The Best Sugar Cookies and Butter Cream Frosting Recipe. Ever.


I believe that this is the best sugar cookie and butter cream frosting recipe I've ever had. This is the recipe our friends and family always ask for. This is the recipe that my grandma used, and it is the recipe that my mother uses. I crave these cookies all year long - why not have sugar cookies for every holiday?

People love the cookies that come out of this recipe because they are light, fluffy, and soft. The butter cream frosting is the perfect consistency for spreading. These sugar cookies topped with this frosting is the perfect combination.

So, please enjoy this recipe!

Grandma's Sugar Cookies and Butter Cream Frosting



INGREDIENTS

2 sticks unsalted butter – softened
¼ c. milk
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour

DIRECTIONS

Mix butter and sugar. I use a fork to mash the two together until evenly mixed.

Add eggs and vanilla, followed by milk, stirring well.

Add dry ingredients - we usuallye use a little less than 4 cups of flour, because when you are rolling out the dough you use flour which adds to the dough. If there is too much flour it can make them very dry.

Stir until smooth. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour before rolling and cutting cookies. For fluffier cookies, refrigerate dough overnight.*

Remove dough from refrigerator, and roll out onto floured surface. Remember not to roll the dough out too thin unless you like them thin and crispy.


Bake at 350 degrees for 8-11 minutes depending on your oven and what you are cooking them on.

Let cool before frosting.

*While the dough is setting in the fridge, you can make the frosting. If refrigerating overnight, make the frosting right before you're reading to roll, cut, and bake the dough; however, you can make it ahead of time and store in an air-tight container in the fridge a day or two in advance. Simply remove it from the fridge about an hour or two before using it, so that it is not too stiff to spread on the cookies.

Butter Cream Frosting
1 stick unsalted butter softened
¼ tsp. salt
Up to 4 tablespoons of milk – start with 2 and go from there
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar- continue to add until the right consistency for frosting, up to 2 cups

So you've noticed that I did not put an amount for the powdered sugar. The amount of powdered sugar you will use depends entirely on the desired consistency of the frosting.

Mix together your softened butter, salt, 2 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla.

Start with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and stir in. In 1/4 cup increments, add more powdered sugar and stir, until it's as thick or thin as you like. I recommend somewhere between 1.5 - 2 cups of powdered sugar, total.

If you find that you have added too much sugar and it's too stiff, then add another tablespoon of milk, up to four tablespoons total.


When you are happy with the consistency, separate your frosting into however many colors of frosting you will be using. Once separated, add in you food coloring.

After frosting cookies, leave them in the open air so the frosting can harden just a bit.


We also separate each layer of cookies with waxed paper so they don’t stick together, and add a slice of bread inside of the container, which keeps the cookies moist while the bread dries out.

These cookies also freeze and thaw really well - we've made them up to a month in advance of eating them and kept them fresh by freezing. They'll also store well in an air-tight container for over a week - if you don't eat them all first :)




INGREDIENTS
2 sticks unsalted butter – softened
¼ c. milk
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
4 cups flour

FROSTING INGREDIENTS
1 stick unsalted butter softened
¼ tsp. salt
Up to 4 tablespoons of milk – start with 2 and go from there
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar- continue to add until the right consistency for frosting, up to 2 cups

COOKIE DIRECTIONS
Mix butter and sugar - use a fork to mash the two together until evenly mixed. Add eggs and vanilla, followed by milk, stirring well. Add dry ingredients (tip: we use a little less than 4 cups of flour, because when rolling out the dough you use flour which adds to the dough. This allows for a moister cookie).

Stir until smooth. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour before rolling and cutting cookies. For fluffier cookies, refrigerate dough overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator, and roll out onto floured surface. If you want thick and fluffy cookies, roll the dough to about 1/4" to 1/3"; if you want crispier cookies, roll it thinner. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-11 minutes depending on your oven and what you are cooking them on.  Let cool before frosting.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS
The amount of powdered sugar you will use depends entirely on the desired consistency of the frosting (up to 2 cups of powdered sugar).

Mix together your softened butter, salt, 2 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla.

