A Tasty One-of-a-Kind Christmas Cookie Recipe and Ideas for Easy Decorating
Check holiday baking off your to-do list with this simple yet tasty Christmas sugar cookie recipe! The key ingredient has these cookies tasting perfect straight out of the oven with a special holiday flavor! Prefer your sugar cookies decorated? Get inspired with some easy decorating ideas everyone can do!
A Simple Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipe with Flavor Like No Other
Are you looking for a sugar cookie recipe that:
- has a short basic ingredient list (no crazy stuff)
- works great for cut out cookies
- makes perfect cookies with soft centers
- delivers a delightful flavor that reminds you of the holidays
Look no further! This is the recipe for you! These cookies are easy to make and bake up beautifully. They taste great without frosting or icing, leaving your friends and family wondering how these cookies can taste just like…Christmas?!
A Family Favorite
These were the only sugar cookies Tammy and I had growing up. We laugh when we talk about this recipe now because, as children, we both thought that these were what standard sugar cookies taste like. They were the only ones Mom ever made.
Here’s my copy of the recipe from Mom, a photocopy she glued to a gingerbread recipe card. (Oh, Mom!) She attached the recipe to an oven mitt with a snowflake cookie cutter as a gift.
So What’s the Secret Ingredient?
Some “plain” sugar cookie recipes can taste great, but sometimes they can be lacking – like they just need a little something. Nowadays, when I eat a “plain” sugar cookie I think about how flavorful these Christmas sugar cookies are.
How do you add flavor to a sugar cookie? There are countless possibilities. Extracts, such as vanilla or almond, offer a delicate taste. Lemon extract can add a pop of bright flavor. Various spices, like cinnamon, can also be used.
The distinct flavor of these Christmas sugar cookies is thanks to nutmeg. With just ¾ tsp., it is not at all overpowering. The nutmeg adds a warm flavor with a slight sweetness.
We actually make these sugar cookies year-round for all kinds of occasions but they always remind me of Christmas!
We have a classic sugar cookie recipe without the nutmeg (but still tasty!). Check it out for a great alternative!
A Few Things to Know
- We swipe out the shortening from Mom’s recipe for butter. Why do we and what’s the difference? Learn more about the differences between butter and shortening. In a nutshell, butter makes for a softer, richer cookie, which we prefer.
- Because of the butter, the dough will need to be chilled. I know, I know, some people roll their eyes at cookie dough chilling. Maybe we’re weird, but we actually prefer to chill cookie dough. What?! Why?! Chilling prevents cookies from spreading too much while baking, which helps cut out sugar cookies hold their shape.
- Powdered sugar is your friend. Use powdered sugar, not flour, to roll out the dough and also to keep the cookie cutters from sticking. Don’t be shy with the sugar: use a generous amount to cover surfaces (counter, rolling pin, hands, etc.) and also to pat into the dough. We generally use ⅓ C – ½ C powdered sugar.
- You’ll get about 3 dozen medium-sized cookies from this recipe.
How to Make Christmas Sugar Cookies
Basic ingredients combined in a few simple steps make it easy to whip up this sugar cookie recipe in 10 minutes or less!
What You’ll Need:
- 1/2 C butter, softened
- 1 C sugar
- 2 well-beaten eggs
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 2 1/2 C sifted flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3-1/2 C powdered sugar – for rolling and cutting the dough
Prepare the Dough
We recommend setting out the butter beforehand. It doesn’t need to be room temperature, just softened.
- Cream together and beat until light and fluffy:
➔ ½ C butter
➔ 1 C sugar
- Add and beat well:
➔ 2 well-beaten eggs
➔ 1 Tbsp milk
- Sift together:
➔ 2 ½ C flour
➔ ½ tsp baking powder
➔ ¼ tsp salt
➔ ¾ tsp nutmeg
4. Add sifted ingredients to the mixture.
- Shape into a mound. It will be very sticky!
- Wrap in wax paper and chill thoroughly. I sometimes double wrap with a plastic bag. Chill for a couple of hours in the refrigerator or about half an hour in the freezer. The dough will also last in the fridge for a couple of days.
