Sugar Saucers

If you come around these parts much at all, you know how much I adore cut-out sugar cookies, and how much I enjoy decorating them with royal icing.  I sure do, but I can also really appreciate the goodness of a straight up classic sugar cookie.  They should be golden, somewhere between puffy and chewy, and definitely on the large side.  When I flipped across the recipe title “Sugar Saucers” in The Pastry Queen cookbook I thought, perfect!  But then I read the recipe and I was totally turned off.  This recipe uses part butter (yay!) and part vegetable oil (ick) for the fat.  I can handle veggie oil in some cake batters but it just seemed wrong to me in a cookie, so I skipped them.  I put the idea aside for awhile and eventually I thought, what the heck, I’ll give them a shot.  I must say I was very pleasantly surprised with the end result and I’m not sure I have enjoyed a plain sugar cookie this much before.  The texture was perfect – a delicate sugar-sprinkled crust on the outside that gives way to a soft, chewy interior.  Of course now I’m very curious to try the same recipe with butter in place of the oil just for the sake of comparison, and I’ll be sure to update with my results when I do.

Sugar Saucers
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Yield: about 12 large cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sugaring the tops
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Add the vegetable oil and beat on medium-high speed until incorporated.  Mix in the granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar until well blended, about 1 minute more.  Beat in the egg until incorporated.  Blend in the vanilla and lemon zest.  With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour or freeze for 15 minutes before proceeding.

Using a dough scoop (I used a large scoop), drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 inches apart.  Press the dough down evenly to flatten slightly and sprinkle with additional granulated sugar.  Bake about 12-14 minutes for large cookies (8-10 minutes for smaller cookies), until the edges are golden.  Let cool on the baking sheets about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with any remaining dough.  Store in an airtight container.

Source: barely adapted from The Pastry Queen

40 Responses

  1. What about trying vegetable shortening instead of oil? I replace half the butter in chocolate chip cookie recipes with shortening and I feel like it helps them remain chewier longer. Maybe I will try it and let you know how it turns out…

    • Shortening disgusts me, I avoid it as much as possible. Any time a recipe calls for shortening, I substitute with butter, which is why I want to try subbing butter for the oil.

  2. Funny … my wife comes from a family of Nebraska wheat farmers, and everyone is as skinny as a rail and lives to be 95+. And lard, shortening, and bacon grease are their go-to fats. Oh, they eat a lot of butter … slathered on home made bread, but not so much in baking.

    You’ll hear fans and opponents of each … but IIRC, the all-butter version of the chocolate chip cookie won the NYT ultimate cookie bake-off.


  3. I’ve made this recipe with butter instead of the oil, because I hate to use oil in cookies. I thought they were delicious! It worked out wonderfully for me.

    Hope that helps! I can’t imagine using oil or shortening in cookies. YUCK.

  4. Boy, I’m with you. I can’t help thinking shortening = ick. Vegetable oil doesn’t offend me as much. Please, please do let us know how it works with all butter!

  5. I tend to use butter too, but these sure look good!

  6. hip hip hooray for buttah! (:

  7. I’m not a shortening fan and I’ve never used oil in cookies – but then I’m not a big baker…I prefer cooking because I’m bad about following recipes. But I love love love sugar cookies and love even more a sugar cookie that I don’t have to roll out. Can’t wait to try these. I don’t have any parchment paper in the house or I might start them now.

  8. I’m glad you went ahead and used the oil. I’ve noticed in the past few months that I’m really liking how it works in things like muffins and pancakes. They come out lighter (in feel) than with butter. I don’t bake with shortening, but I don’t think oil is nearly as bad.

  9. I have that cookbook too and I love it!! These cookies look great!

  10. These look great! I want to make these this afternoon and was wondering how many cookies this recipe yields (for you at least – since I know it will vary from person to person)? I usually cut a recipe in half but these look so good I may not. 🙂 Thanks Annie!

  11. Who doesn’t love a classic sugar cookie… I always find that the ones I need to roll out need too much flour and end up tasting a little dry, whereas these kind of sugar cookies just melt in your mouth. I’d think that they’d be even better with butter (everything is)!

  12. They say the more liquid the fat the healthier it is for you and less likely to clog your arteries. So I typically replace butter with canola oil or olive oil in savory recipes for that reason. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to use lard or shortening – however I do use butter in small amounts where taste matters.

    • Kathryn,
      I’m a physician and I have heard no such thing so that’s probably just one of those things that “they” say. Shortening is definitely bad though – ick.

