I know I am a bit out of the season posting this Christmas sugar cookies recipe, but then again, cookies are never out of season. Besides, decorative cookies would make fun treats for any party, and decorating cookies would make a fun activity to get everyone in the kitchen lending a helping hand.
For today’s recipe, I will be making both the sugar cookies and icing from scratch. Now I know the words “from scratch” may make some of you hesitate a little, but don’t worry. I will give you step-by-step instructions for this insanely simple recipe.
Foreword: Okay, I am going to be honest with you guys: I have absolutely zero talent when it comes to decorating cookies or cakes. Therefore, some of them might turn out looking like the cute art project of a kindergartener.
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Sugar Cookies?
These sugar cookies only require a few basic ingredients that I am sure are available in your pantry. Here is a brief look at them:
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking soda – optional, you can leave it out if you want
- Egg yolks
- Vanilla extract
And that is it! Simple cookies call for simple ingredients. That way, you can just whip up a batch of them without having to go the grocery store whenever your sweet tooth is kicking in again.
And, unlike chocolate chip cookies, these sugar cookies don’t need to rise much, so you can just leave out the baking soda if you want.
However, if you want your cookies to look more lively and colorful, you are going to need a few more ingredients to make the icing.
How Do You Make Homemade Icing For Sugar Cookies?
There is nothing easier than making your own icing, and no, I’m not talking about that fancy royal icing. I’m talking about the quick and easy icing that doesn’t contain any raw egg. All you need is some powdered sugar, water, simple syrup, and vanilla extract. Mix it all together and there you have it, sugar icing!
Do keep in mind that you should only make the icing right before you are ready to frost your cookies, as the icing tends to dry out quickly. If you want to make it ahead of time, pour your icing into a piping bag and use it whenever you’re ready. Just don’t cut the tip of the piping bag, and leave it at room temperature.
How Do You Get Sugar Cookies To Hold Their Shape?
The answer is simple: Freezing your dough before baking.
After cutting out the cookies, transfer them to a baking tray and into a refrigerator they go! Leave it there for at least 1 hour before baking. If you’re in a hurry, put your cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes and they’re ready to bake.
Here’s an honest confession: I underestimated cookies when I started learning how to bake and skipped the freezing step. As expected, the cookies spread all over the place, but they tasted fine so I didn’t really mind. 😀
That being said, if you want your cookies to be beautiful, you should freeze the dough before you bake them.
Homemade Sugar Cookies Recipe
- 10.5 oz all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp fine table salt
- 7 oz unsalted butter softened
- 3.5 oz white granulated sugar
- 1 large egg separate yolk and egg whites
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp water
Making the cookies:
- Line your baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Then give everything a whisk to combine.
- In another bowl, add your softened butter and white granulated sugar. Beat with a whisk or an electric mixer on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the butter is pale, and pause.
- Add egg yolk and vanilla extract. Beat again until fully combined.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the butter and beat on low speed. Once the batter starts to clump, add the rest of the flour and fold with a spatula to combine.
- Place a large piece of parchment paper on your work surface. Turn the flour mixture out onto the paper. Gather the crumbs to form a ball and flatten it out into a disk.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Take the dough out, place it in the center of the parchment paper, and place another piece of paper on top of it. This will make it easier for you to roll the dough out.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle, about 1/4” thick.
- Remove the upper layer of paper, and cut the dough with your cookie cutters. Gently remove the excess dough around the shaped cookies and transfer the cookies onto your lined baking sheet.
- Form the scraps back into a dough and repeat the rolling and cutting process until there is no dough left. This recipe should make 55 cookies.
- Put the cookies in the fridge for at least an hour or until completely firm.
- While the cookies are in the fridge, after 50 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take the cookies out of the fridge, lower the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for 12 minutes or until your cookies slightly turn golden around the edges. Allow to cool completely before you serve or decorate them.
Making the icing:
- In a big bowl, beat 1 egg white using an electric mixer for 3 minutes on low until foams appear. Add lemon juice and continue to beat for another 5 minutes or until frothy.
- Add half of the powdered sugar and mix for 5 minutes or until completely dissolved. Add the rest of the sugar and beat for 5 minutes.
- Gradually add 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time, beat well in between until fully combined. The icing should be white and glossy without any clumps of sugar.
- Divide the icing into smaller portions and add different food coloring to the icing if desired.
- Only make the icing once your cookies are cooled and ready to be decorated.
- To check the consistency of the icing, lift your spoon and let the icing drip into the bowl. The dripping should pour down in a thin stream, like a ribbon. When it hits the bowl, the ribbon should hold its shape for a few seconds before blending into the rest of the icing.
- The icing will dry out and crystalize very quickly. To prevent this from happening, you should wrap the bowl of icing in cling film.