Sugar cookies for the holidays

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life19 Comments
It’s that time of year again, when people bust out their best holiday treats. You may or may not know that I am not much of a baker but a few year’s ago my friend Susan shared with me the magical ways of the sugar cookie, and I was hooked.

Every time I share a photo on Instagram, I get asked for the recipe and while I’ve posted about it before, I’m sharing it again today in the spirit of Christmas cookies.

The recipe I’m sharing today originated from Sara Fehling, who shared it with Susan, who passed it along to me! I am literally no baker but this recipe makes it seem like maybe I am.

The original post is below!

(I got the adorable Christmas bulb cutter here.)

I know what you’re thinking. They are the very essence of cookie perfection. How could a self-proclaimed non-baker like myself achieve such a high level of excellence? Two things. First, a great recipe, and second, a little life-changing gadget called The Cookie Thing. | the best sugar cookie recipe ever
The Cookie Thing has one purpose: to help you roll out perfectly even dough in the thickness of your choosing. That’s it. Susan simply uses 5/16″ dowels from the craft store to achieve the same end. True, they are much cheaper than The Cookie Thing, but some of us are suckers for a well-designed product.

I don’t have any well lit shots of me rolling out the dough but if you want to see this thing in action, watch this, made by The Cookie Thing’s creator. (This was the video that made me click BUY.)

Note: I used the second smallest of the slats to make my cookies. I always think I should go up to the next depth of slat. But nope, it’s that second to narrowest slat that works like a charm. It measures 4/16, for those who are curious.

2019 UPDATE: I recently purchased this Precision Rolling Pin from The Cookie Countess. I have not tested it out, but it’s another option for even dough rolling!

Next you need to have the tools of the trade. Now I ain’t gonna lie. My KitchenAid stand mixer makes the process so much more do-able. I have bird wrists. I’m not a good by-hand mixer kind of gal.

But for achieving that smooth, flooded cookie look you need to have the following:

• disposable decorating bags (I use these)
• icing tips (I use No. 3 as my main size, and No. 2 and No. 1 for smaller detail work)
• couplers (I use these.)

I had to look up how to put the bags together on the YouTube. (This video is helpful, if this concept is new to you.)

You’ll also need to get gel coloring for your icing. I presently use this set and a few pots of Wilton, but plan to get some of the AmeriColor by Easter.

So now that you have all the tools and you’re ready to go, how ’bout I give you the recipe?

HERE YOU GO: SugarCookieAndIcingRecipe

A few extra things to note:

• When I make this cookie recipe, I halve it and make a double batch. Twice. As much as I love my mixer, it has a harder time handling the full 6 cups of flour the recipe calls for. I much prefer to make a half batch, roll out the dough, pop it into the fridge to chill and then tackle batch no. 2. Yes, it makes for more clean up (I start each batch with a clean mixer bowl and paddle) but it’s easier for me to manage.

• I prefer to roll out the dough using parchment paper versus wax paper. It’s less apt to stick to the dough.

• The icing recipe calls for almond extract, but I always flavor with vanilla. It’s a personal taste. I can’t stand the taste of almond extract in anything, though I adore almonds. Go figure.

• In the icing recipe, Sara divides her icing while it is still thick, then adds water to each bowl as she goes. I tend to get my icing a bit more fluid before I divide and conquer. So I add successive tablespoons of water to the mixer until it gets a bit thinner. The danger is that you’ll get it too runny, which you don’t want. I find the icing making stage is the most tedious. Both from getting the consistency right to getting the colors right. It takes time and if you get it too runny, you can always add more powdered sugar. There is a great tip for the right consistency in the PDF.

• Tie off your pastry bags very tightly. What has happened to me on numerous occasions is that I’m so focused on piping on that frosting, I don’t notice that I’m squeezing it up and out of the bag. And yes, that’s a messy clean up.

• Lastly, have fun. Experiment. Make mistakes and practice. Making cookies with Aidan is such a joy, especially on the holidays, so get a partner to help and have at it. | the best sugar cookie recipe ever
This photo was from Christmas. It’s a total set up. You put wet paper towels in glasses to keep the icing from caking up and you get to work. We keep toothpicks handy to create fun designs. Susan explains how to do that in the PDF. It’s truly an all-day affair. I like to make the cookies the night before, and get to frosting the next day.

Of course, the best part about all of this is that if you like sugar cookies, you are going to love how they taste. Seriously. I don’t make these often because as was the case on Valentine’s Day, I pretty much ate cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What’s a few days out of the year lost to sugar coma, right?

Enjoy! | the best sugar cookie recipe ever
Note: for my Valentine’s Day cookies, I used this cutter for the big hearts and this set for the smaller, scalloped-edge ones.

Note No. 2: I may have left the smaller cookies in the oven about a minute too long. I always tend to want to see brown edges, but honestly? They’re done before that happens.



Cathy ZielskeSugar cookies for the holidays

19 Comments on “Sugar cookies for the holidays”

  1. #1

    Awesome – thanks! Appreciate your extra tips. 😉 Will have to see if I can find Susan around still. Merry Christmas!

  2. #4

    Thank you for reposting!! Your cookies are so inspiring, and Susan’s instructions are very reassuring! So excited to do this with the kids. Fun!!

  3. #5
    Jamie Barba

    Gorgeous cookies!! For flooding, I use squeeze bottles that I buy at Sam’s. It seems to work best for me & im less likely to have an epic disaster. For detail work & doing edges, I use a pastry bag.

  4. #7

    Cleaning out my “save for when you have more time” reads in Feedly… Question (that hopefully Susan can chime in on): What about high altitude? I’ve given up on sugar cookies because here at mile+ high they all seem to come out dry crumbly hockey pucks. Any suggestions? Because I want to eat all of these. I won’t…that Fit train and all. But I would like maybe one or two and be able to share the rest with my kids classrooms for Valentine’s Day. I have a million cute cookie cutters from my flat-lander days that must be used!

    1. #7.1

      Doh. And upon reading the rest of the comments I see I buzzed right over the email Susan bit. I’ll just leave that up there in case she wants to help some other poor unfortunate soul living in the mountains. 🙂 Off to email!

  5. #8
    Tammi Mixon

    I don’t mean to sound stupid, but do you use All Purpose Flour in the sugar cookie recipe? The recipe calls for such a small amount of baking powder, I really wondered if it was just the right amount to add a little ooomph to Self Rising Flour!


  6. #9
    Lizeth Swaim

    Do you know if you can freeze the baked cookies and ice later? I’m going to be laid up during the holidays. I was hoping to get these baked, freeze and later decorate with my kids. 🙂

    1. #9.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Unfortunately, I don’t know if you can do this. I’m not a savvy enough baker to answer that question! Maybe a quick google search will help?

  7. #11

    Thank you for the recipe Cathy, I would definitely do this. I bought the ingredients this morning 🙂

  8. #13

    First of all, thank you for crediting Sara for her recipe. I know how much she worked on tweaking it until it was perfect. I did notice when I clicked the pdf, it still credits the wrong person-it credits the person who got the recipe from Sara. Sara wrote those instructions, and should receive the credit on the pdf as well.

    1. #13.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Sam, thank you! I totally forgot to update the PDF. It has been updated here and on the original post!

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