Saturday

Simple Sugar Cookies

Back when I had a real job... whenever I wasn't doing a good enough job... my boss would crab at my lack of creativity and accuse me of taking a cookie cutter approach.

That was a confusing way to insult me because I've tried to make perfectly consistent cut out cookies since L was a baby and it's a whole lot harder than it looks.

This is my theory as to why most of us leave the creative cookie cutting to Pillsbury:

After we turn 40, we figure out that women's magazines are filled with re-touched photos of flawed people. Once we realize that Angelina Jolie could very well be fat and ugly in real life, we feel a whole lot better about ourselves.

For some odd reason, we haven't quite accepted the fact that food photography gets the same specialty treatment.

I can assure you it does. I once spent 16 hours at a photo shoot because an incredibly annoying art director needed the peas in the pasta salad to be placed in exactly the right spots.

Today, I'd like to encourage everyone to shrug off those ill-conceived notions of perfection. Haul out the cookie cutters, roll up their sleeves and think... Picasso, Dali, and Pollock ~ definitely Jackson Pollock!

Because there are a whole lot of creative masters out there who happily failed Art Class 101.

Simple Sugar Cookies Recipe
No matter how they look, they all taste delightful. This recipe makes 3 dozen average size cookies or 1 gigantic cookie sculpture (in case you'd like to pay tribute to Gaudi!)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1.25 teaspoons baking powder
How to:
  1. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla.
  2. Add flour and baking powder in intervals. (Dough will seem too dry but it will improve when chilled.)
  3. Divide dough into four equal parts and refrigerate about an hour.
  4. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper, 1/4 inch thick for crisp cookies or 1/3 inch thick for soft cookies.
  5. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and and bake for 7-8 minutes @ 375 F.
TIP: Be sure to eat lots of cookie dough. This dramatically reduces the amount of time you waste baking the cookies.

99 comments:

Emily said...

Thanks for this great recipe. I made these cookies for my boyfriend, co-workers, and girls wine night! All were eaten with the same happy smile!!!! THANKS FOR POSTING.... Emily in Aspen.

Newly West said...

these turned out great! Thanks for posting!! Betsy in Denver

Jenny said...

turned out great thanks!

Jenny said...

Turned out great! Thanks

Heidi K. said...

Your recipe was perfect! Also, I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading the rest of your page. Keep up the good work! Thanks from Santa Fe (6500 ft).

Isilwen said...

Just made them tonight & they turned out great. It made 16 large cookies. 7200 feet!

kles said...

I used this recipe to make to mutant holiday cookies, which turned out excellent! The advice on cutting down baking time was especially helpful.

Shelley said...

I'm only at about 6000 ft., but this is my first Christmas in Colorado. I just discovered that using Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough results in hard, flat cookies that would make great frisbees. Thanks for the recipe!

Doug Goldfluss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
freshied said...

i don't understand t. i measure this to a tee and it was completely too dry. i decided to chill anyways and the cement "dough" broke up into pieces. I fixed with some shortening and milk.

Laura said...

This is such a great recipe! It's my second year using it and had success both times. I rolled them to about 1/4" and they were perfectly chewy and this year topped them with a tangy cream cheese glaze.

CaityK said...

Thank you sooo much! I've been looking for a cookie recipe that works in high altitudes ever since I moved to Albuquerque. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. I cannot wait to make these for my hubby on Valentine's Day! :)
-Caity
Albuquerque, NM

Clark said...

hi! i live in Steamboat Springs, CO. No offense, but the best ski place on earth!!! Anyway, one question. How do you get 1.25 teaspoons or whatever? Thanks!! Andrea

Kate said...

Hi, Andrea!
I guess I should use fractions - 1.25 equals 1 and 1/4 teaspoons. Sometimes when I use fractions they show looking all goofy when I post the recipe. :)

PS: Haven't you heard? Steamboat Springs is the 2nd greatest ski place on earth! :D

aspen128 said...

Hi! This recipe sounds wonderful! I am wondering how well the dough holds its shape when making the cookies soft. I am experimenting with a ravioli press and need a (relatively) soft sugar cookie recipe to fill.

Thanks!
Aspen in Colorado Springs

Kate said...

Hi, Aspen;
Hmmm... not sure. The dough is stiff enough to handle a rolling pin. Hope that helps. :)

Paula said...

