Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Iced Sugar Cookies

This is the essential Christmas cookie. Simple buttery sugar cookies decorated with colorful icing, and just perfect for those festive cookie cutters that you have waiting patiently in the drawer 364 days out of the year.
I am not really one of those people who gets excited about things like Christmas cookies year after year. I mean, of course I want to eat them. But as far as making them, and cutting out cookie upon cookie into reindeers and trees and santas... well, it took having a kid to really see the fun in that. And now I have that kid, all aglow with the magic of Christmas. Thank goodness. It is wonderful to be able to channel her excitement.
 For this kind of classic recipe, I find myself turning to my ol' trustworthy Joy of Cooking. I just want something tried and true, that people turn to year after year. And here it is: the steadfast holiday sugar cookie.

 Iced Sugar Cookies

  • 3 1/4 all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (20 tbs) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tb milk
  • 1 tb vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until well blended. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and zest and beat until mixed.

3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and stir until smooth. Divide the dough in half, and place each half between two large sheets of wax paper. Roll out to a scant 1/4 inch thick. Keeping the wax paper in place layer the dough onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 375 and grease your cookie sheets. Peel away the top layer of wax paper. Cut out your cookies using your festive cutter of choice. With a spatula, transfer to the cookie sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Roll up the scraps and continue cutting out shapes until all dough is used. (You can refrigerate the dough if it becomes to soft to handle.)

5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, just until the cookies are lightly golden on top, 6-9 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet to a rack and let stand until cookies firm slightly. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on cookie cutter size.

Quick Cookie Icing

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbs water
Stir sugar and water together until smooth, adding more water or sugar as needed for the desired consistency. Add food coloring as you like.  Makes 1 cup.


  1. these are so Christmasy! and I love your cookie cutters!

  2. Absolutely adorable photos! What would Christmas be without the classic cut-out cookie? Love this.

  3. Every time I visit your blog, I have to spend at least 5 minutes admiring your photos. I totally want to reach out and grab the cookie in that first one! I love a good decorated sugar cookie. :)

  4. I am TOTALLY one of those people who looks forward to christmas cookies every year. I have more cookies cutters than I know what to do with. These are super cute!!

  5. Nice photos! They look very tasty!


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