You’ll love these crisp sugar cookies, rolled out and cut with your favorite cookie cutters, and decorated to look fancy. They’ll soon become a Christmas tradition in your family!

Two young girls with messy hands and faces, in the process of decorating cookies.

I make these sugar cookies every year. Pretty much since I was born.

Okay, so now that I look closer, maybe those are gingerbread cookies. What’s going on here, mom? I guess I’ll just have to say that I’ve made these every year for as long as I can remember. In the picture above, I’ve obviously consumed too much sugar to be thinking straight. (Can you guess which one I am?!)

I look forward to beginning the fun tradition of frosting and decorating cookies with my kids. Right now, we’ll save the frosting for when my daughter is old enough to enjoy decorating cookies. These cookies are almost as good with just a sprinkling of colored sugar.

Enjoy a freshly made cookie with homemade hot chocolate or a cup of coffee. 

Front view of cut out sugar cookies in star shape with red and green colored sugar on parchment lined cookie sheet.

About these sugar cookies

This sugar cookie recipe is somewhat uniquely flavored with two extracts, vanilla and lemon. The lemon extract adds a layer of flavor that’s truly delicious, not overpowering at all,  but just a subtle hint of lemon that pairs well with the nutmeg. The combination of vanilla, lemon, and nutmeg is what will make your cookies stand apart from other less flavorful sugar cookies.

The dough for these cookies needs to be chilled before rolling it out and cutting it. Divide the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Chill it at least 30 minutes or overnight if you can. When you’re ready to roll, leave one half in the fridge so it stays nice and cold. 

Sprinkle your counter or cutting surface liberally with flour before rolling the dough. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, too. The thinner you roll it out, the crisper the cookie will be. Use cookie cutters of your choice, cutting as close to each other as you can. You can re-roll the scraps until all the dough is used up. 

Bake until the bottoms are lightly golden. Don’t let the tops get brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before decorating the cookies.

If you prefer not to frost the cookies, you’ll love this easy method of decorating the cookies. Simply brush the unbaked cookies lightly with milk, sprinkle with colored sugar, and bake as directed in the recipe. Easy, sparkly, and festive!

This was always mom’s back-up when we got tired of frosting cookies. Slightly less sweet than the frosted variation and the unique flavors of the cookie really come through.

Make it your own/Variations

Make Ahead and Storage

The cookie dough can be refrigerated up to one week, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or in a plastic bag. It can also be frozen for up to one month. Thaw overnight in the fridge. 

Baked cookies can be stored on the counter or in a cool spot for up to two weeks in a tightly sealed container.

More classic cookies

Looking for more classic cookie recipes, like the kind you’d find in mom’s recipe box? Try:

 

Cut out cookies in the shape of stars sprinkled with red and green sugar on cookie sheet.

{The Best} Sugar Cookies

Yield: 5 dozen
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 52 minutes

You'll love these crisp sugar cookies, rolled out and cut with your favorite cookie cutters, and decorated to look fancy. They'll soon become a Christmas tradition in your family!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I use freshly grated)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Milk and colored sugar, if desired (see note)

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla extract and lemon extract, and beat until combined. Add milk and flour mixture alternately, mixing after each addition, until combined.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
  4. To bake, preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Roll dough out on a well floured board or counter. For crisp cookies, roll to about ⅛ inch and for softer cookies, roll to about ¼ inch. Cut desired shapes with floured cookie cutter. Transfer to cookie sheet, leaving at least one inch between cookies.
  6. Bake for 6-7 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from cookie sheet and cool completely on wire rack.
  7. Decorate as desired (see note).

Notes

  • If you prefer not to frost cookies, make them sparkle with sugar. Before baking, lightly brush the cookies with milk and sprinkle with your choice of colored sugar. White sugar is pretty, too.
  • The colder the dough, the easier it is to roll out. I usually divide the dough in half and leave half in the fridge while I cut out the other half.
  • Yield depends on the size of the cookie cutters you choose. Nutrition is calculated on a yield of 5 dozen, 2 cookies per serving.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 30 Serving Size: 2 cookies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 92mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 0gSugar: 14gProtein: 2g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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This post was updated slightly and edited 12/18/2020.