Classic Holiday Sugar Cookies

1 hr., 20 min. plus chilling, cooling and drying
32 Servings
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What’s better than classic sugar cookies? Whether it’s your first time decorating sugar cookies or Christmas cookies are a long-established tradition, this moist, buttery holiday cookie recipe is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Assorted food color gels
  • Assorted holiday sprinkles (optional)


  Prep Time: 1 hr. • Cook Time: 20 min.

In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat granulated sugar and butter 3 minutes or until fluffy, scraping down bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract; beat 2 minutes or until incorporated, scraping down bowl occasionally. Add flour and salt; beat 1 minute or until just incorporated.

Place dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper on work surface; roll to ¼-inch thick. Transfer dough to rimmed baking pan; freeze 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F; line 2 rimmed baking pans with parchment paper. Remove parchment paper from dough and place on work surface; cut out cookies with 2½- to 3-inch Christmas-shaped cookie cutters and place 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Gather dough scraps and repeat step 2 to make additional cookies on second prepared pan.

Bake cookies 10 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned; cool completely on wire rack. Makes about 32 cookies.

In large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites, cream of tartar and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 2 minutes or until frothy; gradually add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to high; beat 5 minutes or until soft peaks form. Makes about 4 cups.

Divide icing into smaller bowls; add color gels to create desired colors. Transfer icing to piping bags with small round tips.

Decorate cookies with desired icing colors and sprinkles, if desired; let dry at room temperature 6 hours or up to overnight. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Chef Tips
Try replacing the vanilla extract in this recipe with other extracts, such as almond, orange or pumpkin spice.

The colder the cookie dough is, the better the cookies will hold their shape when baking.

Rolling out cookie dough between sheets of parchment paper instead of on a lightly floured work surface guarantees that there won’t be too much flour added to dough when rolling, changing the outcome of your cookies.

If icing is too thick, stir in water, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached, prior to transferring to piping bags.

To create dimension on cookies, let first layer of icing dry 1 hour before piping additional designs on top.

Use a small fan to help cookie icing dry faster.

Approximate nutritional values per serving (1 cookie): 181 Calories, 6g Fat (4g Saturated), 21mg Cholesterol, 81mg Sodium, 30g Carbohydrates, 0g Fiber, 21g Sugars, 2g Protein

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