Traditional Cut-Out Cookies

When I was growing up, every year we would make Christmas Cut-Outs and leave some by the fireplace for Santa. I have a shortbread recipe that I love to use for cutouts (I’ll post this before Christmas, don’t worry), but over the past few years, I’ve grown quite fond of Alton Brown’s Sugar Cookie Recipe.

With this recipe, your cookies will hold the desired shape very well without melting and puffing into an unrecognizable shape. Also, this recipe makes for some absolutely delicious cookies – the flavor is buttery and sweet, the texture is chewy and soft. They turn out great every single time!

On a related side-note, I have to confess that I’m a little bit nuts about cut-out cookies, not just at Christmas Time but all year round! I have a set of 101 cookie cutters that I love to use, and I have lots of other cutters that I’ve acquired over the years, too. I make these cookies almost every ;time we have a get-together. Here are a few of the shapes I’ve made in the past with this recipe

  • “24” cookies for the season premiere of 24 (I have numbers and letters)
  • Football-shaped cookies with chocolate frosting, and draw the laces with white icing
  • Easter cookies frosted in pastel colors
  • Shamrock cookies with green sprinkles for St. Patrick’s day
  • Heart cookies on Valentine’s Day with pink icing and red sprinkles
  • Flag cookies for the 4th of July

Traditional Christmas Cut-Out Cookies
(adapted from Alton Brown’s Sugar Cookies)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar, for rolling out the dough
Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Cookie frosting, for decorating (optional)

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg. milk, and vanilla, and beat to combine.

Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 at least hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill.

Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat. Decorate with colored sprinkles, if desired, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.

Serve as is or ice and decorate, as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

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