Looking for a fun family night activity or idea? You and your kids can bake and decorate simple sugar cookies. The whole process from start to clean up, shouldn’t take more than a couple hours.
Christmas sugar cookies are one of the tastiest parts of the holiday season and are a fun kitchen project for kids. This easy sugar cookies recipe will yield platefuls of bright treats to leave out on Christmas Eve for Santa. But, why wait for Christmas. These make a fun anytime activity to do with kids. We list some ideas below, but we would love to hear your idea. Leave a comment with your favorite
excuse reason to make sugar cookies.
Easy Sugar Cookies Recipe
*We’ve made some of our own tweaks to this recipe and are happy with the way it turned out, but if you want to go back to the original, find it on Mel’s Kitchen Café. We highly recommend following her on YouTube for more kid-friendly recipes.
Find the original recipe this one was based on at Mel’s Kitchen Café.
- 1 cup or 2 sticks (16 tablespoon butter, softened to cool room temperature)
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Additional granulated sugar or sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease parchment paper and line cookie sheet. If you prefer a silicone mat, go ahead and use that instead.
- Cream butter and sugar really well together in a mixing bowl. You can use a large spoon, a whisk a handheld or a stand mixer to do this. Whatever works best for you..
- Add eggs and vanilla. Mix and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt separately and combine well after each addition.
- Place sugar and sprinkles in shallow bowls or plates
- Roll sugar cookie dough into the size of superballs. Roll in the sugar and sprinkles. Then place on cookie sheets.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes.
- Let cool on wire racks.
Substitutes and Additions:
- Butter can be replaced with margarine.
- We swap out vanilla extract for various flavors of extract
- Almond slivers and/or chocolate chips can be added to the top of cut cookies before baking.
- One of my favorite sugar cookies growing up added citrus flavors (and matching food color). We would split the dough into four sections, flavor three with lemon, lime and orange zest. We would make tube shapes out of those three sections and wrap each with a third of the plain section. When sliced into circles, they looked like fruit slices and tasted delicious. You could really just add a bit of zest and food color to these drop cookies for easy fruit-flavored cookies.
Your turn. How do you like to personalize your sugar cookies? Leave a comment and we’ll share your ideas with the community.
Making These Easy Sugar Cookies with Kids
You don’t really need to use this recipe to have a family fun night, but it has its advantages. One of the best parts about these cookies is how fast they bake and the fact that they don’t require chilling. When cooking with kids, instant gratification is a nice bonus. By the end, mom can grab a cup of tea and a couple cookies for herself and let the kids finish up. Clean up is easier, too, because rolling pins and cookie cutters are a pain to wash.
However, if rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes is important to your kids, you’ll want to go with another recipe for this family fun night.
Kids can do much of the work, including:
- Reading the directions. This is a great activity for building comprehension skills: “Did it call for salted or unsalted butter?”
- Measuring and dumping. My first grader had cookie-making “assigned” by her teacher over the winter holiday because its a great math exercise.
- Taste testing the finished cookies, because otherwise why would they be helping?
- Frosting and decorating. We love the gel food coloring and frosting from Lynn’s Cake and Candy Supplies, but you could also make an easy cream cheese frosting.
- Clean up. If you want them to do dishes, we recommend negotiating that before you start making the cookies.
As we mentioned above, our recipe is for drop cookies, so there is no need to roll out the dough or mess with fussy cookie cutters. If you choose a different sugar cookie recipe. In fact Mel’s Kitchen shares a cut-out recipe as well. If you go with the longer recipe, you may want to choose a weekend afternoon rather than a school night. Kids can take on a few more jobs:
- Rolling out the cookie dough balls with a rolling pin. This strengthens their hands and arms and will help to build up fine motor skills – like handwriting.
- Choosing the cookie cutters and cutting out the shapes. Depending on their age, they may need help moving them to the baking sheet. We have alphabet and number cookie cutters, which make fun spelling games.
When making cookies with kids, I think smaller batches are better. That way they don’t burn out halfway through and leave you with a mess to finish and clean up. However, if you are all up for it, you could make extra cookies to freeze in a freezer bag. Then they could stick one in their lunch or pull out an after school snack sometimes.
More Christmas Cookie Ideas:
- If you like these easy sugar cookies, you may also enjoy our Holiday Gingerbread Cutout Cookies.
- And if you would like to leave the mess elsewhere, we find the Best Places to Make Christmas Cookies in the Twin Cities.
- If you really just don’t want to make them at all, you can help out a great cause and get cookies if you buy your cookies from Cookie Cart.
Bake Sugar Cookies All Year
- Valentines Day: Use heat-shaped cookie cutters and red and white food color to make Valentine cookies.
- St. Patrick’s Day: Make shamrock-shaped cookies with green frosting and flavor with peppermint extract.
- Easter: Use egg-shaped and bunny cookie cutters.
- 4th of July: Color your cookies red, white and blue.
- Back to School: Pull out some alphabet cookie cutters. We bought these when we were learning to read and they might as well get more use.
- Halloween: Cut out Ghosts and pumpkins. We link to a fun VooDoo Doll cookie idea in our Halloween treats article.
- Fall: Leaf shaped cookies and flavor with almond extract.
- Thanksgiving: My classic cookie cutter set comes with a turkey.
- December 5th – National Ninja Day: If you bought a ninja-bread cookie kit, pull these cookie cutters out and get another use.
- Birthday Parties: Make the cookies together than have a cookie-decorating contest. Nailed it!