I’ve tried many sugar cookie recipes over the years but I always come back to this family favorite. It is a SUGAR cookie recipe so before you get all judgy about the nutritional profile just recognize that it’s not a health food, it’s a sugar cookie. The quality of the ingredients is where I try to keep the damage to a minimum and I always feel confident that they are a better choice than a bag of dough or box off the shelf because I know every single ingredient going in.
Beyond the taste and texture of these sweeties is the tradition. I have been baking this recipe with my kids for over 30 years. The beginning of December marks the beginning of the Christmas baking season and we kick off with these sugar cookies and a gingerbread house or stable (maybe that will be next year’s recipe).
This first weekend in December is marked by kitchen stations of mixing dough, cookie cutter sorting to pick the favorite cutters for these cookies, flour dusted surfaces for cutting, baking sheets lined with parchment (makes clean up a cinch), the sprinkle station, into the oven, and of course cooling racks.
No matter the age, everyone can take part in a station with the littles helping to dump the ingredients into the mixer while grandma runs the controls. Everyone loves to pick their favorite cookie cutters and it is a great way to keep everyone involved while the dough gets rolled out to the perfect thickness (I’d say 1/4″). As the kids get older they can take over the mixer controls and rolling pin duty as teenagers.
Delicately moving the cut cookies from the mat to the cookie sheet is a rite of passage achieved when they don’t become wonky in transition as they gently slide onto the spatula and off again onto the parchment lined sheet. Keeping a couple inches of spacing around each cookie to make sure they don’t turn into one giant cookie they are now ready for everyone to begin to shower their cookies with sprinkles. Finding the balance of not too little and not too much as they sprinkle their favorite Christmas trees green and candy canes red and white stripes. The good news is that because these are sprinkles and not perfectly iced cookies the variations and creativity are welcome rather than nerve racking.
Into the oven the cut and sprinkled cookies go, while the next round are being rolled, cut, and decorated. As the 10 minute timer goes off for the batch in the oven to go onto the cooling rack the next batch is decorated and ready to go into the oven. This decorating machine is in full swing. How many cookies you get in a batch depends entirely on the size of your cookie cutters but in general we get 3-4 dozen from a batch.