Make these easy sugar cookies for your next holiday party, set out bowls of icing and sprinkles, and let everyone go wild with the decorations.
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, preferably pasteurized, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Food coloring (optional)
Sanding sugar, sprinkles, and/or nonpareils for decorating (optional)
Make the Dough
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. Add the flour and beat on low speed to combine. Divide the dough into 3 equal discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
Cut Out the Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one disc of dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a ¼-inch thick round. Using a 3-inch round cutter or the cookie cutter of your choice, stamp out as many cookies as possible and transfer to a baking sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Gather the dough scraps and re-roll more cookies. If the dough becomes warm, return it to the refrigerator until chilled.
Bake the Cookies
Bake the cookies in the center of the oven until golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the pan, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps.
Make the Icing
To make the icing, in a bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. It will be thick.
Decorate the Cookies
Divide the icing into bowls and add food coloring to each, if you like. Spread the cookies with the icing or transfer to a piping bag and pipe the icing on decoratively. If using, sprinkle with the sanding sugar while the icing is still wet. Let the icing dry completely before serving. The cookies can be stored between sheets of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
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The cookies can be stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Spice It Up
Add a pinch of ground cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom to the cookie dough for warm spice.