Classic cut out sugar cookies! 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 for sugar cookies; my mom, 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! As a child, 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, or even freeze for later use!
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 this recipe. They may not be the most perfectly shaped cookies, or the prettiest, but they sure are one of the tastiest!
REAL LIFE SUGAR COOKIES
I’m too impatient to do fancy frosting; these cookies are 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.
Be patient, little hands are not known to place cookie cutters in strategic spots yielding the highest cookie to dough ratio. 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 a few years ago, he’s so much bigger now.
Start with some good, simple old-fashioned ingredients for these sugar cookies. Toss two sticks of butter into the bowl of a stand mixer or bowl. Add the all natural cane sugar and cream on medium-high for 2-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Baking with All Natural Cane Sugar?
If you are using all natural cane sugar, make sure you cream the butter and sugar a bit longer, on medium around 3-5 minutes. The grains are a bit more coarse than refined or bleached sugar and I find you have to cream it longer to break it down a bit.
Add vanilla. I used vanilla bean paste here, either works great! 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 creaming the 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 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 sea 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 the 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.
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.
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 3 months, but place in a freezer ziplock bag). When ready to use, place desired number of discs into refrigerator overnight.
Once the dough has chilled a couple of hours, you’re ready to roll, literally. 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!
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. 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. This 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 cookies.
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.
Make up some of this delicious, creamy, smooth frosting vanilla frosting. Spread frosting on 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.
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 food 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.
Once the dough has 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 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!
Don’t forget to save some for Santa or the Easter Bunny — or for yourself!
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- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
- 1 cup sugar (I like all-natural unbleached cane sugar)
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons vanilla extra or vanilla paste
- 3 cups flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons half and half
BASIC SUGAR COOKIES (& DOUGH)
- 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 about 1/2 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 1/4 inch thick. Using cookie cutters place closely together. 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° 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
- 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 dough on floured surface to roughly the same size and thickness, about 1/4 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 1/4 inch slices (if dough becomes 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° for 10-12 minutes until barely golden at edges.
- Store in airtight container or freeze.
TIP: You can adapt this cookie many different ways, if needed, see the blog post on the various ways to prepare these cookies.
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.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 48 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 82Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 70mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 1g
The nutritional information is estimated and may not be entirely accurate, at times it pulls information for suggestions and options which may increase calories, etc.