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No Fail Sugar Cookies

I found a great sugar cookie recipe on seven years ago and have used it over 30 times.  I love to make cut-out cookies, especially during the holidays and for birthday party favors.  You can use very intricate shapes and the dough will not spread while baking--it truly does not fail.  It also holds up great for cookie pops, just be sure to roll the dough 1/2" thick.

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees--do this first, you want your oven preheated at 350 for at least 30 minutes before you bake your first batch. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Add in dry ingredients a little at a time and mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours before rolling. If you need a shortcut, place blobs of dough between parchment paper or in a 2-gallon sized ziploc, roll to desired thickness (I like 1/2") and cut into desired shapes (even if I don't need a shortcut, this is how I roll my dough as it's less messy & keeps the cookies tender since you don't need extra flour for rolling). Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges (as in BARELY--do not overbake!).  Makes just under 5 dozen 3” cookies.

Icing Tip: When I first started making these, I would frost with homemade buttercream and then pipe on details with royal icing. It took forever. Then I discovered a great shortcut--use thinned storebought frosting to dip the cookies (any brand, just not whipped), then do the piping.  Here's how: put a big blob of the frosting in a microwave safe bowl (one that is a couple inches deep & wide enough for your cookies to lay flat in) & microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring, until you reach a sour-cream-like consistency. Hold your cooled cookie, by the edges, in your fingertips and dip the front of the cookie, gently shake off excess frosting, turn right side up, and quickly place on wire rack to dry. You will inevitably get some drips--I usually let it set up for a second then go around the edges with an offset spatula to take off any drips (but more often than not, the cookies are for the under-6-yr-old set, so I don't worry about it). I can usually dip 10 or so before I need to reheat in the microwave, adding more frosting as necessary.  Do not heat up all of your frosting at once as bits of cookie may get into the frosting and cause lumps.  Please give it a try before you turn up your nose on store bought--I promise they taste great and it saves you a ton of time.

Royal icing:

*You can find recipes for this everywhere but here's what I use (again from

  • 1 bag confectioners' sugar
  • 4 T. meringue powder
  • 2 t. flavoring (usually almond, though lately I've used lemon)
  • warm water

    Place confectioners' sugar and meringue powder in mixing bowl.  Start beater and mix slowly for a few seconds, keep mixer running and add 3 to 4 T warm water and add flavoring.  Continue mixing and adding water a little at a time until you get the consistency you want.  Divide and color. Place in piping bags or ziplocs w/ corner snipped--if kids are decorating, I like to use squeeze bottles.  Keep covered until you are ready to use--it dries incredibly fast, unless, of course, it's actually on the cookie and takes forever to dry (and if someone could please explain the physics on that, my 6 yr old thanks you b/c evidently "it just does" is NOT an adequate answer).

Note:  cookies iced with thinned storebought frosting (as described above) and royal icing can be stacked--a huge benefit over using traditional buttercream! They will last a few days at room temperature if stored in an airtight container. They also freeze beautifully, which you cannot do with buttercream (it'll seperate.  ewww).  To freeze, allow iced cookies to dry completely (about 12 hours but I just let them go overnight), then stack (wax paper or parchment paper in between) & place in ziploc.  I have frozen them for a month. To defrost, do not open the ziploc until the cookies are thawed (this will keep any condensation off the cookies).

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