Butter cookies are a holiday classic for a reason: They’re delicious, versatile, and make the perfect foundation for sugary-sweet frosting. Using the cookie cutter of your choice, turn this basic dough into stars, Christmas trees, and more.
1 cup unsalted butter (no substitutions), at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Assorted colored granulated sugars for decorating
- Preheat oven to 180ºC. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high, beat until light and creamy. At low speed, beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder, and salt just until blended.
- Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Wrap each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
- On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough into as many cookies as possible, wrap and refrigerate trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on large ungreased cookie sheet, sprinkle cookies with colored sugar now if you like, or ice with royal icing.
- Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. If you like, brush colored sugar remaining on cookie sheets onto piece of waxed paper to use again. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.
- When cookies are cool, prepare royal icing if you like, use to decorate cookies as desired. Sprinkle colored sugars as desired on frosting before it dries. Allow frosting to dry completely, about 1 hour. Store cookies in tightly covered container up to 2 weeks.