They say your best work starts with the simplest recipes, and these no spread sugar cookies are no exception.
Whether it’s for an office party or just because, these buttery goodies come together easily with just 4 ingredients and no baking soda. Keep them in the fridge or freezer for easy baking whenever a craving hits! This simple recipe can be colored and cut in various ways to make 3 different variations that look so festive on a plate together.
It’s that time of year again when we’re all feeling a little more jolly and in the holiday spirit. And what says holidays better than homemade cookies?
I have a confession to make though: I’m not a baker. I love eating cookies but making them is another story. I’d generally rather spend my time under a snuggly blanket in front of the fire than babysitting the oven.
But if you are like me and would rather spend your time with Netflix than in the kitchen, I have your back! These sugar cookies are so easy they practically bake themselves. They have a soft, pliable dough that’s incredibly easy to roll out and they taste just like a softer version of those blue tin butter cookies that we all love. These are the perfect treat to whip up during the busy season.
You can keep the dough in the fridge or freezer and bake a few off whenever you’re in the mood. Plus you can get three different cookies from just one batch of dough, which means a festive plate of holiday treats takes barely any effort at all. No one needs to know how easy it really was!
At its core, this is a super simple 4-ingredient sugar cookies recipe. But by adding different extracts, food colorings, and sprinkles, you can switch things up and create different variations for a festive holiday cookie plate.
- Salted Butter. I use salted butter for this recipe and find that it gives the cookies are really delicious, balanced flavor. If all you have in unsalted, add 1/2 teaspoon of table salt along with the flour. Skip coarser salts (like kosher salt) for this recipe, since larger flakes won’t distribute as well throughout the batter.
- Sugar. What’s a sugar cookie without sugar? This recipe just uses good old granulated sugar. Nothing fancy.
- Egg. A large egg pulls the cookie dough together and helps t rise the perfect amount in the oven. This results in crisp yet chewy sugar cookies that don’t spread while they bake.
- Vanilla Extract. Vanilla extract gives these cookies their classic flavor. If you want to get fancy, you can use Mexican vanilla extract for a little something special.
- Peppermint Extract. I love adding a splash of peppermint extract to the green version of these cookies for a burst of holiday flavor. If peppermint isn’t your thing, use can use almond extract instead.
- Food Coloring. Gel food colorings give these cookies a vibrant and festive color.
- Sprinkles. Because what fun are Christmas cookies without sprinkles? We always things the cookies with sprinkles taste better than the ones without them.
Time Saving Tip!
Don’t have time for the butter to soften on the counter? Grate it into the bowl! This will create thin ribbons of butter that come to temperature extremely quickly. But the time the whole stick is grated, you’ll be good to go.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Start by creaming together softened butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. This is one of the most important steps, so don’t rush the process! It should take about 5 minutes if you’re using a stand mixer. This will ensure the cookies have the perfect tender-crisp texture.
Add the egg and vanilla.
Stir in the egg and vanilla until they’re fully incorporated. This should only take a minute.
Stir in the flour.
Add the flour until a soft dough forms.
Color the dough.
Divide the dough into three portions. Set one portion aside for later; this will be your white layer. Gently knead a few drops of red food coloring into the second portion until incorporated. The color should be bold and vibrant. For the third portion, add a few drops of green food coloring and 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract and mix until fully combined.
Here’s where things start to get really fun! You can shape and combine the dough in different ways to make different cookies for your platter. Here’s what I did:
For Red and White Pinwheels: Roll a portion of white dough into a roughly 4″x9″ rectangle that’s about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with a portion of red dough. Lay the red dough on top of the white dough. Starting from one of the long sides, roll the dough tightly into a log. If desired (you know you want to!), roll the log in sprinkles or nonpareils. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
For Christmas Trees: Roll or pat a portion of green dough into a very skinny rectangle, about 2″9″ and 1/4-inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
For Red, White, and Green Squares: The process for making these is similar to making the Christmas trees. Roll out long, skinny rectangles of each dough color. Choose one color to be your bottom layer; gently run the tines of a fork over it to add some texture. This will help the layers stay together. Place your middle layer on the bottom layer and run the form over it again. Top with your final dough layer. Pat everything together gently to straighten the edges, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
When it’s time to bake, heat your oven to 325 F.
Pull the cookies out of the fridge or freezer. The dough should be very firm. For the pinwheels or layered cookies, slice the log crosswise into 1/4″ discs and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet.
For the Christmas Trees, Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into triangles (see photo). You can add sprinkles, mini M+M candies, or other decorations at this time, pressing them gently into the dough. Transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until firm. Let the cookies cool completely on a baking rack to preserve their crisp texture.
This dough will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 days or can be frozen for up to 6 months.
To freeze baked cookies, start by making sure they’re completely cooled. This helps prevent condensation, which can make them icy. Place the cookies on a tray or plate in a single layer with wax paper or parchment paper between them. This will prevent them from sticking together. Once the cookies are frozen solid, you can transfer them to a plastic bag or an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature and enjoy!
Sugar cookies and butter cookies are made with similar ingredients and have a similar, rich buttery flavor. The main difference is the texture! Sugar cookies tend to be a little firmer and can be rolled out and cut into shapes. Butter cookies are more delicate and are usually shaped with a piping bag or cookie press.
Making different color sugar cookies is so easy. Just add food coloring! Most recipes call for this to be added along with the wet ingredients, but for these cookies, I added it to the completed dough. That way you can make multiple colors from one batch, plus it gives you more control over the intensity of the final color. Just keep adding coloring until you achieve the look you want!
To prevent cookies from spreading too much and losing their shape, choose a recipe made without baking soda or baking powder. Always make sure the dough is thoroughly chilled before you bake it, and always bake on an ungreased baking sheet.
Here are some more easy dessert recipes you’ll love!
Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies
- ¾ cup salted butter softened
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 5-10 drops red and green food coloring
- sprinkles optional
- In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and very fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the egg and vanilla.
- Slowly stir in the flour to form a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Add red food coloring to one third of the dough and knead until incorporated. Add green food coloring and peppermint extract to the second third.
- Shape the dough into logs as describes in the post above, then refrigeratate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days, until very firm.
- Heat your oven to 325°F. Slice the cookies into ¼-inch discs and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Decorate as desired.
- Bake for 9-12 minutes, ot until firm and lightly golden brown on the bottom. Let cool on a wire rack.