Start with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and stir in. In 1/4 cup increments, add more powdered sugar and stir, until it's as thick or thin as you like. I recommend somewhere between 1.5 - 2 cups of powdered sugar, total. If you find that you have added too much sugar and it's too stiff, then add another tablespoon of milk, up to four tablespoons total.


When you are happy with the consistency, separate your frosting into however many colors of frosting you will be using. Once separated, add in you food coloring. After frosting cookies, leave them in the open air so the frosting can harden just a bit.

You might also enjoy: my top 10 tips for the perfect sugar cookie

Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
Ashley

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59 comments :

  1. Should I freeze the cookies before or after decorating!?

    Thanks!!!

    Bryna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bryna,

      I've frozen the cookies after they're frosted many times, and they've turned out great every time! It can also work if you prefer to just freeze the un-frosted cookies, and frost at a later date - either way!

      Hope you enjoy them,

      Ashley

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  2. How thin do you roll the dough? 1/4"?

    I just made a batch of sugar cookies from a different recipe and they are not good! I don't like the cookies thin and crispy. :( Your recipe looks like how I wanted mine to turn out. I think I'll try again . . .

    Thanks! These look yummy.

    Jennie

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  3. Hi Jennie,

    Yes, definitely no thinner than 1/4" - if it's a really small cookie cutter, I might even do 1/3", and just keep an eye on them when they're baking to figure out how long to keep them in.

    Good luck!

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  4. May I know how many cookies your recipe yields? Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. It's difficult to give an exact number since we all use cookie cutters of different shapes and sizes. The best number I can give is 3 to 4 full cookie sheets worth of cookies, cookie sheets being 18" x 18".

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    2. Thank you for your reply. This will be my next project! :)

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  5. I am going to try this recipe.it looks delicious. Question can these cookies stacked after icing??

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pat! Yes, these cookies can be stacked after icing. We let them sit out in the air for a few hours to allow the icing to firm up a bit. We would stack them in an air-tight container, two layers of cookies topped off with a layer of wax paper, and repeat. On top, we would put a slice or two of bread to keep the cookies fresh and moist. The cookies take the moisture out of the bread. I hope this helps! Good luck. -Ashley

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  6. Can these cookie stacked after icing???

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    Replies
    1. Yes! Just let them air dry until the icing has solidified a bit. You can always put a sheet of wax paper between layers for extra protection.

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  7. What's wrong with my icing it looks curdled

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    Replies
    1. Hi Curtis,

      Curdled frosting is a problem I've never come across. Are the curdles made from lumps of butter? Is the icing too runny?

      If the curdles are from the butter, you may need to beat it more. If the icing is too runny, you may need to add more powdered sugar to thicken it. If neither of those two issues are the problem, you can email me at hello@AshleyPahl.com with a picture of your icing, and I may be able to assist.

      Thanks for reading,
      Ashley

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    2. Hi Patricia,

      First apologies if my super-quick response seems creepy - I was checking my email the moment your comment was submitted :)

      Like I said to Curtis, I've never seen this happen before, and my mother who makes this frosting multiple times per year has never experienced it either. My response is a best-guest. It could have to do with the ingredients you chose, whether their age or their temperature at time of use; it could be the humidity of your environment; the speed or duration at which you mixed your frosting; etc.

      I found this article on The Kitchn that could be of some use to you: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-rescue-how-to-save-a-br-69323

      Thanks for reading, and thank you for your comment!

      Ashley

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    3. I'm really thinking it needs to be mixed longer or at a higher speed.

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  8. Thanks for the great recipes! One question- unsalted or salted butter?

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    Replies
    1. Great question! I use unsalted butter.

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    2. Ashley - Can you change your recipe to state to use unsalted butter OR to omit the salt if using salted butter. I made this recipe last night and after tasting the frosting it was so salty I couldn't use it. I'm going to make another batch and mix them together to see if that will help the taste.

      Kim

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    3. As it turns out, my grandma's original handwritten recipe does not state which type of butter to use (she probably just took it for granted that she'd know what to use), but family reports that salted has been used the last two generations. I, on the other hand, only ever use unsalted butter when baking, because that is my personal taste. I've adjusted the recipe to reflect that. The funny thing is that my mom uses this recipe too, and just told me she never uses unsalted butter, but I LOVE her cookies! It appears personal preferences vary greatly when it comes to frosting.