Colorado Springs here. I am in the process. They were certainly a bit dry in making my "sugar" balls. But I am hopeful they will turn out great. I have lived here for 20 years. At first I could make awesome Chocolate Chip cookies and now I can only make packaged ones as the homemade ones turn out flatter than a flitter! Any help?
Paula- Home of Pikes Peak

Kate said...

Hi, Paula!
Try reducing the baking powder a little more? Perhaps 1/4 teaspoon and increase liquid 4 extra tablespoons? Hope that helps. :)

Leslie said...

I'm so glad I found this recipe! I am living @ 9700ft in THE best place to ski, Telluride! ;D lol We are going to use these for Halloween cookies. It is our first year in Colorado and we are covered in snow already. Should be interesting to trick-or-treat in snow!

Kate said...

Hi, Leslie!
Thanks for stopping by. I will (grudgingly) agree with you. Telluride is a pretty awesome place. Had I discovered it before I visited Park City I might be your neighbor. :))

We're getting pounded with snow here, too. Should be a good ski season.

Enjoy!

LIndsey said...

My dough also came out too dry, I decided to chill it to see how it would come out, but it crumbled when I tried to roll it. I live at about 10,000 ft so maybe that's still too high for this recipe! I simply fixed it with some water.

Kate said...

Rats, Lindsey, I'm sorry they didn't work out. Perhaps switch to extra large eggs, too? That seems to help the cause at higher elevations. :)

shadow_1_kat said...

OMG!! Thank you soooo much for posting this. I have been trying for a while to find a sugar cookie recipe that I like and works right. I live over on the benches of the Oquirrh Mts. and have found some things I have to adjust to high altitude. These were easy to roll, kept their form, stayed soft in a container, not rock hard if accidentaly left out, and tasted like my gradma used to make. Thanks Again! Chrislyn

Kate said...

Hey, Chrislyn!
I'm so glad they worked out. You live in a very pretty place! I have always wanted to do some horseback riding in the Oquirrh Mountains.

Happy Holidays!

Papa Cookin' said...

Mine also came out dry and crumbly and could not be rolled out at all after 1+ hours in the fridge. I used a large egg. Just doesn't seem like enough liquid for the 3 cups of flour. Also, not clear whether the flour should be sifted before measuring (that would likely cut down on volume). I added another egg and a splash of milk which seemed to work.

Pinedale Mommy said...

Thanks for your awesome site! We have lived in Wyoming for several years now and my cookies and brownies are just terrible! I can't wait to try this recipe! My concern is, I use stoneware pans. Is there a time or temperature adjustment for those?

Kate said...

Hi, Pinedale!
Stoneware pans don't conduct heat as quickly as metal or glass -- so you may need to add a couple minutes to the bake time. I wish I could give you a more definitive answer. Perhaps bake a test cookie to see?

Kat said...

THANK YOU!!! I can't stop grinning! I grew up baking at sea level and baking at altitude has been such a disaster that I gave up. Until tonight. One last try and I have PERFECT cookies! No other high altitude adjustment has given me an edible cookie-but these are light, chewy but cooked, and not burnt on the bottom. I am not afraid to make more-for other people! I can't thank you enough. Thanks from Montana!

Kate said...

Thx, for the note Kat!

Woo Hoo! I am soooo glad to hear this! Enjoy the cookies and have a wonderful holiday! :))

Traci said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe and site! The cookies were perfect! I've tried TONS of recipes, and basically gave up baking at all. Your tips are very helpful! Have a wonderful holiday!

Kate said...

Merry Christmas, Traci, and thanks for the note! Glad to hear they turned out okay. :>)

Tanner said...

My birthday is the 30th so i made them for christmas and my party. They turned out fantastic!! don't think they will last that long. 9,300ft. :)

Kate said...

A super happy holiday to you, HB Tanner;

9300 -- Yur kickin' my ass! Now where might you be? Enjoy this blissful season. :))

Papa Cookin' said...

Hey everyone. Merry Christmas. Maybe a little late, but I have made an adjustment to the sugar cookie recipe that's working great for me and may help others who experienced the flaking problem. Increase eggs to 2 and reduce flour to 2 1/2 cups. This produces a superb rolling and cookie cutting experience for me. enjoy

Kate said...

Thank you, thank you Papa!

The higher the altitude the more flour we typically add -- this sounds like the perfect fix! :D

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Sara @ House Bella said...

Mine too were really crumbly and dry coming out of the fridge, but kneading with some warm hands (and a little patience) did the trick. Baked up at 7 minutes apiece and they decorate great. Thanks! Sara in Sun Valley.

