How To Make and Bake the Perfect Sugar Cookie (Best Sugar Cookie Recipes)


A cookie rookie's guide to making decorated sugar cookies!

The most important part of any decorated cookie is the COOKIE. If you are just starting out on your cookie decorating journey of joy and happiness -- START HERE. No amount of cookie decorating magic can save a bad tasting or over baked cookie. You will end up with a cookie decorating journey of sadness and tears in the closet while eating the last of the cookie dough ice cream and crying even more because your kids already picked out all the cookie dough bits so all you really have is tears and vanilla flavored iced milk that was once cookie dough ice cream. Let's not start your cookie decorating journey by crying in the closet. You'll want to save that for icing consistency.


MAKING SUGAR COOKIES


WHAT IS THE BEST RECIPE FOR SUGAR COOKIES?


The first thing you need to know is that it's okay if you don't love the same cookie recipe as someone else. Some people like crunchy cookies. Some people like chewy cookies. Some people want their cookies soft and airy and very likely to float away if a more-than-gentle wind comes along. That's all okay. Go ahead and ask for recommendations from friends, but be sure to ask WHY they like a certain recipe. Here are some of my favorite recipes:



Best sugar cookie recipes that don't spread and don't need to be chilled

VANILLA SUGAR COOKIE RECIPES:


Vanilla 2.0 (LilaLoa) -- a non-spreading, chewy vanilla recipe that gets a little flavor boost from brown sugar, does not require chilling. Dough freezes well.

Basic Sugar Cookie (Sweet Sugarbelle) -- a light tasting, pale in color vanilla/almond recipe has just the right amount of salt to balance the sweet. It gets its signature almost-shortbread mouthfeel from the powdered sugar. Does not require chilling. Best when used right after mixing. (This is an EXCELLENT recipe to use if you plan on coloring your dough!!)

Perfect Every Time Cut-Out Cookies (Bake at 350) --  a perfectly soft and chewy non-spreading vanilla cookie that won first place at a taste-test at CookieCon 2017. Chilling the cut-outs for 5 minutes is recommended but not required. Dough freezes well.



OTHER FLAVORS:

End-All Chocolate (LilaLoa) - I know I'm biased, but this is HANDS DOWN my favorite cookie recipe!! It's a soft, chewy, non-spreading brownie like recipe that does not require chilling!! Dough freezes well.

Red Velvet Roll-Outs (Sweet Sugarbelle) - a cookie version of the famous cake, this soft cookie uses powdered sugar and powdered buttermilk to give it the familiar flavor of a red velvet cake in a tender mouthfeel cookie form. Letting the dough rest for 10-15 minutes after mixing is suggested.

Honey (Haniela's) -  a spiced, honey flavor cookie that is crunchy right after baking and softens after a few days. Pairs well with a vanilla or lemon flavored royal icing. Requires 24 hours chill time. Dough freezes well.

Chocolate Chip (LilaLoa) -- a no-chill, non-spreading, chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe that does not require chilling. Use mini chocolate chips for best results. Dough freezes well.

Vegan/Allergen Free Sugar Cookie (Cookie Crazie) -- a dense and chewy gluten, egg, dairy & nut free dough that holds it's shape and tastes good. This is definitely a different cookie than a typical sugar cookie. Dough freezes well.



*** A note about eggs : The size of the eggs you use is REALLY important. Large is the standard egg size for baking. If a recipe doesn't state a size, use large. If you bake at high altitude and find that your dough is a crumbly mess when everything else was perfect - try using extra large eggs instead of large eggs.

*** A note about baking powder : A common myth is that baking powder will make your cut-out cookies spread out and change shape. Baking powder is a leavener and it makes the cookies puff UP, not OUT. Cookies made with baking powder will have a lighter, less dense texture. If your cookies are spreading...don't blame the baking powder.

*** I'm not a big crunchy cookie fan...so I actually don't have any crunchy cookie recipes to recommend.  If YOU know of a good crunchy or crisp sugar cookie recipe - share it in the comments below!!


How do I make all my cookies the same thickness?