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    4. Also, thanks for your input, Jim & Kim!

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    5. Kim,

      I made the recipe again over the weekend - I'm curious, how many cups of powdered sugar did you use? I recommend 1.5 - 2 cups of sugar, depending on how thick you want it. After tasting it again, I wondered if yours was so salty because it needed more sugar?

      Just curious! Thanks again for your comment.

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  9. Hi, I would like to make this recipe over the weekend. What does one stick of butter work out to in grams.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Gavin, one stick of butter is 1/2 cup of butter, which according to this converter is 113.4 grams of butter: http://www.traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/butter_converter.html

      Thanks for visiting!

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  10. Hi I love this recipe!! Just wondering how long should I make the frosting? While the dough sets?? How long will a bowl of this frosting last by itself? Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Katie,

      I always make the frosting while the dough is resting in the fridge. To be honest, I can't say how long it will last in the bowl since we always use it within 2 hours. If you'd like to make it ahead of time, I don't see why you can't keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge until you need it, and let it soften a bit before you use it.

      Once you spread it on the cookies and it sets, the cookies last 1-2 weeks. They also freeze and thaw well, even after being frosted!

      Thanks for reading!
      Ashley

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  11. This is just like the recipe my mom uses and her sugar cookies are famous in my family! I just thought of a question this year. We have never refrigerated our cookies after frosting with butter cream that contains milk and I wondered why that is? Do you keep yours out at room temperature the 1-2 weeks? Of course they never last that long, anyway! I'm not familiar with the way baking supplies stay preserved. Thanks! Your cookies are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, and thanks for reading! I wondered the same thing myself, since the recipe uses butter and milk - my research found that the high sugar content acts as a preservative, much as it does with candied fruits and jams. We always leave our cookies out on the counter, in an air-tight container with a slice of bread in it to keep it moist. We only freeze ours if we're making a bunch to take to a holiday party a few weeks in the future. I wish I could say how long they'll last un-refrigerated, but they never last more than 2 weeks! I'm thinking about leaving one in a Ziplock on the counter to see what happens over time.

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  12. I made this the cookies last night however my dough was in the fridge for about 3 hours and the dough was too sticky. I did use little less in the mix and put flour on the counter. I don't understand what went wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Reuven, by its nature the dough will be a bit sticky - in my experience, when the dough is completely dry after setting in the fridge, the cookies come out of the oven too dry and hard - but I believe that is because of the climate I live in - this time of year is very cold and dry. My best advice is to use floured hands to remove the dough from the bowl; make sure there is plenty of flour on your counter; and I also rub a little flour on my rolling pin. It also helps to replenish the flour on the counter after about every 10 cookies you cut. I flip the dough after rolling it to get both sides of the dough floured. Doing so goes a long way in making sure the cookies come right off the cookie sheet.

      As I mentioned before, humidity in the environment can also be a factor in baking. Of course I don't know where you live, but if the air in your home is moist, that could be part of the reason.

      If you try the recipe again, I would definitely use the full four cups of flour. For reference, I omitted about 1/8 cup from the full 4 cups. If you still have your dough, perhaps try using your floured hands to work more flour into your dough on the counter, and rolling with a floured pin.

      Best of luck,
      Ashley

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  13. Thanks I will try that! Also, when mixing the ingredients do you use a hand mixer or just mix it by a fork by hand?

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    Replies
    1. Reuven, I always mix mine by hand with a fork.

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  14. Can I roll these into balls and flatten them instead of rolling them out and cutting them?

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    Replies
    1. I've never tried that with this dough, but I could see it working. Just make sure you use the full 4 cups of flour, and use floured hands when rolling into a ball. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it works out!

      Thanks for reading,
      Ashley

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    2. I just don't have time to cut it out. I think it would work as long as I don't make the circles too thin or too thick. I'll let you know.

