- 1 cup butter (softened)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two large baking sheets with baking parchment or silicone baking mats and set aside.
- Cream ingredients for cookie dough: Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer until well combined.
Then add the egg and vanilla and cream until the egg is fully combined – do not mix any longer than necessary, or your cookies may turn out tough. It will look scraggly, but that's fine
- Add dry ingredients to cookie dough: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, then gradually add to the butter mixture and mix on low until combined.
- Roll dough out cookie dough: Remove the cookie dough from the bowl and onto a clean work surface. Push it together with your hands a few times until it forms a smooth cookie dough – do not knead or overwork it, or your cookies will turn out tough.
Divide the dough in half and roll out each half on a lightly floured work surface to 1/4 inch thickness.
- Cut out cookies: Cut out cookies (2-3 inch cutters work best), re-rolling any scraps of dough.
Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake in batches for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are just starting to turn a light brown. The tops should spring back if lightly prodded, but you do not want to overbake these!
- Cool the cookies: Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Baking TipsDon’t overwork the dough: I already noted this in the instructions above, but it’s really crucial not to overwork cookie dough. You want it to be well combined and smooth to roll out, but don’t knead it like bread dough or mix it for too long. This will develop the gluten in the flour and turn out tough cookies. For rolling: Make sure you don’t roll the cookies too thin, or they won’t be soft. If you prefer, you can dust your work surface with powdered sugar instead of flour. !! If it takes a long time to cut out the cookies !! If it’s taking you a relatively long time to cut out the cookies (it does for me with the kids), place the cut out cookies on the baking sheet in the fridge (or outdoors if it’s cold where you are) for 5-10 minutes before baking. To decorate: I keep sugar cookie decorating simple – cutting them out is tiring enough. I just whip up a thick powdered sugar icing (2-3 cups powdered sugar with 2-4 tablespoons half and half or lemon juice do the trick; exact amounts you need depend on how much icing you like on each cookie). Then the kids cover them in sprinkles. So easy, and a lot of fun for all involved – even mom 😉
Freezer InstructionsTo freeze raw cookie dough: Tightly wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap, then label with the name and use-by date (freeze for up to 3 months) before freezing. When ready to bake, remove the cookie dough from the freezer and thaw in the fridge overnight (I recommend placing it on a plate to catch any water drips). Once thawed, roll out and bake as directed in the recipe. To freeze baked cookies: Freeze the cookies undecorated! Place them in a freezer-friendly container, separating layers with sheets of baking parchment. Label with the name and use-by date (freeze for up to 3 months) before freezing. To defrost, remove the cookies from the container and place them on a wire rack on the counter for a few hours, or until defrosted.
Storage InstructionsSugar cookies keep well for about a week in an airtight container on the counter. Undecorated cookies stay fresh for a little longer than decorated ones in my experience.
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I love making this sugar cookie recipe with my kids for Christmas, and this is my absolutely favorite version. Easy to make with just a handful of ingredients you probably have at home already, no chilling required (!!) and super cute to decorate with the little ones.
Growing up I absolutely despised sugar cookies – I found them SO boring! I was all about the Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and the Gingerbread (granted, I love those…). But the older I get, the more I appreciate the simple things in life. Cheesy, but true 😉
My kids on the other hand adore these sugar cookies, especially because they know we’re going to decorate them together. See those pretty overloaded ones in the photo? My kids decorated them, and I made the sensible adult ones.
Then I went to photograph the cookies for this post, and realized my kids had done a much better job with their decorating than me, ahem.
Needless to say, they are now very proud to have their work featured on the internet!
We love these as a little after school treat during the holiday season with a mug of homemade hot chocolate or hot apple cider. Nothing better than living the sparkly magic of Christmas every single day during December, if you ask me – and that’s why these have been dubbed the world’s best sugar cookies by my 5 year old.