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Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

How to make the best cut out sugar cookie recipe. My mom's recipe for crisp, soft sugar cookies you can decorate with icing and sprinkles.
4.20 from 5 votes
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Course: Cookies & Bars, Desserts
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 36
Calories: 168kcal
Author: Mel Lockcuff

Equipment

Ingredients

Cookie Dough:

Cookie Icing:

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • Food coloring (optional)

Instructions

Sugar Cookies:

  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground nutmeg, salt, and sugar.
  • Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is as fine as corn meal.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and slightly beaten eggs.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients, mixing 'til you have a smooth cookie dough.
  • Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or at least 4 hours.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425° F.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, coating the dough with flour and kneading it until it's less sticky and more pliable.
  • Then roll the dough out to about a 1/4 to 1/2-inch thickness.
  • Cut out cookies with floured cookie cutters.
  • Place the cutout cookies on an un-greased cookie sheet, and bake at 425° F for about 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies begin to turn slightly golden.
  • Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Cookie Icing:

  • In a large mixing bowl, mix together the softened butter, vanilla extract, and almond extract. 
  • Add the milk to the mixture.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar to the mixture, mixing it in as you go; the finished icing should be smooth, creamy, and spreadable.
  • Optional Step: At this point, you can add food coloring, if desired.
  • Decorate the sugar cookies with icing, sprinkles, and nonpareils.

Notes

*I make my own buttermilk or sour milk by adding about a tablespoon of vinegar to a glass measuring cup, then adding milk to the 1/2 cup line. The vinegar sours the milk, so it becomes an excellent substitute for buttermilk.
*Icing Alternative: If you don't want to decorate your cookies with icing, you can sprinkle each cookie shape with sugar before baking. Colored sugar is especially festive.
WAYS TO DECORATE CUTOUT SUGAR COOKIES
As I've said before, around here, baking cutout sugar cookies is a family tradition. Every Christmas I always looked forward to decorating these cookies with my mom, and now it's no different with my own kids.
Decorating sugar cookies is a great way to way to spend some much-needed time with the family, and there is no limit to creativity with this recipe. Here are some of the ways that we like to decorate our own cookies.
  • Sugar cookie icing - I make my own powdered sugar icing (linked in the ingredients list above), but you can even use a can from the store if desired. You can use cream cheese frostingbuttercream frosting, whipped cream frosting, or even a simple powdered sugar glaze.
  • Sprinkles - this is another no-brainer, and it's easily my kids' favorite decoration, probably due to the wide variety of different shapes and colors available in the supermarket. With kids, they also make a big mess!
  • Rainbow Nonpareils - This is my personal favorite way to decorate after icing the cookies.
  • Colored sugar - this is a great option if you'd like to keep it easy; you can even use regular sugar. Just sprinkle it on before the cookies are loaded into the oven.
HOW TO STORE DECORATED SUGAR COOKIES
Decorated sugar cookies must be stored in layers in between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container. The wax paper is essential in keeping the icing in-tact, preventing the cookies from sitting on top of each other and bleeding into each other.
Rolled sugar cookies are best enjoyed the first few days after baking.
HOW TO PREVENT CUT OUT COOKIES FROM SPREADING
Although this is a very common problem, it can be easily avoided. Here are some tips to keep your sugar cookies from spreading.
  • Chill the dough - Chilling the dough helps tremendously to prevent spreading. The colder the temperature, the less greasy your dough will be; this is essential.
  • Don't over-mix - Over-mixing will destroy the natural structure of your cookies, and they simply won't hold together; in fact, the excessive amount of air introduced into the dough during this process can actually cause your cookies to collapse in the oven! Don't mix any more than you have to.
  • Use colder butter - Using room temperature butter is best. If the butter is too warm, it will melt into the dough and create a greasy mess with no structure whatsoever.
  • Work the dough properly - Don't overwork the dough, and don't roll it out more than you have to. As you work the dough, the heat of your hands will melt the butter, creating an excessive amount of grease that will most certainly cause your cookies to spread in the oven.
  • Use plenty of flour - Having enough flour is crucial in baking a spread-resistant sugar cookie. These cookies are naturally fatty, and they need just the right amount of flour to soak up any grease that forms; be precise.
CAN YOU FREEZE SUGAR COOKIE DOUGH?
Yes, raw dough will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
  • To freeze the dough before cutting out the cookies, simply roll it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in an airtight container in the freezer.
  • Otherwise, you can go ahead and cut out the cookies beforehand, placing them in between alternating layers of wax paper in an airtight container.
Bake the frozen cutout cookies as normal, adding a few minutes to to make up for the frozen state. On the other hand, a glob of uncooked dough will need to be thawed until you are able to cut through the dough with a sharp knife, around 30 minutes at room temperature, or several hours in the refrigerator.
CAN YOU FREEZE BAKED OR DECORATED COOKIES?
Yes. Once they are decorated, place the completely cooled cookies in sealed freezer bags, ensuring that they each have plenty of space. Next, stack these freezer bags into airtight containers in the freezer.
When you pull the cookies out of the freezer, let them thaw for several hours at room temperature. Never let your decorated cookies thaw in the refrigerator, as the resulting condensation will ruin your icing.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 89mg | Sugar: 10g
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