Old-Fashioned Amish Sugar Cookies

My favorite cookie for frosting and decorating for any holiday or special event including Easter, birthdays, weddings, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. When I say they are the best, it’s because these Old-Fashioned Amish Sugar Cookies are so perfect in texture and taste.

Amish Sugar Cookies decorated with red, green, gold and white sugars.

I have so many of my favorite recipes that were first published on my site before people I know were even using the Internet. No, I am not kidding! I first put this recipe  for Amish Sugar Cookies online at my first website and then added them to the blog over a decade ago, you know when we didn’t know each other? It’s the perfect time to share again or honestly, for the first time.

Still I learned something new recently and it’s an important fact. Lots of other folks are familiar with these cookies too…but one detail that was not shared with me when the recipe was? These are Amish Sugar Cookies and well known as a matter of fact. Shoot I thought there were my little secret. But it makes sense; the Amish do things simply and these are simply the best!

I simply LOVE these cookies, I get how the word ‘best’ is subjective but these have such a great taste and texture that they truly win that designation in my book. That they are easy makes them better than best even.

They go way beyond the Christmas holidays too; I’ve made them for birthdays and St. Paddy’s Day and yes, even prepared dozens of those gold and white sparkly ones for friends who were renewing their wedding vows. It’s amazing what a bit of colored sugar can do to make them personal.

Amish Sugar Cookies Decorated with Clear and Gold Sugar Crystals for Wedding or Anniversary

For many years I would spend days each holiday season making rolled and decorated sugar cookies. I started the tradition in my twenties with a girlfriend and we made hundreds of cookies that we rolled, cut out, frosted and decorated and gave to friends.

I continued on with that tradition for many years when my kids where small and it became a fun family holiday experience for all of us as they got old enough to help. We loved sharing them with our neighbors, friends and family.

But one day, there were no little girls wanting to help mommy make Valentine, Easter, or Santa sugar cookies and I was ready for something simpler. I’ll keep that big box of cookie cutters for the time when my children have their own children and I can make them with grandkids but for me at this time, these are not just the next best thing; I think they are even better!

Maybe the best part of a recipe I called The Best Sugar Cookies is how easy they are to make. Pretty basic ingredients, no time required in the fridge and simple enough to doll it up a bit with festive colors and make it our contribution to holiday cookies; who doesn’t love a plain but still beautiful sugar cookie.

Easter? Sure! A couple of neighbor kids and I once decorated a huge batch with Easter Egg colors for me to hand out to all of the kids on the street…they really are fun and easy; just ask the three 9-year old kids who helped!

Amish Sugar Cookies Decorated with Pastel Sugar Crystals for Easter

No matter that this is an old recipe; sometimes they are the best and I do love discovering that they are Amish Sugar Cookies. They may be simpler to make than cutout cookies, but have such a great taste and texture; so good, so light, and just the right amount of crisp.

The ingredients include powdered sugar, cream of tartar, and some vegetable oil; something in those ingredients give them the light, airy, crisp texture we simple love. Seriously…crisp but not hard; you must try them!

Many years ago I volunteered to host Denver’s South Metro Cooking Club Meetup at my home and help members make sugar cookies. We spent an afternoon with an assembly line of cookie making.

Knowing I would have up to 15 people in my kitchen making and decorating cookies, I thought this recipe ideal and it was quite the production. Two people making batches of dough, two making frosting, two managing the baking and the rest of us either decorating or maybe just drinking wine and chatting up guests (yes, me…so?).

The Best Sugar Cookies

The Best Sugar Cookies

I kept mine simple but even this very old photo does them justice; pretty and delicious!

Amish Sugar Cookies with Frosting and Clear Crystals

We had such a blast and these very old photos gives you an idea of how many hands were in the mix. Literally. We frosted some and simply sprinkled sugar on others but mostly we just had so much fun and everyone left feeling accomplished and with a plate of their own decorated cookies. I should do that again shouldn’t I?

Amish Sugar Cookies Decorated with Blue and Gold Sugar Crystals for Hannukah
My Hanukkah version might have gotten a bit browned but hey, I’m sticking with just trying to make the cookie color match the gold sparkles!

