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Super soft cut-out sugar cookies decorated with an easy icing. These Christmas Cut-Out Sugar Cookies are so fun to decorate and perfect for the holidays!
My goal this month has been to bring you cookie recipes that I love to make around Christmas time. We started with these peanut butter blossoms and then these white chocolate cranberry cookies. Now we’re moving on to these delicious and easy Christmas Cut-Out Sugar Cookies.
This sugar cookie dough only takes about 10 minutes to mix together. And since there’s no dough chilling required, you can immediately roll out the dough, cut out your cookies, and bake them. Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting 1-2 hours for cookie dough to chill. Especially when you have little ones who are more than ready to start decorating.
Since I wanted to keep these Christmas cookies as simple as possible, the icing is also incredibly easy. It takes just a couple minutes to mix up the icing and you can easily dye it any color to decorate your cookies. The best part? The icing dries hard, so you can stack these cookies too!
So what’s the secret ingredient that allows these cookies to hold their shape in the oven with no dough chilling? It’s Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening. I’ve tested this sugar cookie recipe with butter and it doesn’t even compare to shortening.
In my recipe testing, I’ve found that cookies made with shortening hold their shape better and don’t spread nearly as much as those made with butter. Since butter melts at a lower temperature than shortening, cookies made with butter tend to spread more in the oven.
Curious to see a side-by-side comparison of how cookies made with Crisco and butter compare to each other? The cookies made with Crisco shortening bake up thicker, they hold their shape, and they’re more uniform in color.
And since Crisco is virtually flavorless, it doesn’t mask any flavors in your cookies. In fact, I’ve made these cookies several times with shortening and my taste testers didn’t notice a difference.
When it comes to icing these cookies, I like to use small piping tips and piping bags to pipe the icing on the sugar cookies. If you don’t have piping bags, then a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off would work great too. The easiest way to frost the cookies is to outline the cookies first, then fill the center in with icing and use a toothpick to carefully spread it around.
It’s also important to get the right consistency with your icing. If the icing is too thin, it will slide right off the cookies and if it’s too thick, it can be hard to squeeze from the bag and pipe. I suggest starting with about 3 tablespoons of milk and mixing it together to see how it looks.
An easy way to tell if the icing is the right consistency is to lift your spoon or whisk from the bowl with icing on it and watch it fall back into the bowl. You should see the ribbons of icing that fall back into the bowl for a few seconds before it kind of “dissolves” back into the icing.
You can use any shape or size cookie cutter that you prefer for these cookies too. Feel free to get creative with your cookie cutters and colors of icing!
Baking Tips for Christmas Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- When measuring your flour, don’t scoop it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- I suggest measuring the cookie dough once you roll it out, it’s best to roll this cookie dough out to about 1/4-inch thick for these cookies.
- Make sure to check the consistency of your icing before you start piping it on the cookies. I suggest lifting your whisk or spoon out of the bowl with icing on it to see how it looks. You should see ribbons of the icing for about 2-3 seconds before it dissolves back into the icing that’s in the bowl.
- Keep in mind that the more food coloring you use in your icing, the thinner that it will be. If you feel that your icing is a little too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar and check the consistency again.
- Once you ice the cookies, you can enjoy them or wait for the icing to harden. The top of the icing will dry after a couple hours, but it can take up to a full day for it to fully harden. If I’m making these to take somewhere, I like to ice them the day before so I can stack them and take them wherever I need to the next day.
Soft Christmas Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
For the cut-out sugar cookies:
- 3 cups (375 grams) Pillsbury BEST™ All-Purpose Flour, spooned & leveled
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening or 1 Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening Baking Stick
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the icing:
- 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract use clear for white icing
- 3-3.5 tablespoons milk use more or less as needed
- Food coloring
To make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Pillsbury BEST™ All Purpose Flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening and sugar until well combined. Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract until fully combined.
Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half on a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thick, then cut with 2 to 3-inch cookie cutters. Re-roll any scrap pieces of sugar cookie dough and cut out more cookies as needed. Place the cookies 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake in separate batches at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are set and very lightly browned.
Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
To make the icing:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and milk (start with 3 tablespoons) until well combined. To test the icing, lift the whisk (or spoon) from the mixing bowl, you should still see the ribbons of icing that fall back into the bowl for a few seconds. If needed, add more milk to thin out the icing or add more powdered sugar to make it thicker.
Separate the icing into mixing bowls and add food coloring as needed. If the icing becomes thinner because of the food coloring, add a little more powdered sugar until it has reached your desired consistency.
Feel free to make a second batch of icing if needed. I usually make two batches of icing so I have enough to decorate all of the cookies with different colors and designs.
Sugar Cookie Recipe from Crisco