Start a new tradition with this Old Fashioned Christmas Sugar Cookie recipe. Whether you host a cookie swap, give them as gifts, or enjoy them all yourself, after you’ve made these sweet little treats once you’ll crave them every single holiday season.
Ah, Christmas and cookies. A festive power couple like red and green, Comet and Cupid or eggnog and karaoke. They simply belong together. As a self-proclaimed cookie Queen, they are one of my all-time favorite things to bake, doubly so at this time of year.
While at times I get experimental like my stained glass cookies, and other times I keep it classic like white chocolate and cranberry nothing can beat the underrated charm of an old fashioned Christmas sugar cookie with a chilled glass of milk on Christmas Eve. Rumor has it, they’re Santa’s fave too. This recipe came straight from grandma's kitchen and will forever be my favorite classic sugar cookie recipe.
Sugar cookies are usually made from sugar, butter, flour, eggs, vanilla, and a leavening agent (or two, in this case) such as baking soda and/or baking powder. They earn their name due to the frosting, icing or sugar sprinkles used to decorate them. For these Old Fashioned Christmas Sugar Cookies, we’re keeping it Old School with red and green sprinkles and skipped the frosting. They're the perfect cookie to fill up that cookie jar!
Whether you’re looking for a fun activity for the kids this Christmas season, hosting a cookie exchange, or simply needing to curb that cookie craving, these soft, buttery baked goods tick all the boxes. With no chilling required, no frosting needed and a speedy 10-minute bake time they are ridiculously easy.
Fear not, however, with a recipe this easy I haven’t cut corners on flavor. You can expect that melt-in-your-mouth texture that hints at shortbread but with a strong note of vanilla and a chewy texture. The festive sprinkles also add sweetness while making these cookies look even more irresistible.
Not only are they the perfect homemade gift, but the perfect partner to a mug of hot cocoa or a glass of chilled holiday champagne.
WHY WE LOVE THIS OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE
- Fuss-free Recipe – When you don’t have time to play around with fiddly piping bags or head to the store, this simple recipe is your go-to recipe made using ingredients already in your pantry. Minimal effort, maximum flavor. The way cookies should be.
- Crowd pleasing flavors – Talking of the way cookies should be, these cookies are not the place to go wild with extracts or exotic flavor. With vanilla taking center stage, they are a guaranteed crowd pleaser that all ages will adore. The base is a buttermilk sugar cookie dough that is truly the best!
- Easy – With crowd pleasing flavor comes crowds of fans, good job you can bake up a batch in only 10 minutes. Trust me, you’ll need a team of elves to keep the production line going of these old-fashioned sugar cookies once your family gets a sniff of these delicious cookies.
- The perfect gift – There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve missed out a gift on Christmas Eve or need a hostess gift last minute. Who doesn’t love homemade cookies? You’ll go straight to the top of the nice list. I promise. Unlike cut-out cookies and frosted cookies, these can be made quickly and last minute! They're the perfect way to say Happy Holidays!
- No chill time – No chill time not only means you get super soft sugar cookies, but it means you get to eat them quicker too! There's also no need for a lightly floured surface, no need to roll dough, or even chill dough!
SIMPLE INGREDIENTS /SHOPPING LIST
- all-purpose flour
- baking soda
- baking powder
- softened butter
- granulated white sugar
- large egg
- vanilla extract
- buttermilk or heavy cream
- Christmas sprinkles
OLD FASHIONED DROP SUGAR COOKIES SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS
- Butter- Ideally use unsalted butter, that way you can control the salt content. If you only have salted butter to hand, skip the additional salt.
- Flour - This recipe uses all-purpose flour, but if you need to make it gluten free, you could use almond or coconut flour instead. Alternatively, try Bob's Red Mill Gluten free flour.
- Buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk or cream, you can substitute it with homemade buttermilk. Simply add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to milk, leave the cup for 5 minutes to curdle then add as per instructions.
- Blank canvas – This old fashioned Christmas sugar cookie recipe is essentially a blank canvas. You can get creative with both the dough and decoration if you have the time. Some ideas for sprucing up your sugar cookie include: nuts, coffee, ginger, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, cinnamon, quick oats or citrus zest.
- Eggs - Eggs are essential for moist cookies and they help to bind the ingredients together. Without eggs, you’ll have dense, crumbly cookies that won’t spread. As an egg substitute, you could also try: mashed banana, yogurt, oil & water, applesauce or flax eggs.
- Frosting – Whether your little elves have eaten all the sprinkles or you simply fancy changing up the toppings, you could also try: buttercream like I used on my pig sugar cookies recipe, a swirl of frosting like my Copycat swig sugar cookies or a colorful royal icing like my cute Golden Bunny Easter cookies.
