Yield
Makes about 45 2 1/2-inch cookies

This sugar cookie dough recipe is one of our readers' all-time favorites. Notes: Keep the dough cool as you roll and cut cookies; if it becomes too soft to handle, freeze briefly until firm. Store cookies airtight, layered between sheets of waxed paper, for up to 3 days. Prep Time: about 15 minutes.

How to Make It

Step 1

In a bowl, with an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat room-temperature butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Stir or beat in flour until well blended. Flatten dough into a 1-inch-thick disk. On a lightly floured board, roll dough about 1/8 inch thick. Follow directions below to make cookies.

Step 2

Ornaments

Step 3

With a floured cookie cutter, cut ornament shapes from cookie dough.

Step 4

Make an imprint in the center of each cookie by lightly pressing a star-shape cookie cutter into dough, making sure not to cut all the way through.

Step 5

Use a drinking straw to poke a hole in each cookie. Transfer to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment.

Step 6

Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Step 7

Serve when cool, or thread a ribbon through each hole, tie, and hang from a tree or in a window.

Step 8

To make them special: Prepare cookies as above, but skip step With a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted Royal Icing on each ornament.

Step 9

To make them spectacular: Follow directions above for special version; let icing dry. With a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with icing, create raised accents. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the still-wet piping, then tilt and tap cookie to remove excess. Add dragées.

Step 10

Wreaths

Step 11

With a floured 3- to 4-inch fluted-edge cookie cutter, cut out large circles from cookie dough. With a floured 1- to 2-inch cutter, cut out a circle in each cookie. Transfer cookies to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment. Gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more wreaths.

Step 12

Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Step 13

Serve when cool, or thread a ribbon through each wreath and hang from a tree or in a window.

Step 14

To make them special: With a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with green Royal Icing, pipe "branches" onto the wreath. Or with a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted icing on each wreath.

Step 15

To make them spectacular: Follow directions for special version; with a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with red Royal Icing, apply "berries" to each wreath. Sprinkle sanding sugar over the still-wet icing, then tilt and tap cookie to remove excess.

Step 16

Cutout Cookies

Step 17

With a floured square cookie cutter with a fluted edge, cut out 20 cookies from cookie dough. Transfer to baking sheets lined with cooking parchment.

Step 18

With smaller floured cookie cutters (we used a pear shape), cut out 20 top pieces from dough. If necessary, gather scraps, reroll, and cut out more top pieces.

Step 19

Brush the back of each top piece with a little water and press gently onto squares.

Step 20

Bake in a 300° oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Step 21

To make them special: With a small offset spatula, spread a thin layer of tinted icing on each top piece.

Step 22

To make them spectacular: Follow directions for special version; use a pastry bag fitted with a #2 plain tip and filled with Royal Icing to create dots and leaves. If desired, apply a bit of gold leaf while icing is still moist.

Ratings & Reviews

deannelc's Review

Haylee1
December 24, 2014
This is an easy recipe. My kids & I made them for the first time & they turned out well. The dough was a bit crumbly, but you can press it together before rolling it out. I like that the cookies are not overly sweet, especially if you're going to add icing. The only change that I might make next time is to reduce the flour slightly. We live in Colorado where it's very dry & my hunch is that this dough might be slightly less crumbly & the cookies a little less breakable with this modification.

stevensons's Review

carrie91
October 21, 2011
No idea what the other reviewers were making, but these are the best sugar cookies ever. They're basically a quick and easy shortbread. They come out amazingly buttery and just a little crispy. Absolutely a wonderful flavor. We've been making these for years, ever since I saw the article From Simple to Spectacular: http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/holidays-occasions/christmas-cookies-simple-spectacular-00400000015633/ We make these for all holiday cookie making now. The kids gobble them up. Use the royal icing recipe to make them pretty.

Haylee1's Review

deannelc
October 03, 2010
It tastes like playdough!!!

carrie91's Review

stevensons
August 13, 2009
never again. too much flour!!!! it had no taste and came out just tasting like flour and very bitter. it didn't flow like normal cookie dough and was very sticky. please do not attempt!