If you've been following our blog for awhile, it's no secret that I love baking. In the past I've written about some of my favorite recipes like; Lemon Pie, Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins and Ina's (yes we are on a first name basis) Cranberry Apple Cake. This time, I want to share my favorite sugar cookie recipe! Baking sugar cookies is a holiday favorite in our house, and I'm not just talking about Christmas, we use every holiday as an excuse to bake sugar cookies!
I've learned a few things when it comes to making sugar cookies. The most important thing I've learned is that if you want the cookies to keep their shape you MUST refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight before cutting them out. Although, I've found that if you refrigerate them for too long (more than overnight) you don't get that desired soft in the middle crisp on the outside cookie, the entire cookie will be more crisp.
The second thing I learned was that adding a small amount of almond extract really ups the flavor profile! I learned this from my go-to recipe (see below), which has this an option, but I'd say it's not an option at all - it's a must!
Lastly, I used to always frost my sugar cookies with a royal icing and then put sprinkles on them. Don't get me wrong, I love a frosted sugar cookie, but since making them with my son we switched to decorating them with sprinkles before popping them in the oven and skipping the frosting all together and I love them this way!
Here's my go-to recipe, courtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction:
- 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks or 170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (I always add 1/2 teaspoon)
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, make sure to scrape the sides. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be relatively soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
- Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or overnight (no more than 2 days)
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough.
- Arrange cookies on baking sheets 1-2 inches apart. If you want to add sprinkles, this is the time to do it! Bake for 10-11 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature. For longer storage, cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
My favorite way to enjoy one of these cookies is with a Festive Fig candle lit (this scent reminds me of baking!) and with a cup of holiday tea by Smith Teamaker. Happy holiday baking!