This post is a real classic–it’s the cookie recipe my family has used for Christmas cookies every year for as long as I can remember! They’re the quintessential sugar cookie, with a light, slightly crunchy homemade icing to top it all off. Feel free to add other decorations–sprinkles, red hots, etc.–while the icing is still wet if you want (or skip it altogether, which is how my dad prefers his cookies!).
The recipe originally came from Parents Magazine (but as far as I know, it doesn’t exist on their website).
Makes about 3 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutters
- 1 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Baking spray or shortening for greasing cookie sheets
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-5 tablespoons milk (I’ve used cow and almond milk successfully)
- Food coloring
- Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
- Gradually beat in the flour and salt until smooth. I add about a quarter of the dry ingredients at a time and beat until smooth before the next addition.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Place each third between two sheets of waxed paper and roll to about 3/8-inch thick. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate at least 20 to 30 minutes until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease two large cookie sheets.
- Remove one third of the cookie dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place on a (very lightly) floured surface.. Cut out cookies and place on a baking sheet, leaving 1 inch of space between cookies. Re-roll the scraps and repeat with the rest of the dough. Use a little flour to keep the dough from sticking–and you can stick it back in the fridge for a few minutes if it gets too soft.
- Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges, switching the cookie sheets halfway through baking time. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them to wire racks and cool completely.
- Prepare the icing. Measure the powdered sugar into a bowl and stir in the vanilla extract and then the milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the icing reaches a smooth yet spreadable consistency. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar; if it’s too firm, add more milk a little at a time. (Err on the side of using as little liquid as possible! It takes a lotof powdered sugar to bring it back from too runny.) If desired, divide the icing into separate bowls and dye it different colors using food coloring.
- When the cookies are completely cool, ice them. The easiest way I have found to do this is with a spoon: Hold the cookie in your non-dominant hand, and use your other hand to plop about a teaspoon of icing (depending on the size of the cookie) in the center with a spoon. Flip the spoon over and use its back to spread the icing around to all the edges. If desired, decorate the cookies with sprinkles or other add-ons while the icing is still wet. Place the cookie back on the wire rack and allow the icing to harden for several hours or until set. Repeat until finished.
- Once the icing is set, store in an airtight container up to a week.
Happy holidays! Enjoy!