Easy Holiday Sugar Cookies Recipe

Christmas decorations in almost every household in Barletta are as follows: nativity scene complete with little fountains and paper stars, wrapping paper skies, wooden figurines from someone’s nonna and tufts of hay for the little manger. A Christmas tree, which is always fake, and usually prepared by the woman of the house so that it be absolutely perfect when guests come to admire it, sometimes has fake snow on its branches, but always has blinky lights. What’s with Italians and the blinky lights? I know we were a constant light family, and certainly not a colorful light family, but here, they’re fans of the blinking. Mysteries of life. 

Since I’m going home for Christmas on Saturday (YAY!) and am currently sans tree or nativity, I needed something to decorate in this house of mine, so I decided to make cookies for all of my students. The first few I gave out yesterday were followed by freak-outs; this is not a frosted sugar cookie culture, and my heart leapt at the sight of their little minds being blown. 

Sugar Cookies 


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the work surface


Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined (do not over mix). Shape into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Heat oven to 350° F. On a floured surface, roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Using lightly floured 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes, flouring the cutters and rerolling the scraps as necessary. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges just begin to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (Mine took less, keep an eye on them.) Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Royal Icing


4 cups powdered sugar (1 [1-pound] box)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed


Combine ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until glossy and stiff, about 5 minutes. Add additional lemon juice until the frosting is the desired consistency.

Fill a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off and use to decorate cookies. (If not using immediately, place a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap on the surface, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. Stir before using.)

Maybe Christmas cookies for my students will become a new holiday feast tradition! If they liked these, I can only imagine what their reaction will be when I make this frugal recipe with some ultimate chocolate chips...

Are you making any edible gifts? Make sure they are frugal and healthy eats! 

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