Last month, after 13 years of stubbornness, I shared a roast turkey recipe and then a funny thing happened — many of you made and loved the turkey and your turkeys looked so beautiful (yes, turkeys! beautiful!) the warmth beamed off them and onto to me and left me inspired to shake loose another recipe I’ve been promising you for almost as long: Sugar cookies. Or butter cookies. Or roll-out cookies. Or holiday cookies.
NEW: Watch me make these cookies on YouTube!
It’s just, they can be kind of boring! And a lot of work. So many of the intricate, stunning ones that I admire with awe fall short on taste. And personally I just cannot with hours upon hours of work for someone to inhale my masterpiece in one bite, spilling crumbs on the floor, and then immediately ask for another, rude as it may be to come for my kids so publicly. I knew I’d never be able to share a sugar cookie recipe until I could find a way to make them as unfussy as I want them to be, the kind of thing you could decide to make, say, right now, and be eating not very long from now, decorated to the hilt. That brings us to today.
There are five really cool things about this recipe (and if you’re familiar with this post, a few are paraphrased from it):
1. No softened butter. I began making cookies with cold butter in a food processor or stand mixer (or, with patience, a hand mixer) a few years ago and haven’t looked back since. What I found was that there was no discernable decline in the final quality of the vast majority of cookies made this way, but a steep incline in my enjoyment of the process, now that I didn’t have to add 30 to 60 minutes to my prep time to get the butter exactly soft enough whoops too soft, back to the fridge, yup, now it’s hard again, repeat until you can no longer remember why you even wanted to make cookies.
2. No multi-hour chill in the fridge. Instead of fighting a firm, cold dough into a flat sheet, I instead roll my cookies out when it’s the easiest — right away. I then slide the flattened dough onto a baking sheet or thin cutting board and pop it in the freezer for 10 to 20 minutes (vs. 4 hours or overnight in the fridge), until it’s completely solid, then cut the cookies in wonderfully crisp shapes from it. You can put your cookies in the oven within 30 minutes of starting the dough.
3. No flour to roll it out. I roll my cookie dough between two sheets of parchment paper with absolutely no extra flour. Having no powdery mess to clean up is downright revolutionary in my kitchen and all of the rooms floury feet might drag the spillover mess into. Plus, flouring can toughen up the dough as it absorbs extra, and leads to annoying notes in recipes like “don’t reroll scraps.” I mean, what? You can reroll your scraps with abandon here.
4. No cookie cutters. Or, you know, have no scraps. I have about 100 more cookie cutters than any human being needs (although most are crusted with Play-Doh these days). But nothing gives me the joy that using a smooth or fluted pastry wheel to cut an entire sheet of dough into squares, rectangles, diamonds, and other parallelograms for a tessellated slab of cookies with nothing left to re-chill and reroll. Yes, some that come from the edges are irregular; I find them charming. If you do not, you can use them for snacks, or decorating practice.
5. No piping bags, food dye, and while we’re at it, no tweezers. Okay, I cheated because I bought a roll of these in 2015 and will never use them up, but my goal here was a decorated sugar cookie that required no paintbrushes or piping tips. Dipping cookies in a thinned royal icing gives you an evenly frosted cookie that you can finish with sprinkles, or, once it sets, add a thicker icing from a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off in any kind of doodles. Keeping it all white allows you to skip mixing batches of frosting with food dye and, bonus, evokes the sparkly winter wonderland that NYC is too rarely for my tastes. I used two kinds of sprinkles here (I’ll link to options at the end), pinched them on messily and inconsistently and I’m absolutely at peace with the results.
I hope you find all of these shortcuts deliciously lazy, maybe a little bit triumphant, and, at least in my case, a bit miraculous in that this level of cookie ease has turned me into a person who will willingly make sugar cookies going forward. I can’t wait to see what you do with these.
Six months ago: Burrata with Charred and Raw Sugar Snap Peas
One year ago: Falafel
Two years ago: Dutch Apple Pie
Three years ago: Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts
Four years ago: Pull-Apart Rugelach and Tres Leches Cake + A Taco Party
Five years ago: Decadent Hot Chocolate Mix and Gingrebread Biscotti
Six years ago: Eggnog Florentines
Seven years ago: Cashew Butter Balls
Eight years ago: Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs
Nine years ago: Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
Ten years ago: Coffee Toffee
Eleven years ago: Zuni Cafe’s Roast Chicken + Bread Salad
Twelve years ago: Chicken and Dumplings
Thirteen years ago: Pecan Squares
Unfussy Sugar Cookies
- 3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt (if using unsalted butter only)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) salted or unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white, ideally pasteurized (or use meringue or egg white powder as per label instructions)
- 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- A few drops of a flavoring of your choice (optional) (lemon, almond, vanilla)
- Food coloring and sprinkles, as you wish
Make the cookies with a stand or hand mixer: Combine sugar and salt (if butter is unsalted) in a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer. (The order here is different because the butter takes longer to soften, longer than we want to beat the flour for.) Cut butter into small cubes and add to the sugar mixture and beat with the paddle or beater attachments until the butter and sugar are an even, soft texture — you’ll want to scrape down the bowl a few times and be patient, especially with a hand mixer, but once the two are combined, no need to beat further (until fluffy) as you would with other cookie recipes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until evenly combined, scraping down bowl. Add baking powder and beat it an additional 30 seconds beyond what is needed to make the baking powder disappear (we want to disperse it extremely well). Add flour and mix only until it disappears.
Both methods: Divide dough in half and (edited to add) if it’s in loose chunks, gently knead it together into one mass on a sheet of parchment paper. Place a second sheet of parchment paper over the dough and roll each dough half between 2 large pieces of parchment paper into your desired thickness — I like these the most in the 3/16- to 1/4-inch range (link to the optional spacers I’m using at the end), the thinner one is shown in the final cookies. Slide each parchment-and-cookie-dough slab onto the back of a baking sheet, thin tray, or thin cutting board and place in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, until solid.
Heat oven: To 350 degrees F.
Shape cookies: Carefully remove top sheet of parchment paper from first cookie dough slab and place the side that touched the dough down on a large baking sheet. Cut cookies into your desired shape. Here I’m using a fluted pastry wheel (link at end) to cut the cookies into 1.5-inch squares. Peel each cookie off the bottom sheet of parchment (this should be easy if they’re still frozen; if they’re not, return the slab to the freezer for 3 to 5 more minutes) and arrange on baking sheet with 2 inches between them. Repeat with remaining slab of cookie dough. If you have any dough to reroll, do it again between two sheets of parchment paper and freeze this slab until solid again before cutting into it.
Bake cookies: Until they are a light golden brown at the edges (if there’s no color, there’s little flavor), rotating trays once while baking to ensure even baking, about 10 to 12 minutes. Thinner and smaller cookies are done faster; larger ones will take longer, of course. Use cookie color as your guide, however, not the timer.
Let cookies set for one minute on the tray after removing from the oven then transfer to a cooling rack to let the cookies cool completely. It’s not like this takes very long inside, but I’m impatient and put them outside when the weather permits. You can stop right here — look how fast you made cookies! you’re a wizard! — or you can decorate them…
Make the icing: Whisk your egg white (or substitute reconstituted from egg white or meringue powder) in a large bowl until loose and frothy. Add salt and 1 cup of powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Add flavorings, if desired, and last 1/4 cup of sugar — it’s pretty stiff at this point, which is how you want it.
Decorate cookies as shown here: To dip your cookies, scrape half of icing into wide bowl. Add water, 1/4 teaspoon at a time (a little goes a long way) to thin the frosting until it can thinly but mostly opaquely coat a dipped cookie. Skim the top of each cookie in the frosting, using a knife, spatula, or your finger (I won’t tell) to catch any drips before you flip it over. Arrange back on parchment-lined baking sheet to set completely. Once again, I tend to rush this outside.
Scrape the remaining, thicker half of your icing into a sandwich or freezer bag, cut the tiniest nip off the corner of the bag, and pipe designs of your choice on top. If you’re adding sprinkles, do so every 3 to 4 cookies or the icing will begin set and the sprinkles won’t adhere. Let them set until completely solid, anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how thick the piping is.
Store: Iced, set cookies will keep for weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.
Tools: I have this food processor, this stand mixer, and this handmixer, although the latter is not my favorite. I find these two brands of parchment paper to be the most reliable/least sticky but of course haven’t tried them all. I’m using this pastry wheel. I am using these thick rulers to make rolling even slabs of dough really easy, but this is probably better, or you might just prefer rolling pin bands. If you don’t want to use a raw, pasteurized egg white, meringue powder is a wonderful thing. I’m using this pearly sanding sugar to decorate and can’t find dragees as tiny as I have online (think: large poppy seeds) but I’d buy these stars or this mixed sprinkle set in a heartbeat as an alternative. As always, nothing here is sponsored, I just hoped it would be easier to put all the links in one place vs. scattered throughout the comments as people ask.
352 comments on unfussy sugar cookies
these look amazing! I’ll try them this weekend when we make our holiday cookies. I tend to up the vanilla to 1.5 t in a sugar cookie since it’s the only flavoring.
(FYI, the pastry wheel isn’t linked)
I love you. Seriously. Roll dough when soft?! Roll dough between parchment so no flour all over?! Re-roll the scraps?! Now I have zero excuses.
Game changer!! I’m planning on making a few types of biscuits for Christmas this year, & between your “quick cookies” techniques, using a pastry wheel instead of fussy cookie cutters, & a couple of easy “roll dough into little balls and flatten” recipes, I might even enjoy the process.
Thank you for always making cooking easier!
Okay I’m glad I’m not the only weirdo who who wanted to say “I love you” to Deb! I love to eat sugar cookies (and the dough) but always regret making them because of all the hassle. She’s taken away all the excuses!
I ALSO came to say the same thing to her! Hooray for easy sugar cookies- especially when cooking with two tiny “helpers”!
Thanks for permission to make irregularly shaped cookies! I needed that!
Where were you exactly one week ago?!! This is surely the way of the future ;) … all of it!!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! One of our Christmas traditions is for me to make the dough, cut out the cookies, bake them, make the icing and then the grandkids decorates them. Can I tell you how very much I HATE making the cookies! So, this year I’ll be using your method….cannot wait!!
Ha! I came here today to find a sugar cookie recipe –you read my mind :)
I made cut out cookies with the roll out method using parchment paper and chilling before cutting them out. AMAZINGLY easy with great results! Thanks Deb! ❄☃️🎁🎄
I’ve been using your confetti cookies recipe for our Christmas cookie recipe the past few years. It’s our favorite! But I will definitely try the royal icing on them this year
I remember the first time you talked about rolling it between parchment paper and then chilling and it was revolutionary. Now I basically keeps 1/4″ thick discs of dough (both sugar and your brownie-roll-out cookies) in my freezer at all times. I’m the designated baker for our school and having dough on hand is more necessary than you’d think. Thank you so much for the tip!
PS: I have started finding tessellated cutters and I am very excited about that. Lazy baking for everyone!
How long would you recommend chilling them for in the fridge? For those of us who have side-by-side fridge/freezers and thus freezers that are more narrow than our large cookie sheets.