Anne said...

3 cups of flour! Thank you for confirming where I was messing up an old family recipe now that I'm at 6400ft.

Kate said...

Hey, Sara;
I need to pay you a visit and see what House Bella is all about. My horse is named Bella....

Kate said...

Thanks for the visit Anne!

Glad they turned out and here's to a very Happy New Year! :D

Anonymous said...

My younger sis and I tried to make sugar cookies only a week ago. Long story short...disaster. Thanks for this recipe! The cookies turned out amazing!

~Erin from Denver

Kate said...

Happy New Year, Erin!

My baking resume is loaded with disastrous cookies so I feel your pain. :D Glad this one worked out well, for you.

beth said...

I'm at 9000'(Silverthorne, CO)and looking forward to trying this recipe! I want to "frost" them with a frosting that will harden slightly when dry (like in your picture)...can you recommend a recipe for that? Thanks...

Kate said...

Hi, Beth!

Here's the frosting recipe I use:
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbs corn syrup
2-3 tbs skim milk (this determines how thin and translucent the icing will be.)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon almond extract (taste it and decide how much you need.)

Let me know how it turns out!

coloradoscotts said...

This is the best high altitude sugar cookie recipe I've come across -- thanks! They don't fall flat and they taste good even without frosting (although frosting makes everything better).

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hello Coloradoscotts!
Thrilled to hear that the cookies were yummy and quite happy to meet a kindred spirit who knows anything with frosting tastes a tiny bit better. ;>)

MichelleB said...

I'm at 6,400 feet. Followed recipe to a tee but it was too crumbly to work with. I ended up putting it in a glass pan and covering it with cinnamon sugar. Baked pretty well and is yummy. I'm confused by your suggestion to increase liquid by 4 tsp because I don't see any liquid in the ingredients list. ???

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Michelle;
Sorry it didn't work out for you but the cinnamon-sugar treat sounds like a smart yummy fix!

We have exceptionally dry air here in Utah so sometimes I'll add a little water to the cookie dough if it's feeling too dry. I don't list liquid in the actual recipe because that would mess it up for most bakers...

Caroline said...

Here's a new high altitude place, i'm a peace corps volunteer in Rwanda and I've been looking for a high altitude sugar cookie recipe...got this one written down and hopefully it turns out as good as everyone else. Thanks!

mommainmexico said...

Wow, these cookies turned out perfect!!!! I wouldn't change a thing. Thanks for the recipe!

Alex in Boulder said...

i wanted a really moist cookie, so i added about 2 tblspoons of milk and just a little extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid and they turned out amazing. i frosted with royal icing and the moisture retainment was perfect, despite letting them sit out for hours to dry completely. thanks so much!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Alex!
Thanks for the tips. I'll have to try that next time - I love a rich, moist cookie, too. :)) Glad they worked out for you!

Incidently, I just read that Boulder is ranked the #1 happy place to live in the US. Congrats. Can't believe you beat out my beloved my Park City!! :D

Unknown said...

Frisco, Colorado: 9700ft
GREAT recipe! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can show my face again this Christmas. The mods I made at this altitude was sifting the flour (3 cups) but I think I'll add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup before sifting next time. Also, floured the wax paper before cutting shapes and took the bake time to 6 minutes.
THESE ARE FABULOUS! Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Hi So I made this recipe and I followed it step by step and when it was time to roll out the dough, the dough would crack into a million pieces and it was very frustrating. any suggestions?

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Anonymous;
I'd be frustrated, too. Milk, cream (half and half) or butter softens up the dough, providing great flavor. Please try these options. You'll need to use judgement on this, begin with tablespoons and see how moist that turns the dough.

Maite said...

finally a recipe that worked at 7,000 feet (Bogota, Colombia). thank you!

karen said...

delicious! i LOVE to bake & being from so cal, pretty much everything worked all the time. but now that we live in the mountains of new mexico, at about 6000 ft, baking is a whole different story! these cookies are perfect! thanks!

karen said...

i'm also curious how long the dough will last in the fridge & still roll out well?? today's saturday & i wanted to use them for decorated turkey cookies on wednesday (taking with me on thanksgiving)... think the other portions i haven't rolled out yet will last if they're wrapped in wax paper & put in a ziploc??

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Karen!
First of all, my apologies for the late response.

Next! Whereabouts in NM? Asking because I just signed up for the New Mexico Centennial Trail Ride on January. (I hope it's not too cold!)