  13. As I told you in an earlier post, my daughter and I have been following your blog since your brother introduced my daughter (Kristine) to it in an IU computer lab. We now have my older daughter Katie on board and it has really spurred a new interest in cooking for our whole family! During the high school and college years eating was always on the run and typically when I did decide to cook a nice meal, plans would change and nobody would be home to eat it. My interest in cooking waned during this time. Now with all three kids through college and living in the Chicago area family meals have once again become a staple. We have been enjoying so many of your recipes. I did have one question; a few of your recipes I have made recently call for vegetable oil (example: fajita veges) and I was wondering if there is a reason you use vegetable oil in certain recipes instead of olive oil. Whenever I make marinades or anything like that I always use olive oil because of the health benefits. What is your thought?

    • Cindy,
      I often switch one for the other and tend to use olive oil more, but in the case of the fajitas I use the vegetable oil because the recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated. They taste their recipes countless times, all different ways, so I am confident that if they recommend vegetable oil, it will yield the best result.
      Great to hear from you again! I’m so glad my brother told your daughter about the blog. I still think it’s so cool!

  14. I actually think this recipe looks perfect. I’ve made sugar cookie (not the kind for decorating) recipes with and without oil, and I really prefered the recipe with oil. I think it’s necessary to make them intensely tender like I prefer my unfrosting sugar cookies. Butter of course is necessary to make them taste delicious, so a mix like this is perfect.

  15. These look like awesome cookies! I love how puffy and sugar-coated they are. I really need to get The Pastry Queen book too!

  16. How big is a “large scoop”? Thanks 🙂

    • Lesley,
      I’m not sure – mine was part of a set of three and I used the largest one. Maybe a couple of tablespoons? It isn’t labeled.

  17. My boyfriend and I LOVE these cookies. I’m not allowed to make them too often or we would be fat fat people. Glad you found them, too!

  18. I love how puffy these are!

  19. These look so good! I love light cookies like these.

  20. I’ve never made sugar cookies before, partly because I didn’t think I’d ever make ones good enough to rival bakery sugar cookies, and partly because it seemed like a hassle with all the rolling and cutting. These looked easy enough, though, so I gave it a try. They’re fantastic! For Lesley, I used the large Pampered Chef scoop, and it holds a little more than 2 TBSP of liquid. The cookies really were quite large (six per cookie sheet), which is great, because you can truthfully say you only ate two or three. 🙂

  21. These are to die for! My kids just proclaimed these the best cookies I’ve ever made….well then they clarified besides the chocolate chip cookie recipe I made the other night (from Cook’s Illustrated)…my kids are chocolate fiends. I had planned on making these yesterday but got sidetracked by a storm but these were worth the wait! The perfect texture and flavor. I’m going to go put another stick of butter out to soften for another batch. My only complaint is that it doesn’t make more! Thanks for sharing!!

  22. I like the way you think, Macaire!

  23. Hi Annie:

    Do you know if these cookies could be adapted for the 4th of July holiday by adding red or blue food coloring to the dough before baking? I am looking for a festive July 4th dessert and these sugar saucers look delicious. Thanks in advance.


    • I don’t know, there’s only one way to find out – try it! I have a lot of other festive fourth desserts like those in the sidebar that would be better, in my opinion.

  24. I’ll bet the oil makes them softer! Man, now I’ve gotta try these. Your photo is beautiful.

  25. First, love your blog!
    Second, I have a sugar cookie recipe that uses only oil from an old Joy of Cooking and I love them, they are a bit on the dense side so I think I am going to try to make them with half butter…
    Third, if you want to take these to another level, add a sprinkle of nutmeg to the batter. Just enough to taste but not enough to stand out, people will ask what it is to make it taste so yummy!


  26. These turned out amazing! Thank you so much!

  27. My kids requested to decorate sugar cookies today, but I’m not feeling like doing all the steps of roll-out sugar cookies. I’m thinking I’m going to make this recipe and frost them instead of rolling them in sugar. Thanks for another great recipe!

  28. i made these this afternoon with my 3-year old daughter — we used colored sugar sprinkles instead of granulated sugar on top just for fun and they were delicious! i have a sugar cookie recipe that i LOVE, but these are so easy and quick they may become my permanent back-up. thank you!

  29. These have become a staple in my house! Thank you for another great recipe.

  30. This sugar cookie recipe is my ALL TIME FAVORITE sugar cookie recipe! I love this cookbook – glad to see it’s on your favorite list too!

  31. trying these tonight!

  32. I made these cookies for work last week and everyone loved them! Mine spread more than yours tho, but made for a nice big chewy cookie anyway. This weekend I will be making your Oreo bottom cupcakes for the office. Your website is fabulous!

  33. I was looking for a recipe that uses lemons (because I had some in the fridge) when my friend came over today to do some holiday baking. We used red and green sugar instead of granulated on top, and they turned out great!

    I’m planning to use them in my cookie gift boxes, but my husband requested that I make more, just for us to have. A big hit here, for sure!

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