Best-Ever Sugar Cookies
Updated: Dec 22, 2020
This is the definitive go-to dough for rolled and shaped sugar cookies.
Sugar cookies are a love 'em-or-hate 'em kind of cookie. But even the most ardent haters of sugar cookies cannot resist these. Thanks to the rule-breaking step of using salted butter in the dough, the texture of these sugar cookies is perfectly crisp and the flavor is delightfully balanced. They also really hold their shape thanks to the key technique of not overbeating the dough but gathering it and working it to a smooth finish by hand before rolling and shaping. The result is the ideal, best-ever sugar cookie.
Equipment: dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; large and small mixing bowls; hand or standing mixer, rubber spatula; rolling pin; cookie cutters; parchment paper or silicone baking sheets; sheet pans; offset spatula; cooling rack; pastry bag and tip or resealable bag
Dough Ingredients: 2½ cups all-purpose flour ¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature 1 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Royal Icing Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
ILOC tip: use Kerry Gold salted Irish butter or Plugra salted butter for the best results.
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl or standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy, approximately two minutes. Add the egg and then the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and beat until the dough forms small crumbs, approximately 30 seconds.
3. Turn out the crumbed dough onto a clean work surface and gather the bits with your hands. Gently work the dough for a minute or two until it is no longer crumby and a smooth surface forms.
"At this point, you may either begin rolling the dough on a very lightly floured work surface, or form a disc and store in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to a few days."
4. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Set aside.
Chill Your Counter When Working with Dough and a Rolling Pin
"ILOC tip: Dough can warm so quickly on the counter, especially when being handled. One of the easiest ways to keep your dough cool for easy rolling/cutting/shaping is to chill first the counter, especially if your counter is made of stone. Place some ice cubes in a mixing bowl (preferably metallic for speedy cooling) and set the bowl on your work surface. After a few minutes the area will be chilled and ready for some action! It’s all about technique, not torture."
5. Place half the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll to ¼-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes and place 2 inches apart on the lined sheet pan. Gather scrap dough and rewrap for later use.
6. Bake at 375°F for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
8. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack. Once completely cool, the cookies may be frosted/iced.
9. To make the royal icing, beat the egg white until frothy in large mixing bowl or the bowl of standing mixer. Add the powdered sugar gradually and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is shiny. Increase the speed to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired.
10. Transfer the icing to a pastry bag fitted with a tip or a resealable plastic bag (then cut the corner of the bag before piping. Decorate as desired.
Store in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
Makes 2-3 dozen cookies.