And, lastly... Yes, that dough should be fine for Thanksgiving.

Have a terrific holiday!

karen said...

we live in silver city... teeny little mining town up in the gila national forest. very pretty up here but for a so cal girl its culture shock! =)

anyway... i ended up baking up the rest of the dough the next morning; the kids & the hubby loved them that much! i just made up my thanksgiving batch a few minutes ago. waiting for them to chill so i can bake them & starting decorating them to look like turkeys! thanks again!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Oh, I'll bet! It took me YEARS to adjust to the cultural differences of my small town. I've always wanted to visit Silver City. I've heard it's a great place for horseback riding.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

I live in Tahoe at 7,000ft and finally recipes that work! THANK YOU!! These turned out amazing, can't wait to try more.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

I'm delighted to hear this! And, what a lovely place you live in... I learned how to snowboard at Heavenly. :)

melanie marie said...

thank you for the delicious recipe!
- Orginionaly from Breckenridge, CO, now in Santa Fe, NM...representing the snowboarders out there who want some yummy cookies!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Melanie!
Yay, Sante Fe! Such a lovely place. Taos has been on my must board list for many a moon.

Happy Holidays and thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog.

About Me said...

Thank you so much for this recipe I live in La Paz bolivia 13,000ft nothing comes out good but these turned out great, just a lil hard but I really can't complain!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Yay! Glad you they turned out okay. 13,000 wow. That's pretty far up there! Next time, dribble just a tiny bit of vegetable oil into the dough, until it reaches a better consistency. Happy Holidays!

Amanda said...

Just finished baking these in Puno, Peru- just about 13,000 ft. Turned out perfect. I added an extra egg- that was the only adjustment I made. Thank you SO much for this recipe-I found it right after a major cookie fail. Your blog is now bookmarked, I am sure to visit again for more high altitude help!

Whitney said...

I love you, I love you, I love you. You can't see me, but I'm totally doing my happy dance! I moved to Cheyenne, WY (6,062 ft.)a year and a half ago, and I haven't baked anything pretty since. However, these are the prettiest, most perfect cookies I've ever made. Thank you!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hey Amanda!
Please send pics. Dying to see the terrain of your town at 13,000 feet! Tallest peak in my Wasatch Mountain range is a {yawn} 10,800. Glad the recipe worked out for you!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Whitney!

Why thank you kindly! I am SOOOO happy to hear they turned out perfectly! Merry Christmas to you and yours. :))

Unknown said...

I just knew you would have a simple sugar cookie recipe. Making them this afternoon for santa! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Chance

Alyssa said...

This is the last sugar cookie recipe I'll ever need. Turned out perfectly - thank you!... ~Alyssa Woodland Park, CO 8500 feet
'The City Above The Clouds'

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Chance!
Thanks so much for stopping by. Merry Christmas to you and yours. :))

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Alyssa!
And, Merry Christmas! I'm so glad to hear they turned out for you! The City Above the Clouds ~ what a wonderful moniker!

Mom in the Springs said...

Thank you soooo much!!! I have lived in Colorado for 3 years (at about 6800 ft) and have not baked an edible cookie until now!!! I am finally excited to make Christmas cookies this year. These are fantastic with my lemon buttercream frosting for now though!

Margo said...

Hi from Denver, Colorado! These are amazing cookies! I used them with a homemade vanilla almond frosting and they were gone in less than 2 days!

coloradogirl said...

Hello from Denver, Colorado! These cookies are delicious! We matched them with a vanilla almond frosting and they were gone within 2 days!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Mom in the Springs and Margo, Colorado Girl (I gotta get you kids together. Neighbors! :)

Soooo happy to hear they turned out fab and disappeared quickly. And, those frostings! Oh, yum. Thanks for the tips and thank you for visiting my humble blog...

~ kate

The Dickinsons said...

I just had to leave a comment! THANK YOU for posting this recipe. I've lived in Bogota, Colombia now for over 6 years. We are at nearly 9,000 ft. above sea level. I LOVE TO BAKE...but As you can imagine each time I would try to make cut-out cookies they were a HUGE FLOP! So, this year I decided to google "high altitude cutout cookie recipe" and your recipe came up. I made your cookies, they were a great SUCCESS, yummy, and the people I served them to LOVED THEM! =) Thanks bunches!
Christmas Blessings!
~Heather~

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

I am so delighted to hear this, Heather! Happy holidays to you and yours.

Sue said...

