Reindeer Sugar Cookies (and The BEST Cut-Out Cookie Recipe): Transform a simple sugar cookie into a reindeer with 3 easy steps.
*This post has been updated from December 2014 with new pictures. Recipe remains the same.
What is it about the Holidays, that cause the majority of us to put on aprons and make cookies by the dozen?
I am really not sure and I really do not care what started this baking phenomenon, as it is one of my most favorite things to do with my family and friends during the month of December.
This is the one time of year that this Mommy really lets it go in the kitchen and we create messes and my children express their creativity–and we are surrounded by more goodies than we ever have at a time in our house (don’t worry, we do give most of them away!)
That seems to be the vote for my family’s favorite Christmas Cookie (I am the only odd one out with Triple Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies being my Holiday favorite.)
Give my husband a glass of milk and he can put away a dozen of these cookies in less than 10 minutes and my children LOVE to make these–Flour everywhere, beating dough with a rolling pin, candies spilling onto the floor and sometimes into their mouths as they decorate–it is like a food fight that is encouraged, of course kids love this tradition!
I have found a fail-proof recipe that delivers a perfect cookie every time–even with kids beating the dough!
- 1½ cups butter, softened
- 2 cups white sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 5 cups unbleached flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- powdered sugar for rolling
- In a large mixing bowl (or your stand mixer), beat together butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy. Add eggs, one at time with mixer running on low. Turn mixer up to medium and beat until well combined for about 2-3 minutes. Add extracts as mixer is going.
- Combine dry ingredients and slowly add to butter mixture, beating on low until just combined.
- Place about 1 cup dough mixture onto parchment paper or wax paper that has been dusted with powdered sugar and cover with an additional sheet of parchment paper. Roll out to ½' thickness and place in sealed storage bag or large covered container.
- Repeat until all dough has been rolled out.
- Place the rolled dough into the refrigerator, sealed well, for 12 hours or overnight. (If you are not planning on using all the dough right away, freeze in well sealed storage bags in freezer.)
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400.
- Lightly dust cookie cutters with powdered sugar and cut dough as desired.
- Re-roll scraps to cut more shapes.
- Bake for 6-7 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to sit on cookie sheet on a cooling rack for 2-3 minutes and then gently remove cookies from tray and allow to fully cool before icing.
My Tips on the Perfect Sugar Cookie
- The combination of almond and vanilla extract give these cookies an extra dose of flavor.
- Roll with powdered sugar and not flour–who wants the chalky taste of flour over the sweet, delicate flavor of powdered sugar?
- Roll the dough out onto parchment paper or wax paper that has been dusted with powdered sugar as soon as dough is made. This will make the rolling process that much easier and quicker.
- Store the dough in a well sealed container in the fridge until ready to bake. You can refrigerate dough for up to 5 days and can freeze up to a month. I typically bake half at once and freeze the other half to bake again when I am running low on Christmas cookies because I prefer cookies all month long that are fresh!
- Rolling dough to 1/2 inch thickness gives the cookie enough thickness to be sturdy, but is still delicate enough to not be overpowering.
- DO NOT OVER BAKE!! The cookies may seem underdone at 6 or 7 minutes. But they will continue to bake for a minute or two after removing from oven, so unless you want crispy edges (and to me the softness of this cookie is where it is at), take my advice and remove from oven before they appear perfectly done.
Sugar Cookie Icing
Now icing is really your preference. I prefer (as does my husband who I am mainly making these for!) a thin cream cheese frosting.
This icing will not set up perfectly hard or glossy like Royal Icing–but it tastes better. And when you indulge, shouldn’t TASTE matter?!
My recipe is simple:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups sifted powdered, sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
Combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until completely smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined. Add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time to thin if necessary to create a smooth icing that can be spread easily on the cookies.
To make chocolate icing (perfect for My Reindeer Cookies) simply use 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder and 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar and follow the remaining directions as stated.
How to Make Reindeer Cookies from Sugar Cookie Dough
- Make Sugar Cookies as directed.
- Use a gingerbread cookie cutter to cut out dough.
- Bake as directed.
- Make the chocolate cream cheese icing and place into a piping bag (or like myself–put into a large Ziploc bag and snip off a tiny corner to use as a piping bag–that can be thrown away when you are done. NO MESS.)
- Pipe out a circle on the gingerbread’s head with the chocolate icing (think of the gingerbread men’s arms and legs as the antlers of the reindeer.)
- Add a red candy for the nose (TIP for next year: Pull out all the red M&Ms from your Halloween loot and save in a baggie for your reindeer!)
- Add 2 white chocolate chips for the eyes.
- Pipe on melted chcoolate for the antlers and pupils for the eyes.
Let set up in the fridge or grab a glass of milk and eat Rudolph.Regardless of how you decide to make these sugar cookies–as Christmas trees, stars, or reindeer, you and your family will enjoy them! And you may even make a few precious memories in the mess of these cookies.Watch me live create this video here.
Or a short clip of step by step instructions here.
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