Holiday Sugar Cookies

It’s that time. Whether you love it or hate it, find it joyous or stressful, the holiday season is upon us. Or as I refer to it: cookie season. And I am a cookie fan, especially Christmas cookies. I touched on this last year when I blogged about easy slice-and-bake holiday cookies. Frosted holiday cookies are something I grew up on and something I looked forward to each December.

sugar cookies

My mom was not a baker, but my mom loved (and still loves) a great cutout holiday cookie in almost any shape and form. My mom was not a crafty mother by any means.  She did not make Halloween costumes for my sister and me. She could not sew. “Projects” (of any kind) were things we did at school; and she had a small repertoire of solid, but primarily basic, go-to family meals, like lasagna. But she loved to bake holiday cookies.

sugar cookies

My mom spent hours hand-kneading the dough. Meticulously rolled out dough, to the perfect thickness.  She would help cut, bake, and festively decorate each and every cookie until my sister and I ran out of steam. It was always worth it. Slightly under-baked to remain soft, these cookies defined my childhood holiday season. Stored securely in several large Tupperware with sealed tops, the cookies remained on the counter for us to have at will in the days leading up to Christmas. I took advantage grabbing one every time I passed through the kitchen.

sugar cookies

I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I love and celebrate the holiday season open-heartedly. A time for joy, peace, connection, renewal, family and togetherness.  And a time for sweet soft, frosted, beautifully decorated holiday cookies.  This is not my mom’s recipe, this is mine, but one that reminds me of my youth. With numerous cookie-cutter options, the sky’s the limit on how you shape and decorate them as well as the level of effort you choose to put into them.  Regardless of those details, they are delicious.

sugar cookies

This year I used a simple and versatile royal icing and a pale color dusting powder that I absolutely love. I find it relaxing to decorate cookies, and this is both a lovely and somewhat easy way to do so. Although I provide a recipe for royal icing using meringue powder, it’s holiday time and I always support shortcuts and making life easier.

sugar cookies

The dough can be prepped days in advance. Or prepped and frozen. You can make the icing or use Wilson’s pre-made one without sacrificing flavor. I used some natural gel food colorings for frosting color variations.  Once dry, you can apply a light coat of Wilton’s pearl dust with a small decorating brush. I topped some of my cookies with Wilton’s sugar pearl sprinkles to add a simple but subtle elegance. The items I used are readily available on Amazon or craft stores like Michael’s. As December kicks off, my best baking advice is to start by getting organized to help keep this fun and festive holiday baking season stress-free and enjoyable.

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

10 thoughts on "Holiday Sugar Cookies"

  1. Avatar photo Kathy Glidewell says:

    I have this dough chilling in the fridge now and have a question about how you iced these with the royal icing. It looks so smooth across the top, I’m wondering what method you used to create this beautifully finished top. Thanks! I can wait to see the finished product in my kitchen!

    1. Love hearing this Kathy! I used a small off-set spatula to frost the cookies. A butter knife works just as well. Make sure the frosting is a nice spreadable consistency and remember they will be tasty no matter what. Good luck, do let me know how they turn out, I’ll be making more today myself! Happy Holidays!

      1. Avatar photo Kathy Glidewell says:

        They turned out beautiful! I ended up dipping the top of the cookie onto the icing then placing onto a cooling rack for any excess to drip off. They’re almost too pretty to eat!

        1. Hooray, that’s fantastic. And good thinking about an alternative way to frost them. Enjoy your beautiful cookies 🙂

  2. Avatar photo Toni Brescia says:

    I tried the recipe, and it’s a keeper. However, I was not able to get 36 cookies at 1/4″ thick from a single batch. Ahhh, just means I made a double batch the second go around! Thank you for sharing!

    1. So glad you liked, I’ll tweak the quantity.

  3. Avatar photo Roz Potischman says:

    Your cookies are exquisite! Your story, lovely.

    1. Thank you Roz, I’m a sucker for a cookie just like my mom.

  4. Avatar photo Stephanie Chen says:

    I absolutely love your story here, and, not suprisingly, your cookies are absolutely gorgeous. I think my girl and I will give these a try soon. You continue to amaze!

    1. Thanks Steph, I so appreciate that. Happy baking!

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