Dec 28

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Sugar Cookie Recipe

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decorated polar bear sugar cookie

What would you choose for dessert; a sugar cookie or a slice of chocolate cake?  If you’re anything like me and those two items were in your home, the sugar cookies would be hanging around long after the chocolate cake was polished off.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like sugar cookies, but love them… Not so much.  But trying to decorate chocolate cake to give as gifts - that wouldn’t work as well as sugar cookies do.  Which leads me to the reason why I’m writing this post today – I’ve come up with a sugar cookie recipe by playing around with some favorite recipes.  It’s definitely tasty, although it’s still not in the ‘chocolate cake’ category.  If you try it out I’d love to hear what you think in the comment section below.

Before I get to the recipe, let me share a little introduction to the ‘Polar Bear Parade’ cookies with you.

pretty Christmas ribbon

When I saw this ribbon months ago at Michael’s Craft Store I just knew I had to make a cookie version of it.  Pretty colors, a simple shape and such a cute little polar bear.

polar bear parade of cookies

These were finished before Christmas, but I wasn’t able to post them in time.  If you’d like to create these, you could make just the polar bear or substitute another object for the gift instead.  It’d be a nice winter-themed cookie I think.  The ribbon is probably on sale now too!

polar bear sugar cookie

I used the KopyKake drawing projector to help me draw the image (believe me – I need it!), but you might be able to freehand as it’s a fairly simple shape.

polar bear gingerbread cookie_edited-5

decorated polar bear gingerbread cookie

Some of these are made of a new gingerbread recipe I found on-line, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the results (taste).

polar bear decorated cookie

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been playing around with some of my ’go-to’ sugar cookie recipes – a few of the main ones being Peggy Porschen’sand the NFSC (No Fail Sugar Cookie) recipe (from cakecentral.com), to come up with my own combination.  The latter two are still favourites for me, but now I’ve got a third choice.  This is what I’ve come up with (please also see notes at the bottom of the recipe):

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Yield - Makes about 30-35 cookies, but it will also depend on the size of the cookie cutter and how thick you make your cookies.

Ingredients:

2  cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 3 tsp vanilla)

5 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder (*take this out if you don’t want your cookies to spread)

1 tsp salt

Instructions:

1. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed.  (Use the paddle attachment).  Mix until thoroughly incorporated – for about one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more.

Over mixing the butter and sugar in this step will cause too much air to be incorporated into the dough.  If you’d like a light and fluffy cookie, that’s ideal, however the dough will spread more during baking; not ideal if you’d like the cookie to hold its shape.

2. Add eggs slowly and mix.  Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.

3. Cut open your vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out.  Add to mixing bowl.  Alternatively, add liquid vanilla extract.  Stir briefly.

4. Sift your dry ingredients together.  (Flour, baking powder and salt).

5. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl.  Place a large tea towel or two small tea towels between the edge of the bowl and the electric mixer so that the flour won’t escape.  Mix on low speed for 3o seconds.  Remove the tea towels and observe the dough mixing; when it clumps around the paddle attachment it’s ready.  It’s also important at this stage not to over mix the dough (the glutens in the flour develop and the dough can become tough).

6. Roll the dough out between 2 large pieces of parchment paper.  Place on a baking sheet and into the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

7. Roll out the dough further if you need to, and cut out cookie shapes.  Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Re-roll scraps and repeat.

8. Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes to 1 hour to chill again.  They will then hold their shape better when baked.

9. Preheat your oven to 350°F or 176°C.

10. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes or until the edges become golden brown.  The baking time will depend on the size of your cookie.

11. Let cookies cool to room temperature and decorate!

polar bear sugar cookies on a cake stand

 

A few notes about the recipe:

 

*Butter – The butter needs to be soft, or room temperature.  I leave mine out the night before I do my baking.  If you forget, you can grate the butter on the largest hole of your box grater, so that the sugar and butter will mix together better.

