The standard sugar cookie can take on many different appearances, tastes and textures. The classic shortbread cookie is delicate, tender and goes well with tea. The basic cookie scoop sugar cookie has a certain amount of citrus zest incorporated into it and gives the baker the ability to scoop or shape dough balls onto a baking sheet for easy baking. They are best drizzled with a confectioner’s glaze that incorporates the zest or juice of citrus that is in the cookie dough recipe. Finally, the common cutout frosted sugar cookie is the most notable of the aforementioned, being the pride or failure of many home bakers’ kitchens.
The cutout sugar cookie recipe is pretty finicky, if you ask me. Many little quips can make or break a recipe and completely alter the way the final product turns out. Some people incorporate cream cheese into their cutout sugar cookie dough; some people make recipes that require the dough to chill for a period of time before shaping.
The recipe I have landed on uses common ingredients and a quick turnaround with no chilling involved — perfect for impatient kiddos. The recipe turns out stiff dough that doesn’t spread much while baking, eliminating the need for chilling and ultimately simplifying a recipe that tends to fall victim to overthinking.
The frosting recipe you’ll find here is a basic American style buttercream. If you’d like stiffer, sweeter frosting, simply add more powdered sugar. If you prefer brilliant white frosting, use shortening instead of butter, or even use half butter, half shortening for flavor and color!
No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies
Makes around 2 dozen depending on size
1 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat butter until soft. Add sugar. Cream until well combined and smooth. Add egg and extracts, and mix until incorporated. In a separate bowl combine salt, baking powder and flour and whisk well to combine. Add flour/baking powder mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until a stiff dough comes together.
Use dough immediately. Not necessary to chill. Divide into three batches. Roll out to ¼” thickness, cut with desired cutter, using flour to coat surfaces and rolling pins to prevent sticking. Transfer carefully onto parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheets. Dough is fragile.
Bake at 350 for 10-11 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely and frost as desired with the basic recipe below.
*You do not need to chill this dough, as it will hold shape without chilling. If you would like to chill dough, roll out dough into thin disks and wrap in plastic wrap.
4 cups powdered sugar (use up to 5 cups for a stiffer, sweeter frosting)
1 cup butter (or ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening or, for brilliant white frosting, use 1 cup shortening)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt
food coloring or gel food coloring as desired
Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at email@example.com or at foodandswine.com.