Probably less than an hour is all you need; maybe 30 to 40 minutes.
Love these cookies. The link to the thick rulers isn’t working. Do you have another suggestion? Also made the pinwheel Rugelach today yum! Thanks Deb!
My family has always decorated sugar cookies by brushing them with milk (egg wash would probably be good too) and then sprinkling with colored sugar, red hots, sprinkles, etc. and THEN baking. No frosting. Now that I have a child helper, I realized one bonus of this approach is that any germs applied to the cookies in the decorating process–which invariably involves a lot of licking fingers and too little hand washing–can then be killed by the hot oven. Or at least that is what I tell myself.
Our family did the same, with an abundance of red hots. Egg wash for us.
Us too, egg white and colored sugar or non pareils.
We used egg wash and sugar as a kid AFTER they were cooked. When I grew up I decided this was kind of not my favorite (regardless of germs I didn’t like the hint of raw egg white.) I also don’t love things to sweet so icing was a no go for us… So I started doing sugar before (didn’t bother with a wash because the sugar always sticks to our spritz cookies which get a sprinkle before baking). To satisfy my children s preference for “fancy”/obscenely over decorated cookies, I make a little icing to stick some embellishments on a few of the cookies !
Perfect timing and a perfect alternative to the elaborate Christmas cookie decorating extravaganza I had planned for today, which now is canceled due to a sick grandson. They look great!
Hi Deb curious why the note on the egg (“ideally pasteurized”) and why? I don’t even know what a pasteurized egg is tbh. :)
These look amazing and I can’t wait to give them a shot!
Pasteurized eggs have been gently heated to a safe temperature for eating. You can buy whole pasteurized eggs or you can buy pasteurized egg whites in a carton. You’re supposed to use them for royal icing because you’re not going to cook the eggs.
Pasteurized simply means the egg has been heated to the point where it can be consumed raw. In this case Deb calls for pasteurized egg whites for the icing, because the icing will not be baked. The whole egg in the cookie dough does not need to be pasteurized. I’m repeating what Libby has said, I know, but perhaps in more detail. For the same reason, cow’s milk is pasteurized because we drink it without cooking it!
These were wonderful! Had to knead them a bit but so easy and delicious. We did sugar sprinkles instead of icing for a kid friendly activity
Ideas for iced cookies that don’t have any egg/diary in the icing? We have a kiddo with an egg/dairy allergy (Can tolerate baked dairy) and have resorted to using a drippy icing made of confectioners and water. But it is not the best tasting or most beautiful looking. Thanks
Instead of water, I would just substitute any non-dairy milk that you like. Without having done any testing, I would think that coconut cream would work really well and likely make a thicker frosting
I melt some non-dairy chocolate chips with a tiny bit of water in the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir, decorate, let set for a few minutes (or not!) delicious!!
I’ve had success making vegan royal icing with aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas). You could try subbing in a couple tablespoons of aquafaba for the egg in Deb’s recipe, or try the one linked below.
If your kiddo can have butter (maybe? maybe not?) and you’d like a chocolate glaze, this works well: 2 c. powdered sugar, 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (melted), 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 c. hot water, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. It firms up fairly quickly, so I add additional splashes of hot water to the bowl to keep it the right consistency as I work my way through glazing a batch of cookies or cupcakes. Not for the kiddos, but it’s also delicious with orange liqueur instead of the hot water (I love chocolate & orange together).
If you want it thicker, use less water or more powdered sugar. If you the taste doesn’t appeal to you, you can add extracts (vanilla, almond, peppermint, etc) or use orange or lemon juice instead of water. Adjust the liquid/ sugar ratios until it’s as thick or thin as you want.
King Arthur Flour has a cookie glaze recipe (https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/simple-cookie-glaze-recipe) made from corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar and milk; commenters there suggested using water instead. I did and it worked well!
We always used and i still do lemon and icing sugar. Sooo yummy. Because lemon. 😁
These look fantastic! One tip that’s worked for me is to sub a gluten free flour blend, with no gluten to develop you literally cannot overhandle dough. Especially great if you have young helpers.
If I were thinking of doing a lightly spiced cookie, just to add a little dimension, would 0.5 or 1 tsp of, say, cinnamon or cardamom be alright? I know few people come to sugar cookies for something super flavourful, but I’ve been obsessing over the idea of a cardamom sugar cookie. That said, I don’t want to OVERdo it.
Absolutely. I felt like this post was long enough so I didn’t get into flavors but you could easily add dry spices (with the flour mixture) or citrus zest (I like to rub it into the sugar before using it for maximum flavor release) or even vanilla bean sugar, if you keep that around.
I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar over a few of my iced cookies as a experiment. They’re not beautiful but the flavor is great.
I’ve been putting off baking my Christmas sugar cookies this year because they take SO much work and time (time!!!), but no longer! God bless us, every one!
I just took your cranberry bars (from the first cookbook) out of the oven and was beaming as my kids devoured them for an after-school snack on a cold December day. And now this! Our weekend will be devoted to making batches of these cookies. Deb, you make every day better and sweeter. THANK YOU!
I LOVE YOU.
I mean, there’s a lot of things I could say here, but that sums it up. I love sugar cookies, but they’re such a pain to make that I rarely do. This will make it so much easier. Seriously, will you marry me?
You’re a genius! This worked so well and dealt with everything I normally hate about sugar cookies. Definitely making these again!
Bridget’s recipe converted me to a (semi-) regular sugar cookie baker, too! Love your tips and tweaks to make these even more do-able on a regular basis.
If you enjoy mini-cookies, a ravioli cutter is even faster and easier. It’s a useful tool for making savory crackers as well.
How do you prevent the parchment paper from sliding on the counter when you are rolling the dough?
I lay the parchment on a silicone baking mat. It works, though your space is limited to the size of the mat. It’s the only thing I’ve found to work.
Some brands are much more slippery than others. If you sprinkle a few drops of water on your counter it really helps to stop the slide. Also try rolling between plastic wrap instead. Works as well if not better and is also less expensive.
With the plastic wrap you can also make many sheets ahead of time and just leave them in the freezer. The plastic wrap seals them and you’ll always have them ready to go. Just take them out a few minutes before you want to get baking. Works for all cookie and pie doughs.
Don’t throw out your paper or plastic wrap, fold and put in freezer bag and keep in freezer for reuse.
I guess it’s never bothered me because it takes about 30 seconds to roll the dough out flat. Because the dough is very soft, there’s no fighting it.
You know what works great? I got a pastry roller from PC for hosting once, and I’ll never use a traditional pin again. You only need one hand to roll, and the other holds the parchment paper!
Another cool thing I found at the grocery store last night is, pre-cut parchment paper. It wasn’t much more than a roll (obviously you’ll get less paper) but they’re the size of a cookie sheet. The ones I found are made by Reynolds, I don’t know if other companies make them, too, but they’re scored and folded so they’re much less likely to slide all over infinity.
I know the pastry rollers are available on Amazon, but I’ve seen them in kitchen stores, also. Seriously a game changer.
What is PC?
My cookie and pie crust life changed forever when I started to roll the dough between two large Silpat sheets (too large for the oven). If the dough gets warm, the sheets plus dough can be slid over whatever’s in the refrigerator until the dough has hardened enough to continue. Works perfectly every time.
Great tip! I’ll try this today.
I made these and while I like the crispy cookie, I felt they were too dry and crumbly during the rolling. Maybe my flour was too heavy? I added an extra yolk, but it wasn’t enough. My recipe is very similar to yours, but has 2 yolks (instead of your whole egg) and up to a 1/3 cup of whole milk blended in alternately with the flour mixture. Oh and I make mine with my paddle mixer. However, the game changer for me was The pastry cutter and your royal frosting! To split the frosting into two parts is genius!!! It made it easier and I made a blue glaze (scrapping with my finger!) and white patterns with some pearl sprinkles! So beautiful! I sometimes cut my frosting with a TBL of corn syrup, but with your recipe, I didn’t need to! Thank you, thank you!!
Same here — dough came out far too dry to roll, would hardly clump at all. I started by adding a bit more butter, then consulted a couple other recipes and added a bit of milk. Then when rolling, it showered out the sides and onto the floor. It’s now chilling in the fridge.
What I would’ve appreciated seeing is how many sheets of dough should come out of this recipe, even if that varies according to how thick you roll your cookies.
I may have forgotten one tiny detail in the recipe — I’m sorry! — which is that when you dump the dough out onto your parchment to roll it out, you can knead it once or twice if it hasn’t come together. That’s all it needs if the measurements are right and it was blended as described. I’ll add it now. This recipe doesn’t need milk or an extra yolk. I’ve made it a dozen times and it always comes together as written.
I had the same issue – even with kneading, the dough wouldn’t hold together. Is it possible for the butter to be too cold? My roommate snagged the refrigerator butter so I pulled two sticks from the freezer at most an hour or two before starting the cookies. I weighed all my dry ingredients and otherwise followed the recipe. I did end up adding 1/3 cup milk – which was too much as the dough got sticky, even after being put in time out in the fridge, but I still ended up with a tasty crumbly cookie, so I’m calling it a win
It just needs to blend longer if kneading didn’t do it. The butter is cold. It’s not going to be as tacky or sticky as a cookie dough with whipped, softened butter, one that easily merges with the flour. But the formula — so long as the flour isn’t over-measured — absolutely works. You don’t, and shouldn’t, add anything else to it to get it to come together. Just measure carefully, blend more if needed.
To those who said it doesn’t come together… it’s REALLY crumbly but you don’t really have to knead the dough, you just kind of clump it all together, I actually twisted the parchment and squeezed it tightly into a ball and then used a fresh piece of parchment to roll it out. I did not have to add anything extra. I did use an unpasteurized eggs so I hope this will not be my last cookie😂😂😅
Same here too – dough never really got past the “sandy” stage, even after I took it out a kneaded for a bit. I added a yolk based on the comment above and it came together.
I would recommend weighing your flour, if you didn’t. I always get more flour in a cup than Deb, but when I weigh my flour to match hers I get a good dough.
Made these today with GF flour…. perfect! Thank you!
My dough was dry too, and I was just about to add more liquid but I decided to just knead it for a few minutes. That did the trick. The flour seemed to absorb the fat more and the dough went from crumbly to perfect.
I had to add a couple splashes of water to get the dough to clump. Wondering if this was because I used the hand mixer instead of a food processor. In any case, the end result rolled beautifully!
This might be a little out there but I noticed that my food processor work bowl is taller and narrower than the one Deb has. When I added the egg, the dough on the bottom just spun around and the dry stuff on top never incorporated. I ended up dumping the mix out onto the parchment and adding about a tablespoon of milk and hand kneading it for a few turns. Worked like a charm.
Dude! This is so perfect! I haven’t made decorated cookies in years and I’m excited to do these! Fate made me buy those exact Wilton sprinkles last week without a plan in mind. Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Holidays to you and your family and friends!
Since discovering this game changing rolling system some years ago, I now deal with all my cookie doughs and pie crusts the same way. I also find that rolling between plastic wrap instead of parchment actually works a little better. Also, handy hint, don’t toss the parchment sheets or plastic wrap when you’re done. Just fold them and keep in a freezer bag in the freezer. They can be reused many times.
