Christmas Cookies

In my opinion, no holiday tin is complete without a few decorated sugar cookies. I know that I just posted another sugar cookie recipe very recently, but I had to share these because they are my absolute favorite sugar cookies ever! The situation with these is similar to with the fudge I posted below. They are one of the many goodies given to our family during the holidays, and I was just blown away by how good they were. I made sure to find out who had given us the cookies and then tracked down the recipe. I have been making these for probably five or six years now and I just love them. They always turn out wonderfully and they keep very well. I typically decorate with store-bought frosting just because the process of making the dough, rolling it out, cutting out shapes and baking the cookies leaves me less than enthusiastic by the time I get to decorating. Even so, they turned out pretty cute 🙂

Ella’s White Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour

Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies.

Source: passed on to me by family friend Donna

66 Responses

  1. Those are so cute! I’m saving this recipe.

  2. Those are beautiful!

  3. those are so beautifully decorated! it’s so hard, because there are so many ‘best ever’ sugar cookie recipes out there that i want to try. i recently made some using peabody’s recipe – i may need to try your recipe next 🙂

  4. Well guess what I’m taking to my work holiday party! 🙂
    These are just too cute! I’ve been having a hard time finding a good rolled-out sugar cookie recipe so this will be a keeper!

  5. seriously, they may be “plain” to you, but NOTHING says the holidays more to me than a beatifully frosted sugar cookie. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the best. 🙂

  6. these are so cute! i have to try this recipe.

  7. Do you sift the flour before or after you measure? These look like THE recipe I have been dying to find!

  8. Thanks go to Donna for this incredible recipe. I love your decorating, they would look so special on a holiday treat tray!

  9. Your cookies are sooo cute!! Absolutely adorable.

  10. I just made these sugar cookies for my daughter’s class for her 6th birthday. I wanted to make sugar cookies so we could have some fun decorating them, but I don’t usually enjoy actually eating sugar cookies, they’re boring and not that flavorful. But your recipe is delicious, even plain, and they are super easy, too! BTW – I got 69 cookies out of one batch! Best sugar cookies ever!!!!

  11. […] Sugar Cookies (adapted from: Annie’s Eats) […]

  12. Hi! I made these cookies a few times, and tweaked them for other flavors as well, and I wanted to thank you for sharing the recipe. U can check it out here if you’d like:

    Have a great day!

  13. […] can go here for Annie’s sugar cookie recipe and here for the royal icing recipe.  Be sure to check out […]

  14. Hi annie,

    Can i ask if this is recipe calls for 2-1/2 cups sifted flour (as in: sifted, then measured) or 2-1/2 cups flour, sifted (measured, then sifted). I don’t see directions to sift the flour but a few sites who made your recipe reprinted it with variations and I just want to check.

    Would be great if you could let me know since I’m planning to make these tonight.


    • Hi there,
      I know the recipe says 2 1/2 cups sifted flour, but I typically measure, then sift. I’ve never had an issue and I think this dough would be pretty forgiving. Good luck!
      🙂 Annie

  15. Thanks Annie! Just curious – is the cookie very delicate/crumbly because it calls for powdered sugar and sifted flour? Also, I guess there’s no baking soda or powder so that means they’re pretty flat, right? (I hate the puffy ones!)

    • Hi again!
      No, this cookie is not crumbly at all. It is soft but sturdy. In fact, I have mailed them many times (decorated with royal icing) and they ship and keep very well. They are definitely not puffy, just as thick/flat as you roll the dough. Sooo yummy! Let me know how they turn out!
      🙂 Annie

  16. Hi There,

    I’m in the process of trying to find the best sugar cookie recipe so want to give these a whirl!

    What is the best way to store them after they have been baked? Is it best to leave the on the counter overnight before icing. After icing, is it best to leave on the counter overnight again to make sure they have dried completely. Or can I ice them once cooled? How do you store them? Do they need wrapping in anthing? Sorry for all the questions!! Thanks.

    • Hi Mrs. Hackney,
      I just keep them in an airtight container after baking, unless I am waiting for frosting to dry. Are you planning on using the royal icing? If so, I let them dry overnight (or at least for several hours) after flooding, and then for a few more after detailing. They keep very well in an airtight container after decorating.
      🙂 Annie

  17. I just wanted to let you know that I have posted this recipe on my blog, credited and linked to you here. Hope that’s okay.

