You might be thinking this sugar cookies recipe is out of season because it’s no longer Christmas. But cookies are never out of season! Decorative cookies are fun treats for any party, and can be made to match any occasion. Also decorating cookies is a great activity to get everyone in the kitchen to spend time together and lend a helping hand.
For today’s recipe, we’ll show you how to make both sugar cookies and icing from scratch. The words “from scratch” may sound intimidating, but no need to worry. We will give you step-by-step instructions for this insanely simple recipe.
What Ingredients Do You Need To Make Sugar Cookies?
These sugar cookies only require a few basic ingredients. 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’s it! Simple cookies call for simple ingredients, and most of them are probably available in your pantry already. That means you can just whip up a batch of them without having to go to the grocery store anytime your sweet tooth is calling.
Once you combine all those ingredients, you’ll have a cookie dough that smells good and you may be tempted to taste that dough. However, it’s not recommended to eat raw cookie dough as it may contain bacteria. These bacteria can be in raw flour and eggs (E. coli and Salmonella, respectively) and can cause diseases such as stomach irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. So if you want to avoid a funny tummy or food poisoning, eat your cookies fresh out of the oven.
Speaking of raw food, there is another raw ingredient in this recipe, and it is in the icing.
How Do You Make Homemade Icing For Sugar Cookies?
The process of making icing or frosting is actually simple— all you need is some egg whites, powdered sugar, water, and lemon juice. Beat vigorously and there you have it— a simple icing for your cookies!
“Wait, so this recipe contains raw egg whites? Is it safe?”, you may ask. As we mentioned, eating raw eggs is not safe and should be avoided. Which is why for this recipe, we recommend buying and using pasteurized eggs to ensure food safety.
Another tip when making this icing is that you should start making it when you are ready to decorate your room-temperature 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 be sure to leave it at room temperature.
How Do You Get Sugar Cookies To Hold Their Shape?
The answer is simple: Refrigerating or freezing your shaped cookies before baking.
After cutting out the cookies, transfer them to a baking tray and into the refrigerator they go! Leave them in there for at least 1 hour before baking. If you’re in a hurry, put your cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes and then they’ll be ready to bake.
What happens if you don’t refrigerate the cookies? There is a chance they will spread during baking and you will end up with misshapen cookies. So, for an even look and bake, it’s best to stick to the fridge. Afterall, we want them to be pretty for decorating, right?
Are Sugar Cookies Healthy?
We all enjoy sweet things from time to time, but since the recipe contains mostly sugar, these cookies aren’t exactly healthy. However, the good news is that they are quite small so you can eat up to 2 cookies at a time without worrying about overconsuming sugar.
How much sugar is considered too much?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, the daily sugar intake of a person should be less than 10% of calories from added sugar. For example, if your daily calorie intake is 2000 kcal— meaning your daily sugar intake should be less than 200 kcal (around 50 grams or 12 teaspoons of sugar.) This means that you should eat no more than 10 of our cookies per day to stay healthy and avoid overeating sugar.
If you’re looking for more delicious cookie recipes, we have a pumpkin cookies recipe that is delicious, healthy, and vegan-friendly! You can check it out later, but right now let’s get back to this recipe.
Sugar Cookies Recipe
- 10.5 oz all-purpose flour 2 cups and 6 tbsp
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 7 oz unsalted butter softened (about ¾ cup and 2 tbsp)
- 3.5 oz white granulated sugar about 7 tbsp and 2 ½ tsp
- 1 large pasteurized egg separate yolk and egg whites
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 3.53 oz powdered sugar sifted, about 1 cup
- 1 1/2 tbsp water
Making the cookies
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift flour, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.
- In another bowl, add 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.
- 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 dough out onto the paper. Gather the crumbs to form a ball and flatten it out into a disk. Wrap it in cling film and refrigerate 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 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 out your desired cookie shapes using cookie cutters. Transfer the shaped cookies onto the 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 (we used 2-inch and 2.5-inch cookie cutters.)
- Refrigerate the cookies for at least an hour or until completely firm.
- 15 minutes before you take the cookies out of the fridge, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Put the cookie tray in the oven, lower the heat to 375 degrees, and bake for 12 minutes or until slightly golden. Allow to cool completely before decorating.
Making the icing
- In a big bowl, beat 1 egg white using an electric mixer for 3 minutes on low until foam starts to 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 ½ a 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.
- Transfer the icing into piping bags and decorate the cookies however you like.
- 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 the remaining icing in cling film.