I’m going to try rolling out between parchment for making sugar cookies later today – I’d love to avoid the floury mess! One thing I do with my holiday sugar cookies is add some orange or lemon zest. I also increase the vanilla extract, as someone else mentioned. Amazing flavor allows for extra leeway if your decorating skills aren’t so great, or you have lots of help from kids (my teenagers haven’t yet outgrown the desire to mix up every color of sugar and pile it on, or create weird faces on the Santas and snowmen).
These look amazing. I have one suggestion, if I may? As a Brit cooking in the US I notice a difference in the type of butter typically used here. US butter makes great cakes (or anything that needs to be light and airy), but for a crisp, buttery finish go for something like Kerrygold and I promise you will notice the difference.
European-style butter is always wonderful in cookies but I want to note that I always test recipes like this with regular old butter from the grocery store here because if it can’t taste good with basic butter, I’m not interested in publishing the recipe. These do. So, you can use whatever you prefer, or have around.
Yes to the Kerrygold! I always use it and a small batch vanilla I order from a family store in Cozumel, Mexico. When I use anything else, my cookies don’t taste like ‘my cookies’.
Also, I’ve been baking them from an old cookbook recipe for 31 years now, and the shortcut of rolling between parchment paper sheets was holiday-changing yesterday!!! I made extra batches because I had time for them. Thank you!
Hi, please could you repost your turkey recipe from last year?
The turkey I’ve made for the last few years is this one — three new recipes ago: https://smittenkitchen.com/2019/11/dry-brined-turkey-with-roasted-onions/
I LOVE this idea! Wish I had thought of it. When I make biscuits (which is rare these days) I always just roll out the dough and cut them into squares. Lazy or creative? I prefer to think creative. Should have thought about doing that with sugar cookies too. Thanks for doing all the work for us!
Made these this morning. My mess was so minimal, I really thought I had missed cleaning some things. I made in the food processor. I did dump all the ingredients out onto parchment and return to the fp as some floury ingredients on the bottom weren’t mixing in (I then reused the parchment for rolling.)
Whoops! Hit enter before review was finished. The cookies rolled out beautifully. I used one of the multi cutters ( https://www.target.com/p/giant-cookie-cutter-pewter-hearth-hand-8482-with-magnolia/-/A-54634398 ). I pushed the two pieces of dough together to be big enough for the cutter. Minimal dough remained which I reformed, chilled and cut rectangles with biscuit cutters. Great recipe.
Fabulous as always, Deb. Just one side comment about your inspiring photography… You need to invest in a P-Touch Label Maker! Forget the masking tape and Sharpie pen. Give a list of all your bottle and jar labels to your kids and let them have at it. My family teases me mercilessly about my joy of label-making, but it makes me feel so organized and it is almost as fun as cooking!
Lolol. Something about having one more thing to keep “in stock” (label tape, batteries, perhaps, ink? who knows. does anyone else feel like they spend their whole life buying more toilet paper and foil?) pushes me over the edge. I’ll always have masking tape and sharpies.
Can I make these by hand? No food processor or hand blender here!
Hi! I would like to try the cookies with the icing, but i have never done royal icing before… i bought a package of pasteurized egg whites. Will that be safe for the icing and keep being safe if i store the cookies in a tin?
Yes, that’s exactly what you want.
1) Can I shape the dough into a log, freeze 10-20 minutes, then slice 1/4 inch rounds instead of rolling?
2) just decorating with drizzled chocolate and sprinkles- which goes first (want to do chocolate first, but afraid the sprinkles won’t stick)
1. I haven’t but I definitely think you can. It will need much longer than 10 to 20 minutes to freeze a log, though. These freeze in 10 to 20 because they’re already no more than 1/4-inch thick.
2. Chocolate then sprinkles; sprinkle them right away.
Wouldn’t the two teaspoons of baking powder ( that’s a lot for a batch of cookies ) cause the sugar cookies to puff and spread too much even though the cut cookies have been in the freezer for a bit to prevent too much spreading? Also, why would you not whisk the baking powder with the flour so both can be added already mixed, instead of adding the baking powder first, then the flour?
Sorry for all the questions but I’ve been baking cookies for a good 60 years and am always interested in trying new or latest popular recipes I find online, but have to say, this particular recipe’s directions are the oddest I’ve ever come across.
Not doubting your expertise at all, I have both your cookbooks which I love, but just had to ask my questions. Hope you don’t mind.
It’s not too much baking powder. The cookies look exactly like this! You can whisk the baking powder with the flour; I just prefer not to dirty an extra bowl. And yes, the directions are odd. I try not to waste anyone’s time with things that are already in every other recipe on the internet and instead share things I’ve found that made my cooking life better, easier, or more delicious. :)
Think I’ll stick with the extra bowl as that’s how I’ve always done it. Thank you for clarifying my other questions too, much appreciated.
Huzzah to making cooking life easier/better/more streamlined! Love your practical genius tips, Deb! Here for NEW ways of doing things that equal yumminess faster (and more often). Thank you for taking the time to share this recipe and video for FREE!
Ha, I feel you on the cookie cutters and play-doh. That’s the status of 99% of my cutters right now, but the kids do play-doh way more often than I make cutout cookies, and those moments of harmonious play are priceless. My favorite recipe to use for cutouts is my mom’s shortbread. They’re easy, delicious, and really forgiving.
I just read your post about rolling dough between pieces of wax paper…..I’ve been baking cookies for 20+ years and never heard of/ thought to do this. Genius!!!! I used your trick for three different batches of roll out dough yesterday. My Kitchen Aid already has been taking care of the butter I never remember to bring to room temperature for many years. And I’ve always stayed far from decorated sugar cookies just because they so fussy. What a wonderful way to dodge that fussiness!
I made these today, substituting 1 tsp each baking soda and cream of tartar for the baking powder and almond extract for the vanilla. The turned out just like the photo. Easy, fast, delicious. Very little mess, no flour to contend with on the counters. Parchment and chilling the rolled dough is my new go to method for roll out cookies.
wonderful. But, my grand daughter will want to use cookie cutters anyway. Will this work with cookie cutters?
They should work just fine with cookie cutters. The SK recipe is similar to my own roll out cookie recipe. Chilling the rolled out dough ( on the parchment) makes it so much easier .
Of course. Any kind that you like.
Of course. Any kind that you like.
I can’t wait to make these! How long do you think you could leave the dough in the freezer?
Eons? Seriously, it can last and last. It’s how wrapped it is and how soon your freezer makes things taste “freezery.”
Why pasteurized eggs? And what are they? Sorry for dumb question but I’ve never seen that on baking. These look awesome
I made sugar cookies, the old.., old, old way yesterday. Baked half of the dough, never enjoyed the process. I cannot wait to try this recipe. I will make chocolate chip cookies any day of the week, they are quick, easy and delicious. Maybe these will be the same experience, like your style girl!
Mine came out perfectly! It was amazing and such a revelation after 45+ years of making sugar cookies and having such a huge mess!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!😀😀😀
Easy, tasty, pretty – what’s not to like. Made exactly as written with no issues whatsoever.
Finally, the unfussy sugar cookie I’ve been waiting for is here! Thank you, Deb. I’ve had the same issues with sugar cookie recipes (boring, taking too long with chilling times, etc). Yet I love seeing beautiful sugar cookies, and I have lots of lovely, unused cookie cutters languishing in my kitchen. I’m eager to try your recipe.
Amazing I love this – the work of making sugar cookies is what prevents me from doing it at all. I’d love to try this recipe but…question…why baking powder in a cookie recipe where you do not want the cookie to rise? I’ve noticed some sugar cookie recipes rise and blow out the shape of the cookie. Just curious because I came across another recipe where they left it out completely to keep the cookies hard edge.
You do want them to rise a little, or they’ll be like crackers. These have an airiness to them which is nice in sugar cookies, while holding their shapes once baked.
I am not sure what I did wrong but the dough was not very user friendly – first batch was so sandy i just could’t get it to form. Second try was a bit better but I definitely didn’t get 80 1.5 inch cookies. Love the idea and the look but I definitely need more practice at making these “unfussy”.
My dough was crumbly and sandy at first. I needed to break up all the dough with my fingers to get it to come together, then it rolled out cohesively.
You’ve transformed my cutout cookie experience from torture to fun! Thanks so much for the eye opening suggestions to getting it done without all the stages and mess.
I don’t have a food processor or stand mixer (I have a hand mixer but would prefer not to have the extra effort). Could I start mixing the dough in a Vitamix blender?? And if so what setting?
I have a Vitamix but I haven’t tested it in there. I suppose it could work but I’d need to test it. I’m not sure how smooth it will get a thick dough.
My mixer doesn’t do a great job of incorporating the hard butter stick so I started softening it by putting it in the microwave on “speed defrost” for 12 seconds. Works great.
Oh Mah Gawd Deb!
Here’s the backstory: I wanted to make mahjongg tile sugar cookies for our group, and just couldn’t face the thought of piping all the fiddly details of the characters on a flooded sugar cookie. Was talking to my daughter, who recommended fondant and food coloring markers for the designs. Smarter, not harder, right? I’m not a fan of fondant, but I liked the marker idea.
Then I thought “if only there were a recipe for rolled sugar cookies that I can just cut with a pizza wheel into mahjongg tile shapes.” And then I also thought, “man, it would be so easy if I just had a nice easy way to flood them with royal icing without having to pipe! Like dippable icing or something?”
Well, you get exactly where this is going. Of course, I went to the Smitten website to see if you had a good cookie recipe (aside from those insane sprinkle cookies with the cream cheese in them that I make ALL THE TIME.)
And VOILA! Bob’s my uncle! You had the exact thing I was looking for, dippable frosting and all.
Will be baking them next week, and I already picked up the food markers. So I will update this comment with photos of the finished beauties.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for basically reading my mind.
They are so beautiful! Thank you for this idea. These are perfect for an afternoon of Mah Jong and big pot of tea with my sister!
These are amazing! Thanks for sharing. My husband’s family is Chinese and his mom loves mahjong, so I can’t wait to surprise her with these
Just made the cookies and it was painless. I didn’t have the special cutter, but I’m so proud of my baking hack. I do have a square tart pan, so I used the fluted edge of the tart pan and simply cut out squares in just several chops. Thanks for the simple and elegant look of these cookies.
I have always struggled with sugar cookies. My daughter always asks to make them. This recipe made them so much easier. I did have to bake them for about 14-16 minutes to get them done, but my oven is slow.
Made the first batch this afternoon, while making my peanut butter blossoms, and (holy mother of God, whoever thought of the two pieces of parchment paper? They deserve a Nobel Peace prize! I can’t even count the times I’ve looked at the mess afterwards and bemoaned my loathsome cleanup task with loud emphasis.)these are super easy, taste great and even my pickiest eater liked these better than the ‘fancy’ recipe that includes maple syrup. The whole square/rectangle/diamond/etc idea tho? I’ll never use my drawer with at least a hundred cookie cutters ever again.
You’re 100% right- with the ease of these, I actually enjoy making cookies again!!
