Confession time… I don’t jump on the Christmas cookie baking bandwagon. I used to bake lots and lots, and then I realized that while we were sharing cookies with people, we were eating a ton ourselves. There’s no need for that, even if it is Christmas. These sugar cookies are the only cookies I’ve made this year and the only ones I plan to make.
You also need to realize that we currently have a Christmas tree up in our house (fake, which we bought last year because we decided the price and the mess of real trees is not our favorite). That said Christmas tree has a strand of lights that I literally flung onto the tree while we were sitting in front of it to take photos for our Christmas cards and haven’t touched in the two weeks since. It also has a whopping one ornament on it. But a very special and new favorite cupcake ornament that a super sweet neighbor made for me!! Will update this post later with a pic because it’s so cute.
So we are the Christian missionaries who love Jesus and the Advent season, but if you visit us at home, you may wonder if we celebrate Christmas… That being said, it may not be shocking that I don’t bake heaps of Christmas cookies.
Why bake these? Because they’re super cute, tasty, not too terribly hard (especially if you bake them for an entire 5th grade to decorate in school and don’t have to frost them yourself, as I did today!).
I have tried numerous sugar cookie recipes over the years because I do love sugar cookies. Like a lot. My mom’s recipe was my go-to for years and years, and Mom, I still love your recipe for a thin, crunchy cookie! I tried others and finally found this recipe through Everyday Annie. It’s preferable if you want a thicker cookie to decorate with frosting.
You know I used to cook from Annie’s blog and refer to her so much that my daughter thought she and I were good friends? Annie has rarely let me down, and many of my recipes come from her blog. Her original recipe calls for almond flavoring, but she updated it with an option for a lemon flavor. I was going to do almond because that feels more Christmas-y, but then I realized if kids have tree nut allergies, they’re probably allergic to pure almond extract, right? Feel free to comment and confirm, tree nut allergy friends. The lemon flavor is my favorite anyway.
I wish I could tell you how many cookies this makes, but it depends on your cookie cutter size. I can tell you that I got about 30 Christmas trees out of it. That cookie cutter is about 3-inches tall.
I’ll post separate with the royal icing recipe and instructions.
- 1 cup 8 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean slit lengthwise optional
- Zest of half a lemon up to a whole lemon for a strong flavor
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
Alternative flavor: Reduce vanilla extract to 1 tsp and skip the vanilla bean and lemon zest. Add
- 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until blended. Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1-2 hours.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough out on a well floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters as desired and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until fully cooked but not at all browned. Allow to cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.
Source: Everyday Annie