Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ "My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe ~

IMG_8753Just in time for the premiere cookie baking holiday of the year,

yesterday, I got an e-mail from a reader living in "sugar cookie purgatory":

I'd like to say I was surprised, but, I wasn't.  I'm quite adept at baking, and, I'm ok with stating: sugar cookies can be positively persnickity.  Taking it one step further:  The easiest cookie to screw up is the sugar cookie.  While these cookies only contain a few simple ingredients, "things" can and will go wrong quickly, especially if details regarding mixing, refrigerating and rolling this delicate dough are left out of the recipe instructions.  I'm lucky.  The very first sugar cookie recipe I ever tried worked perfectly. Since then, I've tried others, with more than a few producing disappointing results.  One recipe baked up great, but tasted like cardboard. Another tasted great, but the cookies lost their shape in the oven (those cookies did make great cookie crumbs though).  Upon rolling, one recipe's dough stuck to everything, including the inside of the garbage can -- certainly not my idea of a good time.  It's no wonder some people hate to bake.

IMG_8761Sugar cookies traditionally fall into the category of "rolled cookies" which are cut into shapes to suit your fancy and the occasion, but, they can be treated as "drop cookies" too, meaning:  they can be formed into uniform-sized balls and baked.  They can be crisp and thin or soft and thick. They should melt-in-your mouth, taste rich and buttery and have a flaky, delicate texture. Perfectly baked ones have clean edges that hold shape when baked, and, emerge from the oven just cooked through and puffy with almost no signs of browning.  Sugar cookies require patience and love, and, as I prepare this basic recipe today, I'll be providing my best tips to you!

6a0120a8551282970b01538fb34ac1970b-800wiMaryAnna says and asks:  "Melanie, do you have a basic recipe for sugar cookies that are easy to roll and don't spread out all over the pan and burn around the edges?  I'm a pretty good cook, and, when I bake, I'm good at things like cakes and cupcakes, but, I've always had problems with rolled pie crusts and sugar cookies. Over Thanksgiving, I made my first successful pie crust using your IMG_8715recipe for ~ Making Pate Brisee: Basic Pie or Quiche Pastry ~.  I don't know if it was your recipe or the photos, but it came out great.  I was hoping you would have a sugar cookie recipe that would do the same, but, I didn't see one.  Do you have one? PS:  I live in an apartment and don't own a stand mixer.  Can I make sugar cookies with a hand mixer?

[Note to readers:  Recipe for pie pastry can be found in Categories 6, 15 or 22.] 

IMG_6400Kitchen Encounters:  I am so glad I took the angst out of pie pastry for you MaryAnna, and, I hope I can do the same for sugar cookies.  You are correct, I do not have a recipe for "my" sugar cookies posted, but, I am happy to share the one I have been successfully using for years with you.  When it comes to basic sugar cookies, recipes are all pretty similar, and, the one I've been using comes out the first cookbook I received as a bridal shower gift back in 1974.  The recipe is entitled "Deluxe Sugar Cookies (Also known as Mary's Sugar Cookies)", and, it can be found on page 149. They came out perfectly the first time I made them so they remain my "go to" basic recipe!  There's more:

I was living in an apartment with no stand mixer at the time, so, I can tell you:  no problem!

IMG_85601  cup salted butter (yes, salted butter), at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)

1 1/2  cups confectioners' sugar (not granulated sugar)

1  large egg, at room temperature

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract, not imitation

1/2  teaspoon pure almond extract, not imitation

2 1/2  cups unbleached,  all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon baking soda

1  teaspoon cream of tartar

confectioners' sugar, for sprinkling on cookies at serving time (optional)

IMG_8570 IMG_8565~ Step 1.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Set aside. In a large bowl, place confectioners' sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extracts.  Starting on low speed of mixer, combine the sugar/butter mixture, gradually increasing the mixer to medium-high.  Beat for a full 3 minutes.

