Iced, Sugar Cut Out Cookies

Cheesy game show announcer voice: "Hello everyone and welcome back to The Best Thing About Food's - 5 days of cookies... today's challenger is ... Grandma's Iced Cut Out Sugar Cookies, and now here's your host...".

Ok, so for day two of my Five Days of Cookies posts I decided that I would share with you all, a recipe from my grandmother for what she simply called cut out cookies. This is the sugar cookie recipe that has been made in our family every year since the beginning of time. Okay, that may be an exaggeration but I have no memory of a time in my life that these cookies were not made at Christmas, and remember I'm no spring chicken so were talking more than a half of a century here. The recipe card I have is a little worn and the ink is very faded. Since it was written by my grandmother it is also sparse on instructions, go figure. If you haven't read about my grandmother check out my post on Steak and Peppers at some point.

This is one of those "go to" cookies. You get up on Christmas morning, (or holiday of your choosing) brew a pot of coffee, and grab a couple of these cookies. It’s a simple frosted sugar cookie and they hold up well through the holidays. When my mother decorates these she will use different sanding sugars (usually red or green), nonpareils that are red, green and white (AKA: hundreds-and-thousands, or jimmies), and she is not shy about the amount she puts on. She will simply ice the cookie then push it facedown onto a plate filled with her decorative toppings. There is no need for finesse as these don't need to be fancy. We don't need to use Royal Icing to pipe out neat and smooth little decorations for this cookie (although you could do so if that pleases you... I have done so many times).

So here they are...


For the cookies:

  • 5 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1½ cups granulated sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

For the icing:

  • 3½ cups powdered sugar

  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 - 4 tablespoons milk or cream

Directions for the cookies

Preheat the oven to 350F with racks in the upper and lower thirds.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla extract

Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture and beat at medium low to combine the ingredients then increase the speed to medium high and mix until very well combined.

Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add in the flour mixture, adding more flour to the bowl as soon as the previous flour is worked in to the dough.

When all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, remove about half of the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface.

Roll the dough to a little less than ¼-inch thick.

Cut out desired shapes and place on parchment lined cookie sheets.

Re-roll the scraps, mixing in a portion of the remaining dough from the mixing bowl and continue cutting shapes.

Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges just start turning golden, rotating the pans from front to back and top to bottom about halfway though.

Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost and decorate as you wish.

and now for the frosting

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or an electric mixer) beat the butter and powdered sugar together until the butter is completely mixed in (start at low speed and increase speed to medium).

Add the vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk or cream and mix on medium speed, until the icing is spreadable. If the icing does not easily come together or is too stiff to spread, add milk little by little until spreadable.

You can portion out your icing into smaller bowls and add different food colorings if you like... or just leave it white.

Ice cookies as you see fit by sprinkling with sanding sugars, nonpareils, jimmies or leave plain, it's your choice. Allow the icing to set before storing the cookies in an air tight container. Set time will depend on a number of things, I usually leave mine overnight.

The number of cookies you'll make also depends on the size of your cookie cutters and how thick or thin your cookies are. In general you'll get about 40 large cookies (3 - 4 inch) or about 60 small cookies (2 inch).