Holiday Sugar Cookies

My favorite cookie in all the world, even more than chocolate chip cookies, is a sugar cookie with icing. We have made these for years. Even before we had children, I made these cookies with other people's children and without fail, every child would sigh with satisfaction and tell me, "This has been the best day of my life!" Decorating them is messy. The creative possibilities are without limit. They taste good, too. 

I have hesitated to share the recipe here because I have shared it privately on request and found that making them can be tricky. Well, not really, but there are some things you need to know. First of all the dough needs to be the right temperature. It must be chilled until it is firm, but not too firm. I finally took its temperature so I could tell you for sure, the insides need to be 40 degrees. This will happen faster if you flatten the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap before refrigerating. The recipe says this takes an hour, but it might take longer. I usually chill it and forget all about it for at least a day, if no one reminds me to check on it.

You will know for sure if it is the right temp when you roll it out. If the dough sticks to you, the counter, the cookie cutter, it is too warm. It should not stick at all. The cookie cutter should make a nice clean cut. 

Sometimes the cookie cutter has a little dinky part that gets stuck and falls off, like the leaf on the apple, or the head and feather of an Indian. Try gently poking it out with a spatula. If it is too frustrating to work with, you probably need to chill it some more. (I have decided that some cookie cutters just don't make the cut and tossed them. This is supposed to be fun, not work! If the cookie breaks every time with a certain cutter, it was poorly designed.)

Don't work with all the dough at the same time. Cut off about a quarter of the dough, keeping the rest in the fridge. Don't knead the dough like playdoh. This makes the cookies tough. Don't use too much flour either, just use a dusting on the counter and on the rolling pin. If you need more than that, your dough is too warm. 

Gather your scraps and chill again, while you work with another cold piece of dough. Every time you reroll the dough, the cookies get more flour into them and become tougher, so keep it to a minimum. 

You can slather the icing on with a butter knife (extra messy, but we did this for years), then adorn with sprinkles. Recently, we began putting our icing into Wilton icing bags and cutting a very small snip off the end. For little ones, I will clip a clothes pin onto the top part of the bag to prevent major icing back flow. This still needs to be monitored and re-clipped as needed. 

You can get a nice effect by putting a second color of icing right on top of the first while the first color is still wet. It sinks into the base color.

You also want to put similar sized cookies on the same cookie sheet so they will bake at the same rate. If you mix big and little cookies, the little ones will be crispy and the big ones will not be cooked all the way. 


2 C. butter, softened

1 C. sugar

2 eggs

2 Tbs. vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

4 C. flour

icing, recipe follows

sprinkles, candies, etc.

Beat butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt until fluffy. Beat in flour just until combined. Wrap and chill 1 hour or more. Roll out 1/4” thick and cut out with cookie cutters. Bake 325° for 12-15 min. or until edges just start to brown. Cool on racks, then frost and decorate.


1 lb. confectioner’s sugar blended with 1/3 C. water, 1 tsp. vanilla and food coloring

© Being Fruitful, 2012