The holiday season is often accompanied by family traditions and super soft classic Christmas sugar cookies is one you’ll surely want to add to the list.
Classic traditions are something every family looks forward to throughout the year, especially during the holiday season. It’s creating these simple memories that are often passed down generation after generation. I have always loved to bake and looked forward to the day when I got to help my Mom make her classic sugar cookie recipe. Between the excitement of mixing up the dough (and stealing bits to eat), to cutting out the cookies & ultimately the fun of decorating them, it was a treasured tradition that I still love today.
I’ve often been told that my classic sugar cookie recipe is a fan favorite by family, friends, and coworkers alike because they are so soft and fluffy. I think the cream of tartar is the secret ingredient but I also make sure to leave the dough a bit thicker than usual to create that extra fluffiness that everyone loves. Don’t be afraid to roll them out a bit thinner if you prefer a crispier cookie.
If you have dietary restrictions such as I do, I tweaked the receipt just a bit to accommodate my gluten free and dairy free needs and these still turned out just as I remembered them. You won’t have to miss out on enjoying a family tradition!
Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies
(gluten & dairy free version noted)
Ingredients for Cookies
- 1 cup margarine (use vegan butter if needing dairy free), room temperature
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour (substitute with multi-purpose gluten free flour if needed)
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- Ingredients for Frosting
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 6 tbsp butter, melted (substitute vegan butter if necessary)
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 6 tbsp milk (use almond milk if needed)
- food coloring & decorations, optional
Using stand mixer, cream margarine (or vegan butter) and slowly add sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated.
Stir in vanilla. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir by hand or on lowest setting.
Chill for 1 hour (this helps prevent the dough from being too sticky).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once chilled, dust countertop with flour and place dough in the center. Using a rolling pin, begin to roll out the dough until flat. Be sure to not make the dough too thin, it should have a bit of thickness to it, about ¼-½". This is what makes them fluffy & soft.
Select your cookie cutters and dust the bottom with flour to prevent potential sticking. Place them over the dough and press. Wiggle them slightly to ensure they’re separated from the remaining dough. Once all pressed, remove the excess dough and using a spatula, carefully place cookies on lined baking sheet.
Baking for 6-8 minutes until golden. I prefer to slightly undercook them to keep them soft and chewy.
Repeat this process until all dough has been used and cookies are baked.
While cookies are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a mixing bowl, beat the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla & half of the milk on low speed until combined. Slowly add 1 tbsp of milk until smooth. Switch to a high speed and beat mixture until at desired consistency.
You may have to add additional teaspoons of milk if too thick or add powdered sugar in ¼ cup increments if too thin.
Scoop some frosting into a plastic bag and snip off the corner in order to allow you to pipe frosting onto the cookie. Outline the cookie with a small amount of frosting, then fill in the cookie using an offset spatula. Decorate as desired!
Tip - if planning to gift a stack of cookies to friends and family, let them dry to where the frosting is no longer pliable. Then stack 4 to 5 cookies and wrap with ribbon and add a decorative holiday tag.
Since this cookie recipe does require a bit more effort than other recipes, I might suggest that you not take the frosting exercise too seriously. At the end of the day you have to remember that these are most often eaten by kids or adults who are embracing their inner child throughout the holiday season anyways! Select two or three food coloring options, a handful of decorating sprinkles and pour yourself a glass of wine with your favorite holiday music and remember to enjoy what the holiday season is all about.
Trust me, whether they look professionally decorated or not, your friends and family will love these and that’s what they’ll always remember.
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Written By: Kristin Mansky