Learn why it's so easy to put sprinkles on top of sugar cookies without any frosting. This applies for cut out sugar cookies, cookies cut from a roll, or drop sugar cookies.
Can you put sprinkles on sugar cookies without frosting? Yes. If you put the sprinkles on before you bake the cookies they will adhere to the cookies.
For me sugar cookies with frosting are a Christmas favorite. But in my wife's family they didn't use frosting. They would just decorate the cookies with sprinkles and skip the frosting.
If that is something you are looking to do as well, let me share how it will work and give you a couple tips.
⚙️ Why It Works?
The fat in the cookies is going to melt when you put them into the oven. This will give the sprinkles something to adhere to. When the cookies are cooled, the sprinkles will remain sticking. Sure you will have some sprinkles that fall off still but that happens with frosted sugar cookies as well. Mainly they will stick on.
💡 Baking Tips
Once you have your sugar cookies rolled and cut into shape, it's time to put the sprinkles on. Decorate to your heart's content. Make sure you don't move around the cookies too much or the sprinkles will end up on the table instead of your cookies.
It's best if you decorate the cookies on the baking sheet that you are going to bake the cookies on, so you don't have to move them around.
If you are baking a large batch of cookies, you don't want to decorate them on a warm cookie sheet. You will start melting the fat in the cookie before you are ready to cook, so the cookies will spread too much.
What you can do instead is decorate the cookies on parchment paper. Cut the parchment paper to be the same size as your sheet pan. Then when you finish one batch in the oven, carefully remove the cookies off the parchment onto a cooling rack, then gently move the next raw batch onto the pan. I pull my cookies when they are just starting to brown around the edges. If the cookies looks completely done in the oven it will be overdone on the cooling rack.
The sprinkles will sit stick to the raw dough even if it's cold from being in the fridge. To keep cookies from spreading I like to keep the dough cold. Since I like chewy sugar cookies, keeping them from spreading is a key. Room temperature dough will spread faster in the oven. Often you will have to let the dough get a little warmer as it will be too tough to roll out straight from the fridge. If you aren't planning to cut out the dough with cookie cutters, you can just roll the dough into a log shape and slice circles from that while the dough is fresh from the fridge.
🎂 What Type of Sprinkles?
What kind of sprinkles can you use? Any type you want.
If you are going to use larger sprinkles like the ones you see in the snowman above, then I will gently push them into the raw dough. These heavier sprinkles may need just a little extra help.
Sanding sugar will work really well too.
Are your sugar cookies not holding their shape like you want them too? Check out my blog post - How to Help Sugar Cookies Keep Their Shape.
🥚 Could You Use an Egg Wash?
Sure you could do use an egg wash to help the sprinkles stick, but I really don't think it's necessary. My sprinkles still stuck well enough without it, I think adding an egg wash isn't going to make enough of a difference.
📦 How to Store
Choose an airtight container to your cookies in. The advantage of not having frosting is that it's easier to store the cookies without messing up their appearance. You can stack them. Normally when I make frosted sugar cookies, I only stack them between layers of wax paper.
🍪 Cookie Recipes
If you are looking for a good gluten free sugar cookie recipe, check out my review of Alton Brown's gluten free cookie recipe. Also here are some of my most popular cookie recipes you can find on the blog:
No Frosting Decorated Sugar Cookies
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Butter Softened
- 2 Eggs
- ½ tsp Freshly grated Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ¼ tsp Lemon Extract Substitute zest of 1 lemon
- 6 Tbsp Buttermilk
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 4-4.5 Cups AP Flour
- Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, cream sugar and butter together.
- Add eggs, salt, nutmeg, vanilla and lemon and mix.
- Dissolve the baking soda into the buttermilk, and add to mixture. Mix well.
- Add flour to wet ingredients and mix until dough forms.
- Dump dough onto piece of plastic wrap or into a gallon sized zip top bag and chill for minimum of 2hr.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Roll out chilled dough until ¼-1/2in thickness and cut into desired shapes.
- Place cut shapes onto a parchament lined baking sheet.
- Decorate unbaked cookies with sprinkles as desired.
- Bake at 375 for 6-10 minutes or until cookies are puffy and just barely browned on edges. Watch closely.
- Carefully transfer cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.