  18. […] my entire brain turned to mush!  I’ve tried a lot of different recipes and the one used on Annie’s eats seems to be my favorite so […]

  19. […] Ella’s White Sugar Cookies Ingredients: 1 cup butter 1 cup powdered sugar 1 egg, beaten 1 ½ t. almond extract 1 t. vanilla 1 t. salt 2 ½ c. sifted flour […]

  20. I think I am doing something wrong because I am not having great results with this recipe and I am certain it is my fault since so many others have had such success. My problem is that the cookies seem to be very dry (IMO) and I have tried three times now to try and correct it, I upped the extract to 1 1/2 tsp each, totaling three tsp., I roll them out with powdered sugar so as not to have too much flour and only rolling the minimum amount so as not to be too thin or too tough… I can’t think of any other reason why they would be so dry! They do stay nice and are soft while keeping their shape enough to put royal icing on!

    • Hi Amy,
      Wow, sorry you’re having such trouble! My best guess would be maybe you are measuring your flour on the heavy/dense side. Maybe try spooning it into your measuring cup rather than scooping it. I don’t think the extracts would make enough of a difference either way, and I use quite a bit of flour every time I roll mine out, so I don’t think that should cause problems either. Good luck!

      • Thanks for the response, I measure my flour by volume on a scale so I am not sure that is the problem. It is probably just me, and it still tastes fine nonetheless 🙂 Just have to have a glass of milk with it 🙂

  21. Made these the other day they turned out pretty good, a bit on the almondy side well at least two of use thought so while the other two didn’t. In fact there one of the best sugar cookies i’ve had/made so far just going to use less almond extract next time. I’m making these for Xmas this year I’m also planning on making a chocolate version, subbing some coco powered for the almond extract. I also used the Royal Icing Recipe you have and it turned out quite lovely thanks for sharing these with everyone 🙂

  22. I think I figured out where I was going wrong! I just another batch this morning and they were PERFECT. I think I was over mixing the dough. DUH! This time, I hand mixed the last half cup of flour and mixed the other two cups with a light hand on the lowest speed and the cookies were simply divine! Thanks for helping me make the yummiest cookies ever!

    • Yay! Overmixing was my first thought, but I can’t remember now if I suggested that to you or not. Whenever I mix in dry ingredients I do it on low speed only until they are incorporated, but no longer. Glad it worked out for you. It is a great recipe!

  23. Just curious, how do these cookies do in the oven? Do they puff or spread a lot? I am on a quest!

    • Laurelg1,
      They don’t change shape much at all. I have made these cookies countless times and they keep their shape very well. In fact, they are posted as my newest entry today as well, so you can see for yourself!

  24. Hey Annie,
    Love the website, so fun! ANywho, I am making the sugar cookies right now and having a terrible time as the dough is so sticky…sticks to the counter and cant get it onto the cookie sheet nicely. I put lots of flour on the surface too. ANy suggestions?? Also, for the butter in the recipe do you put it right from the fridge in the mixer of do you put it in the microwave to soften. Thanks…wish me luck!

    • Hello Heidi,
      It sounds like maybe your dough isn’t chilled enough. I make these cookies all the time, and they never, ever stick to my work surface. Of course I use a sprinkling of flour, but sticking has never been an issue for me. As for mixing in the butter, I usually zap it in the microwave for about 15 seconds so it is the equivalent of room temperature, and it is easier to mix in to the dough.

  25. Hi I just found your blog and I love it! I want to try quite a few of your cupcakes. I love baking. I was wondering about your sugar cookies, do they stay soft a day after they’ve been made? I wonder cause I’ve been looking for one that does, some I’ve made are really good but as soon as they’re cold they’re hard as a rock! Thanks!

    • Lorina,
      I think these cookies keep extremely well for several days in an airtight container. I tend to decorate with royal icing, which I think helps to “seal” in some of the moisture as well.

  26. Annie –
    I’m wondering if this recipe doubles well. I made them at Valentine’s and they turned out divine! Thanks for you fabulous website and insights! ❤

  27. Hi Annie,
    I just happen to stumble onto your page and love everything in it! You are very creative and everything looks beautiful! I’m wondering if the almond extract, vanilla (extract?), and salt is measured by tablespoon or teaspoon?
    -thank you

    • Hi Cheryll,
      Those are all measured in teaspoons. Back when I wrote this recipe out, I used T. for tablespoons and t. for teaspoons.

