Cut into Christmas trees, wreaths, snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, and every other holiday design imaginable, these are classic holiday treats in the U.S. The cookies themselves are pure buttery comfort, but when decorated with royal icing, sprinkles, dragees, and sanding sugar, they’re elevated to cultural icons, beloved by children and grown-ups alike. Plus, they’re almost as much fun to make as they are to eat.
- 6 cups flour
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 1⁄2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- Royal icing, sprinkles, and sanding sugars, for decorating
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together sugar, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time; beat. Add dry ingredients; mix. Transfer dough to a floured surface; divide into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into a flat disk; wrap each disk in plastic; chill 1 hour.
Heat oven to 325°. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll to ⅛" thickness on a floured surface. Using various large cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on parchment paper—lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2" apart. Reroll and cut scraps. Bake until lightly browned, 12–15 minutes. Let cool. Decorate with royal icing, sprinkles, and sugars.