Sugar Cookies

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 69 Comments

  • Pamela

    Did you have a preference for one cookie over another? I ask because I’ve yet to find a sugar cookie recipe that delivers everything I want in terms of taste/texture. The recipe details matter much less to me than the finished product.

    I’d love to hear your opinion of the experiment!


  • SAS

    Pamela, I’m the person who offered the first recipe from the Huntsville Heritage cookbook. We’ve done both in my family, and we far prefer the first one. However, I substitute almond extract for the vanilla (a tip I learned from the second recipe) but that’s a matter of personal taste.


  • Chris

    Just wondering if either of them are soft cookies. I’m not fond of the really hard crunchy cookies, and I’ve been looking for a great cooking with a slightly crunchy edge and a softer center.

  • Anonymous

    The second recipe is almost exactly like the recipe my family has been using for years. It may be the exact recipe, but I don’t have it in front of me to compare with. Cooking for 7-8 minutes (until there is just a hint of golden brown at the edges) will result in a light cookie that is soft in the middle but firm enough to pick up without falling apart. If you let it cook too long it gets a little crunchy. These are the best and I’ve made them every Christmas for as long as I can remember.

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