Vegan Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

These vegan sugar cookies are a timeless classic guaranteed to be enjoyed by all. The flat, no spread shapes are perfect for decorating with vegan royal icing.

decorated sugar cookies with royal icing on cooling rack

Whether they’re destined to be enjoyed as is or intricately decorated, these vegan sugar cookies are bound to impress. They make great gifts for Christmas, Mother’s Day or other events.

Have a unique cookie cutter shape to try out or an edible message to write? These cookies are designed not to spread in the oven, so they hold crisp lines and lovely shapes.

stack of sugar cookies on a baking tray

The cookie recipe was adapted from Cookielicious NZ.

Follow the technique carefully and make sure not to rush the process; this makes a big difference to the texture.

Ingredient Notes

  • Confectioners’ sugar - gives cookies a finer, lighter texture than granulated sugar.
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Vegan butter - Use a stick margarine and not the soft, spreadable kind in a tub as this can affect the consistency of the dough. I used Country Crock Plant Butter sticks.
  • Aquafaba - the liquid from a can of chickpeas, or the liquid left after cooking dried chickpeas in water.
    Carbohydrates and proteins accumulate in the water from the chickpeas, leaving a thick liquid with a consistency similar to eggs. Strain the liquid to remove any pieces of beans.
  • Baking powder
  • Almond extract - adds a tasty, bakery-style flavor to the cookies but it is optional.
  • Vanilla extract
  • Lemon juice - Balances the sweetness of the icing.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Make the cookies:

1. Cream the vegan butter and sugar on medium to high speed in a large bowl or stand mixer until the texture is light and fluffy.

creamed butter and sugar in a bowl

2. Add the aquafaba, vanilla, and almond extract and mix to combine.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl, then fold it into the creamed mixture. Add in 2 or 3 stages, mixing between additions.

4. Bring the dough onto a clean surface. Gently knead to form a ball, then flatten into a thick disc. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

cookie dough in a mixing bowl

5. Dust two sheets of parchment paper with flour, then roll out the dough between them. Aim for just over a ¼ inch (8mm) thick.

6. Pour a small pile of flour onto the surface and dip a cookie cutter in it. Cut out cookies, dusting the cutter each time to stop them from sticking to it.

sugar cookies cut outs on baking tray

7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the cookies 2 inches apart on the sheet.

8. Re-roll scraps to get more cookies from the batch, but try to get as many from the first roll as possible. The dough becomes tougher as it’s kneaded.

9. Place the whole tray into the freezer, then preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Keep the cookies in the freezer until the oven is fully preheated; they should become firm.

10. Bake the cookies for 12 -15 minutes or until pale in color. Cool completely on the tray.

sugar cookies on a baking tray

Make the royal icing and decorate the cookies:

1. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, aquafaba and vanilla.

2. Gradually stir in enough lemon juice to make a thick, soft peak consistency. When the mixture is lifted with a spoon, the peaks formed should fold over and barely hold their shape.
Adjust the consistency with more sugar if needed.

royal icing in bowl with spatula

(For a more visual demonstration of soft peak consistency, check out this video by The Graceful Baker)

3. Add the icing to a piping bag fitted with a #2 tip and make your desired designs on the cooled cookies.

decorated sugar cookies on cooling rack

4. Allow the icing to dry before enjoying.

hand holding sugar cookie

Key Tips to Follow

  • When creaming the butter and sugar, stop mixing a couple of times to scrape down the edges of the bowl. This ensures no blobs of butter are left which could get into the cookies and create soft spots.
  • Sifting the flour is worth the extra effort. Flour tends to become clumpy when stored. Sifting breaks up lumps and makes airier cookies.
  • Knead and roll the dough as little as possible. Overworking them causes the gluten to develop, which is great for bread but not tender cookies.
  • Put the dough back in the fridge if it becomes too soft at any point. It’s worth taking the extra time to stop the cookies from spreading.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

Variations:

  • Replace the vanilla or almond extract with any other extracts or dried spices. Lemon, lavender, elderflower and mixed spice all pair wonderfully with the mild cookies.

Substitutions:

  • If you don’t have a cookie-cutter, use the top of a glass cup or roll the dough into a log and slice with a knife.
  • Confectioners’ sugar can be made by blending granulated sugar with a little cornstarch in a high-powered blender or food processor.
    This works well for the cookies but may not be fine enough for the icing.

Storage Suggestion

These cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. The raw dough holds very well and can be made ahead of time. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for five days or freeze.

More Vegan Holiday Cookie Recipes

decorated sugar cookies with royal icing on cooling rack

Easy Vegan Sugar Cookies (No Spread)

4.50 from 2 votes
Prep: 1 hr
Cook: 15 mins
Chilling/Resting Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 12 cookies
Calories: 209kcal
Print Pin Rate
These dairy-free sugar cookies are a timeless classic guaranteed to be enjoyed by all. The flat, no spread shapes are perfect for decorating with eggless royal icing.

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls
  • Rolling Pin
  • Sifter

Baking Recipes: For more accuracy, select the Metric option below and use measuring spoons.

Ingredients

Cookies:

  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup vegan butter or margarine (not unsalted)
  • 3 tablespoon aquafaba, liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Vegan Royal Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, or more if needed
  • 2 teaspoon aquafaba
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice, or as needed

Instructions

Make the cookies:

  • In a large bowl, cream the vegan butter and sugar with a large spoon or mixer until lighter in colour.
    ½ cup vegan butter or margarine (not unsalted) ,¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Mix in the aquafaba, vanilla and almond extracts.
    3 tablespoon aquafaba ,1 teaspoon vanilla extract ,¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • Sift the flour and baking powder in a small bowl then gradually fold it into the creamed mixture.
    2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ,½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Gently knead the dough to form into a ball. Shape it into a disk, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Roll out the dough to a little over a ¼ inch or 8mm thick between 2 sheets of parchment paper dusted with flour.
  • Make about 8 to 12 cutouts with a 2 ¾ inch cookie cutter. Lightly dust the cutter with flour to reduce sticking. You may re-roll the dough to get extra cutouts but working the dough too much could result in tougher cookies.
  • Place the cutouts about 2 inches apart on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place the tray in the freezer until the cutouts are firm.
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F / 160°C. Bake the cookies for 12 -15 minutes or until pale in colour. Cool completely on the tray.

Make the icing and decorate the cookies:

  • In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, aquafaba and vanilla.
    1 cup confectioners' sugar ,2 teaspoon aquafaba ,¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Gradually stir in enough lemon juice to make a thick, soft peak consistency. When the mixture is lifted with a spoon, the peaks formed should fold over and barely hold their shape.
    ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Adjust the consistency with more sugar if needed.
  • Add the icing to a piping bag fitted with a #2 tip and make your desired designs on the cooled cookies.
  • Allow the icing to dry before enjoying.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a cookie-cutter, use the top of a glass cup or roll the dough into a log and slice with a knife.
  • Confectioners’ sugar can be made by blending granulated sugar with a little cornstarch in a high-powered blender or food processor.
    This works well for the cookies but may not be fine enough for the icing.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. The raw dough holds very well and can be made ahead of time. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for five days or freeze.
Tried this recipe? Upload a photo in the comments below!If you enjoyed it, please consider leaving a rating. It really helps the blog.

Nutrition

Calories: 209kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 25mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

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