1986 was the year the Oprah Winfrey show premiered, the year the Phantom of the Opera made its debut at a west end London theater, and the year I made sugar cookies for the first time.  My always-in-the-Christmas-spirit mother thought it would be fun to roll out sugar cookies and cut them into shapes…with a three-year-old.  We were all having a great time until I swatted her out of the way with the declaration “No, mom, I’ll show you how to do it.”  I was blessed to be born sassy.

My mom took an extended break from making Christmas sugar cookies, until I resurrected the tradition as a college student in search of some baking nostalgia.  There is something magical about Christmas themed treats.  For me, sugar cookies are the epitome of Christmas sweets with Italian flag cookies taking a close second.  And now, what birthday party or baby shower is complete without themed sugar cookie? 

I’m not talking about the Pillsbury sugar cookie rolls that you slice and bake.  Although, these do evoke a certain childhood nostalgia since they had to fill in the gap years when my mom went on a sugar cookie baking hiatus.  I’m talking about the painstaking make-from-scratch sugar cookie dough that you hope might roll out correctly.  Then, you pray that the dough will hold its shape as you press the copper or steel cookie cutters into the soft sugar dough. 

I have thrown away many lumps of cookie dough that failed to hold their shape after being cut or simply disintegrated when transferring the cookie to the baking pan.  If I wasn’t half Sicilian (aka born to be stubborn), I would have given up on roll and cut sugar cookie dough years ago.  But I couldn’t desert the challenge.  When I recognized in my late twenties that the softened butter in the dough was causing my cute reindeer cookie to look like a half-burnt iguana, I had an epiphany that predates the advent of food blogs and tik tok.  Roll the cookies out on a piece of parchment paper lined cookie sheet, then dip the cookie cutters in flour before cutting the cookies.  If the cookie cutter will not easily release, leave the cookie cutter in position and place the cookie sheet into the freezer for a few minutes to allow the butter to reharden. Remove from the freezer and pull out the cookie cutters.  Then simply remove the surrounding dough.  Voila.  Easy roll and cut sugar cookies.  Unfortunately, I forgot to share these secrets with my brother when he tried his hand at homemade sugar cookies while in San Francisco.  Jonathan, this recipe is for you.

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Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Christina


For me, sugar cookies are the epitome of Christmas sweets with Italian flag cookies taking a close second.  And now, what birthday party or baby shower is complete without themed sugar cookie?  These are my favorite go-to recipe…that also happen to be kid friendly.


Units Scale
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a standing mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugars. Mix for at least 5 minutes.  Add the egg and mix for another 5 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Mix to combine.
  3. Finally, add the salt, baking soda, and all-purpose flour. Mix to combine.  Divide dough in half and wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. When ready to roll out the cookies, make sure to flour the surface that you roll the cookies on as well as your rolling pin.  Roll out cookies to desired thickness.
  5. Cut out cookies. If you run into difficulty cutting the cookies or transferring them to the baking sheet here are a few tricks.  Dip the sharp end of the cookie cutter into flour each time before use.  This will help prevent the dough from sticking to the cookie cutter.  If you continue to have trouble, try pressing the cookie cutter into the dough and then transferring the dough into the freezer.  Allow to dough to partially freeze for at least 5 minutes.  Remove the cookie cutters and position your cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet or silpat.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before transferring off the cookie sheet.  Decorate and/or eat.


You can freeze the dough or even freeze the baked cookies!

  • Category: desserts
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: cookies, sweets, desserts

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