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Dec 18, 2014

Holiday Sugar Cookies

My mother-in-law, Tierney, makes amazing sugar cookies. She was kind enough to share her recipe with me several years ago around the time Josh and I were married. For some reason I've been hesitant to attempt recreating them myself, but I decided this year was the year I was going to go for it.  I don't think mine turned out quite as good as Tierney's, but they still tasted amazing and were fairly easy to make.

Tierney's Sugar Cookies


1 cup Crisco
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
4 ½ cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
pinch of salt


In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together Crisco, butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla, and eggs. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar. With the mixer on the lowest setting, slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients. Divide dough in half and flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate several hours or overnight before using.

If  you plan to make cut out cookies, sprinkle counter top and top of dough with powdered sugar. Roll dough out to 1/3 to 1/4 inch thickness, cut into shapes using cookie cutters, then transfer to ungreased cookie sheet using a spatula. If you are not decorating the cookies, shape dough into ½ inch balls and roll in colored sugar before baking. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes (until the edges are just slightly brown). Let cookies sit for a minute or two on the baking sheet before using a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack. Wait until cookies are completely cool before icing.

This icing recipe comes from a cookbook produced by the little brick schoolhouse where my husband went to elementary school in Beardstown, IL. So you can legitimately call this an "old school" recipe! Using Crisco makes the icing extra white, which really pops with red and green sprinkles. If you don't like cooking with Crisco you can substitute butter instead.

Buttercream Icing

1 1/2 cups Crisco
1/2 cup butter
2 lbs. powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup of water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp orange flavor
1/2 tsp lemon flavor

Place Crisco, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl or measuring cup combine water, vanilla, orange flavor and lemon flavor. Add water mixture to sugar mixture. Use a spoon or potato masher to combine ingredients in the bowl of the mixer just enough that the sugar won't fly out of the bowl when you begin beating. Then beat ingredients until well mixed. Add butter and continue beating until fluffy.

To decorate, spread icing on cookies (a small offset spatula works great for this) then top with whatever sprinkles or decorations you desire!

Here are a few of the finished iced and decorated cookies.

My sister and I made these sugar cookies as well as 12 other treats as part of our annual holiday marathon baking session. It's a lot of work, but it gives my sister and I an excuse to spend the whole day together and never fails to put us in the holiday mood. Plus our friends, family and coworkers love the results of our labor.

What treats are you guys baking up for the holidays?

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