I’ve been making sugar cookies for as long as I can remember, it’s been a long time family Christmas tradition. I’m pretty sure there’s never been a Christmas where my family hasn’t made these cookies. I remember making them when I was little and by making them I mean my mom made the cookies and us kids got to throw ingredients in when told and got to decorate them with Christmas colored frosting and lots of sprinkles.
I made a batch of sugar cookies 5 days ago hoping they would last us until we left for Christmas break.. and they’re all gone. Every last one of them. I’ve always liked making sugar cookies but I haven’t always loved eating them, until this year! This time I couldn’t get enough of the cookies and I discovered that I’ve been making them wrong my whole life. Did you know that you’re supposed to use Confectioners Sugar in sugar cookies? As in Powdered Sugar, not Granulated Sugar? I never knew that and I’m almost positive I don’t ever remember using powdered sugar, I’ve always used granulated, at least as long as I’ve been making them on my own.
I had to call my mom for this recipe because it’s from her old Betty Crocker cookbook, and it’s the only one I’ve ever used but when she said confectioners sugar I had to check like three times because I wasn’t convinced. So maybe that’s why I liked them so much better. I’ve also never liked almond extract, I think it’s one of the worst flavors that can be used in food. So I started using less almond extract and more vanilla extract and the flavor is so much better.
Sugar cookie dough always needs to chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge, so it’s a great recipe to make in the morning or ahead of time and then bake and decorate later.
So let’s get started, here’s what you need:
Powdered sugar, egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, flour, butter, baking soda and cream of tartar.
Start by creaming together the softened butter with the powdered sugar – yes, powdered sugar. Not granulated.
In a little ramekin or other dish mix together the egg, vanilla extract and almond extract, then pour into the butter/sugar mixture and mix to combine.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar.
Then slowly add this into your wet ingredients until just combined.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least two hours and up to 8 hours.
When you’re ready to start baking pull the dough out and let it set for about 30 minutes or until it’s just soft enough to work with. This stage is a little frustrating for me because it’s always so hard to work with straight from the fridge so it doesn’t always make sense why it needs to be refrigerated. I’ve even read somewhere that sugar cookies need to be refrigerated throughout the process including from the time they’re cut out until they go into the oven. I’m not sure it matters that much, you just don’t want them to get warmed up to room temperature.
Lightly flour your counter top or wherever you will roll the dough out and form a ball with the dough. Lightly flour the rolling pin and then roll out your cookie dough. I typically use only half the dough at a time because it’s more manageable that way. Roll the dough to about 1/2″ thick. (I had a little too much flour all over me so I wasn’t able to take a picture). You don’t want the dough too thin because they’ll cook in like 3-4 minutes but the thicker they are the more the dough cooks and then your shapes look like big blobs. I usually make one cookie sheet worth, bake them and then adjust the dough thickness accordingly.
Once the dough is rolled out use your cookie cutters to punch out your cookie shapes. Then gently lift them off your counter and onto a greased pan, or you can use parchment paper. Collect all the remaining dough to re-use and then begin again.
These cookies only need to bake 6-7 minutes at 350* (the recipe says 375 but I prefer a lower heat). Watch them carefully because they’ll be totally cooked on the bottoms before they look done on the top, and you don’t want them overcooked at all. They’re perfect at just-barely-cooked.
Remove from oven, cool a few minutes then remove them to cool down all the way.
Make your frosting and then decorate when the cookies are cooled. I never said I was an artist in the kitchen… so the cookies may not be bakery-perfect but they sure are delicious! And I know Santa will approve!
As far as the frosting goes, I am all about cream cheese frosting, it’s basically the only kind I will eat. So even though it isn’t the traditional frosting used on sugar cookies, it definitely makes them better.
I added the cookies to my cute tiered Christmas tray for easy munching. Merry Christmas, I hope you all are enjoying this Christmas season with family and friends!!
- 1 cup Butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
- 2 1/2 cups Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- In large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar
- Mix in the egg, vanilla and almond extract
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, soda and cream of tartar
- Slowly mix flour mixture into butter mixture
- Cover and chill at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350*
- Let the dough sit out 30 minutes then flour the counter top and roll out about 1/2" thick. Using cookie cutters cut out your shapes and set them on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until you can see just a little golden color on the bottoms.
- Frost when they're cooled off.