ROLLING OUT SUGAR COOKIES:



HOW THICK SHOULD I ROLL MY SUGAR COOKIE DOUGH?

The easy answer is -- as thick as you want it. The most common cookie thicknesses are 3/8 inch and 1/4 inch thick. Some people roll them as thick as 1/2 inch and some people roll them as thin as 3/16 inch.


WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO ROLL OUT SUGAR COOKIE DOUGH?


Ask 10 cookie decorators how they roll out their cookies and you will get 10 different answers. The great thing is that unless someone is using a porcupine and an umbrella to roll out their cookies - there's no real wrong way to do it. And I don't want to judge without seeing it...but I think we can safely say "no" to the porcupine/umbrella method.


The most basic, common method is to throw some flour on the counter and just go for it. And this works. But...every time you roll out the dough, you are going to be adding more flour to it. You can generally only roll the dough out twice before you’ve added too much flour and need to toss the dough or risk having really dense, tough cookies. And even on the first roll, flour can get in the layers of the dough and create air pockets that rise up while baking, leaving bubbles in the surface of the baked cookie. (An easy solution to the bubble surface is to simply flatten it with the back of a spatula as soon as the cookies come out of the oven.)

Try rolling the dough between parchment paper or silicone mats instead. If you choose to use parchment paper, use a silicone mat underneath to keep the parchment from sliding around on your counter.


HOW CAN I MAKE SURE THAT ALL MY SUGAR COOKIE DOUGH IS THE SAME THICKNESS?


There are quite a few ways to make sure that your dough has a uniform thickness. The most widely available option is to simply place two items of identical thickness on either side of the parchment paper (like paint stirring sticks, plastic lids...even two books.) Obviously, make sure the items don't touch the dough itself.

Another option is to use rolling pin rings. They slide onto the end of the rolling pin like a thick rubber band. The thickness of the ring determines the thickness of your final cookie. Most rolling pin rings are made of silicone and CAN be slightly flattened with too much pressure. Also, rolling pin rings come in different sizes for different width of rolling pins. Make sure the rings you get will fit the pin you have.

There is also a rolling pin made JUST for cookie decorators! It's called the Precision Rolling Pin and it was created by The Cookie Countess. (Read more about the Precision Rolling Pin HERE.) It's basically a rolling pin with guide rings all built into one solid piece of wood. (If you're not ready for that kind of commitment, there is a similar, but much smaller rolling pin with interchangeable guide rings called a Joseph-Joseph rolling pin.)

And last but not least - my favorite option - I use a Dough-EZ Rolling Mat. It's basically a giant silicone mat. It comes with different size guide sticks. Place the dough on one side of the mat and fold the other half on top. Place the guide sticks on either side of the dough (either inside the mat or underneath the mat) and roll out your dough. (Read more about the Dough EZ Rolling Mat HERE.)




How to get started making decorated sugar cookies

BAKING SUGAR COOKIES:


HOW LONG DO I BAKE MY SUGAR COOKIES?


Most recipes will give you a range of time for baking. This is because a small, thin cookie will need much less time to bake than a large, thick cookie. In general, for a small or thin cookie - aim for the shorter end of the range and for a large or thick cookie - aim for the longer end of the range. BUT...until you are familiar with a recipe, keep an eye on your cookies as they bake and take them out when they look done.



HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY COOKIES ARE DONE?!


Traditional vanilla cookie recipes are baked until the edges start to turn a golden amber color. This can be difficult to determine if you are using a chocolate or other flavored sugar cookie recipe. Another way to determine "done-ness" is by watching the surface of the cookie. As the dough begins to bake, the butter starts melting - creating a shiny or "wet" look on the surface of the cookie. As it continues to bake, the outside edge of the cookie will look dry and the wet spot in the middle shrinks. When that shiny "wet" spot in the middle disappears and the entire surface of the cookie is dry -- your cookies are done!





And if your brain is spinning...don't worry. I made you a video that you can watch over and over again until things make sense! ALSO -- ask me all your questions below!!

SUGAR COOKIE BAKING SUPPLIES:


No Handle Rolling Pin (This is the one I use most often.)



LilaLoa
LilaLoa

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