Classic Sugar Cookies | 3 Different Ways
The classic sugar cookie! Light, crunchy sugar cookie for your holiday baking. Buttery, with little crunches of sugary sweetness. And the beauty of this dough, it’s so versatile! This is our family recipe, my mom, is Joy, such a perfect name for her, she exudes joy! I’ll show you three different ways you can use the same dough
This recipe has been in our family for a long time! I remember the dough sitting in a big bowl in the refrigerator, just begging little fingers to reach in and scoop out a little taste. I’m pretty sure my brothers and I all snuck “just a little taste” when Mom wasn’t looking. This recipe gets better with age, so I like to make up a double batch, and keep in the refrigerator for several days before I’m ready to bake them.
I’ve tried all kinds of other recipes for sugar cookies, ones that promise to hold their shape (they never do), ones that promise they are super easy to roll out (I find that you have to do the hard work, nothing really comes easy), these cookies have by far been the best, I could be biased because I grew up on these cookies. They may not be the most perfectly shaped cookies, or the prettiest, but they sure are one of the tastiest!
I’m too impatient to do fancy frosting; these are real life sugar cookies, for the everyday mom and baker!
If you have kids or grands, I highly recommend you plan a day to make these fun, memory making cookies. If they are really young, make the dough and let them help you cut them out, though be patient, little hands are not known to place cookie cutters in strategic spots so that you get the highest cookie:dough ratio; oh no, instead they will place that cookie cutter smack-dab in the middle! So if that kind of thing annoys you, maybe you place the cookie cutter and allow them to press it down, teaching them in the process how to get the most cuts out of a roll. Here’s my little cookie roller, this is from last year, he’s so much bigger now.Start with some good, simple old-fashioned ingredients. Nothing fancy in these cookies. Toss two sticks of butter into the bowl of a stand mixer or bowl, I have 4, remember I’m doubling this recipe.Add your sugar and cream on medium-high for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
TIP: If you are using natural cane sugar, make sure you cream the butter and sugar a bit longer, on medium around 2-4 minutes. The grains are a bit more coarse than refined or bleached sugar and I find you have to cream it longer to break that down a bit.Next, add in your vanilla. I used vanilla paste, instead of extract, but it’s not necessary and I’ve normally used extract.Slightly beat your egg (remember I doubled the recipe, so this is two eggs) and add to the creamed mixture, continue creaming on medium speed, scraping down the sides occasionally.While you are creaming your butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs, measure and sift your flour, you can skip this step but I think that it does lend to a nicer texture for the finished cookie.I just use a sieve over a big bowl and gently hit the edge of the sieve against my palm in a back and forth method, it sifts quickly and evenly,. After sifting you will have a nice little cone of flour, always loved this as a kid. Heck who am I kidding, I still love it!Add your salt and baking powder to the flour cone.Mix the salt and baking powder into your flour with a fork or whisk.
With your mixer on low speed, so you don’t floof your flour everywhere, add the flour mixture a little at a time to the mixing bowl, about 1/2 a cup, alternating with your cream.After adding a cup or so of flour, pour in a tablespoon or so of cream, continue mixing on low, alternating your cream and flour until both are incorporated.And this is how I roll when I bake, knocking over my cream, sheesh! 4 tablespoons of cream is a LOT, it made a huge mess!Mix on low until it’s a nice soft dough, not sticky, but soft and doughy. Plop dough onto plastic wrap and shape into discs.Pat into a little disc. My Gabe holding up the coveted sugar cookie dough disc.Repeat the process with the rest of the cookie dough, (remember I doubled this batch) place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably for 24 hours, it can stay in the fridge for up to a week (or may be frozen for up to a couple months, but place in a freezer ziplock bag). When ready to use, place desired number of discs into refrigerator overnight.Now that you’ve waited at least a couple of hours, you’re ready to roll. Place onto a floured flat surface and using a rolling pin, roll dough in all directions, until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
Here’s where it gets so fun, you can turn these cookies into 3 (or more honestly) different cookies, regular sprinkled sugar cookies.
Classic Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles
Place onto parchment lined baking sheet a couple inches apart. And don’t forget to add the sprinkles. Gather up scraps, press back into a disc and wrap in plastic returning to fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up. Re-roll and repeat steps above, until all dough is used up.Bake for 10 minutes at 350° they should still be blonde, but slightly golden at the edges. And yes that is sugar on the snowflake, not pretzel salt. I learned about this sugar, from a Swedish friend; it is Swedish Pearl Sugar and I love using it on sugar cookies it looks like little balls of snow and honestly it kind of freaks people out a bit, like I put a ton of salt on a cookie!
Cool for 2 minutes on the pan, then remove with spatula to a cooling rack, cooling completely before storing.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week or place in the freezer and bring to room temperature before serving. Classic Sugar Cookies with Frosting
Same dough another way, they start out looking the same, but don’t place sprinkles on them…just yet.
I used my small 1.5″ round cutter and a square cutter, as I was making these for my sons Youth Group Christmas party and wanted the dough to go further, so made a lot of a smaller cookie.
Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, until slightly golden at the very edge. I left a pan in the oven when I raced out the door to pick up one of my kids from school. They baked for probably at least 10 minutes longer than the required time, they were brown, but not burnt. My family ate them, there were only crumbs left.
