THE classic holiday cookie recipe: CUT OUT SUGAR COOKIES. Made with whole grain flour and lightened up using less butter and sugar compared to the traditional recipe, but still just as delicious!
This post is sponsored in partnership with Almond Breeze. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for helping support the brands that help me bring you new recipes!
I don’t know about you all, but I can’t let December go by without making or decorating sugar cookies for the holidays.
When I was about five or six, it was decorating Christmas cookies with my cousins. My aunt would have all of the cookies ready to go with plenty of frosting colors and decorations to choose from. Though I’m not sure how much decorating was accomplished since we likely spent most of the time licking frosting off of our fingers and eating the toppings.
When I was in high school I used to bake at my best friend’s house and every season during holiday break we’d bake a big batch of her family sugar cookie recipe for decorating. Sometimes it would just be me and my BFF, other years I’d bring over some of my younger siblings to decorate too.
As an adult, I STILL can’t let December go by without decorating sugar cookies. Even my younger siblings (who are all adults now) ask me when we’ll be getting together to decorate sugar cookies.
You have to admit it’s a fun activity regardless of age.
Holiday Cut Out Sugar Cookies
Over the years I’ve tried a few different cut out sugar cookie recipes, and I think I’ve found the perfect balance in this recipe I’m sharing today.
I cut back on the butter a touch as well as lightened up the amount of granulated sugar in the cookie dough. Because we’re topping the sugar cookies with a confectioner’s sugar frosting, I didn’t think anyone would mind.
What you need
- whole wheat white flour
- unbleached all-purpose flour (see notes)
- baking powder
- unsalted butter
- granulated white sugar
- vanilla extract
- almond extract
- confectioners sugar
- Almond Breeze Vanilla Almondmilk – you can use either refrigerated or shelf-stable
- food coloring (see notes for all-natural brands)
How to make cut out sugar cookies
making the dough: The sugar cookie dough recipe comes together like your standard cookie recipe. You first start by creaming together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and extracts, and finish with mixing in the dry ingredients until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft, yet somewhat firm (see picture above) because the dough will be rolled out first before going in the refrigerator to chill. If the dough seems too soft and not roll-able, add another one to two tablespoons flour.
rolling out the dough: Divide the dough evenly into two pieces. Make sure you roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin. Be careful not to roll too flat, you want the dough to be 1/4″ thick throughout – it’s okay if edges aren’t smooth since you’ll be using cookie cutters later anyways. Place the rolled out pieces of dough on parchment paper and a cookie sheet (you can stack them with parchment paper lined between them), then cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least one hour, or overnight. You must chill the dough or your cookies won’t hold their cut out shapes.
cutting out the dough: Grab your favorite cookie cutters and start placing them on your rolled out cookie dough. I like to place as many as I can on the dough first before I start pressing down – this helps you handle the dough less which will also keep it from getting too warm. Then firmly press down the cookie cutters and start removing the cut out dough. Ball up the remaining dough to roll out again until you’ve used up all the dough for cookies. If you have all of your cookies cut out at once but aren’t baking them right away, keep them in the fridge until ready to bake.
decorating the sugar cookies
Once the cookies have cooled it’s time to decorate!
The recipe for sugar cookie frosting is a simple blend of confectioners sugar, Almond Breeze Vanilla Almondmilk and food coloring. Growing up I would use dairy milk in recipes like this but since I’ve switched over to non-dairy milk, Almond Breeze is a simple 1-to-1 swap.
Almond Breeze Almondmilk comes refrigerated and shelf stable. Whether you use refrigerated or shelf stable in this recipe is up to you – whichever you have on hand works just fine. The primary differences are that refrigerated products are chilled/ready to drink, while shelf-stable products can be conveniently stored in your pantry. Both are good for a variety of uses, including cooking. Shelf stable Almond Breeze is actually the perfect item to keep in your pantry along with the rest of your baking ingredients – now you’re ready to bake at a moments a notice.
Tips for Decorating Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Stick with 3-4 frosting colors for a cohesive look
- Create texture by adding various forms of sprinkles over top of the frosting.
- If wanting to create two layers with the frosting, wait for the first layer to set completely – about 30 minutes.
- Use a plastic bottle with tip for easy decorating if you don’t feel comfortable with a knife.
And HAVE FUN!
Let me know if you make this recipe by leaving a comment and review on the blog – I love hearing from you and it helps other readers learn more about the recipe too!
Easy Cut Out Sugar Cookies with a simple frosting – perfect for holidays! Made with whole grain flour, butter and sugar lightened up.
- 1 cup plus 2 TBSP whole wheat white flour
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 10 TBSP unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 TBSP vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract (nice flavor addition but can omit)
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2–3 TBSP Vanilla Almond Breeze Almondmilk
- food coloring
- sprinkles for decorating
- Make the dough: In a medium bowl combine flours, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add in granulated sugar and continue creaming on high speed for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in egg, vanilla and almond extracts, mixing on medium speed until combined. Slowly start to incorporate flour mixture, mixing on low-medium speed. Mix on high at the end to fully combine if needed. Dough should be soft, but not sticky. Add 1-2 more tablespoons of flour if it seems too soft.
- Prepare the dough: Divide evenly into two balls of dough. On a flat lightly floured surface roll out each piece of dough until 1/4 inch thick all around – any thinner and you’ll have crispy cookies. Place one piece of rolled out dough on parchment lined baking sheet then top with the other (with parchment paper underneath). Cover dough and place in fridge to chill for at least 1 hour – or overnight. When you’re ready to bake the dough, preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Cut out cookie dough: Use desired cookie cutter shapes to press into dough. Place close together so you don’t have to handle the dough as much when you put the dough scraps back together. Use thin spatula to lift cut out cookie dough and place on lined baking sheet. Continue piecing together dough scraps and rolling out to cut out more cookies. Use a light dusting of flour as needed each time rolling out.
- Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes – do not over-bake or cookies will be very crunchy. Allow cookies to set on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
- After the cookies have cooled completely, make the frosting: in a large bowl mix together confectioners sugar with Vanilla Almond Breeze Almondmilk. Be patient while mixing together – you don’t want the glaze too thin so keep stirring until frosting comes together. If the frosting is too thin for you, add 1/4 cup more powdered sugar. Evenly divide the frosting into smaller bowls and add desired food coloring until the frosting is the color you’d like.
- Decorate cooled cookies with frosting and top with desired sprinkles. See notes in blog post for tips on decorating holiday sugar cookies. Allow frosting to set completely – at least 12 hours if you plan on stacking and storing.
Store decorated cookies in covered container. You can layer them with wax or parchment paper in between layers, just be sure the frosting has completely set.
Natural Food Coloring – I used these in this recipe.
Prep time includes chilling. Total time includes allowing the frosting to set.
- Category: dessert
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: christmas cookies, decorating sugar cookies, holiday cookie exchange