Saturday Sweets: Best Sugar Cookie Recipe For Holiday Baking


Christmas is right around the corner, there’s bound to be baking on your to do list.  One of my staples is always a classic sugar cookie recipe. 

It’s the holidays and it’s always important to have a few classic recipes up your sleeve for the various gatherings you’re bound to attend. This simple recipe is perfect for whipping up a quick last minute batch of cookies, or for a fun activity to keep the kids busy. Enjoy the sugar cookies plain, or decorate them with icing or sprinkles to make them festive. Holiday cookies are fun and easy once you've picked up a few cookie cutters.

This recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, where she recommends adding a tablespoon of cognac to the dough. Make a few batches and grab some Christmas sprinkles (and lots of newspaper to cover surfaces) and you’ve got a fun project to keep kids entertained or grab a few bottles of wine, some friends, and see where the night takes you and your cookies!

Whatever your plans are, these cookies are a perfect group project or pot luck item for your next holiday gathering.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Assorted candies, sprinkles, or colored sugars, for decorating (optional)

For Icing:

  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

  • 3-4 tablespoons milk, water, or lemon juice


  • In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.

  • Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks. To ice cookies, spread with the back of a spoon. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes. Decorate as desired.

  • For the icing, sift confectioners' sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in milk, water, or lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, whisk in more sugar; if too thick, add more liquid. Spread over cookies with back of a spoon. Add other decorations, if desired. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes.

You can also add food coloring to the icing to give it some flair. Crushed candy cane pieces stick well to the icing and add a pop of flavor to the cookies. There’s so many different ways to decorate and enjoy sugar cookies, and there’s definitely no wrong way. 

Happy Holidays everyone!