You know how to make cookies—now you need a good, simple, unfussy sugar cookie recipe.
Yes, there are times when I feel like (and have the time for) mixing cookies, chilling the dough, rolling it out, using cookie cutters, making frosting, decorating cookies, and baking, baking, baking.
Then there are other times where we are running low on cookies. To avoid mass chaos, a breakdown in our family unit, and my son’s tears, I make cookies. Yes, that would be today.
This is the kind of cookie to make when you don’t know what kind of cookie to make. It won’t require special grocery store trips or online gourmet ordering. These Amish sugar cookies don’t need much in the way of planning ahead (though you will need to let the butter sit out for up to an hour to soften to room temperature beforehand).
These cookies are soft and perfectly sweetened. Not too much and not too little. The texture is incredible, thanks to the usage of both granulated sugar and powdered sugar (otherwise known as confectioner’s sugar), and the inclusion of butter and shortening. I think the sugar combination is the key here and does something magical. That’s why these sugar cookies have a little extra somethin’-somethin’ lacking in the typical sugar cookies.
This ain’t your average sugar cookie.
Use the Table of Contents below to hop down to the recipe or stick around for some good ol’ cookbook talk.
Baking Sugar Cookies from Cooking with Maudie Vol. 1
This recipe for sugar cookies, using eggs and cream of tartar, will blow your sugar cookie-lovin’ mind. I found this recipe for Lazy Sugar Cookies in an old coil-bound cookbook, Cooking with Maudie Vol. 1. I know, coils drive me up the wall, since they can break or pinch or slide down the shelf. But, this simple Amish cookbook is worth it.
Cream of Tartar is a wonderful thing (pronounce it just as you would the word “tartar” as in “tartar sauce”). It doesn’t expire. Yes, you read that right. When you see it on sale, grab it. You’ll make good use of it and you will save yourself a few bucks. Look at all those wins!
Let’s face it: We can’t always spend hours putzing around in the kitchen. These sugar cookies are great for a beginner, for younger kids in the kitchen, and when you want a sugar cookie without the extra work.
How to NOT Eat All the Cookies Yourself
I’m just kidding. You think I have the answer to that? How cute. I have no idea. If you figure it out, let me know. IF you want to know how to STORE your sugar cookies, that I can help with.
The best place to store a cookie is in my kitchen. You can go ahead and bring them right over. I’ll be here.
The next best place is to put them in a reusable plastic container. Plastic containers may not be the nicest thing to look at, but they will keep sugar cookies soft. Cookie tins make cookies hard. Turn to a plastic container (like those pictured below) for your sugar cookies so they stay fresher, longer.
Glass or ceramic cookie jars may be cute and add a little something to your kitchen’s decor–but they will harden even the softest sugar cookie. Don’t do that.
How to Make these Amish Homemade Sugar Cookies
Get your kids in the kitchen and get them in there now, as soon as possible. No one can resist sampling something they helped to create. When it’s a cookie, it makes trying new things even easier.
A kid that bakes early is more likely to stick with it because it’s “just what you do.” And a kid who bakes with you now is more likely to bake with you later—and talk to you while in the midst of teenage angst. #justsaying
After your butter softens for an hour, dig into the recipe. Go slow when you mix the dough, but don’t over-mix or you risk tough cookies due to the gluten.
“One of the keys to great sugar cookies is mixing the dry ingredients only until they’re just incorporated, and not a second longer. Once the dry ingredients are added, less mixing equals more tender cookies.”5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Sugar Cookies by Kelli Foster, The Kitchn, 12/9/2014.
You won’t need to worry about chilling the dough or rolling out these bad boys. Chilling dough is for sticky cookie dough, allowing for later rolling and cutting with cookie cutters. This isn’t that kind of dough. But, as Food52 points out, moisture in the air can affect the amount of flour you need too. If the dough feels stupid sticky, add a smidgen more flour. If your dough is too dry, add a Tablespoon of cream or milk.
Remember—you can always add more but you can’t add less. It’s what my mom used to say back in the day and you better believe I’ve passed that little nugget of wisdom on to our boys.
Using Sprinkles on Sugar Cookies
When should you decorate your sugar cookies? Top your sugar cookies with sprinkles or jimmies before you pop them into the oven. Get little hands to help. They find it oh-so fun. Set out several different kinds of sprinkles in a myriad of colors, and the kid(s) in your life will be thrilled. Messes clean up. This is a good thing. Let them help now so they can be kitchen competent later.
How long should you bake sugar cookies? Follow the temperature suggestions in the recipes below. Use your best judgment. You know your oven. If you don’t know your oven, or if you’ve never made my recipes before…bake a test cookie.
Bake a single test cookie to see how long your cookies need to bake. Sugar cookies are done baking when they look like they’ve set and have a slight change in color. Or do like I do and shoot for the low end of the time range and CHECK your cookies.
Cookin’ with Maudie: Recipes from “The Budget” Amish Newspaper
Cookin’ with Maudie Volume 1 is a collection of the recipes that first appeared in The Sugarcreek Budget newspaper from 1982-1984. It’s a newspaper that is published for the Amish community in Sugarcreek, Ohio and beyond—as it has done since 1890.
If you have any interest in the Amish, or you like vintage cookbooks, check it out. Cookin’ with Maudie Vol 1 is quite a compilation. Remember, these are recipes sent in by Amish folks to be published in the newspaper. There are recipes like fried turtle meat (for real), barbecued liver, and jellied pig’s feet.
I’m probably not making those. Ever. In a million years. Plus one more. You may remember my story of my Italian Grandma holding a pickled pig’s foot on a fork and imploring me to try it.
But I can tell you I do have my eye on other recipes in this cookbook, like the one for Sugar Cream Pie (Indiana’s state pie, don’t’cha know), Milky Way Candy Ice Cream, and Aunt Peg’s Coffee Cake.
So I guess I can say it’s a fun read. Never a dull moment here! There is a mix of the usual stuff, new recipes for old things (or is that old recipes for old things?), and the unusual. Lots of unusual.
Homemade Amish Sugar Cookies
- 1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine
- 1/2 Cup Shortening
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 1/4 Cups Flour
- Preheat oven to 350*.
- Cream butter, shortening, and sugars together until fluffy.
- Add Vanilla, Egg, Cream of Tartar, Baking Soda, and Salt. Mix well.
- Add Flour and mix to combine.
- Using a small teaspoon cookie scoop, set scoops 3" apart. Lightly smoosh with a fork or a glass.
- Bake 350* for 10-12 minutes or until edges look set and cookies are golden.
Cookin’ with Maudie Cookbooks
Discovering new to you cookbooks is one of the great joys of baking. It’s almost as good as general recipe sharing, don’t you think? Take a look at the recipes pulled from “The Budget” newspaper and compiled into the books below.