For me the real key to these being successful with just sprinkles meant changing the product I used for decorating. No longer happy with the bottles of decorations meant for cookies with sugar the size of your regular granulated sugar,

I’ve graduated to using the larger sugar decorations typically used for cakes. This Wilton White Sparkling Sugar is my go to for both these cookies and for decorating the rims of cocktails too; their size makes for a true crystal look and they’re beautiful. There are lots of colors available too. I also love these Wilton Sugar Pearls; they’re always a nice contrast.

Amish Sugar Cookies Decorated with Red, Green, and Gold Sugar Crystals for Christmas

Santa is never forgotten either. He must be stuffed after getting goodies at each house but no matter; they are all gone when we get up in the morning! This past Christmas season I had my neighbor kids over to help me out then too. They did not make these cookies; no they made ones that appeared to each have a half bottle of sprinkles them…but they had fun!

I really do mix them up a lot and they’ve been my go to for birthdays and holidays for many years now. With or without frosting, these Amish Sugar Cookies truly are the best!

More Favorite Cookies:

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   Amish Sugar Cookies Decorated with Red, Green, and Gold Sugar Crystals for Christmas 

Amish Sugar Cookies Decorated with Clear and Gold Sugar Crystals for Wedding or Anniversary

The Best Sugar Cookies Decorated with Clear and Gold Sugar Crystals for Wedding or Anniversary
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Amish Sugar Cookies

These cookies are great just rolled in sugar (see notes for some suggestions) and are perfect for the holidays with some buttercream frosting and holiday decorations.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 6 Dozen
Author: Barb

Ingredients

For the Cookies:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 Β½ cups flour

For the Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 cup butter 2 sticks, softened
  • 3-4 cups confectioners sugar; lighten up by whisking in a bowl not sifting
  • Β½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • Sugars for rolling

Instructions

  • To Make the Cookies
  • Cream butter and add sugars and mix well. Blend in oil, eggs and vanilla, in that order. Mix dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture and beat til thoroughly combines.
  • Roll into balls and flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Brush lightly with a pastry brush dipped in milk.
  • Decorate as desired (See notes if not decorating)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from cookie sheets after a minute or two and then allow to cool completely.
  • To Make the Frosting
  • Beat butter for a few minute on medium speed.
  • Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated.
  • Add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for approximately 3 minutes.
  • For a stiffer consistency add the remaining sugar. For a thinner consistency add the remaining milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Notes

NOTE:
If not decorating the cookies, roll them in sugar before flattening with the glass and baking. Some other suggestions:
  • Combine 2/3 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • Combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup maple sugar

Nutrition

Serving: 1grams

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44 Comments

  1. This is so good for mother and child bonding. Not only does my son love cookies (especially sugar cookies because of the texture), he also loves making it himself. Would love to try this recipe, perfect for all occasions — just play a little with color, shapes and design!

    1. I love making these with kids because they can make them all by themselves. I’ve done cutout sugar cookies with kids and they can decorate them but I always had to do the rolling and cutting part!

      Have fun…let me see what you end up with too!

  2. I do love decorating cookies even though I am hopeless at it. I don’t really like making cookies but I so love cookies at the holidays, especially ones with colored sprinkles. I think platters of freshly baked cookies just make a home in winter, at the holidays so cozy and festive.

  3. I have a lot of them from Wayback…even some I’ve never even posted here. I need a half dozen interns I think. πŸ™‚

    1. They are so good Claire and using them for some holiday decorated cookies saves me, oh, about a bazillion hours. πŸ™‚

  4. These looks great. I just made some sugar cookies from a new recipe I found on Pinterest but I didn’t like them at all. I’ll have to give these a try, they look so much better πŸ™‚

    1. Truly one of my favorite cookies. For everyday use I just roll them in sugar, slightly flatten and bake. We love those too!

    1. I got the recipe from a neighbor years ago. She knew very little about cooking and I helped her learn a lot but she had this recipe her mom had given her and it was her pride and joy. And rightly so…please do make them; they are really simple and so good.