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  15. Can I use Blue Bonnet sticks instead of butter sticks? Or does it have to be butter?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alisha,

      I wish I could give you advice based on experience, but I've never tried substituting the butter. I did a little research into the question, with most people saying it's best not to substitute, while others saying they use Blue Bonnet for cookies all of the time. Here's a thread on a baking forum that might be helpful to you: http://cakecentral.com/t/127971/can-you-substitute-buttter-with-blue-bonnet-spread

      Happy Holidays,
      Ashley

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  16. Ballpark estimate, about how many cookies are made with this recipe?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Katie, I used a variety of cookie cutter shapes and sizes and got about 3 dozen cookies.

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  17. Your buttercream recipe is delicious. I have been looking for this type of cookie frosting for years. Thanks!

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  18. I just made the dough last night with my son and we planned to roll it out and make the cookies this morning. After refrigerating it overnight, the dough is almost too hard to roll out. I did the full 4 cups of flour, floured my working surface, and my rolling pin. Any advice? Should I just let it sit out on the counter and come to room temp? Should I try remixing it with my kitchenaid to soften it up? Thanks for any help you can give me!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it may just be too cold - I've never had a problem with hardness using that amount of flour. I do hope it works out for you. Happy Holidays!

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  19. Ashley,

    I just wanted to let you know I just used the frosting part of this recipe! Oh my Goodness! It is FABULOUS! I had made cookies on Christmas Eve with a different sugar cookie recipe since I hadn't found this one yet and a different frosting. This frosting is SOOO GOOD! I don't like sweets and even I had a cookie! My husband and kids thought it was awesome too! I will be making this Buttercream frosting whenever I need one it's that good! It is so light and fluffy and taste so good! Thank-you for saving my extra cookies and I can't tell you enough how yummy it is!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you SO much for your kind words, Kelly! I'm so happy you and your family like it!

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  20. This recipe is DELISH. I'm a huge foodie and so happy to find a sugar cookie recipe that is sweet and soft but not too sweet. That frosting is amazing. Yum yum yum.

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  21. This recipe is DELISH. I'm a huge foodie and so happy to find a sugar cookie recipe I am 100% satisfied with. So. Good. :)

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  22. I have to say this recipe is amazing. I made these cookies the night before hosting a toddler cookie decorating party. I made 4 different color icings and let the kids decorate the cookies with the icing and sprinkles and sparkles. They were so into it and the cookies and icing were so tasty!

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    Replies
    1. That sounds so cute! I'm so glad you all enjoyed it. Thanks for visiting the blog!

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  23. Does it work to substitute margarine for butter?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mariel, I wish I could answer that question, but I've never tried to substitute in this recipe. I'm really not sure how it would affect the taste or structure.

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  24. Hi Ashley, I have a sugar cookie recipe used by my mother and now me and my grown children. My recipe is almost identical except for the milk and baking soda. Mine only calls for 1/2 tsp baking powder. If I cut them at lease 1/4" thick they always stay soft. Do you know what the baking soda does? Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi SuzyQ,

      My favorite sugar cookies are the ones that stay soft. Through my personal experience, there is dense and soft, and light/fluffy and soft when it comes to cookies. It is my belief that the baking soda was added decades ago to produce a fluffier cookie - like an extra *oomph!* in addition to the baking powder. I would love to make a batch half with baking soda, and half without to verify.

      Thanks for writing!
      Ashley

      P.S. I just did a little Google search on the use of both, and found this: "When a recipe contains baking powder and baking soda, the baking powder does most of the leavening. The baking soda is added to neutralize the acids in the recipe plus to add tenderness and some leavening."

      Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/bakingsoda.html#ixzz2v1smUAbM

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  25. Replies
    1. For the cookies or for the frosting? I've never tried it, but after looking at other sugar cookie recipes that use buttermilk, I think you could give it a try if you're feeling adventurous! If you meant for the frosting, I researched that and found that using buttermilk in buttercream frosting has a tendency to make the frosting go stale very quickly because of the bacterial content in the buttermilk.

      Delete
  26. Thanks so much! I'm going to give it a try for the cookies.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Ok so I tried the buttermilk and I used a strawberry frosting.
    They were great. Thanks for the inspiration. I love your website.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! I'm glad to know that buttermilk works for this recipe. Also, the strawberry frosting sounds wonderful! Thanks for letting me know how it went :)

      Delete

Thank you so much for your comments! I read them all and will respond as quickly as possible!

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