  28. Hi Annie,
    Just wondering if I can freeze some of this dough if I’m not using all of it right now?

  29. Hi Annie,
    A friend recommended your website for my FIRST foray into baking sugar cookies from scratch and making royal icing. I am very nervous about this. I have a question about the cookiebatter process-when you say cream the butter, does that mean to use unsalted room temp butter and just smash it? Also, on add powdered sugar and blend in egg-do you just dump the sugar in and mix it with an electric mixer??? Sorry, I am a STRUGGLE at baking, but want to make cookies for my daughter’s first bday. I’m sure I will need to ask you more ??? on the royal icing! Any help is appreciated! Thanks!

  30. Hi Annie,

    Just a quick question. I see from previous posts that you can freeze the dough if you do not use it all. Do you know if you can bake the cookies and then freeze them?? I am going to be making a batch for a shower but with timing of everything it would be great if i could bake them the weekend before and then frost and package them closer to the event. Not sure if I should freeze them or just leave them in a airtight container or??? Love your site and all your recipes! Thanks!!

    • Erin,
      Are you planning to decorate with royal icing? If so, do that the day or so after baking. It will help seal in moisture of the cookies and once decorated they keep well stored airtight at room temp for at least a week (don’t freeze after decorating). If not, I have heard that you can bake the cookies and then freeze them, though I haven’t tried it myself.

  31. Hi Annie:
    Can you use all vanilla instead of almond extract? I want to make this recipe for my son’s class and there are some children with nut allergies.

    • Judy, you can, or you can just use imitation almond extract. That is what I always do for people with nut allergies.

  32. Followed the recipe exactly, but these didn’t have a lot of flavor, and were slightly dry in your mouth. Any suggestions?

    • Not really, I make them all the time and find them to be fairly moist and have a lot of flavor. Did you leave out an extract?

  33. Wow! i made a half batch to try, it made 25 lil’ Christmas trees. Lets say within 20 minutes of cooling my husband devoured the LOT. Enough said, these are so my christmas cookies this year! Full of flavour, we loved them!
    Thanks Annie

  34. Hi Annie, I am wondering if I could substitute the almond extract for something else? Maybe lemon? Or something else? I just want your reply so I can do it right. 🙂

  35. What if I don’t have a vanilla bean? Can I just leave the almond extract out and double the vanilla? Sorry for the questions.

  36. I absolutly love all your recipes they sound and look amazing!! I already have a few i am going to try. Thanks a bunch

  37. Hi Annie!
    I made a batch of our family sugar cookie recipe with your royal icing recipe for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit! The only downfall was that I made about 60 cookies and from start to finish it took me about 11 hours! Gorgeous result just very time consuming! Maybe because this was my first time using royal icing. So…for Christmas I think I am going to use cream cheese icing for two reasons – I know our families love those and I know they don’t take as long to ice! 🙂 Okay, so after all that background here are my two questions – on your royal icing Christmas cookies such as the “Joy” when you use white is that just te natural white of the icing or is that a white gel color? I had no luck finding white at Michael’s. Second question – if I do use cream cheese icing do you have any suggestions for what type of icing to use to decorate any details? I wasn’t sure if I could use the cream cheese for decorating too or what? I was thinking I could use royal icing just for the decorating like swirls, etc but wasn’t sure what it would taste like mixing the two icings. Sorry for the long post! Thank you in advance for any help! 🙂

    • I don’t add any coloring to my white icing. I don’t think cream cheese icing works well for detailing which is sort of the whole point of royal icing. I wouldn’t be concerned about the taste of using cream cheese and royal icing, but more just that the decorations would not be sturdy for stacking, transporting, packing to give away, etc.

  38. Do these cookies freeze well when decorated or would you rather freeze them undecorated and decorate them once thawed?

  39. What is the best way to mail these? For Christmas I am sending cookies to all my loved ones and I want to make sure they get to them as fresh as possible.

  40. I made these cookies today. They turned out great. I have been looking for a good sugar cookie recipe. Thanks! This is a yummy cookie!

  41. Hi! Can’t wait to try this recipe. I don’t have any experience using royal icing and I unfortunately I don’t have time to experiment with it this holiday season. I will probably be using a store brought icing to decorate with. Have you ever used the Betty Crocker icing?

  42. Hi Annie-

    I’ve been following your blog for awhile and your recipes are always awesome and so well explained! I’ve made these sugar cookies a bunch of times, including for my sister’s baby shower. They always come out great! Thanks for such an awesome recipe : )

  43. Most other recipes for sugar cookies call for granulated sugar instead of the powdered sugar used in this recipe. Will the granulated sugar produce a firmer textured cookie? Do you know how the type of sugar will effect the cookie?

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