One thing I did cave to, is the traditional buttercream frosting, which serves a great purpose btw-the moisture in the frosting settles into the cookies and keeps them so soft! I did, however go to your method of a single color with piping of the same color & sprinkles/dusting sugar/etc of the same color.
You make me want to bake all night, well done!!
First, I your recipes! Thank you.
One question: I rolled out the dough and put in the freezer for probably 20 mins. I used cookie cutters and the dough kept getting caught in the cutter. And when I tried to push the dough shape out, the shape broke. Does this mean the dough was too frozen or not frozen enough? Thank you!
You can let the dough warm up a little if it was breaking. It might have been the cookie cutter, it might have just been the sheet of dough not being absolutely flat.
These were the easiest sugar cookies I have ever made. Thank you Deb. As always another great recipe 😊
If the cutter is too small or detailed, or the dough is too warm, the dough tends to stick. One trick I love to help with this is to put a little flour into a bowl, and stick problematic cookie cutters in before pressing out each cookie. The flour helps make sure the cookie comes out of the cutter easily.
Ohhh great tip!! I had to reroll a few bc they stuck to the cookie cutter but then I bought a fluted pastry wheel😍
No fuss????? I am not a detail-oriented person, so this didn’t suit me or the cleanliness of my kitchen well. Also, either I put on too much icing or the recipe didn’t give enough icing. And the end result was wayyyyyyyy to sweet for me. Sad. I guess I’m sticking to tray bakes and other things that don’t need consistency or prettiness…
Unfussy *for sugar cookies*, which are intrinsically kind of fussy…
I followed the recipe and these are perfect! I doubled everything and used a standing mixer because my food processor wouldn’t fit everything. The dough came together beautifully, and the baking powder gives the cookies the perfect satisfying yet delicate crunch. The cookies look like they are getting puffy while they bake, but they come out with nice sharp edges and no noticeable puff. I love the idea of not having to use cookie cutters to make fun sugar cookies that you can still decorate. We made half of the cookies with traditional cookie cutters, and the other half as triangles. Life changer to just cut shapes with Deb’s method. It goes so much faster! Thanks, Deb!
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Could I use GF cup-for-cup flour to make these?
Did you ever try them with GF flour? I’d like to give it a go if you were successful!
This recipe is right up my alley. I make about 20+ cookies for Christmas and I’m always looking for easy ways to decorate them etc. in fact I am looking for easier ways to do it all!
Love love the simplicity of this recipe. This is a keeper!
Thanks for all the tips….keep them coming.
F—ing brilliant! I hate making cut out cookies (the time, the mess, the less than lovely result) but this is so much easier. No more arguments over who gets a star and who gets the last reindeer. And with squares the little one won’t cry when the big brother bites off Santa’s head. Thanks Deb. Great post and just in time.
I’m almost mad about this post since it comes 5 days AFTER a sugar cookie incident that involved three little girls, four shades of pink icing, and five cookie-cutters leading to a sea of garish broken misshapen tress and stars.
(it was a sweet charming sticky mess and yes i’m still finding sprinkles on my kitchen floor)
But Next Year! This is the way to go.
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Great advice, especially the part about rolling out the dough then refrigerating!
These were fantastic – they came out perfectly and tasted delicious. One tip – when you’re doing the final blend in the food processor, you’re going to think that the dough is too dry and crumbly, it’ll never come together, and you’ll be tempted to add milk or an extra yolk. Resist the temptation. Keep blending. It will all come together in a large ball (or a couple of smaller-but-still-large balls). It will not be too tough. Trust.
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These were the FUSSIEST sugar cookies to make. As others have noted the dough is far too dry and was more a pile of crumbs than a dough. I kneaded and kneaded and kneaded and it still didn’t hold together. I tried freezing one rolled out crumb-block, still crumbly, and got a few cookies out of it but the edges were so crumbly I had to re-knead and re-roll so many times just to get a few cookies. Ultimately I ended up adding milk and it worked fine, but what a headache! I’d rather just use a traditional method and know what I’m getting in to rather than be told it’s ‘easy’ and spend twice as long on it. Sorry to say I think this recipe fail is enough to turn me off Smitten altogether.
I have no idea why I’m so defensive of Deb, but this comment seems a bit dramatic/harsh, especially given the success others have found with this recipe. I don’t know how many recipes you’ve tried, but I’ve found good success with the vast majority of her recipes, and she’s gotten me to try making things I never thought I would be able to. If you’ve tried making a lot of her recipes and just not had success, then so it goes, but if not, you might be happy to give some more of her recipes a try?
I agree… I’m not a great baker at all but I’ve never failed at one of deb’s recipes. She gives exactly the right tips to help you learn what you’re doing and why you’re doing it! And she only gives fussy details when its those details that make or break the recipe.
Dear Smitten Kitchen,
I would like to make your unfussy sugar cookies. BUT BUT BUT — I would like to try this in a GF version.
Thus, do you have any opinion on how viable it would be if I tried substituting 2 cups of my favorite all-purpose baking GF flour mix and 1 cup of almond meal flour, for the 3 cups flour called for in this recipe?
I see that someone else asked a similar comment this morning — keen for your input if you have any…
I made them today — I used 2 cups GF flour mix (containing xanthan gum) and 1 cup of almond meal, and I added an additional egg white. I otherwise followed the process as the recipe instructed. They came out beautifully !
I made these with Bob’s Red mill GF baking flour and they came out sooooo crumbly. I added an extra egg white based on your suggestion and it worked beautifully! Thank you!
Thank you Wendy for trying the GF version! I was scrolling through to see if anyone had asked already. Bingo!!
Making them tonight GF and regular and I will follow your tips :)
Wow Deb, not to pile on, but these are AMAZING! My husband is GF so I looked through the comments for anyone who had tried subbing in GF flours. Wendy–thank you for doing the testing. Needed to do two batches last night (one GF and one regular wheat flour) started at 7, all cookies baked and cooling by 8:15. I was rushed so they were not as tidy as they might be. The almond flour really masks the graininess I usually detect when I use the measure-for-measure flour. Better flavor, too! Mine spread a bit but, not chilled long and my eggs are home-grown, so I think closer to extra large. I am seriously thinking of using 1 cup almond flour in the regular flour batch next time as well. Will likely need to tweak moisture level a bit. Way to go both of you!
Incidentally, this was going to be the year where my wife decided not to make sugar cookies “because they’re too much fuss”.
So … this was the year where I made unfussy sugar cookies, and I may indeed be the one who makes sugar cookies for years to come.
Need some more practice with the frosting, but that didn’t hurt the taste one bit.
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Wow. Deb, you are amazing. My family has been baking Christmas sugar cookies for generations, using my great grandmother Oom’s recipe. This recipe tastes better and is so much easier. I will be using it instead from here on out. Oom’s recipe adds milk and chills overnight. I love that this one can be made day of and think it has better flavor. I had no issues with the dough coming together. This recipe also worked well for our traditions. I cut out the dough using cookie cutters, then my children painted the raw dough with colored egg wash (one egg yolk, a splash of water and food coloring) and sprinkled with colored sugar before baking. I LOVED that my kitchen wasn’t covered in flour. Thank you Deb!! P.S. I found it tricky to keep the parchment paper still as I rolled out the cookies. If you make it long enough, you can fold it down over the counter and anchor it with your hip while you roll.
Just saying: please keep your family recipe & share it with family members. Even if you’re currently loving Deb’s recipe. Those links to the past are priceless. Tradition!
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I just made these yesterday with the kids and they turned out amazing my kids said I’m the best baker because of this tutorial.
I wish this had popped up into my feed yesterday… when I rolled out, cookie cuttered, and iced with a butter knife dozens of sugar cookies.
Genius tips to save for next time! Thank you for sharing.
My dough was also too dry after mixing also. I weighed all the ingredients and followed the instructions. I added a whole egg to the mixture and it pulled together perfectly. I have been trying to find the perfect sugar cookie recipe that mimics the ones I remember from a bakery I went to growing up, this (with the extra egg) is finally it!
What do you suggest as an alternative for egg in this recipe ?
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Question: Did you use the dough blade on your food processor, or just the regular metal one? Finally decided to make room in our small kitchen for a full-sized food processor, and am still getting the hang of it. But also, so thrilled not to do this with a hand mixer! Buttery sugar everywhere!!
I made these last night and had to comment – they are delicious and SO easy to make! I’m a medical student with limited time but wanted to make cookies for a holiday party. It took me under an hour to make the dough, roll it out, pop it in the freezer and clean up (which was minimal considering no extra flour to roll and it all goes in a food processor). Then, after studying for a bit, I took the dough out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters – I had no problem getting the shapes out frozen (and it took me maybe 10 minutes to do both sheets). I didn’t re-roll the dough because of volume and time, but I definitely could have. Baking was a breeze! Before they went in the oven I let them soften a bit and then topped with sprinkles (I love icing but again, extremely limited on time) and they came out great. They tasted just like the cookies I remember making growing up but took a third of the time. Great with coffee this morning, too! Thanks for another great recipe, Deb!
I’m in Colorado and it’s very dry here so I thought I was going to have trouble getting the dough together in the food processor. I read the comments and Deb’s words “keep blending” and I did – for quite a while – and it worked fine. I had to knead a little but the cookies are great. The technique about rolling between parchment is game-changing.
These are perfect cookies and I will never make them another way! Another fave, Dorie Greenspan, recommends the same roll-out method in the beginning of her Cookies book, so obviously I trust the two of you. I added a little bit of extra salt when using Morton’s Kosher (vs. sea salt) and it worked well! Love the simplicity of this recipe in conjunction with their beautiful flavor. Thank you!
Omg, this recipe is a game changer!! I’ve always dreaded making royal icing decorated cookies and now they seem so simple. Thank you!!
Omg, this recipe is a game-changer! I’ve always dreaded making decorated holida cookies and this made it so simple! Thank you!!
You. are. a. GENIUS.
I made the unfussy sugar cookies today. To make them gluten-free, instead of 3 cups flour, I used 2 cups Bob’s one-to-one GF flour mix and 1 cup of almond meal. I also added an egg white. Other than that I followed the process as the recipe instructed. They came out beautifully !
Thanks, Deb – this method was a game-changer in making the punition cookies you featured a few years back and I appreciate the extra detail here. Q: do you think this method would work for doughs with extras in it (dried fruit, poppy seeds, chocolate shards) that are more traditionally sliced and baked v. rolled? I love how neat the shapes are here but not sure that how the roll/freeze/shape method would work for that style of cookie.
Could some of the flour be swapped with cocoa powder for a chocolate version?
These were delicious, thanks!
One tip re: royal icing. I used pasteurized egg whites for the first time, since I was cooking for children, and discovered that pasteurized egg white won’t whip into a froth unless you add a bit of cream of tartar! (thank you, internet).
thank you! you are my internet ;-)
I just made some and they were wonderful. I’ll be making them again for my party next week!
they look great
Made these the other day and wow!! So so easy! And I am so the gal leave butter out to long re-cooling then Taking out then repeating cause I ran out of time To bake! Do you have more cookie recipes made with processor like this? Can you just follow the same general direction for say a basic drop cookie? Or icebox slice cookie?
