christmas sugar cookies

Since I’ll be doing some more holiday baking this weekend, I’m going back to Christmas. One of the best things about Christmas (and there are so many good things) is making sugar cookies. Mixing the dough, rolling out and cutting shapes, snagging a few bites here and there, covering yourself in flour, decorating with frosting and sprinkles — all a part of Christmas since I was little.

Usually my family likes a thicker, softer cookie with plenty of icing, but I wanted to try a thinner one with more delicate decorations. Though they tasted good and looked pretty, my brothers held out for our traditional sugar cookies, so I made a second batch topped with buttercream and colored sprinkles. But it was worth the two batches; I loved piping the tiny lace-like patterns while catching up with hometown friends, and getting excessive with the sprinkles while watching a Christmas movie with my family.


Both cookie recipes are family recipes that we’ve been using for years. The icing and buttercream I make up as I go, combining milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla (and butter for buttercream, obviously) until I’ve gotten the right texture, thickness, and taste.


For thinner sugar cookies:

1 cup butter (salted), room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture. When the dough is mixed, wrap in plastic and chill for about two hours. Roll out to ~1/4 inch thick before cutting. Cook in desired shapes at 375°F for 5-8 minutes, or until the edges turn golden. Let cool completely before decorating. I used a thick icing (no butter), Williams Sonoma glitter flakes, and edible pearls.

For thicker sugar cookies (my grandmother’s recipe):

1 cup butter (salted), room temperature

2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs

5 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla (be generous)

Cream butter and sugar. Mix sour cream and eggs in a separate bowl, then add to butter and sugar. Add flour one cup at a time, with the other dry ingredients at the same time as the first cup. Add vanilla once all the flour is incorporated. Wrap in plastic and chill, overnight if possible (if not, 3-4 hours will work). Roll out to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. *Tip: less detailed cut-outs work best for this dough, like trees or candy canes, since the dough really puffs up while baking. Bake at 375°F for 7-10 minutes, until the edges start to color.  Cool completely before decorating. I used vanilla buttercream and Christmas-themed sprinkles.


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