,” but is particularly popular with Instagrammers thanks to its orange and brown gradient.

Here’s why it’s worth a sip: Orange juice has natural sugars and sweetness that brighten up an espresso, plus just ¾ cup of orange juice gives you 155% of your daily dose of vitamin C. (Not to mention, it’s an easy way to avoid dirtying two glasses on your breakfast table—convenience at its best!) If you’re not quite ready to mix OJ with espresso, simply rub an orange peel around your coffee cup rim or add just a few drops of juice to your coffee for a taste test.

No more crumbly cookies.

How to flavor sugar

Sugar cookies often look prettier than they taste. Now that’s not right. With cookie season well under way (and almost over!), follow our tips to ensure your sugar cookies are beautiful inside and out.

Don’t Use Too Much Flour

Texture is an important factor in taste. When your sugar cookie is dry and chalky, it’s because you used too much flour. Be more sparing when you flour your rolling pin and countertop or pastry cloth. And for added moisture, brush the tops of the cookies with buttermilk before baking. It’s a good idea to do that when you’re adding sprinkles, and not icing, to the top of the cookies to help them adhere too.

Don’t Use Melted Butter

If you forget to take out the butter and let it soften for an hour before beginning and now you’re short on time, well, we understand. But in your rush, don’t melt the butter in the microwave until it (accidentally!) turns to liquid. That’ll make your cookies greasy. Chop your butter up into tiny pieces to speed up the softening time. Another trick: grate the butter.

Refrigerate Your Cookie Dough Before You Roll It Out

Refrigerating the cookie dough before baking does a lot to improve the flavor and texture too.

“Chilling cookie dough before baking solidifies the fat in the cookies,” according to PJ Hamel, a baker for King Arthur Flour. “As the cookies bake, the fat in the chilled cookie dough takes longer to melt than room-temperature fat. And the longer the fat remains solid, the less cookies spread.”

And you can enjoy their taste more easily when the cookies are not blended into each other en masse. Because they’re thicker (1/4 inch is ideal), the cookies are chewier. The longer you refrigerate the dough, the more pronounced the flavor will be. But 30 minutes is a good minimum.

How to flavor sugar

Farberware Classic Wood Rolling Pin, $8.24 on Amazon

At the same time, chilling the dough dries out the cookie dough, which concentrates the flavors even more. It’s like the difference between watered-down lemonade and lemonade with less water, Hamel says. Also, letting the dough rest breaks the flour down into its component parts, including simple carbohydrates (ie: sugar). More sugar means more sweetness.

However, there are bakers who swear that chilling the dough ruins their cookies. So there’s that. We recommend trying two batches. If you like the way the first batch turns out, no need to try the other way—at least if you’re pressed for time.

Don’t Overbake

Take your sugar cookies out of the oven before the edges turn golden. It’s not like chocolate chip cookies or other kinds. To ensure your cookies have that satisfying chew to them, stop baking them earlier. Otherwise, they’ll be hard.

Don’t Skimp on the Vanilla

Use real vanilla extract, not the imitation kind, which can bake out a bit. If perfectly buttery, soft, chewy, sweet, vanilla cookies aren’t enough for you, then add some lemon or orange zest. Do a dab of almond extract. That’ll do the trick.

Don’t Use Royal Icing

Cut It Out These Cookie Cutters Are Festive AF Oh, that foul, tooth-cracking, absolutely beautifully piped icing. Bakers everywhere recommend royal icing because its hard texture makes it the perfect base for decorating cutesy pictures on your sugar cookies. Beaten egg whites plus lemon juice make our Royal Icing recipe taste better than others, but some of us still wish it was whipped and creamy-sweet like buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

“Personally, I like my cookies to look pretty and taste yummy, and not have to worry about cracking a tooth on the cement-like hardness you’ll find with royal icing,” says Ashley Whitmore, cookbook author and founder of the blog, Kitchen Meets Girl.

Royal icing calls for powdered sugar and meringue powder, or sometimes beaten egg whites instead of meringue powder, if you’re going to the root of the recipe. Whitmore’s alternative uses corn syrup, almond extract, and whole milk along with that powdered sugar. She whisks up a runny frosting, then separates a bit of it and adds more powdered sugar to that smaller amount to make a thicker icing. That thicker icing becomes the dam that she pipes along the cookie’s border. Inside, goes the thinner, more runny frosting. About 15 minutes in the freezer will harden it enough to decorate on top. But it won’t harden as much as royal icing. And we like that.

Some people feel this kind of icing is too sweet. If that’s the case for you, consider a fusion of meringue-buttercream to find middle ground between hard and soft. Plus, shoot for a flavor you’re excited about. By all means, if you don’t care about creating perfect little candy canes, Santas, or Christmas trees on top of your cookies, go for taste and texture and do buttercream all the way.

To an outsider, sugar cookies seem so simple. Ha. We know better. You may have to experiment and tweak your ingredients, measurements, and techniques to find the perfect cookie for you. Everyone’s oven is different, just like everyone’s palate isn’t uniform either.

Sugar Cookie Recipes

Check out some of our sugar cookie recipes to see how they can vary.

Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies

How to flavor sugar

This is a pretty standard recipe for sugar cookies, with a two-hour minimum refrigeration time for the dough. Get our Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies recipe.

Dorie Greenspan’s Sablés

How to flavor sugar

The cookie queen has spoken on this topic, of course. She uses part powdered sugar and part granulated sugar, and the egg yolks only. Get our Dorie Greenspan’s Sablés recipe.

Crackly Sugar Cookies

How to flavor sugar

These cookies aren’t meant to be cut into cute shapes. The cream of tartar and baking soda mean to crack them wide open. You also roll them in sugar. They’re good that way. Get our Crackly Sugar Cookies recipe.

Icebox Sugar Cookies

How to flavor sugar

This recipe is the simplest of them all. No separating eggs. No buying cream of tartar for this one recipe and never using it again. No cookie-cutter issues. You can even freeze the log of dough for a month. Then slice and bake. Get our Icebox Sugar Cookies recipe.

Bubbe’s Sugar Cookies

This Jewish grandma uses egg whites instead of the egg yolks like Greenspan does. And a few kosher ingredients too. Sprinkles instead of icing go on top here. Get Bubbe’s Sugar Cookies recipe.

For additional tips, tricks, and recipes, see our Ultimate Guide to Holiday Cookie Baking, and visit our Holiday Headquarters for more.