Ever since I was a kid, my mom and I have baked and decorated sugar cookies together during the Christmas season. I always thought they were the best homemade sugar cookies I’d ever had. I was proud of the way my mom and I worked together to artfully place the sprinkles on the snowmen, gingerbread men, and stars. Of course we loved to eat the cookies ourselves, but my mom kept them on a plate on the kitchen table for guests to grab as they pleased. It made people feel welcome and spread the holiday cheer.
It was a great memory we shared, but when I moved away to Colorado that tradition ended. Although we don’t bake the cookies together anymore, I still wanted to carry on the special Christmas tradition with my nanny kids. The only problem was that I now lived at high altitude. The same sugar cookie recipe my mom and I used at sea level wouldn’t work at 5,280 feet. Determined to use that specific recipe, I started experimenting with the ingredients. After running a few burnt cookie trays out the front door, I finally got to a point where I felt comfortable sharing the recipe, almost four years later, and the tradition of the best-ever Christmas sugar cookies continued.
High-Altitude Sugar Cookies
One of the hardest things about baking at altitude is everything falling flat or getting burnt. After years of working with the ingredients, experimenting with oven temperatures, and dough thickness, I finally did it — I baked soft, thick, delicious sugar cookies at high-altitude! I hope this recipe finds you well, and that you can enjoy the warmth of the perfect homemade sugar cookies this holiday season…or any time of year!
Let’s get started…
- 1 cup of butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups of sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 3 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons of flour (plus more for rolling out the dough)
- 2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
If you plan on sharing cookies with friends and neighbors, I recommend doubling the recipe.
- Preheat oven to 375º F
- In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix.
- Add remaining ingredients and mix. The dough will be crumbly.
- Roll out dough to at least 1/4” thick on a dry, floured surface. The thickness is important! Cut out shapes using cookie cutters, and transfer to a cookie sheet. Decorate with sprinkles before baking, if not using frosting. My favorite sprinkles to use are the colorful sugar crystals.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or longer for thicker cookies.
Frosting Ingredients & Instructions:
These cookies don’t need frosting. In fact, I think it takes away from the delicious flavor of the cookie, but if you do choose to use frosting, I have included my grandma’s homemade frosting recipe.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2/3 stick of butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons of milk
Combine all ingredients.
If you enjoyed this activity, take a look at some other Christmas crafts and activities to do with kids this holiday season!