Sugar Cookies

Two tried-and-true, fabulous sugar cookie recipes. Old fashioned, easy to make buttery cookies, perfect to decorate for any occasion. Photos and step-by-step instructions.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Photos of this batch of cookies by SA Stephens

When looking for good recipes for sugar cookies, I turned to my dear friend and Alabama native, Steve-Anna. She gave me two family favorites and we each picked a batch to make. Steve-Anna takes cookie decorating to a level unimaginable to me, so we are starting here with her cookie photos and cookies recipe. I chose a minimalist approach to decorating in the second recipe listed, as you will see.

Sugar Cookies Recipe



Sugar Cookie Recipe number one


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla (can substitute almond extract)


    • 1/3 cup Crisco (transfat-free) or a 1/3 cup of softened butter
    • 1 pound of confectioners sugar
    • About 1/4 cup of milk
    • 1 teaspoon of vanilla


1 Sift dry ingredients, cut in butter and add other ingredients. Blend thoroughly; chill for several hours.

2 Break off a piece of dough the size of an orange and pat it flat in your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll on dough on floured board (best to use a 2/1 ration of flour/sugar - 4 Tbsp flour mixed with 2 Tbsp sugar) or between wax paper. (It helps if you flour both sides of the dought.) Roll out to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out and put on silpat-lined or ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes at 400 F. Remove the cookies from the oven as soon as you see them turning color at the base of the cookie. Let cool completely.

3 Mix icing ingredients together until smooth. Separate into different bowls, add food coloring to achieve various colors. Spread on cookies with a butter knife, use cake decorating piping equipment to add decorative accents. If you want the sprinkle type decorating candies to stick, brush the cookie with clear Karo syrup and then sprinkle.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Undecorated cookies

The icing begins

Using sprinkles

sugar cookies
The finished product.

Adapted from the recipe for Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies, Huntsville Heritage Cookbook, 1967, The Junior League of Huntsville, AL, Lowry Printing, Inc.

Sugar Cookie Recipe number 2



  • 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Food coloring

1 Beat the butter and sugar together for 1 minute. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract, beat until incorporated. Combine dry ingredients and add to batter, stirring to blend.

2 Divide dough in half, form 2 balls. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

3 Using a rolling pin, roll out dough (about 1/2 of one dough ball at a time) on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8" thickness. Dip cookie cutters into flour; cut out shapes. Place cookies on silpat lined or lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375°F for 7-8 minutes.

4 To make icing, combine sugar, almond extract and just enough milk (about 1/4 cup) to make the frosting the consistency of thin glue. Pour icing into shallow bowls wide enough for dipping cookies. Add food coloring.

5 To decorate, dip the topside of each cookie into the icing. Remove quickly and let icing drip of excess back into the icing bowl. Let dry. Pour additional colored frosting into pastry piping, or use a plastic sandwich bag with the tip of one corner nicked off. Gently squeeze frosting on to cookies in whatever patterns you choose.

Makes 2-3 dozen.

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Showing 4 of 64 Comments

  • Leo

    I tried the first sugar cookie tonight and it was ok. My little girl enjoyed it. We are trying out cookies for her school cookie exchange for Friday. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Cindy

    Hi! Love your recipes. Can’t wait to try them out. I do have a question, is there a trick to the batter or some way to keep those nice sharp cookie-cutout shapes? Your star cookie looks super nice! Last, year I used frozen cookie dough to make some Lego miniman cookies and they totally lost their shapes while baking. They barely resembled a miniman. That was soooo dissappointing. I’m hoping to avoid that this time around :) Thanks!

    I guess it depends on the cookie dough you are using. That and you do need to chill the dough completely. ~Elise

  • erica

    going to try out the 1st recipe for superbowl cookies:) how long does the 1st recipe dough need to be refrigerated for? (like a minimum number of hours, I may not have 2 days to make them)

    Oh I would say at least a couple hours. ~Elise

  • Kimi

    I just want to point out to those saying their dough is crumbly and dry that some cookie recipes are just like that. They are similar to the old fashioned sugar cookies of the old days. My cookie recipe is also very dry and crumbly but a trick I use when rolling it out after chilling it until firm, is to spray water on it from a refillable pump bottle. Just enough to moisten it until it is like play doh. Then I cut and bake they come out delicious everytime.

    Use water and not milk or cream as that can alter the structure of the cookie if you use too much, and using a spray bottle ensures a fine mist you can control how much goes on. Too much and you will ruin it. Too little and the cookies crumble a lot but they will still taste good, if you don’t want to use water just roll into a log and slice and bake because the dryness of the dough won’t roll out well enough for cutting.

  • billie

    when cuttin out cookies roll ur cookies out onto the cookie sheet then all u gotta do is remove the extra dough around the cut outs this works wonders and no messed up COOKIES!!!

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Sugar Cookies