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Classic Sugar Cookies

40 Servings

Prep Time
3 hrs

Standing Time
28 mins

Total Time
3 hrs 28 mins

Iced cookies are an essential part of our annual spread, beloved by the kids, who jockey for the ones with the most toppings. I generally choose a few shapes and make several dozen of each. I’ll let my sons have their way with decorating a stack, then do the rest myself. A single color of royal icing simplifies things; you can add color and sparkle with sanding sugar or sprinkles. 

Classic Sugar Cookies

Thomas J. Story
 1 cup (1⁄2 lb.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 ½ cup granulated sugar
 ½ tsp kosher salt
 2 large egg yolks
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
Royal Icing and Decoration
 4 cups (1 lb.) powdered sugar
 6 tbsp pasteurized egg whites
 White or colored sparkling sugar

Make cookies: Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until smooth. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla until incorporated. Stir or beat in 21/2 cups flour until blended. Flatten dough into a 1-in.-thick disk.


Preheat oven to 300° and line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to about 1/8 in. thick. Cut with cookie cutters and transfer to baking sheets, spacing about 1 in. apart (cookies do not spread). Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.


Reroll and cut dough scraps, reflouring work surface and rolling pin as needed; bake.


Make icing: In a clean mixer bowl using whisk attachment, combine powdered sugar and egg whites on low speed until moistened. Then beat on high until stiff, straight, glossy peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 15 minutes.


Spoon icing into a piping bag fitted with a plain 1/8-in.-wide tip. Pour a thick layer of sparkling sugar into a small dish. Pipe designs onto 1 cookie at a time and gently dip the still-wet piping into sugar (or carefully sprinkle sugar onto piping); tap off excess. Let dry on a wire rack until icing is firm, at least 1 hour.

MAKE AHEAD Dough, up to 2 days, chilled airtight (let stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll); or 1 month, frozen. Cookies, up to 2 days, stored airtight with sheets of waxed paper between layers; or 1 month, frozen.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 3-in. Cookie

Servings 0

Amount Per Serving
Calories 111Calories from Fat 44
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4.9g8%

Saturated Fat 3g15%
Sodium 27mg2%
Total Carbohydrate 16g6%

Dietary Fiber 0.2g1%
Protein 1.1g3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.