Sugar cookies are easy to make. Cut-out sugar cookies are harder because you don’t want them to spread and need them to maintain their shape. But you also don’t want to eat a cookie that’s hard as a rock.
There are lots of methods that help a cookie keep its shape, like precutting it and then freezing for a certain amount of time. But, I find this to be the best approach. They don’t use any leavening agents (like baking soda or baking powder), they are kept cold from the start and they are baked quickly at a high heat.
Just so you know, they won’t have any color when they come out, which is what you want. They will look raw, but they’re not! This coloring is ideal for buttercream, cream cheese frosting or royal icing. I was baking this with a few of Amelia’s friends today, so I opted for a buttercream frosting for how easy it is to spread and how good it tastes. But I also included a recipe for royal icing, which is fun too!
Cut-Out Holiday Sugar Cookies
For the cookies
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the royal icing
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Food coloring (optional)
- To make the cookies, cream together butter and sugar until smooth in a large bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
- Once chilled, roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Allow to cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets before removing to a cooling rack.
- To make royal icing: in medium bowl, beat egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until they begin to foam. Gently add in the sugar until completely incorporated. Then, stir in vanilla and beat on high until it becomes very thick (about 5-10 minutes). At this point, you can color your royal icing or separate it into individual bowls and stir in coloring you want. Ice your cookies quickly before the royal icing sets and enjoy!