It was a dark and stormy night, and Momma was preparing her iced sugar cookie cut-outs for mine and my sisters’ class Halloween parties. Given the finicky nature of sugar cookie cut-outs, such was not a safe time to be in the vicinity of the kitchen.
Dough would stick to the rolling pin.
Cookies would break.
Icing would smudge.
And Momma would howl.
To the ignorant child, right about now was the perfect time to wander into this tempest and ask to have a cookie or see the cookies or help with the cookies. (I think the only reason Momma didn’t take this time to murder us was because she had eight batches of cookies to finish.) Miraculously, we would awake the next morning to find each of our thirty-plus-one-for-the-teacher batches of iced jack-o-lanterns ready for delivery. Momma had survived yet another holiday of cookie cutout madness.
Choosing store-bought dough or frosting or even pre-made cookies could have saved Momma from all this madness, but to her, homemade trumped convenience. (My classmates must have agreed because Momma’s confections were always the first thing to be devoured at all my class parties.)
Now that I’ve just spent the first paragraph telling you about Momma’s sugar cookie cut-outs, I’m going to share a whole different recipe for these confections. I actually prefer a recipe I found in Betty Crocker’s Best-Loved Recipes (1998) that uses powdered sugar and butter resulting in:
- A dough that is very easy to work with
- A cut-out that holds its shape well
- A cookie that is crisp on the edges, tender in the middle and full of buttery flavor
Itching to put those cookie cutters to use? Then let’s get started!
The Best Sugar Cut-Outs Recipe
Start by beating 2 sticks of room-temperature butter until light and fluffy:
Next, add one and a half cups of powdered sugar and beat on low until crumbly:
Next, beat in the following until just combined:
- 1 large room-temperature egg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3-5 drops of food coloring or more for desired color
Finally, sift in:
- 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- A pinch of salt
Mix dough until all the flour is incorporated evenly. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, shape into a disk and place in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove half of dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Flour rolling pin and roll dough 1/4″ thick.
Cook’s Note: I pat my hand over the dough to make sure I have rolled it uniformly. There, there, dough.
Repeat with rest of dough.
Bake cookies in a 375-degree pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes depending on how hot your oven runs. Do not overbake or cookies will discolor!
Cook’s Note: I check my cookies at 12 minutes by lightly touching their surface. If the surface is doughy, I bake them another minute or so. For a crunchier cookie, I bake for 15 minutes. For a softer cookie, 12-13 minutes.
Allow cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack. Once the cookies have cooled completely, I like to either frost or ice them and, if I’m making pumpkins, decorate with bits of candy corn like Momma used to do:
Prefer just icing? Here is a simple no-fuss no-muss recipe:
- Whisk 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons milk until smooth.
Scoop icing into a sandwich bag with the corner cut off and ice away!
Shape AND flavor. That’s what makes this the best sugar cookie cut-outs recipe in my book!
Here’s to cookie traditions!
Why keep this recipe to yourself? Share or pin and I’ll luv ya forever.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 3-4 drops food coloring or gel paste
- Icing: Whisk 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar and 2 Tablespoons milk until smooth
- Beat butter until fluffy. Stir in powdered sugar and beat until crumbly. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Sift flour, cream of tartar and baking soda together and stir into butter mixture until a ball forms. Beat in food coloring until dough is uniform in color.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in freezer for 10 minutes. Roll dough 1/4″ thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes. (12 for softer cookies, 15 for crunchier cookies.)