Cool on pan for 2 minutes, then remove to a cookie sheet, cool completely before frosting.Now make up some of this delicious, creamy, smooth frosting vanilla frosting.Spread frosting onto top of cooled cookie using a knife or toss into a pastry bag and squeeze a little on to each cookie. If you would like to color the frosting, put small amounts of frosting into bowls and add a little bit of food coloring, stirring to mix color thoroughly. Food color paste vs. liquid works better for frostings as it won’t thin the frosting.
Pipe or spread onto cookies and sprinkle a few sprinkles on top. Or turn the cookie over into the sprinkles and cover every square inch of the cookie with sprinkles!
Pinwheel Sugar Cookies
The third way, it’s a bit more complicated, but it’s really fun to do with kids. Divide your dough into 2 or 3 equal amounts. Use a bit of food color paste and work into the dough using your hands and kneading it through. A little food color goes a long way!
Last year I did the classic, red, green and “white” Pinwheel Cookie but this year, I was using my double batch of dough for the cutouts and the frosted sugar cookies, so just used two of my “discs” of dough. After the coloring is fairly even throughout the dough (it’s okay if there are streaks of darker and lighter) pat back into a disc and return to the fridge or freezer for about 30 minutes.After the discs of dough have firmed up, roll them out into similar sizes and thicknesses.Then lay one (or all three, if you’ve done three colors) on top of one another, the larger one on the bottom.Starting from the long edge, roll towards you, keeping it firm and as tight as you can as you roll.Slice cookies into about 1/4 inch slices, slightly larger actually, but not too thick or thin.Once sliced, prep a pan with parchment paper or lightly grease a pan. Roll the edges of the cookies into nonpareils (the little tiny round decorating sprinkles) or regular sprinkles (jimmies probably won’t work well). I had a tough time with these sticking well, so I wet my finger in a little water, ran it around the edge of the cookie, then dipped them in the sprinkles.Lay them flat about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. They don’t need to be perfectly covered, as they cook they will spread anyway!
Bake at 350º 10-12 minutes, these take a bit longer, I tend to be more around the 12 minute side. Remove from oven, allow to sit on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze up to 3 months.This picture of the tricolor pinwheel is from last year, pretty cute huh!There you have it, Sugar Cookies | 3 ways!
I was rushing (shocker) to get them ready for the Youth Group Christmas party, so it’s a bit blurry.Don’t forget to save some for Santa!
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar (I like all-natural unbleached cane sugar)
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1½ - 2 teaspoons vanilla extra or vanilla paste
- 3 cups flour, sifted
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons half and half
- Cream butter in bowl of mixer for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down sides of bowl and add sugar, mixing on medium-high for 2-4 minutes, longer if using natural sugar.
- Slightly beat, one egg and add to butter and sugar mixture, mixing for about 1 minute. Scrape down sides.
- Add vanilla and mix well, on medium high until all incorporated.
- Meanwhile, sift flour through sieve into bowl.
- Add baking powder and salt and gently mix in.
- Add flour to butter and sugar mixture on LOW abotu ½ cup at a time.
- Alternate flour with a little cream until both are incorporated.
- The dough will be soft, but not sticky.
- Remove dough dividing into 2-3 discs of dough onto pieces of plastic wrap.
- Place in refrigerator for 2 hours minimum, preferably 24 hours.
- When ready to roll, place disc onto flat, floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick.
- Using cookie cutters, get as much cuts as possible.
- Place cut cookie dough cut outs onto parchment or lightly sprayed cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
- If not frosting, then place sprinkles on top of cookie dough and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until barely golden at edges.
- Gather up scraps and pat into disc, refrigerating for another 15 minutes to firm. Repeat process until all cookie dough as been cutout.
- FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES (Option 2)
- Make cookies as described above, do not add sprinkles (just yet) and cool completely before frosting.
- Make up a batch of Vanilla Frosting from my Sugar Cookie Bites and Bars recipe.
- Ice cookies using a knife or if desired, pipe frosting onto tops of cookies.
- Add additional sprinkles if desired.
- PINWHEEL SUGAR COOKIES (Option 3)
- Equally separate dough into two or three batches, depending on whether you are coloring one batch or two.
- In one batch, using a small amount of food coloring paste (red or green), work the color through the dough by kneading. If desired, use another color (red or green) and tint another set of dough the same way.
- Pat into separate discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes.
- Roll out all dough discs on floured surface to approximate same sizes and thickness, until about ¼ inch or less.
- Place rolled out dough carefully on top of the other doughs and repeat if you colored 2 doughs for a total of 3 colors (red, green and "white").
- Roll the long side towards you, pressing and rolling as firm as possible without squishing dough.
- Slice into ¼ inch slices (if dough became too soft, place in fridge or freezer for 15 minutes before slicing).
- Roll edges of dough in nonpareils or other sprinkles, if having a hard time getting them to stick, wet your finger with some water and then roll in sprinkles.
- Lay flat on parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until barely golden at edges.
- Store in airtight container or freeze.
NOTE: These cookies freeze (even with frosting) beautifully for up to 2 months. Just remove from freezer and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Copyright 2017 | This recipe for Joy's Classic Sugar Cutout Cookies first appeared on The Fresh Cooky.