Butter, Sugar & Vanilla – the Classic Sugar Cookie!
This is the classic sugar cookie recipe I make every year at holiday time! They smell and taste like butter, sugar and vanilla!
The recipe comes from my “Gram” – Grandma Appolonia, when she used to make them – we called them Travel Cookies – you can read that story here.
Gram always made them round – using a flat bottomed glass or jar dipped in sugar to flatten the balls of sugar cookie dough. But you can chill and roll the dough to make adorable cut-out cookies too!
I remember making and decorating big cut-out Santas with my Mom to sell at her women’s club holly trail shop.
These classic sugar cookies were always topped with a simple powdered sugar icing!
When I make them for my family or neighborhood cookie exchange this is how I make them, but if you prefer I have a recipe for a delicious buttercream cookie frosting or royal icing too (which some folks prefer as it hardens and doesn’t smush.)
From the time my girls were little we’d make these cookies together at holiday time!
Fun holiday memories filled with butter, sugar and sprinkles! (and a few passes with the vacuum cleaner!)
Double Batch – ready for our Annual Neighborhood Cookie Exchange!
The icing hardens a little bit on top, but stays soft underneath, so I usually package them or freeze them in a single layer.
All packed up and ready to go!
Gram’s Classic Sugar Cookies with Icing
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (470 grams)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened (plus extra for greasing pan and glass)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (plus extra for flattening cookies)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. This will take several minutes – it should be fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
- Mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined.
- Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough and roll into balls.
- Place the balls 2-inches apart on greased baking sheets. (I use the shiny half-sheet pans)
- Butter the bottom of a flat-bottomed drinking glass. Spread some sugar on a small plate.
- Dip the buttered glass in the sugar and use to press down on the cookie balls.
- Hold the glass level and press until the cookie is a little thicker than a 1/4-inch. Repeat until all the balls are flattened.
- Bake the cookies for 7-10 minutes or until just golden around the edges. Time may vary depending on oven. (I usually go for about 8-9 minutes or until theres's just a hint of golden brown at the edges.)
- Let cool on baking sheet 1-minute before removing to cooling rack.
- In large bowl, beat together butter, vanilla, 3 cups of confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 cup milk.
- Gradually add more sugar and milk until you reach desired consistency.
- If you want to ice the cookies by hand, make a little thicker like peanut butter.
- If you want to pipe the icing on the cookies, make a little thinner like ketchup. (I used the exact measurements for the icing I piped on my cookies.)
Cookie Baking Tips:
- I use shiny metal cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
- If you use darker colored cookie sheets you may want to drop your oven temperature by 25 degrees. Darker baking pans get hotter.
- Cookie scoops are handy for portioning the cookie dough for even cookies. You can even weigh the cookie dough balls with a kitchen scale. F
- or 3 1/2-inch diameter cookies, I made each dough ball 1 1/2 ounces and flattened them to about a 3-inch diameter. (1 batch made 2 1/2 dozen cookies.)
- I bake my cookies 1 tray at a time and make sure the cookie sheet is cool each time. It’s helpful to have several cookie sheets you can rotate.
To Make Cut-Out Sugar Cookies:
- After mixing the dough, divide into 3-4 portions, form each into a disc shape, wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4″ thickness or a little less, cut with cookie cutters and place on parchment lined baking sheets.
- If dough has gotten very warm – refrigerate to firm-up before baking – this helps the cookies keep their shape better.