Your technique for rolling and chilling the dough is LIFE-CHANGING. Used it with storebought sugar cookie mix for even more “unfussy” sugar cookies.
Can I make the dough ahead and freeze it to roll out later? Or would you recommend freezing it in some other form, like a log? I’d like to make your square cookies, rather than slice it, though.
Had the same problem & came here for help. Blending more did indeed fix it. Deb knows all!
I followed this recipe exactly, since it was my first time through, and these cookies are fantastic! I decided to use star cookie cutters and with regular quick trips to the fridge, I had no problem getting them out or with rerolling. I didn’t keep them 2″ apart, and I didn’t see much spreading (none of them ended up touching), but YMMV. I’ll definitely be making these again!
I just finished making these, still need to ice, but my 15 year son came into the kitchen, “why are they all box shaped?” Ummm, because no one helps me make them and ice them, they are “unfussy” sugar cookies! Followed recipe exactly, dough came together beautifully! Unfortunately, I have zero patience with my cutter, so my “box” shapes aren’t exactly uniform! Doesn’t take away from the taste!
could I make the dough the day before and store in the fridge? Hosting a hanukkah party for many tiny 7 year olds who will design their own cookies… thanks!
Hi Deb! I’m planning on making many cookies to deliver this year given the circumstances…also making to donate to a local non-profit. Do you know if I can make this up to even a week ahead and cut and bake it all in one day? I’m making a bunch of different cookies and trying to space it out. I know with chocolate chip I can scoop and freeze. I’m also thinking of making your bakery-style butter cookies! Thank you in advance and for all your great recipes!
Yes, they’re very forgiving.
I made these using goat butter for my dairy allergy daughter and they were fabulous. Frosting was perfect and easy as were the cookies. Thank you for sharing the great recipe.
Hi! I would like to try the cookies with the icing, but i have never done royal icing before… i bought a package of pasteurized egg whites. Will that be safe for the icing and keep being safe if i store the cookies in a tin?
If I wanted to give these an almond flavor, would that be a 1:1 substitution for the vanilla? I swear my mom used to make our cookies with an almond flavoring!
Yes, I do that often with success. Plus it helps that almond extract is clear, so your frosting stays white.
This is exactly what I need in a sugar cookie. Thank you so much.
Like a few others here, the dough was too dry to come together for me even after kneading, some time in the fridge, and more kneading (so much for “unfussy”). I sprinkled a tablespoon of water on the dough and it came together beautifully.
In the end, these cookies are great and were a big hit with our crowd!
If the dough is on the dry side, it can be one of two things: Too heavy scoops of flour (the weight will be more accurate but if you’re using a measuring cup, always fluff really well and then scoop lightly, making sure not to pack as you level it) or the dough needing to blend longer (this is not a pie dough, we want the butter fully and completely blended into the dry stuff, and then some — if the flour is right, it will always cream as it warms up). Glad it’s working out, regardless.
These came out perfectly, exactly as written. I’ve never been so happy with sugar cookie cutouts.
Love this entire post. May actually do sugar cookies again! Thanks for all the links in one place, so much easier! Merry Christmas!
This is amazing! Can’t wait to try it. Can this recipe be cut in half?
I feel like a teenage girl who has been searching and searching, and who has finally found “The One”! After years of decorator cookie failures, roll out disasters, and tough, tasteless, floury puffy cookies when I wanted thin crispy ones, I am now officially in love with this recipe and technique. Cookies taste great with my addition of the zest of a lemon, and I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s artistic decorating session. Thank you, Deb!
I made these tonight will decorate tomorrow ( just got back from the first of two christmases).
Did not have time to chill them at all but to my delight they worked.
Crisp and buttery.
I cut then into Christmas tree shapes. A quick dip in royal icing then green sugar. Voila
I want to put sanding sugar on them without icing. Best way to get it to stick?
Here to report: even if your beloved food processor STOPS three turns into this recipe, you can and should carry on! You can turn the flour/butter mixture into a bowl—first using a pastry cutter, then your fingers, then a hand mixer to achieve the right wet-sand texture. Proceed and be delighted with the results.
Deb, this is one of your best recipes to date, and I’ve been cooking with you for about 8 years now. I trust your recipes, but I honestly underestimated how unfussy this would truly be. They truly are not the utter pain in the ass that most sugar cookies are. Additionally, I’d been thinking about getting rid of my food processor because I never use it. Well, I whipped it out for this recipe, and it earned its keep. No pulsing, changing speeds, any of that needed. Just zap all of the ingredients for about 30 seconds and boom, cookie dough. The fussiest part was freezing the rolled out dough because my freezer stays disorganized and full. We cut the cookies into snowflakes with a cookie cutter to make “Frozen” cookies. We also just cut squares with a pizza cutter. I used a dash of peppermint extract in the icing, which was perfect. In the past, when we’ve made decorated sugar cookies, half of them would end up trashed. Not this year.
I’ve been trying to make sugar cookies for years and failing so miserably every time. I can’t believe how easy these were to make! And they were a HUGE hit! I even took out cookie cutters for the 2nd half and all the cookies came out perfectly! Thank you SO much for this recipe :)
Thank you for these tips. The “tradition” in our house is I would make cutout sugar cookies grudgingly; a legacy of my mom’s reluctance and complaints when she made them. As luck would have it, cutouts are my husband’s favorite and the only cookie he’d ask for at the holidays.
Fast forward thirty years. My daughter told me about these hacks, I used them and my husband is thrilled to have his delicious cookies without the grumpiness. There were even sparkling and pearl sugar under the Christmas tree from him after he ate them!
A big thank you for the fine work you do to make cooking and baking delicious and part of everyday life.
Made these and LOVED them. Recipe worked perfectly for me. I weighed all the measurements. Used cookie cutters, a tree and a snowman. My kitchen is small, with little counter space for rolling etc and cleanup was easy. Dipped once and decorated with a blend of silver, black and white sprinkles, some silver dragees, and chunky sanding sugar. Cute and classy!
I NEVER make cookies. Too fussy. Christmas is over and I’m now taking time to catch up on my favorite blogs. After reading this, I might (MIGHT) consider making cookies next Christmas. No promises – I just turned 80 lol. Anyway, thanks. I do enjoy your blog and I’ve definitely enjoyed making some of your other offerings, like sweet and smoky oven spare ribs. I think that was the first of your recipes I tried and everyone loved them.
Made these with my kids. The Cusinart method was super no fuss and made it easy for the 3-year-old to help. I used the dip method to ice the cookies – also super easy – and then my kids decorated them with sprinkles and food colouring markers. The white designs are beautiful but the littles really wanted colour. This was a perfect, easy compromise that saved me a lot of work making different icings. This will be my good to recipe for sugar cookies. We still have half the batch rolled and waiting in the freezer for Valentine’s Day.
You have solved a long lasting problem for me. I have a truly minuscule amount of counter space. Rolled cookies just aren’t a possibility for me. (A pie crust is pushing it for me, just to give an idea of my space problem.) THESE are rolled cookies a can (and did!) make! The parchment paper and the fluted cutter let me make rolled and cut cookies. THANK YOU!!!
You are a genius. Seriously 😂🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻
I was a little disappointed… dough came out a bit on the dry side so harder to work with and cookies were fine (nothing special). I guess I just usually throw butter in the microwave for a few seconds and deal with a little over or a little under ‘soft’ and things turn out just fine, so I wasn’t overwhelmed by the cold butter method.
One of the most brilliant parts of this, for me, is that it doesn’t require a cookie to be handled a thousand times as all the millions of decorations are added. The older I get the more weird, squeamish tics I develop — and one is that I try not to think about how much cookies are touched before I eat them. I completely accept that it is normal for food to be touched and this is my problem, not a problem with other people’s cookies. This technique minimizes the amount of pawing cookies undergo and it’s perfecto for me!
I bake a lot, but sugar cookies are my nemesis. my daughter asked to make some this year and I said NO! but these directions might have me moving onto the other side. we might give this a go on our next day off from school.
These came out great! For the frosting, I pastuerized the egg whites at home by gently heating them to 160F on the stove with some sugar (more details here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1999-04-07-9904070042-story,amp.html)
Hey, Happy New Year and thanks for the great cookie recipe! They’re just as easy as promised and even more delicious than imagined. We make trays and trays of cookies over the holidays and these were among the favorites, not just for the utter ease of preparation but for their excellent taste and texture. I pressed coarse grained sugar into the tops of some, so as to skirt even the Royal Icing portion of this nearly effortless assembly, and I was not disappointed. Love your prose and your recipes, and now I’ve got another highly rated cookie to add to my (ever increasing) repertoire. Thank you!
I’ve never read a recipe that used the words — “parallelogram” or “tessellated” in it! I love that your recipes are so detailed and compare things like “stand mixer” vs. “food process”. Thank you so much!
I saw some small drakes online at globalsugarart.com. Would any of those sizes be similar to what you use? I see 3mm, 4mm, 6mm sizes for white ones. Some are called sugar pearls but look similar.
Oops. I meant dragee. My iPad keeps changing the spelling.
I would go with whatever is smallest. I’m not even sure mine are 3mm — they might be 1 to 2mm.
Made these today and they turned out perfectly! The dough did seem dry and crumbly at first but I found that it did come together with kneading, just as Deb said. The cookies are absolutely delicious! Thank you for another gem!
These are amazing! They taste great and look wonderful. I just kept pulsing the food processor until it looked like cookie dough, then took it out. Thanks!
this is a very nice recipe thanks for sharing
I think I did something wrong – my dough was really crumbly and I couldn’t get it put together properly. The cookies were absolutely delicious once I got over my tantrum, but I wonder if there’s a way to get the dough a little softer.
Starting with cold butter can make the dough seem more crumbly, but it warms up as you use it.
A++++ for the unfussiness! I just made these with my almost 4-year-old who is forever into cookie cutters, sprinkles & frosting but I’m always struggling to find a recipe that’s not, well, fussy. We halved the recipe as we’re in quarantine mode and not really sharing any home-baked goods. Have you ever considered making a “kid-friendly” tag for recipes, as in the recipe is somewhat simple enough that readers could *potentially* make it with their kids (depending on said kids’ attention span/enthusiasm for cooking with parents, of course)? SK is pretty much my go-to source for all recipes and I have a little one practically attached to my hip at all times. :-) So I find myself looking up recipes and sorting through for the most straightforward if I know I’ll be baking with her.
Help! I’m in the middle of making this with my 3-year-old (chaos!) and I accidentally followed the food processor directions with a hand mixer. The dough looks like sand :( Is there any way to salvage this? I hate wasting ingredients.
Where have you been all my life. I’m new to the site but thanks to a good friend Devon, have found you.
Absolutely loved this recipe and the flexibility you gave for no need to room temp the butter and ok to make in the food processor (first ever mixer is enroute from KitchenAid). For some reason our icing wasn’t as beautifully white as the picture. It was almost transparent. Guessing it had to do with the organic sugar we used? They were delicious though.
Just had a flash of inspiration looking at my tile floor – cut them into hexagons, pipe snowflakes on them.
I am going to try this recipe with all of the tips for this year’s holidays. I tried a another recipe last year and let’s just say that I struggled a lot! Fingers crossed that this will work!
