Sugar Cookies

When I was in college at University of Illinois, one of my roommates, Dawn, used to get care packages from her boyfriend’s mom (now mother-in-law).  In the box, there were always some of these super delicious sugar cookies.  Dawn was nice enough to share with us and I loved them!  I made sure to get the recipe.  Although I’m not sure why because I didn’t really bake back then.  It was probably so my mom could make them for me.  I totally forgot about those cookies until Alex pulled an old (okay, really old) binder off the bookshelf and a bunch of recipes fell out of it.  As I was cleaning up the mess, I saw this recipe and I couldn’t wait to make them.  I haven’t had these cookies in probably 15 years! Geez, now I have dated myself.  I had to double check the recipe with Dawn because the baking time and temperature was cut off.  And, I remember leaving out the cream of tartar from the ingredient list, because at the time, I didn’t know what it was.  It must not be important then, right?  She emailed me a photo of the original recipe and I was surprised that it didn’t have any vanilla or salt.  So, I decided to add them.  I also chose to use butter rather than margarine, because, well, it’s butter.  Enough said.

So, how were they?  Mmmm…just as good as I remembered.  The cookies are really buttery, not really chewy but very soft.  They are versatile in that you can change the color of the sanding sugar to coordinate with any holiday.  Or, even school colors would be cute.  Since there isn’t a holiday right now, we decided to go with Sammie’s favorite color, which for at least today, is rainbow.  I guess I could have coordinated with the colors of the Olympic rings or support Team USA with red, white and blue sugars.  But, of course, I didn’t think of that until now.  Oh, well.  Rainbow sugar tasted just fine. 😀

Old-fashioned sugar cookies

Yield: I got 29 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature   the original recipe calls for margarine

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for rolling)

1 cup of canola oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

Sprinkles optional

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter, sugar and powdered sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well until combined.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt with a spoon.  Sift the flour mixture into another bowl or onto wax paper.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture slowly.  Beat just until combined.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.  The dough is very soft, but will firm up quite a bit with refrigeration.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put about 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl.  Roll the dough loosely into balls (I used a medium sized cookie scoop) and then roll completely in granulated sugar.   Place balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press down gently with a flat bottomed glass dipped in sugar (it should be thick if you want a chewy cookie).  Store the bowl of dough in the fridge between batches.  Sprinkle on colored sugar if you wish.  Bake at 350 for 10 – 12 minutes.  You want to pull them out when they look set.  There should be almost no browning.  They should be very white.

They freeze well in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Source:  Adapted from Lois Curran ( My friend Steve’s mom)

Leave a comment


  1. Yum…red and green sprinkles will make Christmas cookies.

  2. cht7

     /  August 6, 2012

    Pretty! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow they definitely look good! 🙂 Wish i got care packages or my house mates did!

  4. I love these sugar cookies. I use margarine just like the original recipe. Lois makes great cookies. You need to get her recipe for dinner rolls.

    • They are delicious. I’ll have to get that dinner roll recipe. I think either Dawn or Steve mentioned it before.

  5. I love it!!! I’m famous now!! I’ll have to pass this along to Lois.

    And these cookies are amazing!

  6. I love sugar cookies! Thanks for sharing this recipe – I will have to try it soon!

  7. Melissa

     /  July 2, 2013

    Hello Just Baked!
    I just found this wonderful recipe on Pinterest. I’m going to a 4th of July party tomorrow and would love to make them, but I don’t have Rainbow sugar….can I substitute blue and red (ice cream topping) sprinkles.

  8. Lois C

     /  February 14, 2015

    I have never used butter (just margarine but I am sure the butter flavor is wonderful) nor a mixer. Mixing by hand works just fine. I am also someone who hates to use every bowl in the kitchen since they have to then be washed. So I just put the sifter on paper towels, measure the dry ingredients into the sifter. Once all ingredients are in sifter, just sift them directly into butter mixture and add what little bit has dropped onto the paper towel. It is a great recipe and I have kept them up to 2 months in the freezer. So glad you like them. I wish I had known when you were in college that you liked them so well. I would have sent them more often! Thank you for the credit.


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