Super Easy Icebox Sugar Cookies (with natural dyes!)

While not completely "real food" due to the sugar, these Icebox Sugar Cookies are better for you with whole-wheat flour and natural dyes.
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Five icebox sugar cookies with festive holiday sprinkles on a white plate.

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These cookies are so ridiculously simple and good … an all-time classic favorite treat! Whether you’re attending a cookie exchange, or just need a little something to leave out for Santa, made-from-scratch doesn’t get much easier than this. You can either keep the 2-ingredient icing all white or mix in some colors that don’t contain artificial dyes (we like this all-natural powder coloring). We sometimes mix in pomegranate or beet juice (and use less cream) to add a little color, too. We also like to go dye-free when it comes to our sprinkles and, since artificial dyes add no flavor at all, it will all still taste exactly how you’re expecting!

Disclaimer: This recipe contains refined white sugar, which means it doesn’t technically follow our real food rules…so only enjoy in moderation!

And just look how fun things can still be even without anything artificial … I went a little nuts and made these cookies ombre for a friend’s exchange party a couple of years ago. I was excited to win first prize! It did take some time to keep adding in small amounts of color and remixing, but it was certainly a cookie night I will not forget. :)

A large batch of sugar cookies with green ombre frosting and decorative holiday sprinkles.

How To MakeIcebox Sugar Cookies

Now, even with all the dye-free decorations (and whole-wheat flour), these cookies are still a special treat in our book because of the refined sugar. BUT, you can use a little less sugar if you’d like and when you want to indulge in something sweet, we feel “made-from-scratch” is the best way to go! For more baking tips, check out this Tablespoons in a Cup post for conversion tips.

Make-ahead tip:

You can make this dough days or even weeks in advance and store it in the freezer (in plastic wrap as pictured) until you are ready to bake. Which is one of the super easy things about this recipe! We’ll definitely keep making this one year after year.

Icebox Sugar Cookie Dough wrapped in plastic wrap.

Icebox Sugar Cookies Ingredients

  • Whole-wheat pastry flour – I recommend pastry flour over regular flour when baking cookies.
  • Baking powder – Just the standard stuff you’ve always used.
  • Salt – We prefer sea salt (do a taste test and you’ll agree!).
  • Butter – I recommend organic or non-GMO butter.
  • Sugar – Yes, you heard right! Regular white sugar is an occasional treat around here.
  • Eggs – We get ours from the farmers’ market.
  • Vanilla extract – Try making your own! It also makes great holiday gifts.

How to Make these Super Easy Icebox Sugar Cookies

  1. Whisk it: Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and whisk.
  2. Mix it: With an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar until fluffy and well blended. Add in the egg and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Form it: Slowly add in the flour mixture until blended and smooth. Form into a smooth log about 11-inches long, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.
  4. Bake it: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Gently peel the plastic off of the log and thinly slice into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake just one sheet at a time until the cookies just begin to turn golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before adding the icing.

Icing Ingredients

  • Powdered sugar
  • Heavy cream

How to Make the Icing

  1. Mix it: Use an electric mixer to beat together the powdered sugar and cream until smooth. Divide and mix in any colors, if desired (we used natural food dyes). Use either a spatula or piping bag to decorate. Add dye-free sprinkles and other toppings, if desired, and let the icing harden before stacking.

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Recipe Rating

  1. A good simple recipe that everyone should be able to make, thanks… However no one ever seems to mention all the non-real food additives in most heavy creams – even the organic ones. Why is it always so difficult to find unadulterated cream in the US?! I wish they’d lose the mono and di glycerides, carregenan, guar gum etc etc and just keep the fat so it whips up properly, cream should be just that – cream!