My friends and family will all tell you that I’m famous for my sugar cookies. It’s the first recipe I learned to bake, and it’s the one I make most often. Growing up, my family celebrated every major holiday (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, etc.) with themed sugar cookies. One of my favorite Christmas traditions was decorating cookies with my grandma. Even then I was particular about how we frosted them, and she was the only one willing to follow my directions. :p
Ten years ago I learned that I’m gluten intolerant. My sugar cookie recipe is the first one I reinvented to make gluten free. But it’s also one of the few recipes I’m still willing to make gluten-full for my family and friends. Sugar cookies are one of the few treats I think you can tell a difference between gluten-free and gluten-full. My family and friends are used to them tasting a certain way so I couldn’t change the recipe on them. But my husband, who didn’t grow up on my sugar cookies, enjoys both varieties!
I swear by Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour. It provides the best texture and taste of any gluten free flour I’ve tried. In everything but sugar cookies, my family can never tell when a dessert I make is gluten free. I buy mine in bulk from Amazon.
Sugar cookies are easy to make, but time-consuming. My favorite tip is making the dough the night before you want to bake them. The dough only needs to chill for an hour, but it can stay in the fridge (tightly covered) for a day or two. Don’t skip any of the chilling stages! Chilling is what helps the cookies hold their shape when you bake them.
The number of cookies this recipe yields depends on the size of your cookie cutters. Using 3-inch circle cutters yields two dozen cookies.
The secret to a good sugar cookie is not overbaking it. In fact, you want the cookies to be barely baked. That’s what gives them a soft texture. Sugar cookies are not meant to be crunchy!
And now I have a confession to make. Until recently, I had never made buttercream. I grew up on a shortening-based frosting, so the idea of putting butter into frosting was foreign to me. But I’ve since learned that a butter-based frosting is key if you want to pipe fun designs. A soft and thick buttercream is the perfect consistency for piping flowers and other shapes. But I still use a little shortening in my recipe. It makes the frosting whiter and creamier.
One of my secrets to frosting cookies is to freeze them before decorating. Just like it’s easier to roll out chilled dough, it’s easier to frost a chilled cookie. Sugar cookies are soft and they’re a little more fragile when they’re room temperature. I also recommend storing them in an airtight container in the freezer. They don’t take long to defrost and they’ll stay fresh longer. If you’re using a large tupperware container freeze a layer of cookies (it only takes 5-10 minutes), then put down a layer of wax paper before adding another layer of cookies.
Sugar cookies are fun to make any time of year because they can be any shape, size and color. They’re what cookie decorating party and holiday dreams are made of!
Whether you’re gluten intolerant like me or eat all of the gluten, I promise you’ll love this sugar cookie recipe. Tag me @rosesandwhiskers on Instagram if you try it and use the hashtag #rosesandwhiskers. Also check out my recipe for sugar cookie cake!
- 2 1/2 cups gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour for gluten-full, substitute all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 6 tbsp butter-flavored Crisco
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup Crisco
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream butter, Crisco and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated. Mix in vanilla.
- On low speed, gradually blend in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Roll out half of the chilled dough onto a floured surface until an 1/8 inch thick. Keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator until you're ready for it. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and transfer them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Don't put more than 12 cookies on a pan.
- Re-roll the scraps until you've used up the dough and then roll out the remaining chilled dough.
- Chill each sheet of cookies for at least 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C), and then bake the cookies (one pan at a time) for no more than 6-7 minutes. Don't worry if they still look a little soft when you take them out of the oven. What you don't want is for them to look wet and doughy.
- Leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
- Make the frosting while the cookies are cooling. Cream butter and Crisco until smooth. Mix in half of the powdered sugar on low speed. Then add milk, heavy cream, vanilla and the remaining powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until just combined, and then beat on high speed until smooth and fluffy.
- Decorate as desired and store in an airtight container in the freezer.