Baking Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Icing (Recipe)

These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don’t have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There’s something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.

These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don't have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There's something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.

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Why I Love These Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Icing

These cookies are the classic Santa-bribe. They make a great base recipe, where you can add all sorts of wonderful things such as powdered sugar, white sugar, brown sugar, sprinkles, colors, or even other icing types.

I made a plain version of the vanilla icing. You can add any color food coloring to it, either in small batches or the entire thing, for decoration. It will dry, creating a fun frost over your Christmas cookies. You can also use any cookie cutter shape, or even a small glass to make circles.

Kitchen Equipment Needed

  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixer or whisk
  • Cookie sheet
  • Wire rack
  • Medium bowl
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters
  • Brush

Tips and Tricks

Diving into the dough, here are five nuggets of wisdom to ensure your classic Christmas sugar cookies are the talk of the season:

  1. It’s All About the Cookie Cutters: Fun shapes for all of your cookies! You can try out something in the holiday spirit, or pretty much any shape.
  2. Temperature Matters: Keep your butter at room temperature for that perfect creamy blend with sugar.
  3. Chill Out: A chilled dough is easier to handle and holds its shape better in the oven.
  4. Roll Evenly: Uniform thickness means uniform baking. No one wants a half-crunchy, half-soft cookie.
  5. Keep It Light: Overworking the dough can lead to tough cookies. Mix until just combined for tender results.
  6. Decorate with Joy: Whether it’s sprinkles or icing, let your festive spirit guide your hand.

Pairing Suggestions To Eat Your Cookies

Classic Christmas sugar cookies can stand proudly on their own, but you can also enjoy them with:

  • A warm mug of mulled cider can elevate your holiday snacking to a cozy new level.
  • A glass of cold milk is the quintessential Santa-inspired pairing.
  • For the adults, a glass of eggnog or a cup of spiced tea might complement the sweet subtlety of the cookies.
  • And you can’t go wrong with coffee, hot chocolate, or tea of any variety or flavor.

Storage and Freshness Tips

To keep your sugar cookies as fresh as the winter snow, store them in an airtight container at room temperature. They’ll cozy up together and stay delicious for up to a week.

If you’ve taken a dip into icing, make sure it’s set before you tuck them away to avoid a sticky situation.

The Secret to Cookie Longevity

These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don't have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There's something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.
Photo by Youjeen Cho on Unsplash

Wondering how to keep your classic Christmas sugar cookies tasting fresh for as long as possible? Here’s a tried-and-true baker’s secret: nestle a slice of plain bread into your cookie container.

The cookies will absorb moisture from the bread, keeping them soft and chewy for days. Just make sure to replace the bread slice every other day to maintain optimal freshness. This simple yet effective trick ensures that your holiday treats remain as delightful as the day you baked them.

FAQs

  1. How do I ensure my cookies keep their shape while baking? To ensure your cookies maintain their shape, make sure to chill the dough thoroughly before cutting out shapes and again before baking if they become too soft. Also, avoid rolling out the dough too thin, and don’t overcrowd the baking sheet as the cookies can spread into each other.
  2. Can I freeze the dough for later use? Yes, you can freeze the dough. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it well in cling film, and place it in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before rolling and cutting.
  3. What’s the secret to the perfect icing consistency? The secret lies in the ratio of powdered sugar to liquid. For outlining, you’ll want a thicker consistency, so add liquid gradually. For flooding, a slightly runnier consistency is needed. Always mix thoroughly to avoid lumps.
  4. Are there any vegan-friendly adaptations for this recipe? Absolutely! Substitute the butter for vegan margarine and use a flax egg (1 tbsp flaxseed meal with 2.5 tbsp water, let sit for 5 minutes) in place of a regular egg. Ensure all other ingredients are certified vegan.
  5. How long will the cookies stay fresh after baking? Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies should stay fresh for up to a week. If you’ve added icing, wait for it to harden before storing.
  6. Can I use natural sweeteners in place of granulated sugar? Yes, you can use natural sweeteners like coconut sugar. Be mindful that this will change the flavor and color of the cookies. You may need to experiment with quantities for the right level of sweetness.
  7. What’s the best thickness for rolling out the dough? A thickness of about 1/4 inch is ideal for classic sugar cookies. This ensures they are not too thin to break easily and not too thick to prevent even baking.
  8. How can I add natural flavors to my cookies without altering the texture? Incorporate finely grated citrus zest, spices, or extracts into your dough. These are great ways to add flavor without affecting the texture.
  9. Is it possible to make the cookies sugar-free for diabetics? Yes, there are sugar substitutes available that are suitable for baking and diabetic-friendly. Be sure to use a substitute that measures like sugar to keep the ratio consistent.
  10. How do I get my cookies to have a golden edge without overbaking? To achieve a golden edge, bake the cookies until they are just set and start to turn golden brown around the edges. This usually takes place within the last minute or two of baking, so keep a close eye on them.

