Holiday Cut-Out Butter Cookies

Holiday Cut-Out Butter Cookies

For the Cookies

  • 1 1/4 (163g) cups Confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons (262g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 (3.77g)  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6g)  almond extract
  • 2 3/4 cups (343.5g) all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with knife

For the Icing

  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (43.7g)  light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (35.5g) milk
  • Food coloring and sugar decorations, optional


  1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth.
  2. Add the flour and mix on low speed until well combined. The mixture will seem dry and crumbly at first, but don’t worry — it will come together.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface (if it’s sticky, dust very lightly with flour).
  4. Shape into a ball and cut in half; form 2 discs, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator; let it soften on the countertop for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Work the dough with your hands for a minute or so, until it feels soft and pliable enough to roll. Be careful not to overwork it; it should still feel cold.
  9. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour.
  10. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough and the rolling pin with flour as well.
  11. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll to 1/8″ – 3/16″ thick, sprinkling more flour over and under the dough as needed so that it doesn’t stick.
  12. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes.
  13. Use a thin metal spatula to lift the cut dough off of the counter and onto the prepared baking sheets (they can be close together; they don’t spread).
  14. Re-roll and cut the dough scraps, dusting more flour as necessary so the dough doesn’t stick.
  15. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, until they’re set and barely browned around the edges. (Note that the cook time will vary depending on the thickness and size of the cookies. And mini cookies might be done in as little as 8 minutes.)
  16. While the cookies cool, make the icing.
  17. Combine the sugar, milk, and corn syrup in a medium bowl.
  18. Stir with a spoon to make a thick but spreadable icing. If the glaze is too thin, add additional confectioners’ sugar. If it’s too thick, dribble in additional milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time. (You’ll know the consistency is right when a ribbon of glaze dribbled from the spoon will sit atop the glaze in the bowl briefly, before settling and disappearing. Be careful not to make it too thin, or it will drip right off the cookies and make a sticky mess.)
  19. Using a small spoon, dollop the icing on the center of the cookies and use a spoon, knife, toothpick or your finger to spread it all the way to the edges.
  20. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other sugar decorations while the icing is still wet.
  21. Allow the icing to harden before storing the cookies.

Cook’s Note

The cookies are best eaten within a day or two, when they are perfectly tender and crisp. They’ll keep much longer stored in an airtight container, but they’ll soften up.


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