Cut Out Sugar Cookies

cut out sugar cookies | apt 2b baking co

My biggest cookie decorating advice is make sure the cookies are delicious, pick a limited color palate for your icing and sprinkles, and don’t worry too much about it! Have fun! Make a mess! Cover everything with sprinkles!

These are the most delicious and tender cut out cookies I’ve ever made. They have a combination of sugars and a few extra egg yolks which give them excellent flavor and texture. I add a little bit of almond extract too, but it’s totally optional.

I’ve also included some royal icing tips below, but again, my best advice is don’t worry about it too much and have fun. It takes some practice pipe perfectly.

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

adapted from Holiday Cookies by Elisabet Der Nederlanden

These cookies are tender, buttery and delicious. Decorate them with royal icing, leave them plain, or if you’d like to sprinkle the un-iced cookies add the sprinkles or sanding sugar before baking. Press very lightly to adhere the sprinkles to the dough.

3 3/4 cups (480g) all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (55g) confectioners sugar

2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Royal Icing

1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted

6 tablespoons pasteurized egg whites

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

For the Cookies

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, mixing until each egg is incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and divide it in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before rolling.

When you are ready to bake, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Heat oven to 350ºF and position 2 racks evenly spaced in the center of the oven.

Roll one of the chilled dough rounds out onto a lightly floured surface just under 1/4-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut as many cookies as possible. Carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2-inches in between the cookies. Gather up the scraps and roll and cut another round of cookies. Refrigerate the cut cookies for about 15 minutes before baking.

Repeat with the second round of dough.

Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes or until they are light golden. Rotate the racks from from to back and top to bottom. The baking time will depend quite a bit on the size of the cookies so if yours are quite large or small, they may take more or less baking time.

Transfer the baking sheets to cooling racks and let sit for five minutes. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely before icing.

For the Icing

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine all of the ingredients. Whisk on low speed until the sugar is moistened, then turn the mixer up to medium and whisk until smooth and glossy.

For piping lines and shapes you’ll want thick icing. When you lift the whisk out of the bowl the icing should flow in thick ribbons that will hold their shape when they fall into the bowl below. Add a bit more confectioner’s sugar to the mixture if necessary to achieve this texture. Fill a piping bag with the icing and have fun!

For flooding and complete coverage of the cookies you’ll want thinner icing that holds its shape for a few seconds, then melts into the icing in the bowl. Add a bit more water, one teaspoon at a time to achieve this texture. Color the icing as desired.

Use the icing right away or store in an airtight container, with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface to prevent a skin from forming, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Stir until smooth before using. Color the icing as desired.

Royal Icing Tips and Tricks

Fit a piping bag with a small round tip #1 or #2 to pipe lines and shapes and/or another piping bag with a slightly larger tip #3 or #4 for flooding. Fill each bag with the corresponding icing and have fun! Practice on a piece of parchment paper if you are nervous, but truly if you think you messed up - just cover your cookies with sprinkles!

For the trees in this post I used the flooding icing to draw a line around the border of each cookie, then filled it in completely and sprinkled to my heart’s content. After the trees had dried slightly I went back and used the piping icing to draw the trunks.

You can also use a spoon to cover the cookies with thinner flooding icing or dip them, have fun! Don’t worry to much about it!

If you are adding sanding sugar or sprinkles to your iced cookies you’ll want to add them just after you pipe the icing. Royal icing will develop a dry skin very quickly, so have your sprinkles at the ready.

If you’d like to pipe lines that sit on top on top of flooded cookies, let the flooding icing dry all of the way or the lines will melt into the flooded icing.

In any case make sure to let the cookies dry all of the way, uncovered, before stacking or packaging, I like to leave mine overnight.

cut out sugar cookies | apt 2b baking co

Sister Pie's Buttered Rum Shortbread

Buttered Rum Shortbread | apt 2b baking co

These slice and bake cookies are my favorite sort of thing to put in a cookie assortment because they are so easy to make and so sneakily delicious. You might see a light brown round like this on a cookie plate and pass it up for something a little more exciting looking or powdered sugar coated, but when you take a bite you will be so pleasantly surprised. They are lightly spiced, crisp, and buttery with a little kick of rum, because Christmas. I also added a sprinkle of crushed freeze dried raspberries - you know - for flair. Bonus: they also stay fresh for quite awhile and the flavors get even better after a day or two.

The recipe comes from Sister Pie, a cookbook that came out this Fall, which is filled with so many incredible sounding recipes. I admit, I haven’t made a Sister Pie yet, but I’m sure the flavors are as spot on as these cookies!

Sister Pie’s Buttered Rum Shortbread

Makes 36 cookies

From Sister Pie by Lisa Ludwinski

I made a few small changes to Lisa’s recipe - I used browned butter in the icing instead of coconut oil and added sprinkle of dehydrated raspberries after I glazed the cookies, I also added 1/2 teaspoon more salt to the shortbread dough. The recipe that follows is straight from the book without my mods.


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons dark or spiced rum

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  

Rum Icing

3/4 cup powdered sugar plus more as needed

2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons dark or spiced rum

2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Mix the dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

Place the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very smooth with no visible chunks of butter.

Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the bowl, then add the rum and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until completely incorporated. Remove the dough from the bowl and shape into a cylindrical log approximately 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes. You can mix and shape the dough up to 2 days in advance and store it in the refrigerator until 1 hour before you intend to slice the dough. Alternately, you may freeze the dough for up to 3 months, then let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding with the recipe.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the cookies about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully transfer them to the parchment-lined baking sheets.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the edges are just slightly golden.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

Make the Icing. While the cookies are cooling, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, coconut oil, rum, cream, salt, and cloves until very smooth. The texture should remind you of Elmer’s glue. Yum! If the icing seems a little dry, whisk in a bit more heavy cream, If it seems a little too wet, whisk in the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Once the cookies have fully cooled, use a small offset spatula or knife to spread a very thin, even layer of icing across the tops of the cookies. It should be carefully smoothed, not gloppy. Return the cookies to the baking sheets to hive the icing a chance to set up before serving. Store the iced cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.