Honestly, I was ashamed to admit I make my cookies with cold butter. Thank you! I also made your knackebrod and it’s wonderful, as are your shows, simple, creative and informative.
First part true, latter part – sorry, wrong tab, disregard. Talk about embarrassment.
Life changing tips for sugar cookies! Thank you for all the suggestions. I now actually enjoy making sugar cookies!
I have made these cookies several times at sea level. I’m now at 6000 ft I made a couple batches and they are not soft in the middle like they are at lower elevations. Any tips?
The last time I made these I iced and decorated most of them for an event, but I had some leftover dough, so I cut the extra dough into little star cookies and then tossed the star cookies in cinnamon sugar before baking them. I liked them even better than the iced cookies! (But I love cinnamon.)
Making these again tonight for another (socially-distanced) event (with individually-packaged cookies), and I’m definitely planning to make a little extra dough, so I can make more cinnamon stars for me!
These cookies are so good! Has anyone tried freezing the cookies either after shaped but before baking or after baked? And is one way better than the other?
Ok, probably a stupid question, but I’m so excited to make these as my teenagers still love decorating cookies at Christmas. After rolling out the dough and peeling off the top sheet of parchment, why does the side that touched the cookie dough go face down on the cookie sheet? Wouldn’t it be even less fussy if the “dirty” side of the parchment was facing up to keep the cookie sheet cleaner?
From somebody who has never, EVER made sugar cookies (they look so fussy!) – I made these today, and they were unbelievably easy. Due to my dinky 4-cup food processor, I made the recipe a half at a time, which also allowed me to do two flavors: 1) lemon, 2) chocolate!! I added the rind of a lemon to the basic recipe, and 2) subbed some cocoa for the flour, and added some chopped dark pound plus. Rolled it out between parchment and used the fridge to cool it. Astoundingly good!!!! Thank you!
I made these last night to bring to work today. Super easy and delicious. I added almond extract to the icing-so delicious!! I underbaked slightly because we like softer cookies. I’ll make these again and again!
Thoughts on browning the butter for this? Firming it back up in the fridge before using, of course.
I weighed my flour, which turned out about 1/8 cup shy of 3 cups. Maybe this would explain the dry, crumbly mix others experienced. Just a thought. Am making these for the third time; they make a gorgeous gift!
Perfect little cookie! Thank you!
I love your way of thinking (about cookie baking). This is similar to the way I cut my sugar cookies but your dough making is a new approach for me. It reads so liberating. I think I’ll start baking!
Earlier this weekend I found myself maxed out by 2020 and yelling at my cookie dough because it was sandy, not coming together and fitting the description of a handful of commenters who swore up and down that we had done everything right and it just wasn’t working. AND THEN my brain clicked back on and I realized that I had read the measurement for butter as 1 stick (8 tbs) and not 1 cup (8 oz) as written and my goodness I couldn’t believe it! So, I’m posting this in case anyone else is struggling at the moment and your dough is crumbly and not looking anything like a future cookie: make sure you used TWO STICKS of butter! I started over, followed other comments telling me to not be afraid and just keep blending and I’m telling you these cookies came together in mere minutes and were absolutely perfect! A rather long post but my results were so similar to the other failures here that I can’t believe I’m the only one. Thank you for this perfect, simple recipe!
i’ve always used AP flour for cookies. would they turn out better if i used a lower protein flour, like pastry flour or cake flour? or would they just be more like cake than a cookie?
I haven’t tested these with cake or pastry flour, so I’m not certain. With cake flour, I wouldn’t expect cakiness but more tenderness. Pastry flour has a finer grind and lower protein as well (but no starch), I’m sure it wouldn’t do it any harm.
I also have that mixer, and it’s disappointing. It just doesn’t mix very fast.
But your recipe is great!
Hello. I am planning on making these and was thinking maybe of adding a lemon glaze for a hit of flavor — I wanna add a bright flavor to my Hanukkah cookie boxes. (As for the rest of the box, line-up is your riff on Melissa Clarks’ fudgey bourbon balls, your espresso-chocolate shortbread, a Mexican wedding cookie, Maida Heatter’s chocolate cracks and Melissa Clark’s cherry rugelach.) Would you recommend a lemon glaze? If so, do you have a recipe for a lemon glaze for cookies? Or do you have a recipe for a glazed lemon sugar cookie instead? hehehe Thanks so much in advance!
You can add a lemon oil or extract to this glaze. You might also add a little lemon zest, but I might grind it up with the powdered sugar so there’s no stringy texture. My fudgy bourbon balls are an old recipe — not related to Clark’s. I love them. Happy baking!
I plan to make these cookies and would like your recommendation on shipping them from MN to CA. If shipped the day after making them, wrapped tightly so they do not shift in the box, do you think they would still be tasty and delicious?
Absolutely. These keep very well.
Have never worked with royal icing before – was always a bit afraid of it…until now! :) Am therefore wondering if I can make the full amount of icing in advance, and then save what I don’t use on the first go (wrapped/sealed well in the fridge?), or whether it will harden beyond usefulness in the meantime. Thanks!
Made these and they were a hit! The cooking time was shorter in my oven (pulled them out so they didn’t burn) but that could have just been mine. Thanks, Deb!
Oh my gosh, finding this recipe earlier this week and making it today was incredible! Two hours, or maybe even a little less, start to finish with minimal mess. We cut out stars using a cookie cutter, sprinkled with colored sanding sugar instead of icing with royal icing for the sake of time, and cookies I started making around noon were in boxes and on their way to UPS to be shipped to friends and family around the country by 3:00 PM. This is definitely a keeper! They looked great and tasted amazing, too. I had a lemon I needed to get rid of, so I added its zest to the dough and they baked with a lovely hint of lemon flavor.
omg these were so good. i made a tactical error when i first started but they came out fine. i’m between houses and didnt have my kitchen aid or ninja power boost kitchen machine so i used my black and decker food processer. it wasn’t big enough for the job so i finally just dumped the dough in a big bowl and mixed it with my hands. then followed the directions for rolling cutting and freezing and baking. they came out great!
haven’t made these yet and not sure how large a slab I’m rolling; any estimate on how many cookies like the ones you made I will get?
Thanks for your great recipes!
It will absolutely range by how big you cut them, but I got about 80 1.5-inch cookies, as shown.
I used the same Dorie ziplock bag rolling cookies method that you used in your espresso-chocolate shortbread recipe. Genius — especially so in a (very) small NYC apartment! This recipe used 2 ziplock bags. I weighed and divided into 2 equal portions, rolled out the batter in the bag, and then put both in the freezer to be cut and baked later. Easy-peasy! I’ll never go back!
We love these. And I love the simplicity since holiday baking can get crazy. Thank you.
Crazily, I made this with my 7yo daughter as stained glass bickies, cutting out with star cutters but removing the excess and leaving the stars on the paper, then cutting holes with an apple corer and filling with hard sweets which melt into windows. The flavour was lovely and although the dough was a little fiddly to work with, I will definitely make again!
Needed a new sugar cookie recipe and this popped up. So glad it did. What a time saver!
And they taste super good. I totally forgot the baking powder and panicked but it didn’t seem to matter.
It’s been decades since I attempted sugar cookies, because of unsuccessful attempts (including squished shapes because I couldn’t get them off the counter). I made these cookies today and they are wonderful. I am 70 years old and retired recently, which gives me the time and inclination to cook. Your recipes and instructions are helping me to learn to cook new things. Thanks!
I made these last week. They are wonderful. Advantages: the food processor makes things very simple. The parchment eliminates a lot of the mess, and makes rolling and cutting a breeze. Freezing the rolled dough makes cutting shapes a cinch. I am making more today. I may ice this batch, but honestly, these are perfect as is.
Just made these with my 8-year-old for the first time. They were so great, unfussy to make as promised and taste great. (I always forget how good sugar cookies are until they are sitting around and I can’t stop eating them.) We cut festive shapes and I re-rolled the dough probably four times by the end and it held up great and the texture remained good, as you said, because there was no flour needed. I did end up making one batch on airbake sheets instead of normal cookie sheets, but I wouldn’t recommend that, the bottom doesn’t brown up quite as much, which as Deb mentioned is where a lot of the flavor comes in. Thanks for another amazing recipe!
I made these exactly as written with a kitchen aid mixer. These cookies are quick, easy, unfussy, lovely and delicious with a beautiful texture. I cut them with a fluted pastry cutter which couldn’t be more simple and because flour is not used to roll them out, the re-rolling and cutting was quick and easy and made perfect cookies. A wonderful recipe. I am happy to add it to my collection.
Lovely! So easy and excellent. I used peppermint extract in the cookies and the frosting.
I made these the other day and they were great. It was my first time ever using royal icing, so I‘m not sure I got it entirely right. I whisked the egg white until really stiff, as with Meringue. Was that correct? Mixture was great for decorating but diluted for glazing it didn‘t dry very well and stayed sticky.
No, no need to whip it. You need to whisk it until it’s loose, is all.
I made these the other week, they are the best I’ve made in a while, the whole family loves them!
I know they’re called *unfussy* sugar cookies, but if you’re looking for that extra kick, put the zest of one lemon in, it really compliments the vanilla!
Big Ooops, any suggestions? I started making this, thinking that 1 stick of butter was 8oz. The one I use is only 4oz. I realized my mistake after adding the flour and the result looks like granulated sugar. Do I really need to toss the dough and start over? Any recommendation for “rescuing” the dough? Would you try melting the other stick of butter and mixing it in? Or just add it softened in small chunks and try to minimize mixing? Try Crisco or something like that? Or add in something else instead like applesauce for moisture?
If you used 4 ounces butter instead of 8, just grind more butter into the dough in the FP. If you used too much butter, just add another batch of the other ingredients.
These did not work for me. I even made them twice to be sure, weighed my flour, followed the instructions and read all the comments. The egg never fully incorporated into the dough, although it was mixed plenty long enough, and I had to knead the dough to have it come together. My cuisinart food processor just couldn’t mix one egg into all the ingredients thoroughly. There were small streaks of egg in the dough and some dry portions that obviously didn’t get enough liquid. It also tasted of baking powder, and checking my many other sugar cookie recipes, is almost double what they all call for. I gave it a good try, but this recipe was a strong fail.
These cookies taste delicious and they are pretty “unfussy,” all things considered! But we found that the recipe produced only about 40, not 80, 1.5-inch square cookies, using every scrap of dough, with the cookies about 0.25″ thick. And even by doubling the icing recipe, we didn’t have enough icing to cover all of them (it basically makes 1.25 cups of icing, since there’s only a tablespoon of egg white mixed in to the 1.25 cups of sugar–not enough for even 40 cookies, in my experience). Also, the piping just melted into the glaze: it didn’t stay nice and puffy like in the photos. But they are still tasty and pretty!
The cookie shortcuts are great on this! I did seriously regret not using a piping bag. The ziplock was a disaster – spilling out the top onto my hands even though it was sealed, and globbing up at the beginning of every line before the flow would start. I think a piping bag would have been less fussy (and result in less ugly cookies) for me!
This was my first time making sugar cookies and they turned out great! I love that I can make them with kids and end up with very little mess to clean up.
