Marbled Holiday Sugar Cookies

I’m not the artsy type, like AT ALL. Yes I can come up with creative ideas and a vision, but when it comes to putting paint to paper that’s where it falls apart for me. I don’t have an artistic bone in my body (seriously, you don’t want to see my gingerbread house…) so when I do occasionally try something that’s semi-artsy, I have to find a creative way to do it. Enter these dipped marbled holiday sugar cookies!

Because it’s the holiday season, I knew that one recipe I wanted to bake was sugar cookies. Sugar cookies are so quintessentially Christmas, although internally I was nervous at the thought of having to decorate these with icing because I was pretty sure these cookies would turn out so scary that they would give the babadook a heart attack. So after baking these up and letting them cool, I whipped up my royal icing and pulled out my food coloring so that I could get ready for what would either be a very beautiful or very bad creaton.

And then it hit me. What if there was a way to ice these cookies without ruining them…what if I made marbled sugar cookies? Yes! I liked this idea because marbling meant that the icing would be inherently a little messy. Getting a clean marbled effect wasn’t that important to me, but I knew that if I wanted to draw on these cookies they would have to be perfect. Marbled sugar cookies took the pressure off of making perfect cookies, and I was really glad I thought of this solution before I ruined these yummy cookies with my “art”. 

The way you get the marbled cookie effect on these is really easy, too. The result is quite pretty and I was very pleased with how these turned out! Before you start these yourself, I have just a few tips to help you make yours turn out great:

  • If you use the colored icing more than twice marbled effect will start to become muddy. I recommend dipping just one cookie in the icing at a time before re-marbling the icing using the technique outlined below.
  • For a contrasting effect, use a mixture of dark and light colors that will stand out against each other. 
  • If you’re running low on icing while dipping, you can scoop off the first layer of used icing and then re-marble the fresh icing below. Although some color may bleed through to the bottom layers, it should still be usable.
  • Dunk the cookies straight down in the icing, and bring them straight up by gripping on the sides. If you lift them out at an angle the marbling may be uneven.
  • I recommend marbling with just two colors at a time – any more than that and it can start to get too muddy.




  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour

Royal Icing:

  • 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Food coloring



  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth, at least 3 minutes
  3. Beat in extracts and egg.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder and salt with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff, which is good.
  5. Don’t chill the dough! Roll it out to about 1/8″ on a floured surface and cut with a cookie cutter. 
  6. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack. 
  7. Let cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing:

  1. In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

How to marble your sugar cookies:

  1. Divide your icing into four small bowls. Squeeze one drop of food coloring into one bowl, and swirl it around the icing with a toothpick until you are satisfied with the marbled pattern. You can play with so many different colors here!
  2. Take a cookie and lay it flat on top of the icing. Press it in lightly so that the icing sticks. Carefully grip the sides of the cookie to lift it straight out of the icing, taking care not to tilt it too much. Place the cookie on a flat baking sheet or cooling rack so that the icing can set. This may take about an hour.
  3. You can reuse each bowl about two times before the icing starts to get muddy – once that happens move on to another bowl with the clean, uncolored icing. If you have more cookies left over and need more icing, you can scrape off the top layer of food colored-icing and find some clean icing underneath. 
  4. Repeat these steps with different colored icing until each cookie is decorated. 

Adapted From: In Katrina’s Kitchen, and Food Network.

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