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These classic sugar cookies are soft and tender and make the perfect kid-friendly food craft for any holiday.
Why is it so hard to find a good sugar cookie recipe? Over the years I’ve tried nearly a dozen recipes that all say something like, “the perfect sugar cookie recipe,” “sugar cookies that hold their shape,” “the only sugar cookie recipe you need”… none of which have lived up to such bold statements.
My Ideal Sugar Cookie
Before I start telling you about this particular recipe, one that I deem pretty close to perfect, let me tell you what makes the ideal sugar cookie in my mind because we all have different expectations when it comes to cookies, especially sugar cookies.
First and foremost, it needs to taste good (flavor always trumps presentation for me). I like a sugar cookie that isn’t overly sweet because once you add frosting, the sweetness is going to be overwhelming (you know, like the store-bought frosted sugar cookies. Those cookies basically encompass everything I don’t want in a sugar cookie). For me, I want a cookie that has a slight buttery taste and a little bit of texture. Nothing too crunchy, but also nothing too fluffy and airy. And, of course, I want a cookie that will hold most of its shape when baking.
So, after many, many sugar cookie tests, I actually decided my favorite is a tried and true recipe from my in-laws. Ryan’s parents make this recipe nearly every time we visit. My kids and I always look forward to this treat. During the summer, they make strawberry buttercream with homemade jam to top on the cookies. During the winter, they’ll make the same sugar cookies and top them with a chocolate buttercream. They’re just a classic.
A Little Something Special
Some sugar cookie recipes call for almond extract, but I prefer vanilla extract in my sugar cookies. I actually will sometimes add a little lemon extract to this recipe. Just a hint of lemon is a total game-changer. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Oh, I always use this vanilla buttercream recipe for frosting sugar cookies. It’s so good and is easy to work with! You can add food coloring/gel to it if you want it to be a certain color.
I also like that these cookies are tender with the slightest crunch when you bite into them.
We had so much fun decorating our Halloween-shaped cookies and can’t wait to do it again at Christmas!
We tried to save a few of these classic sugar cookies to give to our friends who have helped out so much while I was recovering after foot surgery… but I’ll be honest, it was hard not to eat them all before they made it to the plates.
Enjoy! And follow me on Instagram @cakebycourtney for more tips and tricks on all things cake and baking!
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Classic Sugar Cookies
Tender and soft sugar cookies paired with a whipped vanilla butterceam.
- For the Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups 339 g unsalted butter, room temperature (just barely soft enough to leave a fingerprint and still cold)
- 2 cups 400 g granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon 4.2 g vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon 1.1 g lemon extract (optional)
- 5 cups 600 g all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons 8 g baking powder
- 1 teaspoon 5.6 g salt
- For the Frosting
- 2 cups 452 g unsalted butter, room temperature (just barely soft enough to leave a fingerprint and still cold)
- 6 cups 750 g powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons 44.3 g heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon 4.2 g pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- For the Cookies
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the eggs, vanilla and lemon extract (if using). Mix until incorporated.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until just incorporated.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Roll the dough out to about ¼ inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes and place the cookie dough 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.
- Freeze the cut dough for 10 minutes and then bake 6 to 8 minutes.
- Cool completely before frosting.
- For the Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and salt.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat the frosting for an additional 5 minutes, until nearly white.
- Before frosting or piping, mix the frosting by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula to push out the air pockets.