The fall and winter holidays always make me think about cookies and candy. This probably goes all the way back to when I was growing up in Virginia and my dad (who worked as a mail carrier) would come home with his hands full of candy and baked goods, all of it gifts from the residents on his delivery route. That southern hospitality meant there was a never ending supply of sugar and chocolate in the house from October till December, and oh do I miss it.
Now that I’m getting a bit braver with this whole cooking journey, I wanted to start mastering all of those drool-inspiring sweets, and like usual I wanted to start with something basic. Something textbook and classic that I can use as a foundation for experimenting with later, or improving upon if it needs it.
Enter stage left: The perfect soft and chewy sugar cookies.
Although I have to say, there’s not much that can be done to improve this recipe. As far as sugar cookies go, these came out piratically perfect – a little moist and just a tiny bit chewy with a buttery vanilla taste. Far better than the sugar cookies you typically get at the grocery store, which always seem dry and tough and brittle (or sometimes so doughy they’re not even like a sugar cookie at all) and overloaded with frosting.
- 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar (for rolling cookies)
Tools You’ll Need:
- 2 large mixing bowls
- Stirring utensils
- Measuring for cups and teaspoons
- Parchment paper
- 2 large cookie sheets
- Electric mixer
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then set it aside. Out of all the steps in this recipe, this one probably took me the longest. Hopefully you have a more efficient sifter than mine!
In the other large bowl, add the softened butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar.
Next you need to “cream” the butter and sugar together until they’re light and look fluffy. I had to google what this meant, and all you need to do is mix the ingredients with an electric mixer on medium speed until you get the desired consistency.
Add the egg and vanilla to the sugar and butter mixture, then fully blend with the electric mixer.
Begin folding in the dry ingredients with a spatula or large spoon. You’ll know it’s ready when the dough is soft and becomes a little dewy, just enough to easily pull the excess powder off the sides of the bowl.
Cover the dough and let it sit in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Once you have the dough out again, set the oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare your cookie sheets by lining tray with the parchment paper.
Place the other 1/2 sugar in one of your mixing bowls. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then cover them in sugar.
Place the dough on the parchment covered cookie sheets, roughly 2 inches apart. Once I placed them, I also used a large spoon to gently press down on the tops.
Place the cookies in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The dough will spread out and the tops will puff a little bit. You’ll know the cookies are done when the dough begins to deflate and the bottom edges turn golden brown. The tops should be a pale beige. I tried to snap a picture of what this looks like, though it’s very subtle:
Allow the baked cookies to rest on the tray for a few minutes, and then move them to wire racks to cool completely.
Once cooled you can decorate them as you see fit, or just eat them by themselves. By the time I finished making these, I didn’t have the patience to make them look pretty before I had one. Or two. Or three. Okay, fine, it was four. I skipped breakfast!
And that’s it – you’re done!
Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
The perfect soft and chewy sugar cookies: just the right amount of softness with a tiny bit chewiness and a buttery vanilla taste.
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- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then set aside.
- In another bowl, add the softened butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cream them together with an electric mixer on the medium setting until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the butter and sugar. Blend together with the electric mixer.
- Slowly add in the dry ingredients, stirring with a spatula or large spoon. Dough should be soft and slightly dewy when ready.
- Cover bowl and place dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Set the oven to 350. Prepare the cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Add the other 1/2 cup sugar to a mixing bowl.
- Roll the cookie dough into 1 inch portions and cover them with sugar.
- Place the 1 inch balls 2 inches apart on the parchment covered cookie sheet. If desired, use the large spoon to press lightly on top of the dough (optional).
- Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, until the dough begins to fall and the botton edges of the cookies begins to turn golden brown.
- Let rest for a few minutes in the cookie tray, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, serve or decorate as desired.