  5. This recipe looks just right for me…I love making sugar cookies but rolling pins and I do not get along well πŸ˜‰ I do not possess the ability to roll dough out evenly. This cookie also sounds a lot like my favorite shortbread cookie. I think these cookies will be on my baking agenda soon! πŸ™‚

    1. I love doing both but wonder where I had the time before. Just an fyi: you can buy rolling pin guide rings that are sort of like big rubber bands that go on your rolling pin. They are different thicknesses and the size will determine the thickness of your dough. I’ve given a lot of those as stocking stuffer type gifts but they really are handy.

      http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=1907-1010

  6. The cookie decorating party sounded like a ton of fun and your daughter must be wishing she was home to celebrate her birthday with you. Best wishes to her πŸ™‚ Great idea to keep some cutters for using with the grand-kids…what fun you will all have together. I’ve made this buttercream frosting before but I’ve never made these sugar cookies before. I will give them a try for sure.

    1. I saw a recipe the other day for ‘the best buttercream frosting.’ It was butter, sugar, vanilla and cream. Isn’t this like the basic standard that you think everyone will know? It’s still one of my favorites; I’m happy with it on a graham cracker!

  7. I’ve made many versions of this cookie, but don’t believe they have ever included powdered sugar in the dough. Since I’m always looking for the perfect sugar cookie recipe, I will be trying this one! It just might be the one! Thanks!

    1. Love to hear what you think…I love how light and crispy they are; just calls out for a bit of frosting if you ask me!

  8. I tried this cookie recipe today and cut it in half. I’m not a huge sugar cookie fan but these seemed simple for the holidays. I think the recipe came out too sweet, and your cookies look thicker than mine came out. Would you suggest making larger balls, or not pressing down too hard when flattening them out? The frosting is delicious. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hmm…never considered them too sweet in particular; sort of ‘just right.’ But as far as the pressure…I don’t press them super flat, just enough to take them from a ball shape to a flatter shape; they still spread when baking.

  9. I can’t believe there is canola oil and butter in this sugar cookie recipe! They look wonderful and for a woman who doesn’t do a lot of cookie decorating anymore you sure do have a load of supplies there! Merry Christmas Barb. All the best in 2011.

    1. Well, I still decorate but am sort of out of the rolling and cutout stage. I actually bought a bunch of beautiful new decorations from King Arthur Flour and would not have even brought out some of those sprinkles; I mean who uses purple for Christmas? Well, my guests did so glad I threw the ‘old’ stuff into the mix!

    2. Though I’ve been tempted to see what would happen if I tried all butter, I’ve never taken that leap because I love how these turn out. I’m sure it adds to the lightness of the cookie and the wonderful crisp (but not hard) texture.

  10. I’ve been wanting to make sugar cookies forever and you’re recipe sounds perfect. And look at all those different colored sprinkles. What fun! My baby’s still too small to help make and decorate cookies, but this sounds like a great tradition for future years.

  11. I like that these cookies are rolled into a ball and not rolled out and cut. Great way to save a few steps this holiday season! Paired with a buttercream frosting (and a few glasses of wine!) they have to be really good! πŸ™‚

  12. I’m not a big “sweet” fan but do love a good sugar cookie. Sorry I couldn’t make the blogger meet up at your house, I didn’t get the invitation until Saturday. I love a good Rose wine..especailly on the back deck in warm weather!

  13. Ok, first off LOVE the photo of the decorations with the Christmas lights in the backround – can you say “bokeh”?? WOO HOO!!! (I know these might be pre new camera but you really have it going on with that photo!!)
    Sounds like you all had a fabulous time – I ‘m hoping I’ll get one more year out of my guys decorating sugar cookies but I have a feeling that even if they stop, I’ll still need to roll and cut the cookies out!!

    1. One of our members, Mary, gets all the credit. She came with a camera like the one I had ordered but did not have yet and I was grateful for her to manage that role. I’m not sure I would have gotten one picture…I was in charge of drinking wine, remember? πŸ™‚

  14. Those cookies are so pretty. The ones with just the pretty white sugar crystals! Gorgeous! Lots of cookie recipes over at my place today for Share a Spoon. Please feel free to link up if you like!

    I’m going to make this recipe this weekend with the rest of my baking for sure!

  15. I woke up thinking about a nice soft sugar cookie.. and here it is! I might even roll a few in cinn-sugar! Thanks for the recipe and the wine tip too.. Rose and SB both sound right up my taste bud lane

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