I live in Quito, Ecuador. The altitude is 9,000+ feet. I used two eggs and reduced the baking powder to 1 tsp. They turned out great! My son's teacher said they were the best sugar cookies she'd ever had in her life! Thanks for the recipe!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Holiday Greetings from Park City to Quito, Ecuador, Sue! Thrilled to hear they turned out yummy. Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

icing recipe??

S Roy said...

icing recipe??

Megan said...

Just used this to make fruit pizza—turned out wonderfully! Thank you :) Megan in Evergreen (7200 ft)

Kat in C. Springs said...

Read one of the first couple of comments and burst out laughing. Made my way to your site, and sugar cookie recipe, after making Pillsbury sugar cookies, ie flat frisbees, for the first time in my life. I'm gonna give your recipe a try here at 7000 ft. for my kids halloween pumpkin cookies. Fingers crossed they work better than the last batch! From the comments, I've got "high" hopes.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Kat!

Repeat after me... I now live in the mountains so these things don't matter. :-) Baked goods can be flat but my spirits will always be high!

Thanks for stopping bye. And, thanks for visiting, and commenting, on my humble blog. :)

Nate Jarvis said...

Thank you! I've lived in Colorado most of my life (all of my cooking life) and I've tried recipe after recipe to get decent sugar cookies to no avail. These came out amazingly. Thank you again.

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Nate!
Thanks for stopping by. Glad to hear the recipe worked out for you. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! All this time I thought I just couldn't bake! I live at 5000 feet, DUUUH!! You have no idea how excited I am to try this recipe!

Thank You!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

You'll do just fine. :) Let me know how it all turns out. Thanks for visiting my blog and Happy Holidays!

Mrs. LeBlanc said...

I had a craving for sugar cookies today, and I found this site while searching for a high altitude recipe. I made these using my snowflake cookie cutter and they are AMAZING! I am at 6000 ft and followed the recipe exactly! I did have to wait for the dough to soften a bit after I got it out of the fridge, but it rolled beautifully. I'll definitely make these again and again!

Anonymous said...

The recipe was great we couldn't cook the sugar cookies right until we found this website.

Dolinda said...

I only live at 5000 ft but these cookies rule. Found this site a week ago and we are on batch number 3 today. After the first batch I actually started rolling out the dough before popping it in the fridge and that seems to work well also. Everyone loves them so far. They are nice and soft I like the ones we've made in the past. Santa will be getting some as well this year.

Anonymous said...

We are in Colorado Springs and I have had no luck baking here! After mixing this recipe as suggested, I then added one more egg and 2 tbsp of milk as it was very dry and crumbly, then I refridgerated it for an hour and it turned out fantastic! Best dough I have ever worked with! It was a bit hard at first but once I kneaded it a few times it loosened up. I was able to use every single bit of dough and my cookies (trees) held their shape very well! I cannot wait to share this with friends!

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Happy to hear it! And, a belated Merry Christmas to you.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog.

Keturah said...

I've been on a multi-year quest for the perfect sugar cookie (with regular flour) and we have 3/4 of our family that is gluten free, just to throw another wrench in the mix. THESE COOKIES ARE SO GOOD! We're in Peru for a couple of years, at just over 7600 feet, and I tried this recipe. First I made it with Cooqi gluten free flour, and that was great. But I can't buy that here, so then I tried my own mix. My flour is 1 cup white rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour/starch (either is the same thing), 1 cup cornstartch and 1 tablespoon potato starch. It worked great in this recipe. The cookies were chewy when rolled a little thicker maybe 1/2 inch(still soft a few days later, which is as long as they lasted) and a bit crispier for the ones that I rolled thinner (1/4 inch). I bake on a Pampered Chef stone I brought with me, and that always means more baking time. I think that I did about 15 minutes in my temperamental and not entirely consistent oven. My only concern is if I will be able to replicate this recipe when I return to sea level and Minnesota next year. High altitude needs more water, less sugar, and less leavening. So I am thinking for sea level with 1.5 teaspoons baking powder instead of what is listed, add 1 T sugar, and see how that works. I am SO EXCITED about this recipe, it was truly delicious. And if you want to add the gluten free info that might help someone else out, it was a fairly easy thing and I bought all of the ingredients here in Peru.

Keturah said...

I forgot to add for the gluten free flour mix, you also add 1.5 teaspoons xanthan gum. Keturah

Kate/High Altitude Gardening said...

Hi, Keturah;

I appreciate you providing all the recipe adjustments required to make these yummy morsels gluten free!

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog! :)