Roll and Cut
We use powdered (confectioners’) sugar with our sugar cookie dough. We find it to be less drying than flour. Too much flour can alter the texture of the cookies. This isn’t as much of an issue with powdered sugar.
Sprinkle the counter with powdered sugar. Dust the rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll dough to about ¼ inch thickness for medium-sized cookies.
This cookie dough can be rolled thinner or thicker depending on what size cookies you’re making. Just be sure to keep an eye on them while they’re in the oven and adjust the baking time:
~less time in the oven for thin cookies
~add time in the oven for thick cookies
To roll the dough out evenly, roll the dough from the center then outward to the edges.
Try to roll with as few strokes of the pin as possible so as not to overwork the dough.
Helpful Tip: Apply a dusting of powdered sugar on top of the dough to cut down on stickiness. Do this before and after rolling to keep both the rolling pin and cookie cutters from sticking. The powdered sugar will absorb into the dough.
Press the cookie cutters into the dough to create the cookie cut-outs. Place them as close together as you can to get the most out of the dough. The leftover dough can be rolled out again, but you want to avoid overworking it.
Stick your rolling pin in the refrigerator! A cold pin helps the dough stay cooler longer = well-shaped and well-baked cookies! 👍
Brush any excess sugar off the cookies. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 375° for about 5-7 minutes or until just starting to lightly brown.
Helpful Tip: Parchment paper prevents overspreading and over-baking!
Let the cookies completely cool on a cooling rack before moving on to the fun part: decorating!
Below are a bunch of easy decorating techniques for anyone! They all turn out festive Christmas sugar cookies. We know-we’ve tried ALL OF THEM!
These techniques range from quick and easy to well, a little more involved, but still beginner-friendly!!! Several options are perfect for decorating with the kids as well!
A Ton of Simple Ways to Decorate Christmas Cut Out Cookies
Growing up, I don’t remember making Christmas cookies every year. I think some years Mom just didn’t get to it (there were 6 of us kids for Heaven’s sake!). But the years we did make them were always something to get excited about for Tammy and me.
Mom kept the decorating to a minimum (again, 6 kids). Our cookies were typically adorned with red and green sugar and red hots (cinnamon candies). These Christmas cookies don’t need much extra because of their wonderful flavor.
Sugar and Sprinkles
One of the easiest and quickest ways to dress up plain sugar cookies is to hit them with a little sugar or sprinkles.
- There are countless colors and special mixes to choose from. You can even make basic colored sanding sugar yourself!
- Besides sprinkling sugar over the entire cookie, you can also make fun designs.
- Sugar and some types of sprinkles can be added before or after baking.
Edible Color Markers
This is a great option when decorating cookies with kids! (Tried and approved by our own kids!)
Dye the Dough
This is another great option when decorating cookies with kids! Simply add a little food coloring to the dough and knead it in. Kids love this simple decorating technique because it’s a little like playing with Play-Doh.
These cookies turn out fun and colorful, especially when multiple colors are applied to one cookie. Just look at the “trimmings” on this adorable little tree!
This set of gel icing colors by Wilton has every color you need to make whimsical Christmas cookies!
Buttercream frosting is one of the tastiest ways to decorate your sugar cookies. Keep it simple by spreading the buttercream onto the cookie with a spatula and top off with some sprinkles. You can also add texture with piped details.
In need of a delicious buttercream? Try our signature buttercream recipe! Our frosting is the perfect creamy consistency with a smooth buttery flavor.
Cookie icing is a classic technique that can be used by beginners to cookie decorating pros and everyone in between. It can be used to create brilliant details or easily flooded on top of the cookie for extra sweetness and a little color.
Sally’s Baking Addiction has a simple royal icing recipe we like to use. It’s beginner-friendly and the consistency makes it easy to work with.
Not into royal icing? No problem! We also use this simple cookie icing from Design Eat Repeat. It works well for covering cookies with a simple layer of icing. The best part? No mixer required, just whip this up with a bowl and a spatula!
Mix and match any of these easy decorating ideas to create festive delicious Christmas sugar cookies! The possibilities are endless! Have fun and happy decorating!