*Amount of Butter - I’ve noticed some people who’ve tried the recipe who live in a warmer climate have trouble with 2.5 cups butter, and although the extra 1/2 cup butter taste is nice, to make the dough easier to work with in any climate, I edited the recipe to say only 2 cups of butter. The printable version is uneditable, so still says 2.5 cups of butter.

*Baking powder – I hardly use any baking powder in my recipe because the dough will spread and rise more during baking, thereby making the shape of the cookie less crisp. The only time I use it now, is if I’m just making round shortbread cookies and I don’t care about the cookies spreading.

*Chill your dough if it gets too soft work with. It’s a softer, sometimes sticky dough (depending on your environment as well), but in my humble opinion, makes up for it in taste.

*Read these tips here on stopping dough from spreading.

Click here for a Printer-Friendly Version of the Sugar Cookie Recipe

I’ll do an in-depth tutorial with pictures on making the sugar cookie dough in a future post.

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

xo,

Marian

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1,163 Comments

  1. Elida
    December 23, 2015 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
    986

    I just finished making this dough and it did not work out very well. The dough is very wet and I had to add 1 1/2 cups of flour to this recipe. I followed the recipe very closely and used measuring spoons. What went wrong?

    • marian
      December 24, 2015 at 6:27 am | Permalink
      987

      Hi Elida,
      Did you have 2.5 cups of butter? Depending on the butter used, the humidity in your environment, it may be too much. Although I love the taste of the extra butter, I have suggested in the notes above that one uses only 2 cups for those in warmer climates (or warmer home I guess ;-)
      You didn’t do anything wrong by adding more flour to make it less wet. How did the cookies turn out?

  2. Tia Young
    December 25, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink
    990

    Merry Christmas :)
    I get an amazing batch every time! Love the recipe! I have learned so much from your website and appreciate the tutorials! My cookies have become a family tradition to decorate! Not to mention So Yummy! I love to share your site for the best sugar cookie Ever!

  3. Mahsa
    December 27, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
    991

    Hi.merry Christmas.
    Love the recepie too much.
    I am fond of these cookies specially because of the decoration.
    Just one question, I will be appreciate if you reply faster.
    Can we omit half of the sugar?
    Because it gets tooooo much sweet when we add royal icing on them and I love to make some low sugar cookies for my grandma.
    Eager for your response.
    Thx so much

    • marian
      January 8, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink
      997

      Hi Mahsa,
      I wouldn’t recommend changing the sugar amount… Baking is like a science and needs to be precise. If you do try it though, please let me know what the results were for you. Maybe try adding some lemon juice to the royal icing to cut the sweetness a bit. Hope that helps!

  4. lily
    December 31, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink
    992

    I made this recipe last Christmas (with the 2.5 cups of butter) and it came out beautifully. This year I made it and it was a sticky mess, I had to add over a cup of flour to get it manageable. I saw your note about using less butter, so I just tried that and kept everything else the same. It is still a sticky mess and I had to add a great deal of flour to get it the correct consistency. I followed the recipe exactly (while reducing butter). I just don’t understand how I had the best luck with it last year, and horrible luck this year (twice!) =( This was my go to cut out cookie recipe.

  5. Liz
    January 1, 2016 at 12:54 am | Permalink
    993

    Unfortunately I am with Elida and Lily on this. Made the recipe to the exact specifications with high end butter and all purpose flour from Trader Joe’s. The dough was a sticky mess and I added a little flour to make it manageable to be rolled between sheets of parchment. Chilled, cut and baked per the instructions and they spread some kind of horrible. :( No Bueno. When I was ready to bake the next batch, I took the remaining ball of dough and added flour, kneading by hand, until it was just no longer sticky. Baked those and voila, cookies didn’t spread, baked much more evenly, and look much better than the first set. We will see how they hold up to the royal icing decorating tomorrow before the football game. It seems as if your ratio of flour to oil (butter) may be a little off. I would recommend to others to add sifted flour little by little until the dough is lifting from the sides of the mixer bowl when on low. Then it should be workable, cut well, and retain shape when baking.

    • marian
      January 8, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink
      998

      I have made this recipe many times and it does work.

