There are many kinds of cut-out cookie doughs that you can choose from when you’re setting out to make some festively decorated cookies for Christmas or another holiday occasion. Chocolate doughs, vanilla doughs, gingerbread doughs – you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Some doughs are much easier to work with than others, however, and that is what makes these Classic Christmas Cutout Cookies one of my go-to recipes when I want to bake and decorate cut-out cookies for the holidays!
The cookie dough is firm and very easy to work with. In fact, you don’t need much more than a sprinkling of flour on your work surface when rolling out the chilled cookie dough because it is not very sticky. Since you don’t need much flour to roll out the dough, this also means that you can reroll your scraps once or twice more than most other doughs, as it will not toughen up very much. The finished cookies are buttery and crisp, without being hard, and have a strong note of vanilla to them. They only brown slightly in the oven, leaving you with a very even surface for decorating and a dough that can handle cookie cutters that have a lot of detail to them.
There are many options for decorating these cookies. The dough is not too sweet, so you can load up the cookies with sprinkles if you want to make them easy and colorful. You can also top it with a smear of cream cheese or buttercream icing (not my preference, but a favorite of many kids). I typically make a simple, but thick, confectioners’ sugar glaze and pipe it onto the cookies in a very fine piping bag, making both simple and complex designs. It is easy to make, dries hard and adds just a hint of extra sweetness.
This dough can be made a couple of days ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. The baking time will vary slightly depending on how thick you roll out your dough: roll to 1/8-inch for crisper cookies and 1/4-inch for slightly softer ones.
Classic Christmas Cutout Cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp plain yogurt (regular or greek-style)
2 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, yogurt and vanilla until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the dry ingredients until a stiff dough forms and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Gather dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and let chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours (or up to 3 days).
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Sprinkle a flat work surface lightly with flour.
Working with one disk at a time, roll dough out 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut to desired shapes. Dust your cookie cutters with flour for best results. Gather scraps together, roll out again.
Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet (top with sprinkles, if desired)
Bake 12-15 minutes, until cookies are pale gold just around the edges.
Cool completely on wire racks.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies (depending on the size of the cutter).
Confectioners’ Sugar Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp water
In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and water. Add enough water to make the icing thick and pourable, but not runny (start with 1-2 tbsp and add more if necessary. You can always add a bit of extra sugar to thicken it if you add too much) and stir vigorously until very smooth.
Scrape into piping bag with a fine tip or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off and pipe onto cooled cookies. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes, until firm, before storing cookies in an airtight container.