How to Make Sugar Cookies

Here's how to make perfect cut-out sugar cookies for the holidays or any time of year.

By: Mindy Fox
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Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Bake and Decorate

Sweets lovers the world-over never seem to tire of sugar cookies. Sweet and tender, these confections are most fun when cut into fanciful shapes. Cutters range from basic shapes to holiday themed and nearly every other motif imaginable. Serve the cookies plain, or go to town and decorate with icing, sparkly sugars, dragees and more.

Dry Ingredients

To make about 3 dozen cookies, sift together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

The Mixture

Place 1 cup softened unsalted butter and 1 cup sugar in the large bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat on medium speed until well combined and light in color.

Add Eggs

Add 1 beaten egg and 1 tablespoon milk to the butter mixture, then beat together to combine

Slowly Add Dry Ingredients

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture. Once all of the flour mixture has been added, beat until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. 

Dough Is Ready

Once all of the flour mixture has been added, beat until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. 

Wrap the Dough Pieces

Divide the dough in half (two smaller pieces are easier to roll out than 1 larger piece, and smaller pieces retain cold better). Form each half into a rectangular shape, about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, 2 hours or overnight. 

Shaping the Dough

Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from the refrigerator at a time, sprinkle a rolling pin with flour or powdered sugar, and, on a lightly flour- or powdered sugar-dusted work surface, roll out the dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Alton Brown prefers using powdered sugar over the more common flour for dusting, because it eliminates the possibility of adding too much gluten to the dough. While rolling, move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking, working quickly to prevent warming. Warm dough is difficult to work with. You can return the dough to the refrigerator to chill again, if needed. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into the desired shape. If you have multiple cutters, place them over the dough — as close together as possible — before pressing downward to cut, so you'll be sure to get as many cookies out of the first roll as possible.

Ready for Baking

Cookies become tough the more times the dough is rolled, so reroll scraps only once. Arrange cookies at least 1 inch apart on a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet or a greased baking sheet — the space between the cookies ensures no bumping together and encourages browning. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, for 7 to 9 minutes or until the cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges.

Decorate

Baking until the edges are browned is especially important for iced cookies to form a crisp edge and to keep them from softening during storage. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven, then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week. Now that you've learned this technique, try making Food Network Kitchen's Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies.

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