The dough came out very dry and crumbly for me. I added a little water to get it to bind together. The cookies came out kind of hard.
I do not get the bit about “Skim the top of each cookie in the frosting”. How would you? You just hold it with your fingers and dip them, that’d be rather messy and quite some icing on the underside, no? Do explain, please.
Help! I don’t know where I went wrong -I have checked it once and checked it twice but my dough looks and has the consistency of sand.I have tried to knead it but it just won’t come together more than crumbs. Is there a way to save it of should I just chuck it and start over.
Did you use a FP or mix it in a stand mixer? If FP, just keep running the machine. The machine warms the butter up so the dough sticks better. If it truly doesn’t come together, there might be too much flour. If so, you can add more butter, 1t at a time, blending it very very well, until it holds.
I was hesitant to try this recipe after reading the comments. BUT..it was a huge success! I tried and I followed Deb’s measurement to the T. I understand about the dough being sandy in the beginning and looking dry, but like Deb said.. keep mixing (or pulsing) and eventually the dough will come together. I used food processor and had to knead for 30 seconds to mix everything together. So if you are hesitant like me, I say..trust the process and also trust Deb.
Thanks Smitten Kitchen! <3
Made these with three kids around, v simple and minimal mess thanks to rolling method. They were tasty enough to leave half un-iced and eat plain (might have contained extra vanilla as used vanilla bean paste). Instructions to look for done-ness by colour of cookies v useful as we have an unreliable gas oven. Keeping half the dough in the freezer for another time, handy to have an activity half ready. Thanks Deb for helping make our Christmas Eve festive!
Can you shape the cookies before you freeze?
First time this Jew has made Xmas cookies. They were so easy and turned out perfect. To be honest, I don’t really like sugar cookies very much but my partner really wanted them this year as his mom usually makes it and we are stuck by ourselves in Covid times. BUTTTT they were so good. I can’t stop eating them for breakfast. I added extra salt even though I used salted butter bc I love salty sweets and used about 10-15% less sugar. really awesome. topped with cardamom/orange zest frosting.
Fantastic recipe, Deb!! Thanks so much for simplifying the sugar cookie making process – you’re a genius!
I only have a 7 cup FP – wondering if this recipe would fit or would it overflow? Has anyone made it in a smaller FP? Thanks!
Thank you for the baking instructions re the dough between two sheets of parchment. You helped me get the best results ever since making cut out cookies.
So I’m thinking about making these for Valentine’s Day, with lemon zest in the cookies (and maybe almond extract because I’m feeling it) and blood orange glaze inspired by ZoeBakes. I love the ruffle Ed edges… with heart shaped icing, they might look like a stamp! We plan to stack them in clean peanut butter jars and deliver to neighbors.
I’ve been using your cookie rolling method for some time, but I often use a cereal bag or 2 in place of parchment.
Our dough looks really weird and flaky. We are.trying putting a little more egg in. But thank you Deb!
These are wonderful! I’ve made them for the last two Christmas seasons and now I make them for every holiday. They are always a hit and disappear quickly at family gatherings. The only thing I do differently is add a touch of almond flavoring to the icing and dough.
Hi Deb! I just found your blog today and was reading your unfussy sugar cookie recipe and come to find out I’ve been using this recipe (less the cold butter technique) for more than 30 yrs to make christmas cookies. I read your comment about not finding dragees small enough so thought I would share that I get mine from Fancy Flours and I have 2mm gold dragees that I use all the time to decorate the center of my poinsettia flower cut-out cookies. Hoping this will help you find your small dragees. 😀
This is going to be a life saver! My kiddo is obsessed with baking and this is going to be so much quicker.
I’m not a Tik-tokker or you-tuber so I can’t comment on the video. But these still are requested for Christmas (this will be year 3). Thanks for this!!
I was on the prowl for an easy sugar cookie recipe to use with my new embossed rolling pin. I love how easy this recipe looks and great tip on rolling between sheets of parchment! Deb, do you think this dough would be too soft for such a tool? I’d probably roll it out a little thicker than you did in your video and then roll it once with the embossed roller. Would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance!
Made this this morning, thought the dough wouldn’t come together in the food processor but gave it an extra minute and worked like a charm. Easiest cut of cookies ever!
I have divided the dough onto parchment, and tried to knead but I can’t get them to stay together. They just crumble — not sure what I’m doing wrong? It just doesn’t seem like there is enough liquid in it or something.
Has anyone tried this recipe with a gluten-free flour? Like Cup-4-Cup?
I just tried this recipe with Cup-4-Cup GF flour and it worked brilliantly!!
No issues with it coming together in the food processor at all. Cookies are delicious and very much like a sugar cookie. No one will know it’s GF!
Thanks for this easy Christmas cookie!
Total. Game. Changer. Made these today and they came out pretty good for the first time. So quick, pretty, tasty and easy to do. Thank you!!
These are similar to cutout cookies my grandmother made called, AP cookies. There is a chocolate version too, but I’d like a stronger chocolate flavor than they produce. Can these be made as chocolate cutouts, and if so, what chocolate/cocoa would you suggest to add? Thanks Deb!
What is the best way to a) print your recipes and b) save the ones I like? This website doesn’t seem to give me ways to organize/store/print all these treasures.
I use Copy Me That – It’s pretty good at finding the essentials for the recipe and leaves a link so I can come back to read the surrounding chat if I want. It also has an “add” button that goes in your browser toolbar, Might be others, but I like it. Also good to use from my phone at the grocery store.
do you think i could add cardamom to these, if so, how much? maybe a tsp?
does adding spice make it not a sugar cookie anymore? i
Okay, I already had a sugar cookie recipe that I really like, but I tried these anyway. I love them. I love mine also. But I love these too. It won’t replace mine, it’s not better, but it’s different. And really good. I found the dough to be a bit more crumbly and harder to smoosh together in the beginning. But maybe my large eggs weren’t very large. I think I was also concerned about handling it too much, so I could have handled it a bit more. That said, by the end (re-rolling the small bits), it wasn’t crumbly at all. But I like how firm and substantial these cookies are. My son said, Ooh, these are really good! But the BEST thing is rolling out with the rulers. I couldn’t find these rulers or the silicone ones unless I ordered them online and waited 2 weeks, oh and paid $35 (um…no). So I bought 2 identical wooden rulers for $2 each at Micheal’s. Game changer. Dead easy. I put them completely under both sheets of parchment paper so they wouldn’t get mucky. And I found it much easier if you roll them out in small portions, particularly since my rulers are only 12″ long. I love it. As you said, I have no qualms about rolling out cookie dough now. Now I just need to get something with a lower profile for pie dough! I’m making mini mince pies for an event in a couple of days and I’m not even worried. Thanks, as always, for the recipes and the tips!
Game-changing techniques! I made a batch and enjoyed the process so much that I immediately made a second batch.
Unbelievably fast for cut-out sugar cookies. My food processor seemed a bit small but it worked the dough fine, even though it was almost full to the top. I did use a serving spoon to move the dough by the blade to the top and the lighter dusty flour dough to the bottom and continued to mix it. It just needed a couple of squishes after turning it on the parchment paper for it to be a big ball. Tastes great too. Thanks for a terrific recipe and the very helpful video on your channel!
My daughter is dairy allergic…so no butter. What would you suggest as a substitute and proportions?
You could use crisco or a vegan butter — same amount.
Does the egg white in the frosting play an important role? Would it work (almost) as well with just powdered sugar and milk or another liquid? Thank you!
I tried both ways today. Using just water and powdered sugar makes it softer–it doesn’t set as quicklyl. It tastes just fine however! If you don’t want to use the egg white for any reason, don’t worry about substituting a bit of milk or water instead.
I just made this dough twice — first time with vegan butter, second time with dairy butter — but the dough was way too crumbly (even tried with less flour) and the cookies ended up really dry. And advice??
How would this taste if a corner of the cookie was dipped in either white chocolate or chocolate? Would it be too sweet? I’m trying to figure out how to add Hannukah sprinkles to it
I made these cookies last year and they were easy and delicious. This year, I am considering something decidedly more fussy, linzer cookies! can i use this cookie recipe?
Wow, are these good! I zested a lemon and rubbed it into the sugar before making this in my processor. The cookies are very balanced taste wise-not too sweet, not too buttery. Just perfect! I’m using cookie cutters with it and recommend rolling the dough very thin.
What did I do wrong?
I made the recipe exactly following the food processor method. After adding the egg and vanilla my mixture was still fat too dry to come together as a dough. I turned it out into a bowl to make sure the wetter part wasn’t stuck at the bottom of the food processor, mixed a bit by hand, and then put back into the food processor. I thought maybe my large egg was smaller than yours, so I added 1 tbsp of water… still didn’t come together. Scraped down and added another tbsp of water. Still dry and crumbly! Finally I thought F it, I’ll split my egg for the total icing and add a second yolk to the dough. Finally it started to resemble a cookie dough, but I had to knead it together loads still to come together and be rollable. It was such a firm dough that I didn’t need to chill at all to make crisp shapes and they baked beautifully and taste nice, but I’ve never had to alter a recipe of yours before and I’m not sure why I had to. I weigh all ingredients, so unless my scale is off I definitely didn’t use too much flour.
You want to keep running the machine until it clumps or balls together. It can take 30 to 60 seconds longer, and need to be scraped down, but so long as the flour wasn’t over-measured, it will happen.
Deb ~ I have to give you a mighty big thank-you for explaining (more than once!) the need to run the FP until the dough starts to come together. I didn’t do this and the dough is now in the fridge; I didn’t panic just thought chilling would help pull the ingredients together. If I needed I will return it to the FP for extra time. Fingers crossed it comes together! I loved making these beautiful, easy & delicious cookies last year and look forward to sharing them again with friends. xo!
I see that many have had trouble with the dough coming together, but for me this was a very forgiving process. I misread the recipe and only added half the butter. After the egg and vanilla went it, and it wasn’t coming together, I realized my mistake and added the rest of the butter. To my surprise it came together!! The texture of the finished cookie is a little off, but no big deal as my current sugar cookie goal is quantity for decorating, not tastiness for consumption. And let’s be clear, my kids don’t really care about a slightly off texture when eating cookies they helped with anyway. I did find it difficult to use a multi-shape cutter on the frozen dough and stuck to my individual shapes.
I made these today having made 2 batches of cookies yesterday using other recipes. Yesterday’s cookies were good but these were perfect. Came together beautifully following your instructions, they were a dream to roll out and decorate. Best Christmas cookies I’ve ever made, thank you Deb
Made christmas cutout cookies with this recipe today. It was SO easy & the mess that usually accompanies christmas cutout cookies was non-existent! These will be my go-to from now on. I did use 1.5 TBS vanilla extract, might even bump it to 2 TBS next time. These were SO easy to cut out too since the dough was frozen. My 3-year-old was easily able to cut the shape out & transfer it to the cookie sheet by herself. Thank you so much for sharing!
Made these again this year and once again, they’re just the best sugar cookie recipe going. Simple to prepare and utterly delicious. Thank you AGAIN!
These cookies turned out really well, thanks for posting this recipe! I followed your recipe exactly except I used 1/2 unsalted vegan butter and half unsalted real butter. I was wondering how I could best add a little bit of moisture to the dough- another half egg? Less flour? They tasted great but some of my shapes fell apart.
