Spiced Brown Sugar Cut-Out Cookies

Sugar cookies one of the things I make so often, I know the recipe by heart.  I love my favorite sugar cookie recipe so much that I find it difficult to even try new variations.  This weekend since I was working on Thanksgiving favors, I decided to try a fall-inspired variety that includes brown sugar and fall spices.  I am pleased to say, these taste absolutely wonderful.  They are a really nice seasonal change and this recipe is a keeper.

I was feeling pretty skeptical when mixing and rolling out the dough, as it was slightly drier than my usual recipe.  Thankfully, these cookies have a lovely texture when all is said and done and are definitely not dry.  Even though there is no maple flavoring included, my first taste of these conjured up the flavor of a maple glazed doughnut.

These cookie designs were inspired by the Operation: Give Thanks printables I found over at Hostess With the Mostess.  (I wanted to use the printables for my Thanksgiving but they are not cooperating for me, so I am just improvising.)  If you have never worked with royal icing before but would like to give it a try, see my royal icing tutorial for tips and tricks.

Spiced Brown Sugar Cut-Out Cookies
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3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Form the dough into a ball or disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Chill until firm, at least 30-60 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.  Use cookie cutters to form desired shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate as desired.

Source: barely adapted from Bake at 350

81 Responses

  1. the piping is absolutely beautiful.

  2. Gorgeous! Love the idea of making spiced sugar cookies, so much more interesting than the standard white sugar cookie!

  3. These are beautiful! Your cookies always look amazing!

  4. Oh my gosh! Those are absolutely gorgeous!! Great job!!

  5. these look so pretty! love this. i am not a big fan of sugar cookies but these do sound tasty

  6. I am definitely going to give these a try. Beautiful job!

  7. Seriously, these are amazing!

  8. These sound amazing! I wanted to find something less traditional than gingerbread to do and I think I may have just found them – thank you for sharing these beautiful cookies!

  9. Those are just awesome! Royal icing makes me nervous for some reason. I’ll have to break down and try it sometime soon.

  10. This sounds delish! The penmanship is amazing! Just gorgeous! Love my scalloped edge cutters:).

  11. Very pretty.

  12. I adore these! Such beautiful piping. I love the addition of fall spices, especially allspice. Yum!

  13. These are absolutely gorgeous, Annie! I’m sure they are delicious, too.

  14. No kidding. Annie, you have absolutely outdone yourself on these. I don’t know where you get the energy!

  15. such pretty cookies! your decorating skills are so impressive!

  16. Your piping skills are truly admirable! I am mortified to try icing my own cookies, but your cookies are inspirational and I’m dying to give it a shot myself!

  17. These look delicious and your piping is amazing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. You need to start selling you sugar cookies, they are amazing! You have a true talent for this!

  19. Hi Annie, I’ve made your ‘favorite sugar cookie recipe” several times (minus the vanilla bean). This weekend I found some cheaper beans so I added the seeds…YUM! Love the strong vanilla taste with the lemon!
    Happy Thanksgiving

  20. These are so cute, Annie. Your guests will absolutely love them!

  21. Awesome! I love that you changed the flavor of the sugar cookies, I get bored with the basic recipe but I’ve always been too scared to mess with my recipe. Great job with the piping!

  22. I agree! This is such intricate work and you always make it look effortness – no mistake at all!

  23. I love the look of these cookies – gorgeous!

  24. These look cute and yummy! I wonder if you could glaze them with a maple icing! yum!

  25. These are beautiful! Amazing job. 😉

  26. You are so talented with sugar cookies, Annie. These look wonderful and full of fall flavor, and the recipe seems pretty easy! Thanks for sharing yet another of your beautiful cookie creations! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  27. Annie, These look wonderful; better that the printables. Given your artistic talent and creativity you should always work with royal icing! Your desserts always look amazing.

  28. I am so impressed! You did a super job decorating. I wish I was better at it. Everyone’s going to love those on Thanksgiving!