The Sweet Legend of Santa’s Snack

The tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa Claus is a delightful aspect of Christmas that sparks the imagination of children around the globe. This custom has its roots in ancient Norse mythology, with children leaving hay and treats for Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, hoping to curry favor with the god during the Yule season.

This evolved over centuries into the charming practice of leaving cookies for Santa, as a thank-you for the gifts he brings. By encouraging children to bake and offer cookies, we not only stir their creativity but also instill a sense of giving and sharing during the festive season.

Festive Packaging Ideas

Once your cookies are iced, dried, and ready to delight, consider the joy of giving them as gifts. Festive tins, clear cellophane bags tied with ribbons, or eco-friendly boxes adorned with a sprig of holly can transform your cookies into the perfect Christmas present.

Adding a personal touch like a handwritten recipe card or a note can make the gift of classic Christmas sugar cookies even more special. Whether they’re for neighbors, teachers, or loved ones far away, beautifully packaged cookies are a heartfelt way to spread holiday cheer.

Here are 26 unique and fun ideas to gift-wrap your cookies, ensuring that your treats are presented with as much care as they were made:

  1. Try out these cardboard cookie boxes!
  2. Mason jars with festive ribbons and fabric lids
  3. Customized paper cookie sleeves with a personal message
  4. Edible cookie boxes where the container is also a treat
  5. Clear baubles filled with mini cookies to hang on the tree
  6. Handmade origami boxes adorned with Christmas motifs
  7. Cookies layered in a wine glass and wrapped in cellophane
  8. Personalized photo cookie tins for a nostalgic touch
  9. Vintage cookie tins sourced from thrift stores
  10. Cookies packaged in hand-sewn miniature stockings
  11. Eco-friendly beeswax wraps with a festive design
  12. Reusable tin lunchboxes with a holiday theme
  13. Custom-printed tea towels as sustainable gift wrap
  14. Musical boxes that play a tune when opened
  15. Cookies in a miniature sleigh complete with tiny reindeer
  16. Rustic burlap bags tied with holly
  17. Elegant truffle boxes repurposed for cookies
  18. Miniature cookie jars with chalkboard labels
  19. Cookies presented in a hand-painted pottery dish
  20. Festive cookie “bouquets” arranged in flower pots
  21. Antique-style apothecary jars with ribbon bows
  22. Homemade cookie calendars with a treat behind each door
  23. Cookies tucked inside hollowed-out, festive books
  24. Embroidered silk pouches for a touch of luxury
  25. Customized matchbox-style slider boxes
  26. DIY Christmas cookie puzzle pieces in a decorative bag
These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don't have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There's something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.

Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Icing

Yield: 2 dozen
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Let's whip up some classic sugar cookies with a smooth vanilla icing, perfect for any season that calls for a touch of sweetness and a sprinkle of joy!

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Icing

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cookies

  1. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
  3. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

For the Vanilla Icing

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract until icing is smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes.
  2. Color with food coloring if desired. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

Notes

  • Make sure to chill the dough for at least an hour before rolling it out; this makes it easier to handle and helps the cookies keep their shape when baking.
  • For a festive twist, use cookie cutters to shape the cookies before baking.
  • The icing can be adjusted for thickness by adding more milk or confectioners' sugar as needed.
  • Allow the icing to set on the cookies before storing them to prevent smudging.

Nutrition Information
Yield 24 Serving Size 2
Amount Per Serving Calories 209Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 28mgSodium 68mgCarbohydrates 33gFiber 0gSugar 22gProtein 2g

Nutritional values automatically generated.

The Final: Baking Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Icing

These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don't have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There's something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.

These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don't have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There's something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.

These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don't have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There's something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.

These classic Christmas sugar cookies with vanilla icing make the perfect snack for Santa when he delivers those presents down the chimney (or through the front door, if you don't have a chimney). My daughters get together to bake Christmas cookies every year. They make a version of these cookies. Simple and easy to bake, and with endless ways to decorate. There's something undeniably heartwarming about the ritual of making classic Christmas sugar cookies.

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