Nicole’s Mom’s Sugar Cookies, a.k.a., the best sugar cookies known to humankind

Yesterday we had another big snowfall; I don’t even know how many that makes so far this year – four? five? I have already lost count – but I watched the thick, fluffy flakes fall from the sky and it was like a switch turned on in my brain.

As I had mentioned in my last post, I have finished my shopping, but I will tell you this: the super-festive-Nicole-the-Elf feeling did not kick in until yesterday. And hoo boy, has it kicked in. Keep my husband in your thoughts, for I think I may be already driving him crazy. This morning, as I sipped on my seventh – yes, seventh – cup of coffee, I talked in a rapid-fire voice about how I had picked up extra coconut milk and I was thinking maybe this year I’d make peppermint truffles in addition to my usual dark chocolate, and I wonder if dipping some in white chocolate would be good, or too much, and should I roll them in crushed candy canes? He just looked at me in the way you might look at someone who is in danger of spinning off the earth, at 7:00 am, and then left for work.

I ventured out into the Winter Wonderland yesterday to pick up a few items from my local Co-Op, and when I walked in became immediately immobilized when confronted by the giant festive display inside the store. When I say “immobilized,” I mean I stood there staring at all the items for sale for at least five minutes before strolling over to pick up bread, avocados, and peppermint extract, and then circled back to choose three different kinds of candy canes.

Speaking of peppermint extract, has anyone else found it difficult to obtain lately? Is there a shortage? When I find it, the price seems to be the same, but it has been hard to find lately.

So the house is now stocked appropriately with coconut milk, chocolate, peppermint extract, molasses, and candy canes; all things I need for my usual holiday baking sweatshop. There’s just one little issue: I don’t have a whole lot of people to bake FOR.

See, here’s the thing: when the kids were in elementary school, there was always a bake sale or a classroom party or a potluck for the teachers to bake for. This year: nothing. And while the kids are in the human-garburator stage of life where they eat so much it makes one’s head spin, they really cannot eat eight dozen cookies prior to those cookies going stale. They really can’t. And yet, I have already made double batches of both sugar cookie and gingerbread dough, both sitting in my freezer, waiting for the day they come alive to be eaten. And that doesn’t even account for my giant batch of gingersnaps I make come December. When I told my older son that we would have at least eighty gingerbread men to decorate and I wasn’t sure why I had made so many, he said “It’s okay, Mom, we can give them away to people!”

Bless the child. YES WE WILL. So prepare yourself, people in my circles, because you will be the recipient of baked goods this year. I’m already planning my random acts of cookies so watch out, you might have something sweet forced on you, and if I’ve had as much coffee as I’ve had this morning, you may be alarmed at my beaming face.

But this recipe! Recently a friend asked me for it and I was appalled to see that I did not have it anywhere online. Let me tell you, it is my number one most popular cookie recipe. My kids’ friends are always asking me to send it to their moms, teachers used to email me for it, and I have sent it out myriad times. Yet, I have never blogged it*. This is my mom’s sugar cookie recipe and I am just going to humbly tell you that it is no-fail, amazing every time. Well, once it failed since I forgot the baking powder. But if you actually follow the recipe, it’s no-fail. My friends used to love these cookies when my mom made them, back in my childhood days, and now my kids’ friends do, and it feels like this beautiful cookie-circle-of-life.

Nicole’s Mom’s Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 eggs

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt.

THIS IS THE IMPORTANT STEP: EITHER CHILL THIS FOR TWO HOURS UNTIL EASY TO HANDLE, OR FORM INTO 2-3 BALLS, WRAP, AND FREEZE UNTIL YOU FEEL LIKE CUTTING OUT 7 DOZEN COOKIES. I usually make the dough, freeze it, and then a few weeks later, actually bake the cookies. Pro-tip! You don’t have to do everything at once.

On baking day, obviously you will have thawed the dough, but kept it refrigerated. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 for convection oven. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and do not think for a moment that you can skip this step! Use the parchment paper, trust me.

Roll out dough on floured surface, about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into festive shapes (for birthdays I make stars, for Valentine’s, hearts, and for Halloween, there are cats, pumpkins, and ghosts). Bake for 10 minutes, until edges are browned. I like very soft cookies, if you like crunchier ones, then add a couple of minutes to bake time. Allow to cool before frosting.

Now, some of you (HI LIV, MELODY, AND AMANDA) are die-hard pipe-and-flood types, but I, alas, am not. I am more a “whimsical smear of buttercream with a few random sprinkles” kind of a cookie decorator. There is room for all of us in this world. If you, like me, are limited in your decorating abilities, then I recommend the following delicious frosting to spread on the cookies:

Nicole’s Easy Buttercream

1/2 cup very soft butter

4 cups icing sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons milk

Cream together the butter, icing sugar, and vanilla (add the icing sugar slowly or you’ll have a hot mess of a countertop). Add the milk to thin to the correct consistency. This might yield slightly more frosting than you need, but YOU CAN FREEZE IT TOO. Amazing. Add food colouring if you wish. Get ready for compliments, people!

*edited to add: apparently I have already blogged about these cookies! But, the recipe is so nice, we can have it twice.


  1. We’ve done that some years, made extra cookies and delivered them to friends. It’s fun, but we generally only have time on years when we don’t travel for Christmas and those years are rare.

  2. Once our thanksgiving is done here (come on Thursday!) it’s no holds barred Christmas prep around these parts! Youngest’s school does their Christmas tree sale December 2-3 this year and, as usual, we will be getting a tree as early as possible on the first day they are open and I plan to bake all the cookies! Will force Oldest to take some to school for his advisory group, will send some home with every one of my kids’ friends who even step foot in the house, will bombard people at my husband’s office (not my office mates, however, because they have all been on diets for months). This Fall has been hard so I plan to hit the Christmas season full tilt. We all need it.

    TL;DR thanks for the awesome cookie recipe!

  3. bibliomama2 says

    I LOVE making cookies for people – everybody’s always so busy at this time of year and it feels so great. Last year I didn’t have time to do it as much (I was one of the freaking busy people, sigh), and I really missed it. This year I’ve decided I’m going to try to make it a priority. I have a no-fail brown sugar cookie recipe, but I’ll tuck this one away too – I love making sugar cookies with white icing and red sprinkles.

  4. Thank you for this recipe – we used it to bake cookies the last time you posted it and they were delicious! We will definitely be making them for the holidays too. Have you ever frozen the cookies after baking them?

Leave a Reply