RECOMMENDED TOOLS TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
- Measuring cups and spoons of various sizes
- Mixing bowls (large and small)
- Electric mixer
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper
- Wire Rack
HOW TO MAKE THIS OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE
It’s impossible to bake these Christmas sugar cookies from scratch without whipping up a good old batch of nostalgia too. Whether it’s the irresistible aroma, the temptation to nibble the cookie dough or the anticipation for that first freshly baked bite, baking cookies brings up the best memories!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. PRO TIP: For best results, ensure your butter is at room temperature before you begin.
- Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder and salt, mix to combine.
- Gradually add the flour mix to the butter/sugar mix. Mix until just combined.
- Add buttermilk or cream and mix again, until just combined.
- Roll out 1 inch cookie dough balls then roll into the bowl of sprinkles. PRO TIP: Your dough balls should be the size of a walnut. If you prefer you could also use a cookie scoop instead.
- Place cookie dough balls on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. PRO TIP: the spacing is important to avoid the cooking joining up when they spread.
- On a parchment lined baking sheet, roll out dough balls and space about 2in apart. PRO TIP: You can press down the cookie dough balls using your hands, the back of a glass or a measuring cup for those signature rugged edges.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
- Cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Prep your ingredients – Before you begin, make sure the butter is at room temperature and that all the dry ingredients are sifted well. This will make combining your cookie dough smoother.
- Rugged vs round – The joy with old fashioned Christmas sugar cookies is that they’re a little rustic. Perfection isn’t the aim here, but if you prefer a more uniform look you could use a cookie cutter to define the dough balls for round instead of rugged edges.
- Soft cookies – Just to warn, once your cookies are removed from the oven they will be soft to the touch. However, this is why it’s important to leave them for an additional few minutes to firm up a little before transferring to a wire rack to cook.
- Bake one tray at a time – Regardless if you’re baking fifty or fourteen cookies, it's best to only add one tray to the oven at a time. This will ensure an even baking time. While you wait for the next batch, why don’t you whip up a Bourbon Cranberry Fizz? It’s a delicious way to pass the time!
- To avoid dry sugar cookies – It’s important to mix your dough until just combined as per the directions otherwise your dough will be dry and crumbly. If you find you have over mixed the dough or added a little too much flour, try adding 1-2 tablespoons of liquid such as water, buttermilk or softened butter to your mix.
These old fashioned Christmas sugar cookies can be stored in a container on the counter for up to 4 days, or refrigerated for up to 1 week. I recommend using parchment paper between the layers to minimize contact between the cookies.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why did my sugar cookies burn?
Like all recipes, the baking time is only guidance as there are so many variables including the temperature of your kitchen, your oven brand etc. You may need to plus or minus a minute or two. If you find however your cookies continually burn there are a few suggestions that may help the baking process:
- It’s best to use shiny aluminum baking sheets as dark sheets absorb more heat, which can affect the speed your cookies bake.
- It’s also recommended to use a cookie sheet without sides as this will allow hot air to circulate better helping the cookies to bake evenly.
- Make sure your baking sheets are at least 2 inches smaller than your oven. Again, this will help heat to circulate properly.
- Before you preheat the oven, arrange your racks so that you can add your cookies in the center for best results.
- Only add one cookie sheet to the oven at a time.
What’s the Difference between a Drop Cookie and a Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe?
For this Old Fashioned sugar cookies recipe, I’ve gone with drop cookies. This essentially means you “drop” a ball of cookie dough onto the cookie sheet.
These styles of cookies will spread (that’s why the 2-inch gap is important) and also may puff up a little while they bake. Cut out cookies on the other hand, like my Valentine’s cookies require cookie cutters or a knife to create their shape.
The intention is that you want the cookie to remain the exact shape you created once baked, with minimal spread and that it won’t puff up. In order to achieve this, you will also need to chill the dough, with drop cookies this is not always necessary. Cut out sugar cookies are better for decorating with icing or frosting as they will have a better definition.
How do you keep cookies soft and chewy?
To keep cookies fresh, store them in an airtight container. If you need them fresh for multiple days, place a piece of bread in the container. The bread will absorb the moisture and keep the cookies chewy so you won't end up with a bunch of broken crispy cookies.
MORE FESTIVE TREATS YOU MAY ENJOY
- Gingerbread Man Cookie Wreath
- M&M Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
- Christmas wreath marshmallow treats
- Grinch fudge
With a few simple ingredients and less than 30 minutes, you'll be enjoying these delicious bakery style sugar cookies all season long!
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 ¾ cups granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk or heavy cream
- Christmas sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and powder and salt, mix to combine.
Gradually add flour to butter/sugar and mix until just combined.
Add buttermilk or cream and mix again, until just combined.
Roll out 1 inch cookie dough balls then roll into the bowl of sprinkles.
Place cookie dough balls on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart.
On a parchment lined baking sheet, roll out dough balls and space about 2in apart.
Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.