  29. Annie, these are beautiful. I love the script on the Give Thanks cookies and the look of the trees, which immediately reminded me of the Mod Table Tree centerpiece on HWTM (http://www.hostessblog.com/2010/11/diy-tutorial-mod-table-tree-centerpiece/) , which I loved.

  30. These are just gorgeous! I have been dying to try royal icing!

  31. Absolutely beautiful! I love the colors.

  32. These cookie are very very nice…here in Italy is impossible to find brownsugar… 😦

  33. Beautiful cookies! I could only wish to make some as lovely as yours.

  34. Finally – A sugar cookie that’s not so plain! I will definitely try these for the holidays. These are beautiful and seem to have held their shape wonderfully. Did you re-chill the cut-outs again before baking?

  35. How darling! Love the design.

  36. Wow, Seriously…Adorable, love these!!! I never made cookies like this and you make me want to try them.

  37. These look great and delicious!!! I have a problem with my cookie dough spreading all over the place when I bake it. I even tried putting the cookies in the fridge before the oven to chill and firm the dough before cooking. They always balloon up and then out. My two inch circles turn into 4.5 inch circles. Any suggestions?

    • I actually think it depends entirely on the recipe. Part of the reason I like this and my other sugar cookie recipe is that they keep their shape perfectly even after baking.

  38. Beautiful cookie! Very inspiring!! Are you planning on freezing your cookies until Thanksgiving, or do they usually keep at room temp?? I was wondering if you do freeze your cookies, how you go about it, so that they stay so nice when you go to serve them. Thanks 🙂

    • They keep at room temp when packaged airtight. You shouldn’t freeze sugar cookies that have been decorated with royal icing because condensation can form during the thawing process and melt the icing.

  39. I’m just in awe of your piping skills! I don’t think my handwriting is that neat with a pen!

  40. Simply gorgeous!

  41. These are delightful! Your guests are lucky indeed! And the dough sounds absolutely delicious! (would make awesome favors for any fall gathering…)

  42. I am thankful for my friend Annie who is a freaking brilliant genius at baking….especially amazing royal icing cookies! Congrats on being featured on Hostess with the Mostess! Because you certainly are, my dear! 🙂

  43. Holy Cannoli Annie! These are amazing! So flawless, you are so talented!

  44. I wish you were my friend!!! Funny enough my husband and I have been following your blog for a couple months now, and I feel like you are my friend even though we have never met. We are so impressed and amazed by your talent. My husband is actually the “baker” in our home but I think I may give your “Give Thanks” cookies a try!!! They look so beautiful and DELICIOUS!!!! Thanks for sharing. and Thanks for blogging!!!

  45. Hey Annie, I was wondering where you got the square crinkle cookie cutter?

    • It’s just a basic scalloped square cutter, I’m sure you can find one like it in lots of places. I actually don’t remember where I got this one.

  46. A eautiful, creative and unusual idea for Thanksgiving cookies. Wow.

  47. I made this dough last night and baked off a couple of pans. These really are easy to whip up and so tasty–even without the icing. I’m going to try my hand at royal icing tonight–I’ve never done it before–and I’m so excited. If I make some cookies half as pretty as the picture, I’ll be satisfied! 🙂

  48. Once again, amazing job! Each batch gets better and better 🙂

  49. So beautiful! I can’t wait to make these. I’ve never tried flooding with royal icing and now I’m totally inspired to give it a go! Happy Thanksgiving!

  50. I just saw this on the kitchn Annie! Congrats!

  51. wow. these are beautiful and they look delicious. i think i would feel guilty eating them, though!

  52. Are all the details completed with thicker icing? Or do you also pipe outlines for the details and then fill them in with thinned icing?

  53. These are adorable! Happy turkey time!

  54. Awesome website. Can I just ask how many cookies this recipe makes?

  55. Gorgeous cookies! Tonight was my first try ever with Royal icing – I used this cookie recipe with it. Couple of questions – do you like the taste of royal icing? Do you think it “goes” with the flavor of these cookies or is it better on regular sugar cookies? I’m under the impression that royal icing is best for appearance/decorating, not necessarily for the way it tastes…what’s your opinion?

