My favorite cookie for frosting and decorating for any holiday or special event including birthdays, weddings, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We just love them with some large colorful decorating crystals that are matched to the occasion!
I have so many of my favorite holiday recipes that were first published on my site before people I know were even using the Internet. No, I am not kidding! I first put the recipe for The Best Sugar Cookies online at my first website and then added them to the blog a decade ago, you know when we didn’t know each other? It’s the perfect time to share again or honestly, for the first time.
I simply LOVE these cookies, I get how the word ‘best’ is subjective but these have such a great taste and texture that they truly win that designation in my book. That they are easy makes them better than best even. They go way beyond the Christmas holidays too; I’ve made them for birthdays and St. Paddy’s Day and yes, even prepared a big plate of them for friends who were renewing their wedding vows. It’s amazing what a bit of colored sugar can do to make them personal.
For many years I would spend days each holiday season making rolled and decorated sugar cookies. I started the tradition in my twenties with a girlfriend and we made hundreds of cookies that we rolled, cut out, frosted and decorated and gave to friends. I continued on with that tradition for many years when my kids where small and it became a fun family holiday experience for all of us as they got old enough to help. We loved sharing them with our neighbors, friends and family.
But one day, there were no little girls wanting to help mommy make Valentine hearts, Easter bunnies, or Santa sugar cookies and I was ready for something simpler. I’ll keep that big box of cookie cutters for the time when my children have their own children and I can make them with grandkids but for me at this time, these are not just the next best thing; I think they are even better!
No matter that this is an old recipe; sometimes they are the best. They may be simpler to make than cutout cookies, but have such a great taste and texture; so good, so light, and just the right amount of crisp. They are perfectly wonderful with just a dusting of sugar but for something even more special, I will add a layer of frosting before those sprinkles! I made these cookies for neighbors for Valentine’s Day last year and one sent me a text 5 minutes after I left telling me they were the best sugar cookies she had ever had. Wow!!! See, I told ya!
Many years ago I volunteered to host Denver’s South Metro Cooking Club Meetup at my home and help members make sugar cookies. We spent an afternoon with an assembly line of cookie making. Knowing I would have up to 15 people in my kitchen making and decorating cookies, I thought this recipe ideal and it was quite the production. Two people making batches of dough, two making frosting, two managing the baking and the rest of us either decorating or maybe just drinking wine and chatting up guests (yes, me…so?).
We had such a blast and these very old photos gives you an idea of how many hands were in the mix. Literally. We frosted some and simply sprinkled sugar on others but mostly we just had so much fun and everyone left feeling accomplished and with a plate of their own decorated cookies. I should do that again shouldn’t I?
For me the real key to these being successful with just sprinkles meant changing the product I used for decorating. No longer happy with the bottles of decorations meant for cookies with sugar the size of your regular granulated sugar, I’ve graduated to using the larger sugar decorations typically used for cakes. This Wilton White Sparkling Sugar is my go to for both these cookies and for decorating the rims of cocktails too; their size makes for a true crystal look and they’re beautiful. There are lots of colors available too. I also love these Wilton Sugar Pearls; they’re always a nice contrast.
Santa is never forgotten either. He must be stuffed after getting goodies at each house but no matter; they are all gone when we get up in the morning! This past Christmas season I had my neighbor kids over to help me out. They did not make these cookies; no they made ones that appeared to each have a half bottle of sprinkles them…but they had fun!
I really do mix them up a lot and they’ve been my go to for birthdays and holidays for many years now. With or without frosting, they truly are The Best Sugar Cookies!
More Favorite Cookies:
The Best Sugar Cookies
These cookies are great just rolled in sugar (see notes for some suggestions) and are perfect for holidays or special events with buttercream and/or sugar crystal decorations.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup packed powdered sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 1/2 cups flour
For the Cookies
For the Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
- 3-4 cups confectioners sugar; lighten up by whisking in a bowl, not sifting
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
To Make the Cookies:
- Cream butter and add sugars and mix well. Blend in oil, eggs and vanilla, in that order. Mix dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture and beat til thoroughly combines. Roll into balls and flatten with a glass dipped in sugar.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes; these are prettiest when they are not allowed to brown at all so watch carefully.
- Remove from cookie sheets after a minute or two and then allow to cool completely.
To Make the Frosting:
- Beat butter for a few minute on medium speed.
- Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated.
- Add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for approximately 3 minutes.
- For a stiffer consistency add the remaining sugar. For a thinner consistency add the remaining milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
If not decorating or frosting the cookies, simply roll them in sugar before flattening with the glass and baking. Some other suggestions:
Combine 2/3 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp cinnamon to roll them in.
Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup maple sugar to roll them in.