      I’m sorry you had issues with the dough… Baking can be finicky… as everything needs to be precise.

      Some things I can try and troubleshoot for you:

      - meticulously follow these steps to prevent cookies from spreading (which affect dough texture as well) http://sweetopia.net/2011/04/top-8-tips-on-preventing-cookies-from-spreading/
      I use the best quality ingredients (less water content in butter etc.), so the cookies work out well for me and others who have made it.

      If you check the comment section you’ll see that there are others who have also had issues with the dough being too soft for them. There are a few factors which would probably cause this. The first being inaccurate measuring but if there are others with the issue I would discount that being the reason. Although *the way flour is measured could be factor* (not enough in cup for example):
      * The environment they live in. Is it humid? Warm? The dough would be harder to work with
      * Room temperature butter – is their room temperature too warm (warmer climate again), making the butter overly soft.
      * The quality of the ingredients. Lower quality butter has more water content than higher quality butters and will make the dough more moist
      * There are more factors (some more related to spreading when baked), again, discussed in this post here; http://sweetopia.net/2011/04/top-8-tips-on-preventing-cookies-from-spreading/

      Baking is a science… There are many factors which can affect the outcome. Baking in warmer environments, high altitudes, how things are measured, ingredients etc. all affect the results. Although the taste in this recipe is affected, I decided to make the recipe easier to work with and took out 1/2 cup of butter. It can be made either way, but one needs to carefully follow all suggestions and know about the factors which affect baking.

      I hope that helps!

  6. Tonya
    January 8, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink
    994

    Hi,
    So I have seen the concerns with the dough and I have seen the solutions. I am wanting to avoid the error with the butter.
    My only question is which brand of butter do you use? That way I will be sure to follow it precisely they way it is meant to be. Thank you so much for your time, energy, and quick response. I really do appreciate that.

    • marian
      January 8, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink
      999

      Hi Tonya,

      I added a comment above yours to help with troubleshooting issues. The brand I use is either Lactancia or GayLee. (I’m in Canada). Happy baking! xo

  7. Amy
    January 12, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
    1000

    Hi Marian, Is your all purpose flour bleached or unbleached? Thanks.

    • marian
      January 13, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink
      1001

      Bleached. :)

  8. KFant
    January 13, 2016 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
    1002

    Hi! I am trying to make this recipe and it is super crumbly. I followed the exact instructions above (although I do not have a stand mixer, using my hand mixer). I am afraid to over mix it but not sure if I need to mix it more to get a dough. Thanks in advance!

  9. Jen
    January 16, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink
    1003

    Thank you Marian for the wonderful recipe and the great tips on avoiding spreading during baking. I have used this recipe for years (using the 2 1/2 cups of butter) and it turns out fantastic every time!

  10. Tristin
    January 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm | Permalink
    1004

    Love this recipe! It’s my go-to for any cut out sugar cookies I make! And it turns out great every time! One question though.. Do you ever freeze the dough? Just wondering in case I wanted to make a big batch of dough and freeze it then take it out at a later time to make what I needed.
    Thanks!

    • Megan
      March 2, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink
      1010

      I’d love to know this too! I made the recipe tonight and baked half of them. They turned out perfect. But now I have wuite a bit of dough left. Can I freeze it?

    • marian
      March 3, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink
      1011

      Absolutely, yes. :)

  11. Patricia
    January 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
    1005

    What is the dough is too dry, crumbly??2 batches have come out the same way. Followed the steps, I had beautiful cookies in December- now not so much. Any advice?
    Thanks

    • bonny
      February 4, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
      1006

      Hi mine looked like that but after I wrapped it up and left to cgill for an hour it became nice and soft , hope that helps.

