I’m sharing an old family recipe with you today for perfect holiday sugar cookies. It meets all of my holiday cookie criteria: simple, delicious and adaptable to your decorating whimsy. The lemon zest in the cookie dough really makes these special, giving a bright flavor to these buttery, melt-in-your mouth cookies. With five ingredients and one bowl, they really couldn’t be easier. And you can make a big batch and save half in the freezer for another cookie decorating extravaganza.
This cookie dough recipe, for what we call Britzerlie cookies, was originally intended to be cooked in the antique Swiss cast iron cookie press my family has been using for generations. It is a pretty amazing contraption, with eight different Swiss pictures (think Edelweiss and shepherds). I asked my grandmother, and apparently my great-grandfather was the master at using it, getting just the right heat on the stove so that the cookies inside the press got golden brown and crispy without getting overcooked. I asked to borrow this cookie press thinking that I’d be able to master it after a few tries. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my attempts on my stories and you know that… I was wrong. Here’s a picture with the proof:
Eight batches of trial and error and I had some soft, undercooked cookies, more than a few really burned ones, and maybe one that was the right color, crispness, and shape. The cookie press defeated me, at least on that day. I may try it again, but for now I decided to use my extra batch of dough to make traditional roll out sugar cookies. And lucky for us all, they were delicious! This will be my new standard for sugar cookies, no question.
Did I mention this is a one bowl recipe? Hooray for fewer dishes! To make the cookie dough, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating for a minute or so between each addition, then add the lemon rind. Stir in the flour and mix until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto the counter and gather it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Once it has chilled, sandwich the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper. Roll the dough out until it’s about ¼ inch thick, then use the cookie cutters of your choice to cut out cookies. Place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets and bake them for 8-12 minutes, until they’re lightly golden brown at the edges and pale in the middle. Let them cool, and then decorate however you like! I went with a minimal design of white royal icing with some shiny, Frozen-inspired sprinkles, but you could go as crazy as you like. That’s the joy of holiday cookies! If you do make them, tag your photos with #todaywebake so I can see your beautiful creations.
- 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition. Add the lemon rind.
- Add the flour gradually, mixing until just combined.
- Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, then cut with your desired cookie cutters.
- Bake for 8 - 12 minutes in a 350°F oven, until the cookies are just golden brown at the edges. Cool completely, then frost and decorate.