IMG_8573~ Step 2.  Decrease mixer speed to low.  Begin incorporating the flour mixture, in thirds, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatual almost constantly, until flour is thoroughly incorporated.  This will take about 3 full minutes too.

IMG_8579Dough will be soft, but, to the touch, easy to gather up and form into a rough ball/mass.

IMG_8587~ Step 3.  Gather the cookie dough up and place it in a 6-8-cup food storage container.  Cover and refrigerate, to "let it rest" for 12-24 hours.  Patience is a virtue.

Tip #1:  Many recipes say "refrigerate 2-3 hours".  This is not long enough.  Not allowing the dough "to age" enough in the refrigerator is the #1 reason for sugar cookies losing shape when baked. When baking sugar cookies, you need a mature dough, requiring 12-24 hours in the refrigerator.

IMG_8653~ Step 4.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to rolling.  During this time, line two 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pans with parchment (quarter sheet pans).

Note:  My method for rolling dough is a bit different than you will see elsewhere, but, I think you're going to like the way I've simplified it.

IMG_8657Sprinkle a VERY light amount of flour on the top of each sheet of parchment.  Divide the dough in half.  If you have a kitchen scale, you will have 2, 13-ounce pieces. Form each half into a thick, freeform rectangular shape and place one on the center of each pan.  Sprinkle a VERY light amount of flour on the top of each.  Resist the urge to add any more flour during the rolling process.  Flour will toughen this delicate cookie dough.

IMG_8663Pat and roll the dough evenly into the bottom of each pan.  The rolled dough will be slightly less than 1/4" thick (perfect).  Place the pans of rolled dough in the refrigerator to firm up again, 45-60 minutes.

Tip #2.  The advantage to rolling your dough on a baking pan (instead of a pastry board) is that it can be placed back into the refrigerator to firm up prior to cutting the cookies.  This will insure you get cookies with cleanly cut sides.

IMG_8706 IMG_8713~ Step 5. One pan at a time, remove the rolled dough from the refrigerator. Choose a cookie cutter.  My 2" rectangular cutter is equivalent to a 2" round cutter.  I like to cut rectangles or squares.  Why?  It's a very efficient use of cookie dough -- no waste. My 1" rectangular cutter picks up where the bigger one leaves off!

Tip #3:  While it is acceptable to reroll scraps of leftover dough, because you'll need additional flour to do it, you'll be toughening those cookies made with rerolled dough.  Dare to be square!

IMG_8691 IMG_8722~ Step 6. Cut the cookies. With a cold pan of cold dough, you'll immediately notice how easy this is.  Transfer cut cookies to a  17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan (half sheen pan) that has been lined with parchment, spacing them about 3/4" apart. Because dough is so firm, you probably won't need a spatula.

~ Step 7.  Return the pan of cut cookies to the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes.  While this pan is chilling, remove the second pan of rolled dough from the refrigerator and repeat process.

IMG_8700~ Step 8.  Bake cookies, one pan at a time on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven, until puffy and just short of turning brown, about 6-7 minutes.  Watch carefully after 6 minutes of baking.  Remove from oven and cool on pan about 3-4 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies will crisp up as they cool to room temperature.  Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar at serving time.

IMG_8799"My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe:  Recipe yields 32, 2" cookies and 14, 1" cookies.

Special Equipment List:  hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 6-8-cup food storage container w/lid; 2, 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pans (quarter sheet pans); parchment paper; small pastry roller or small rolling pin; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans (half sheet pans); small metal spatula; large cooling racks

IMG_8740Cook's Note:  With only five days left until Christmas, if you bake these cookies now, you can store them in an airtight container and they'll taste great until after New Years!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


Once again Teresa, you and your expertise bring a big smile to my face. That "pan roll" is pricelessly successful -- no stress, no mess and clean cuts!

Mel, that is an excellent simple recipe on several levels, but your rolling technique is impeccably clever. :)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment