Classic Sugar Cookies


Preparation info

  • Yield:


    2½ Inch Cookies
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Baked: New Frontiers in Baking


By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Published 2008

  • About

The humble sugar cookie doesn’t often get its due. Too often it’s coated in bright garish icing and is inedibly sweet. Our recipe delivers a simple, chewy cookie that’s the perfect canvas for our favorite minimal, almost stark, decoration. A bright, white sugar cookie with a few colorful accents really makes a statement when compared with the color overload of most sugar cookies.


For the Classic Sugar Cookies

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cups ( sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
  • cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    Make the Classic Sugar Cookies

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until just combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

    Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Unwrap the chilled dough, and put it directly on the work surface. Roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Use your favorite cookie cutter to cut shapes in the dough, and transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets.

    Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, until they are set but not browned. Remove from the oven and place the baking sheet on a cooling rack for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

    Make the Basic Royal Icing

    In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg whites, and lemon juice until the mixture is completely smooth. The mixture should have the texture of a glaze. If the mixture is too thin, add a bit more sugar. If the mixture is too thick, add a few drops of lemon juice. You can add a few drops of food coloring if desired, or you can divide the icing among many mixing bowls if you need more than one color.

    The best way to ice sugar cookies is with a pastry bag fitted with a small or medium tip. First, outline the cookie or design, then fill it in. Let the icing harden before serving.

    The cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days.