Making beautifully decorated, delicious Holiday Sugar Cookies is easier than you think. All you need to start is a foolproof rolled sugar cookie recipe, a few helpful tools, and a step-by-step tutorial. The sugar cookie dough that appears below is easy to work with and produces a delicious, tender-crisp cookie that provides a perfect palette for flood icing and decorating. I add a combination of almond and vanilla extract to the mix for a lovely aroma.
I have outlined all of the details and provided pictures to clarify both the cookie baking and decorating process. When making the cookies, the main thing to remember is to keep your rolling surface and rolling pin well floured. The dough is quite sticky, and even after a prolonged chilling process it can be somewhat difficult to roll out. Keeping your surfaces floured will help you avoid trouble.
Once you’ve baked a batch, head over to my other blogs to learn how to make colorful icing and add beautiful details to your sugar cookies:
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- Slice the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces and put them in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the sugar.
- Cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes till the sugar is fully incorporated and mixture is fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, almond extract and vanilla extract with an electric mixer till creamy.
- Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt with a wooden spoon or spatula till a sugary dough forms. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Flour a rolling surface generously. Place a quarter of the cookie dough in the flour, then flip it and coat the opposite side with flour.
- Re-flour the surface below the dough and begin rolling it out with a lightly floured rolling pin. You want to roll the dough ¼ inch to ½ inch thick. ¼ inch will produce thinner, crisper cookies and more cookies; ½ inch will produce fewer cookies with a softer texture.
- Flip the dough once halfway through rolling, and keep the surface floured as you roll. The dough is quite sticky; keeping the surface and rolling pin floured will produce smoother results.
- When dough is at the desired thickness, use cookie cutters to cut shapes in the dough. In this tutorial I used Star of David and dreidel cookie cutters for Hanukkah (links in the blog above), but any shape—even plain, circular—can be used.
- Pull the excess dough trimmings from the cookies and reserve.
- Lift the cookies from the rolling surface and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet, spaced 1 inch apart.
- If any of the cookies stick to the rolling surface, use a pastry scraper to gently loosen the cookie and lift it.
- Re-roll out trimmings to make new cookies. When trimmings are small, add them to the next quarter of dough.
- Bake the cookies in batches for 6-8 minutes per batch till they just start to turn golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Continue rolling out the cookies and baking in batches, a quarter of the dough at a time plus trimmings, till all of the dough is used. The amount of cookies will vary based on how large your cookie cutters are, and how thin you choose to roll out the dough.
- Make sure the cookies cool completely before icing.