The Ultimate Guide to Ethel’s Sugar Cookies Recipe

Who doesn’t love a classic sugar cookie? They’re sweet, buttery, and perfect for any occasion. Ethel’s Sugar Cookies Recipe take this beloved treat to the next level with a recipe that’s been passed down through generations. Whether you’re baking for a holiday, a birthday, or just because, these cookies are sure to delight. Let’s dive into the secrets of making Ethel’s Sugar Cookies from scratch.

The History and Charm of Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

A Timeless Recipe Passed Through Generations

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies have a rich history rooted in family traditions. This recipe, cherished and handed down over the years, has stood the test of time, bringing joy to countless households. Ethel, known for her culinary prowess, created these cookies to be simple yet incredibly delicious, ensuring they could be enjoyed by all.

Why Ethel’s Sugar Cookies Stand Out

What makes Ethel’s Sugar Cookies so special? It’s all in the balance of ingredients and the love put into each batch. These cookies are not too sweet, with a perfect buttery flavor and a delightful crispness that melts in your mouth. They are versatile, easy to decorate, and suitable for any celebration.

Essential Ingredients for Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

To create these delectable cookies, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

These simple ingredients come together to create a cookie that is both rich in flavor and perfectly textured.

Step-by-Step Guide to Baking Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

Preparing Your Ingredients and Tools

Before you start, make sure you have all your ingredients measured and ready. You’ll also need a mixing bowl, an electric mixer, a rolling pin, cookie cutters, and baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Creaming the Butter and Sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar using an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, which should take about 2-3 minutes. This step is crucial for achieving the perfect cookie texture.

Adding the Egg and Vanilla

Once the butter and sugar are well combined, add the egg and vanilla extract. Continue to mix until everything is fully incorporated. The vanilla adds a wonderful aroma and flavor to the cookies.

Combining the Dry Ingredients

In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing on low speed until a dough forms. Be careful not to overmix, as this can make the cookies tough.

Rolling Out the Dough

Divide the dough into two portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Chilling the dough makes it easier to handle and helps the cookies keep their shape while baking.

Cutting and Baking the Cookies

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). On a lightly floured surface, roll out one portion of dough to about ¼ inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Decorating Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

Classic Icing and Sprinkles

Classic Icing and Sprinkles

Once your cookies have cooled, it’s time for the fun part: decorating! A classic way to decorate Ethel’s Sugar Cookies is with a simple icing and some colorful sprinkles. Here’s how you can make a basic icing:

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Assorted sprinkles


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. If the icing is too thick, add a little more milk. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  2. Divide the icing into separate bowls if you want to use multiple colors. Add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl and mix well.
  3. Use a spoon or piping bag to spread the icing on the cooled cookies. Sprinkle your favorite sprinkles on top before the icing sets.

Tips for Professional-Looking Cookies

  • Use piping bags: For more intricate designs, use piping bags with small tips. This allows for more control when decorating.
  • Let the icing dry: Allow the icing to set completely before stacking or storing the cookies. This can take a few hours, depending on the thickness of the icing.
  • Experiment with patterns: Don’t be afraid to try different patterns and techniques. Use toothpicks to create marbled effects or layer colors for a more festive look.

Creative Variations of Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

Adding Flavors and Mix-ins

While the classic recipe is delicious, you can always experiment with different flavors and add-ins to make the cookies your own. Here are some ideas:

  • Citrus Zest: Add a teaspoon of lemon, orange, or lime zest to the dough for a refreshing twist.
  • Almond Extract: Substitute half of the vanilla extract with almond extract for a nutty flavor.
  • Chocolate Chips: Mix in mini chocolate chips for a bit of chocolatey goodness in each bite.

Seasonal and Holiday-Themed Cookies

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies are perfect for any occasion, and you can easily tailor them to different holidays and seasons:

  • Christmas: Use red and green icing, and sprinkle with edible glitter or crushed candy canes.
  • Valentine’s Day: Heart-shaped cookies with pink and red icing, decorated with edible pearls or tiny hearts.
  • Easter: Pastel-colored icing and shapes like eggs, bunnies, and flowers.
  • Halloween: Use orange and black icing, and add spooky designs like pumpkins, ghosts, and bats.

Conclusion: Ethel’s Sugar Cookies Recipe

Baking Ethel’s Sugar Cookies is more than just making a delicious treat; it’s about creating memories and traditions. This timeless recipe is easy to follow and yields cookies that are perfect for sharing with family and friends. Whether you keep them simple or go all out with decorations, these cookies are sure to be a hit. So, gather your ingredients, preheat your oven, and get ready to bake some magic.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

How long do Ethel’s Sugar Cookies last?

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week. For longer storage, you can freeze the cookies (either decorated or undecorated) for up to three months.

Can I make the dough ahead of time?

Yes, you can make the dough ahead of time. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to three days. When you’re ready to bake, let the dough sit at room temperature for a few minutes before rolling it out.

Can I use margarine instead of butter?

While you can use margarine, butter is recommended for the best flavor and texture. Margarine may alter the taste and consistency of the cookies.

How do I prevent the cookies from spreading too much?

Chilling the dough before rolling it out is key to preventing the cookies from spreading. Additionally, make sure your baking sheets are cool before placing the dough on them.

What can I do if I don’t have cookie cutters?

If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can use the rim of a glass or a knife to cut out shapes. Alternatively, you can roll the dough into balls and flatten them with your hand or the bottom of a glass for simple round cookies.