Sugar Cookies

Just in time for the holidays, a classic sugar cookie recipe with super-easy icing.
Just in time for the holidays, a classic sugar cookie recipe with super-easy icing.
Just in time for the holidays, a classic sugar cookie recipe with super-easy icing.

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!).

These cookies have just the right amount of crunch to stand up to a glass of milk or a mug of coffee.
I love how the icing hardens just perfectly!

The recipe originally came from Parents Magazine (but as far as I know, it doesn’t exist on their website).

Sugar Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutters

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 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

Icing

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-5 tablespoons milk (I’ve used cow and almond milk successfully)
  • Food coloring

Steps

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
    Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.
    Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.

    Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth.
    Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth.
  2. 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.

    Work in the flour a quarter at a time until smooth. Then, use a spoon or your hands to press it all together and divide the dough into thirds.
    Work in the flour a quarter at a time until smooth. Then, use a spoon or your hands to press it all together.
  3. 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.
    Form each third into a disk and place on a sheet of waxed paper.
    Form each third into a disk and place on a sheet of waxed paper.
    Place a second sheet of waxed paper on top and press it into the dough.
    Place a second sheet of waxed paper on top and press it into the dough.
    Roll the dough from the center out with a rolling pin.
    Roll the dough from the center out with a rolling pin.

    Roll the dough until it reaches a thickness of about 3/8 inch. The circle will be about 10 inches in diameter when it reaches this thickness.
    Roll the dough until it reaches a thickness of about 3/8 inch. The circle will be about 10 inches in diameter when it reaches this thickness.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease two large cookie sheets.
  5. 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.
    Cut out your cookies...
    Cut out your cookies…
    ...pop them out of the cutters...
    …pop them out of the cutters…

    ...and place them on a greased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.
    …and place them on a greased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart.
  6. 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.
    Bake 8-10 minutes until you can just see the edges beginning to brown. The middles may still seem soft, but they'll finish cooking on the baking sheet.
    Bake 8-10 minutes until you can just see the edges beginning to brown. The middles may still seem soft, but they’ll finish cooking on the baking sheet.

    If you're not sure they're done, check the underside--it should be golden brown like this.
    The underside of your cookies should be golden brown like this. Don’t wait until the tops brown to pull them out of the oven, or they’ll be overcooked on the bottom.
  7. 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.
    Technically you should probably sift the powdered sugar first, but I cheat--I stir it with a whisk a few times once it's in the bowl to fluff it and get the lumps out before adding the wet ingredients.
    Technically you should probably sift the powdered sugar first, but I cheat–I stir it with a whisk a few times once it’s in the bowl to fluff it and get the lumps out before adding the wet ingredients.
    The icing should be easily stirred with the whisk but a little firm. This icing needs a touch more milk to spread easily.
    The icing should be easily stirred and drizzled with the whisk but still a little firm so it doesn’t run everywhere when you ice the cookies. This icing needs just a touch more milk to spread easily.

    Divide the icing into as many portions as you want for different colors. Work food coloring into each portion one drop at a time until you get the shade you want.
    Divide the icing into as many portions as you want for different colors. Work food coloring into each portion one drop at a time until you get the shade you want.
  8. 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.
    Drop a dollop (about a teaspoon or so) of icing into the center of the cookie.
    Drop a dollop (about a teaspoon or so) of icing into the center of the cookie.
    Using the back of the spoon, carefully push the icing to the edges of the cookie. Sometimes it helps to make small circular motions with the spoon to coax the icing along.
    Using the back of the spoon, carefully push the icing to the edges of the cookie. Sometimes it helps to make small circular motions with the spoon to coax the icing along.
    While the icing is wet, add sprinkles or other decorations if you want.
    While the icing is wet, add sprinkles or other decorations if you want.
    You can also drizzle a different color of icing over the cookie--if you do it right away, it will set flat with the base color.
    You can also drizzle a different color of icing over the cookie–if you do it right away, it will set flat with the base color.

    Let the icing set for as long as you can, at least several hours, before storing or stacking the cookies.
    Let the icing set for as long as you can, at least several hours, before storing or stacking the cookies.
  9. Once the icing is set, store in an airtight container up to a week.

Happy holidays! Enjoy!

0 thoughts on “Sugar Cookies

Leave a comment below!