    I LOVE your blog, I’m so happy I found it! I’ve made several of your recipes in the past month, and all found rave reviews from my family and friends! =) Thanks for doing what you do!

    • Royal icing is definitely for decorative purposes and not for taste. I don’t have anything against the taste but I’m never like, “Man, I could really go for some royal icing.”

  56. As always these are SO beautiful! I always struggle with having enough royal icing made or knowing how much to make – especially when multiple colors are used…I’m sure that just comes with experience, but do you usually use any kind of guide to know how much royal icing you will need? Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Lisa, unfortunately I have no good answer for that. I now nearly always start with a double batch (8 cups powdered sugar) because that way I’ll usually have more than enough icing. But sometimes, especially when I have a really large order, it’s hard to know and I frequently end up making extra. Thankfully it only takes a few minutes to whip up and requires only three ingredients, so that makes it easier.

  57. Wow! Really like the details on these cookies – very creative and nicely done.

  58. Annie,
    Your cookies are beautiful and I decided to duplicate the recipe to use as place holders for my family on Thanksgiving. However, I noticed the dough was very crumbly putting it in the fridge as well as taking it out. I had to roll multiple times to achieve the correct consistency. Is there some other wet ingredient you add that you did not include in the recipe?

  59. Annie, a friend led me to your site a few days ago and I’ve been reading it nonstop. So excited to have found a useful site with gorgeous photos…very inspiring. You’ve motivated me to expand my baking skills. I tried the sugar cookies and royal icing almost immediately and LOVE the results…not hard at all. Of course, I kept it simple: white stars sprinkled with white sugar crystals–very sparkly and lovely. Thanks for the tutorials and the inspiration. I don’t know if you take recipes from those of us who email you, but I have an Oreo Cheesecake recipe I’ve been using for 27 years that is heavenly and an Chocolate Cupcake with Fudge Frosting that is to die for…would love to share them with you since you so graciously share with all your readers.

  60. I’ve only ever made white cut-out cookies. I will give these beauties a try as soon as I can!

  61. Hi Annie! I made you sugar cookies last Christmas and they tasted just fabulous. I saw these and knew I had to make them for Thanksgiving. I ended up just cutting out rounds and making sandwiches with this maple cream filling http://www.morsefarm.com/pages/recipes/maplecremecookies.php They were rich and yummy and the flavors were perfect for fall. I can’t wait to make the sugar cookies again for Christmas!!

  62. no…you didn’t?!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHOA!!!

  63. Made these tonight and they taste amazing! I think I overbaked the first batch because they seemed a tad dry to me, but I think the next batch will be perfect! Or maybe they are supposed to be that way 🙂

  64. Can you described the texture whether they are crispy or soft texture sugar cookies? I’ve tried many sugar cookie recipes, but I like the cookies to be more on the crispy like a shortbread.

    Also, how far in advance before Xmas can you make these?

    • Not crispy. Close to shortbread, I guess. How far in advance – depends on if you plan to freeze them, decorate them, etc.

  65. Annie, I absolutely love your sugar cookies! I have a friend stationed in Afghanistan who has requested that I send some. It takes about 2 weeks for packages to get there. Do you have any recommendations on shipping? I usually send things vacuum sealed but don’t want them to get too soft.

    • I don’t have any specific thoughts. Normally I just put them in a large Ziploc and pad them really well. I have eaten these cookies about two weeks after making them and they are usually still pretty fresh as long as they have been kept airtight. Good luck!

  66. I made these yesterday but didn’t have the ingredients to make the frosting. The cookies are gone before I had a chance to make it to the store! These are delicious!

  67. I made the dough last night to bake next week, and cut off a small hunk to bake, and these are my new favorite cookie!! They’re so simple but so flavorful, and I’m sad I only baked 3. I love how you decorated them, I hope I can make mine half as pretty for Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

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