Buttery Sugar Cookies

I rarely make sugar cookies as they take time, patience and a large workspace, but my cookie cutters were calling out to me.  While it took a whole afternoon to make these, the results were rewarding and the cookies were delicious with a cup of coffee or tea!  I think we ate more than we decorated!  While we prefer ours plain, they do look cute all dressed up.

Royal icing is the most common choice for cookie decorating, but I didn’t have meringue powder in my pantry.  I chose a simple icing recipe that is very forgiving.  With all icings, if it’s too thin you can add more icing sugar, too thick … add a little more milk or water.  Just remember to add a little at a time.  The icing will dry out quickly, but give it a quick stir and it comes back to life!

Warning: Do not decorate these cookies when you’ve had too much caffeine!  You really need strong and steady hands. After 10 minutes, I gave up and handed (no pun intended) the delightful job over to H!

Another little tip:  Do not use small cookie cutters.  Not only do the cookies burn faster, but they are a “P-I-T-A” to decorate!  Use large cookie cutters and it will be easier, unless you’re very crafty (like H).

Happy baking :)

Sugar Cookies

Makes approximately 36 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters
Adapated from Joy of Baking


  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes)
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough
  5. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  7. Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter)
  8. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to baking sheet
  9. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking. Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sparkling sugar
  10. Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown
  11. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling
  12. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours or overnight)

Kitchen Notes

  • Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. They also freeze well
  • I reduced the sugar slightly by 3 tbsp

Simple Icing for Sugar Cookies


  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp (or more) milk
  • 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp extract (almond if using just vanilla extract in your cookie dough, or match the extracts used above)
  • Food coloring (gel/paste) preferred
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the icing sugar and milk until smooth with a small wire whisk
  2. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy (If icing is too thick, add more milk, one teaspoon at a time)
  3. Stir in food coloring to desired intensity
  4. Paint, spread, or dip cookies with icing, and allow to set completely



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