Every year since my children were little I have held an annual sugar cookie party. Some have been small and some have been large,but they have all be a tonne of fun.
I am locally famous for the sugar cookies I bake for the party. Moms have been known to leave my party begging to take extras. People love them so much that a few have started asking me if they can buy them from me (I have not sold any as I just can’t put a price on them).
Here is a secret, my recipe is straight out of the Mrs. Field’s Cookie Cookbook, with no alterations done to the ingredients at all. (That link takes you to Amazon where you can get your own copy, and yes it is my affiliate link, my family receives a small percentage of the purchases you make through the link while you are there.)
Of course, I don’t follow the directions to the letter, and I have learned a few tips through trial and error that make them extra tasty.
Today I am inviting you into my kitchen, to show you my secrets of baking fabulous sugar cookies.
20 Tips For Fabulous Sugar Cookies
1. Write it down
If you are going to double or triple or in my case for the party make a 10 times batch you need to sit down and write down the new amounts of ingredients you will need and check it twice to make sure you did your calculations right.
2. Buy quality ingredients
Step away from the margarine, bleached flour and imitation vanilla. Replace them with real butter, unbleached flour, and 100% real vanilla.
3. Buy quality cookie cutters
This might not make a difference to the taste but it will make a huge difference to the look of your cookies. I was blessed to have someone give me some large copper cookie cutters. My star is similar to this one on Amazon that can be bought for $10. It is a lot to spend on a cookie cutter but I have to say the quality is amazing. It never sticks to the dough, makes a clean cut, washes well and I have had it over 10 years and it has kept its shape perfectly. Silver metal ones are my second favorite, and plastic are my least favorite.
4. Know how to properly protect your cookies from burnt backs
For years I used inexpensive cookie sheets lined with wax paper (yes waxed not parchment, although parchment works even better but it does cost more) I would oil the sheet stick the wax paper to it and then slightly oil the wax paper. I still use two of these cookies sheets this way today when I am making a big batch and want to fill the oven to capacity with cookies so I can finish faster.
My favorite cookie sheets now though are my stone wear cookie sheets by Pampered Chief. No need to line them just lightly grease them and never have a black bottom cookie again.
Sugar cookies take planning. You have to make sure you take your butter out to soften at least 4 hours ahead of time. I try to take it out the night before so I can bake in the morning or I take the butter out first thing in the morning so I can bake in the afternoon.
I simply mix my ingredients to a crumble and then use my freshly cleaned hands to squeeze the dough into one giant ball
7. If the dough is dry
Often when I double or triple the recipe the dough turns out a bit dry, I fix this by adding in an extra egg.
8. Be a rebel
Every sugar cookie recipe out there tells you to let the dough sit for an hour before making it. I DON’T. I find that by skipping this step I get softer cookies.
Only roll out enough to cut a cookie or two as sugar cookie dough is a lot like pie crust you play with it too much and you end up with hard cookies.
If you want soft and chewy cookies roll you dough a little on the thick side. If you want crisp and sweet cookies roll it a bit on the thin side. Whatever your liking just make sure the whole batch is consistent otherwise baking it to perfection will be difficult.
11. Always preheat your oven
Do not slide a single cookie into your oven until the stove has reached the desired temperature on the recipe.
You cannot wing it when it comes to sugar cookies, one minute to late and they are hard as rocks, too early and they crumble and go gooey in the middle.
If you are using both racks of your oven at once, make sure to set the timer to go off half way through the cooking time so that you can rotate the cookies for even cooking.
14. Watch your first batch closely to get the timing right
Perfectly baked sugar cookies have just a touch of golden brown around the edges. Knowing how long your oven takes to do that is going to take a bit of experimenting. Watch your first batch closely and note how long it took on your recipe book or card.
When you take the cookie sheets out of the oven don’t take the cookies off immediately. This leads to a lot of broken and warped cookies instead let them cool on the sheets 3 or 4 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack that is lined with wax paper so they don’t melt around the wire.
Tiny spatulas for tiny cookies, medium spatula for medium cookies and a large giant BBQ spatula for giant cookies. This leads to less breakage and warping.
Let the cookies become 100% cool before you box them up or ice them. If you box them warm they will stick together. If you ice them warm the icing melts and slides right off the cookie.
Sugar cookies don’t keep more than a few day, so bless another family with a plate full.
19. If at first you don’t succeed try again
20 years ago my sugar cookies tasted either like rubber or like cardboard. About 10 years ago they started becoming the think I am known for. People flock to my husband come Christmas time to see if sugar cookies are in his lunch. Moms sneak extras into their pockets at our annual Christmas cookie party. So don’t be too hard on yourself if they flop the first time or the second or third time, learn from your flop and keep trying.
20 If you are making sugar cookies with kids
If you are making sugar cookies with children THROW MOST OF THIS LIST OUT! I make my sugar cookies in the early morning hours before the kids are up, it is therapy to me. Later when they are cooled I let them decorate them however they want. Once and a while my daughter does help me bake a batch and when she does, I start off our cookie session with the attitude of “building memories is more important than building perfect sugar cookies”. I still use real ingredients but I am not as fussy on the looks of the cookie.
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This cookie cutter is just a bit smaller than the star one I own. The same company also makes a tree similar my own tree cookie cutter. I LOVE my copper cookie cutters and their giant size makes them so much fun to decorate with icing and sprinkles and small candies.