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These Christmas Sugar Cookies are simple, soft, and buttery! They bake up perfectly shaped, stay soft and tasty for days, and are fantastic to cover in sweet icing and give away as gifts for the holidays!
Love Christmas cookies? Don’t forget to add Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies, Snappy Gingersnap Cookies, and Double Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies to your cookie gift boxes!
If you’re looking for the best sugar cookie recipe, this is it! They never disappoint, they’re perfectly buttery, they hold their shape up perfectly, they’re perfectly flat so you can decorate and ice them with no issues, they stay perfectly soft for days so they’re fantastic for gift-giving, and they freeze perfectly.
In other words: they are just perfect. Period. You’ll have sugar cookie wins all holiday season with this recipe.
Iced or not, these cookies are amazing and perfect for any time with any shape. I made these during Halloween and shaped and iced them as ghosts and pumpkins. I’ll probably be sending these to Greyson’s school shaped like hearts for Valentine’s Day as well. This sugar cookie recipe is well adaptable for any holiday.
What are Christmas Sugar Cookies Made Of?
These sugar cookies are classic with simple ingredients:
And for the icing:
Pasteurized Egg Whites. You can use regular egg whites, but make sure they are 100% fresh as can be (if you have a friend with chickens, get some eggs!) to ensure they are usable.
Vanilla Extract. For flavor, because no one wants flavorless icing.
Powdered Sugar. Using this sugar (also called icing sugar or confectioner’s sugar) in the icing makes sure it’s smooth and not gritty.
And that’s it! No weird ingredients, no funky things, no specialty order stuff. So simple, very classic, and you already have everything you need in your kitchen!
How do you get sugar cookies to keep their shape?
Nothing is worse than cutting out perfect cookies, putting them into the oven, and then pulling out a baking sheet full of unidentifiable blobs. Oh no, honey, that’s not what we want!
So to keep your sugar cookies beautifully shaped, roll out and chill your cookie dough before shaping, then freeze the cutout cookie dough while preheating your oven.
Chilling the cookie dough after you roll out the dough makes it easier to deal with. Chilled cookie dough is hard to roll out, and by the time it’s rolled out and ready to cut out, the fats will be too warm and difficult to cut out.
Freezing the cookies (only for a couple of minutes!) ensures that you have cold butter in your dough and that it doesn’t start melting before you can get it into the oven to let it do its magic in there.
Beautiful, well-shaped cookies every time!
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How to Make Christmas Sugar Cookies
It’s really easy, but because this is a baking recipe, follow it as closely as possible to get the best results.
- Make the dough. Cream the butter and sugar, which aerates the butter and puts more air into the batter. Creamed butter = better, fluffier cookies.
- Divide the dough into two discs, roll them onto a Silpat or parchment patter on a cutting board to about 1/4 inch thickness. You can make them thicker if you like thicker cookies. Make sure to sprinkle a little powdered sugar onto the rolling pin and the parchment paper, just a little bit, so there’s no sticking.
- Chill them in the fridge for about an hour.
- Cut out into shapes. You can press the scraps back together, reroll them, and cut them out. Chill them again for the best results!
- . Again, this is to make sure your cookies come out perfectly shaped!
- Bake and cool your sugar cookies. We don’t want to remove them too quickly from the baking sheet because they’ll break apart while hot. Cool for five minutes on the baking sheet, then cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
- Decorate with icing and desired decorations, then let the icing set until completely set.
How to Make Royal Icing
Don’t let it scare you, royal icing is really easy to make. All you need are three ingredients and a stand mixer.
Simply beat the egg whites and vanilla extract until frothy, gradually add in the powdered sugar, and beat the living mess out of it until it’s fluffy, white, shiny, and glossy, like a meringue.
At this point, it’s ready to be colored, put in a piping bag, and decorate those cookies.
Pro Tips on Perfect Sugar Cookies
- This sugar cookie dough can be made in advance and stays fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Add your sprinkles and decorations to your cookies immediately after icing them, so they will stick before the icing dries.
- Iced and decorated cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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- 2 1/4 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 and 1/2 stick (3/4 cup; 170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar, for rolling and dusting
- 4 egg whites or 4 oz pasteurized egg whites
- 2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
- 4 cups (560 g) powdered sugar
- Whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the unsalted butter and sugar together on high speed until completely light-colored and creamy, or for 3 minutes.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on high speed until completely combined. Scrape down the sides with a silicone or rubber spatula and beat again as needed to ensure all ingredients are combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until all the flour is just combined. Your dough will be soft; when you touch it, it won't stick to your fingers. If the dough seems too sticky to roll out, mix in one more tablespoon of flour.
- Split the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of parchment paper or silicone baking mat that has been lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on your rolling pin then roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. The shape doesn't matter.
- Cover the rolled-out dough with plastic wrap then refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough (give it a quick chill in the freezer to ensure great cookies, no more than a couple of minutes) and continue cutting until all the dough is used. Repeat with 2nd rolled out dough.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Arrange cut out cookies on baking sheets 2 inches apart. Give a quick chill in the freezer while the oven is preheating. The cooler the cookies, the better shaped they'll come out once baked.
- Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through the bake time to ensure even baking.
- Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until the egg whites are frothy.
- Gradually add powdered sugar to the egg whites and mix on low speed until sugar is well incorporated and the mixture is shiny. Turn the speed up to high and beat until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
- If you want coloring in your icing, spoon small amounts of the icing into separate bowls and use gel food coloring sparingly.
- Transfer icing to a piping bag and decorate the cookies. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Once the icing has set, eat them or prepare them for gifting. The cookies stay soft for about 5 days covered tightly at room temperature or keep in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 30 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 79Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 62mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.