  12. Cynthia
    February 26, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink
    1007

    Greetings! I thought I’d leave a comment about my success story with this recipe in order not to discourage others from trying it, given some of the troubles previous people have had. This recipe is great – I followed your instructions to the letter because as you say, it IS a science! I halved the recipe since I am still in the experimental phase with cookie recipes I will use for my little one’s birthday party in April, and still no problem. Left the butter out over night, which is a great idea and didn’t use much baking powder, just a tiny pinch since the recipe was already cut down to half of your original quantities. I really like the technique of rolling the dough between sheets of parchment paper — very easy to roll out dough later on and no mess on my countertop! I had always left the dough to chill in flat disks, which I would roll out later before cutting the cookies – of course the dough would then warm up again which defeated the purpose of chilling in the first place! Cookies baked through with a little brown on the edges in 9 minutes, so could even cut down to 8 min on my oven. All in all, a great recipe with expert tips. Thanks so much! Now on to the icing….

  13. SAMANTHA
    February 29, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink
    1008

    What is the shelf life of a baked and iced cookie?

  14. Luly
    March 3, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
    1012

    Hello,
    Mariam, thank you so much for this recipe. I can’t wait to try it, I will make some shark cookies for my son 4th bday!! I’m planning on making the dought tomorrow, so I’m taking the butter out tonight. Any advice you can give me for my shark cookies.
    Thank you for your time

    Luly

  15. Tamyara
    March 4, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
    1013

    This is my go to cookie recipe, I have family members that are always asking me to make them. Can I make the dough and go ahead and cut the cookies and leave them in the refrigerator till I’m ready to bake them? I’m wanting to make some and give away next Thursday but I have to make them this weekend and I’m afraid if I bake them this early they won’t be fresh Thursday.

  16. Danielle
    March 13, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Permalink
    1014

    2 cups of butter..500gms

  17. Sheila inverno
    March 14, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
    1015

    Hello! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe for my daughters second birthday party this Saturday. Is it possible to make the recipe in advance and keep it in the fridge until ready to bake this Friday? Thanks in advance!

  18. Lauren
    March 28, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink
    1017

    I LOVE this recipe! It is definitely my go to sugar cookie recipe! Thanks!

  19. Melanie
    April 8, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink
    1018

    By far the best sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever used!
    They held their shape perfectly and super easy to make.
    THANKS SO MUCH for all the tips!!

  20. Cailin
    May 17, 2016 at 11:07 pm | Permalink
    1019

    Beautiful recipe. I worked with cold butter and left out the baking powder and they worked perfectly. Thank you so much :)

  21. Huma
    May 19, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
    1020

    Thank you a million times over Marian! My first ever attempt at making and icing sugar cookies – and I used your recipe and tutorial. Brilliant instructions that created perfectly formed shapes. Everyone thought I had gotten the cookies proffesionally made!
    I made mice and foxes for part of a Gruffalo themed birthday for my just turned 4yr old. He was the most excited 4 year old ever

  22. Michelle
    May 24, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
    1021

    Hi Marian,

    I just attempted to make these cookies and the batter was to dry.
    I have read comments and your responses and you talk a lot about humidity – would it be safe to say that maybe adding all 5 cups of flour at once is too much, especially if you don’t know much about humidity or about the water content in the butter being used.

  23. Paula
    June 10, 2016 at 12:07 am | Permalink
    1022

    I really enjoy making sugar cookies and decorating them. Would you be willing to share your recipe for icing your cookies? I think you referred to it as “Royal” icing? I would really like to have a recipe to try. Thx so much!!! Going to be hosting an open house soon and these would be wonderful to serve.

  24. Stephanie
    June 17, 2016 at 12:35 am | Permalink
    1023

    I love this recipe. My cookies come out great every time!!!! Thank you for sharing!

  25. Maamaabear
    July 4, 2016 at 9:01 pm | Permalink
    1024

    I am loving all your tutorials and your blog. Thank you for sharing with us all!! I do have a question about your cookie recipe here and your royal icing recipe. Can both be pre-made and used later and if so for how long. Basically, how many days before hand can I make each and have them bake and ice as good as day one? Thank you so much!

  26. Kellee
    July 5, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink
    1025

    Great recipe! Comes out perfect every time!! Thanks!!

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