You won’t believe it, but these are the BEST, FOOLPROOF NO-CHILL CUT-OUT SUGAR COOKIES EVER. Like, ever ever. No dough chilling required, made in minutes and yields the most perfect cut-out cookies with a sweet vanilla flavor. Plus, my royal icing glaze recipe is the best!
There is no other Christmas cookie more perfect than the sugar cookie.
Quintessential, classic, straight-forward, yet never deemed “plain” – it is beautiful and revered in its simplicity. Most other cookies need accouterments or bells & whistles in order to get people’s attention, but sugar cookies always have mine, and I’m here to share with you this amazing recipe for these sugar cookies!
A long time ago, I had a bone to pick with sugar cookie recipes. I always found that they never did as the recipe promised – meaning, I’d spend a ton of time meticulously cutting them out with cookie cutters just so, only to have them balloon and bloat in shape upon finishing their time in the oven. What was once a crisp, defined gingerbread man became a bloated, indistinguishable mass that may taste good, but presentation-wise lacked immensely. Let’s just say it was a cookie I was not too keen on presenting to Santa.
To add insult to injury, royal icing – the predominantly preferred icing for sugar cookies – is such a finicky little brat. Yeah, I called icing a brat because it is! Unless you have all the time in the world, in which case – what’s your secret, you sorceress? – most of us don’t have the time, energy, skill-set or patience to pipe out a royal icing border, wait for it to dry, then flood the cookies with another icing, wait for it to dry, and then decorate. That’s two types of icing consistencies that you have to maintain during the decorating process which you should probably start now if you want your cookies looking gorgeous for Christmas in 30 days, PLUS the decorating to transform a peasant gingerbread man into a regal, austere gentleman.
No shade to those gorgeous cookies or those artistes who make them, but that’s so not my jam. Believe me, I get lost watching the time lapse videos of people decorating those stunning cookies all the time, but for every day life? For a bustling, super busy Christmas season? Yeah, I can’t even, nor do I want to!
These Foolproof No-Chill Sugar Cookies are my answer to all those predicaments. The recipe is designed to not only produce an amazingly goof-proof cookie, but a delicious one, too! (Sometimes those gorgeous cookies are seriously lacking in the flavor department. How good is it if it looks like a piece of art but tastes like cardboard?). There is NO chill time (hallelujah!) AND the recipe produces awesome cut-outs if that’s the route you choose to take.
A note about cut-outs: I find that the smaller the cookie cutter, generally the clearer and more defined cut-out cookies you’ll get. If you start getting crazy with huge cookie cutters, chances are there will be some spreading. Why? Because the larger the cookies, the longer it takes to bake them… and the longer they’re in the oven, the hotter they’ll get and therefore, the likelihood of spreading increases. I’m not saying you have to make only mini-size cookies, but just keep in mind when selecting your cookie cutter that size can make a difference!
And because no self-respecting sugar cookie is complete without an icing, my foolproof royal icing “glaze” is a real winner! Instead of whipping, beating, using raw egg whites, or any of that nonsense, this glaze is only 4 ingredients, tastes great and sets FAST which is perfect for packing, storing, or stacking cookies. The best method for this glaze is to dip the face of the cookie into the glaze and allow excess to drip off. You could try piping it but it will not have a clear border like traditional royal icing does. This is definitely more of a glaze consistency than a stiff icing.
These sugar cookies have a crispy outer edge but a softer interior, pack well and taste amazing with hints of lemon and vanilla. You MUST make this recipe for the holidays!
*adapted from my book, Out of the Box Holiday Baking
- FOR THE COOKIES:
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 & ½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Zest of one small lemon (OR you can substitute ½ teaspoon almond extract in place of lemon)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ROYAL ICING GLAZE:
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond extract if using)
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- Liquid or gel food coloring
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and confectioners' sugar together with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the egg, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed, followed by the vanilla extract and lemon zest (or almond extract, if using), beating well. Lastly, add in the baking powder, salt, and flour and mix on low speed until a soft dough has formed and everything is incorporated.
- On a clean, flat work surface, add some confectioners' sugar - about a Tablespoon or two. (I like using confectioners' sugar to roll out dough over flour because it doesn't leave a floury taste, however, flour may be used). Add half of the dough and roll out with a rolling pin until it reaches about ¼ inch thickness.
- Using your favorite cookie cutters, begin cutting shapes out of the dough and place 1" apart (2" apart if using larger cutters) on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes for miniature cookies, 10-12 minutes for larger cookies, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even baking for both pans. Cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Repeat recipe with remaining dough until all the cookies are baked.
- For the royal icing glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm water, corn syrup, vanilla extract and confectioners' sugar until a smooth glaze comes together. It should be thick but still pourable. If desired, divide the glaze among smaller bowls and tint each bowl a different color.
- For the most low-maintenance cookie ever, dunk the top side of the cookie face-down into the glaze, allowing excess to drip off. Return to the wire rack and leave plain or top with sprinkles, as I recommend. Allow the glaze to set completely - about 20 minutes - before stacking, packing or serving.
Remember, this recipe makes anywhere from 24 bigger cookies to 48 mini ones, so be prepared to double up if needed! Just watch the size of your cookie cutters and you’ll have perfect cut-outs in no time.
Have a super sweet day!