These are great! I tend not to care for sugar cookies but wanted some for my holiday cookie plates and I really liked these. The only modification I made was I added vanilla bean caviar from 1/2 of a vanilla bean. I didn’t even decorate them because we thought they were tasty on their own. I used a smaller sized (maybe 1 1/2 inch) snowflake cookie cutter.
These will be a go to cookie in years to come and I already am planning on making them for my kiddos birthday in a few months.
What if I only have kosher salt in the house?
Made these as written with my toddler and was very happy with how easy it was. I was wondering if this general approach work for gingerbread cookies?
These were wonderful. I think the trick to avoiding crumbly dough is to run the food processor for much longer than you might expect to. Thirty years ago, I made “fussy” Christmas sugar cookies with my son. This year, he and I made these “unfussy” ones with his two-year-old daughter. The decrease in mess and fuss made the experience even more fun! Thank you.
Made these with my daughter, using the food processor. Worked exactly as described for me. Divided the dough into 4, left 3 batches well wrapped in the freezer; she chose the Christmas cookie cutters and we got 15 Christmas-shaped cookies out of the fourth batch. I wasn’t sure how to divide the suggested icing by 4 as it only has one egg white in it, so I used a simple icing sugar/milk/vanilla glaze to dip the biscuits in and my assistant was surprisingly restrained with the unicorn sprinkles. No problems with the dough coming together, no problems cutting out, the biscuits held their shape very well in the oven and they taste great.
I just made these using a plant-based butter spread for a dairy-free family member. The method still worked beautifully with the softer “butter” and a somewhat fussy cookie cutter shape!
Genius! This recipe is amazing! I’m only mad that I’ve been making sugar cookies for years – flour everywhere, cutters sticking, dough sticking, etc. These taste great, look great with the royal icing hack. I will now start up a new cookie tradition!
Thanks for all of your amazing recipes…. Made your banana bread yesterday too.
Just a side note for another easy way to decorate but for spring/summer: take candied violet petals, buzz up quickly in the processor. Add lemon to the icing and lemon zest to the cookies, then sprinkle the candied violet on top. I made countless of these professionally, especially around Easter. You can candy any edible flour so your cookies look like a bouquet. ❤️🌻
I’ve made these twice now and both time the dough has been SUPER crumbly. Nearly impossible to roll out and keep together without just dissolving into sand, no matter how much we knead it together. Could I add a bit of water or milk, do you think? A second egg?
Deb, what if I’d drop these instead of rolling them out? Any suggestions about that. I have a really small scoop….
Delicious. Best sugar cookies I have ever made. Almost like a shortbread consistency! The dough rolled out nicely. I had store bought icing to make things even easier!
I’ve made these multiple times and they always come out perfectly! So simple and so good! After reading the other comments, I feel it’s important to note that every time I make them, I weigh my ingredients according to Deb’s grams as written. Easy, reliable, and less dishes, too – no measuring cups to wash!
Can this be scooped and baked (like drop cookies)? I’ve been freezing dough balls. Would this dough hold up to that?
SmittenKitchenDeb, I have the same question at Deb above. Standing to roll out dough is an issue at our house.
Question. Could you use colored sugar on these prior to baking?
I’m going to definitely try this method.
Now what would happen if I used the pastry cutter but left them in place after I cut them? Would they just meld back together?
Pretty sure they’d rise a bit and meld together
Dumb question- if using meringue powder instead of an egg white for the icing, what liquid is used?
Rolling dough between layers of parchment (or waxed paper or plastic wrap) is an excellent technique for making pie crust. So much easier.
Love these cookies and have made them a few times! Reporting back now for anyone in my position who’s trying to make cookies for a gluten-free loved one. It’s hard to find Bob’s Red Mill and 1-to-1 gluten-free flour substitutes in my country, so I always struggle to get the flour and texture right when I have to bake something without gluten.
I made these last night with whole grain rice flour (brown rice flour) and added 1.5 tsp of guar gum to replace the gluten effect, and they worked really well!
So far I haven’t rolled any of them flat & decorated with glaze, but I baked them in little balls (my usual sugar cookie preference) and they held their ball shape just like regular gluten sugar cookies would. They’re a little drier/cakier texture-wise but only barely—I would maybe try xanthan gum next time instead of guar gum, since from what I’m reading now it seems like xanthan gum preserves moisture a little better. That said, overall I’d consider them a big success and I’m really excited to have a great gluten-free cookie recipe now!
Wondering if I could make these with gluten free one for one flour? Any modifications? I miss sugar cookies the most after being diagnosed with celiac .
I literally just made a gluten free version last night! Didn’t have 1-for-1 but I used brown rice flour in the same amount as the recipe + 1.5 tsp guar gum and they turned out great. Slightly drier/cakier texture than the OG gluten version but only very slightly, would 100% make again!
If your 1-for-1 has some kind of binding element included already (guar gum, agar agar, xanthan etc) then you shouldn’t need to add in anything else—I added it in for mine because I needed something to avoid the weird crumbly texture you get when you don’t use a good 1-for-1 :)
First of all, I’m totally making these for my dad’s Christmas party, and also, you look amazing.
I tried this for the first time yesterday. The cookies are delicious especially with browned edges. However, I love using the food processor to make the dough. I also love rolling out the dough and then chilling it. Sooooo much easier. I did use cookie cutters as my kids were begging to frost and decorate. We will make these again as this first batch is almost gone. Another winner from Smitten Kitchen.
I long time ago I read a tip about rolling sugar cookie dough out with powdered sugar instead of flour so the dough doesn’t bulk up or dry out too much (I think it might have been a Martha Stewart article?) so that’s how I do it now and it gives them a beautiful glaze so you don’t even have to frost them if you can’t be bothered! And I love the idea of not having to soften the butter. Can’t wait to try this out!
I made these cookies and they are wonderful! I tried your cold butter idea on soft Ginger cookies for cutout and it worked beautifully. Instead of waiting 4 hours to cool in the refrigerator I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Great idea! Thanks for sharing!
Deb, you are an absolute gem, this recipe is wonderful and so so easy! Food processor technique for the win, this was so speedy from thinking “hmm I could really go some sugar cookies to go with my afternoon coffee” to putting them in the oven. And I love the cutter technique- actual genius. One of my new favourites! xx
This is my go to sugar cookie recipe and now thinking of using it to make Christmas houses instead of gingerbread. Has anyone done that? Any adjustments to make sure the cookies are strong enough?
help deb! holiday season is here – please fix the amazon links! I’d love to get those rulers
I love your recipes and they’re usually winners. This one wasn’t up to your normal standards, Deb. How does one roll out dough between sheets of parchment without it sliding all over the place? I haven’t figured out how to do this yet.
I also had horrible problems with the dough sticking in the cookie cutters (just normal straight cutters, no details at all!) and with re-rolling the dough after cutting. Maybe I needed to freeze every few minutes but that would have been super impractical. I would definitely add a caveat at the top that it doesn’t work with cookie cutters. I used the ingredient weights and a stand mixer. Had no problems getting the dough to come together like others did.
Hey Lynn – this was my first time rolling dough out between baking paper, I’m not sure if it might help you but I did one looonnnng single sheet of paper, folded in half, rather than two separate sheets? less sliding that way :)
Made these earlier exactly as written. They came together quicker than almost any other homemade cookie I’ve made with only the mess of the food processor bowl. A couple things to note: I weighed my ingredients, which I think is really important here to ensure that the dough comes together as described. It was still a little crumbly in the bowl but I poured it onto the parchment and brought it all together with a couple quick kneads and some molding with the paper. I did use a cookie cutter for a more uniform look, and it cut very easily and held its shape well (a scalloped circle, nothing too fussy or intricate for unfussy cookies). I really dislike the flavor of sugar cookies, but these were tolerable. Not too sweet, had a nice crumbly texture. My ingredients were super cheap, so maybe with higher quality butter and flour the taste would be improved. When all you wanna do is decorate some cookies fast, this is a great recipe.
I don’t often comment, but these were a *game changer* for my cookie box this year. The rollout cookies are always my least favorite for the reasons you outline, but Deb: you’ve turned the softening, the chilling, the FLOUR HANDPRINTS all over my kitchen into merely the ghosts of sugar cookies past! It helped to watch the video for little tips (like loosening the parchment after the brief chilling). My holidays just got a lot happier.
my advice for the next time i make these (or any rollouts) is to put a silicone mat down on the bottom, and use the parchment just on top of the dough. the silicone mat doesn’t slide around making me want to scream like parchment does. wheeee! glad we figured it out after the first roll. cookies are delicious and i love the freezer technique for making the dough so much easier to work with after rolling — no more sticky cutouts!
Hey! Mine aren’t keeping their shape and are quite cakie? What am I doing wrong? They’re delicious, but cos they’ve spread, they’ve lost their shape 😣
I made these last year with cookie cutters and they turned out great. One issue I had though was when I boxed some up to take to a dinner they ended up sticking together and messing up the icing. I let them completely set (it was the next day) before putting them in the box and the ride wasn’t that long. Wondering if I did something wrong with the icing?
I had the same problem. Way too sandy and it would have never come together. I put in one more egg yolk and a few splashes of milk and then it was ok. I weighed all ingredients. Strange! But it worked out in the end.
I made these cookies today and for the first time in my 10+ years of making SK recipes religiously, it didn’t work for me. As many others have stated, the dough did not come together like it should have. It was totally loose and not clumping no matter how much kneading I did. Someone else in the comments mentioned that the size/height of their food processor vs Deb’s might be the issue and they are correct. I have an 8 cup cuisinart and Deb used an 11 cup to make the recipe. I weighed all of my ingredients and when I put it in the work bowl it looked like too much, and I was right. Nothing was able to distribute well because my machine is too small for this recipe. After a lot of kneading, freezing, and more kneading, I ended up throwing in another egg and pulsing some more, then transferring to a mixing bowl to knead again. After all of this the dough finally came together for me. The cookies turned out beautifully and I’m so happy with them! If the dough isn’t coming together for you, your food processor is probably on the smaller end. Don’t panic and add another egg!
Can the dough be frozen ahead of time, thawed, and then cut into cookie cutter shapes?
Wow! These are my holy grail of holiday sugar cookies. I’ve tried so many recipes over the years looking for a recipe that isn’t terrible to roll out and cut *and* tastes good. This is the recipe! I added a bit of cardamom and orange zest to a batch, which was delicious, but they were fine without, too. Thank you for this!
These cookies are fantastic! Buttery, firm, but soft enough that it doesn’t crumble/shatter when you bite into it. I used room temp butter as I actually had it for once (and it ironically would have been more effort to get it to fridge temp again). I also halved the recipe (weighing everything) but used a whole egg. Using a stand mixer, I found the dough came together very easily (probably due to the warmer butter and extra egg), and my cut-out shapes spread a tiny bit in the oven. Still stayed in shape well enough that the bunnies and chicks were easily recognizable by a toddler. :)
The parchment trick worked a treat and the whole process was so easy that I foresee lots of holiday sugar cookies in my future! Thanks Deb!