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It is the single cookie dough recipe you need to see you through every holiday this year, and every year after that. I'm talking all-purpose sugar cookie dough, people.

Speaking as a woman who partakes in marathon baking sessions every holiday season to produce as many different types of cookies as there are days in the month of December, I understand the appeal of trying out new recipes and having a mass array of colors and shapes and flavors to offer on a platter to guests and to your family members (who don't understand WTF is wrong with you and why you are hell-bent on pushing them towards a relationship with type 2 diabetes every time you visit). Believe me, I understand. But I also understand the necessity to have, if nothing else, one solid, go-to recipe that can serve you time and time again--the adaptable base recipe that has your back under any circumstance. And in terms of cookie baking, that one recipe is this one.


As versatile as it is reliable, a good sugar cut-out cookie recipe, such as the one mentioned/pictured above, is a crucial weapon in every home baker's arsenal. And yes, I realize that these are titled Christmas Cookies... but rest assured, this is in all-purpose dough that will serve you for every holiday and occasion for the rest of this calendar year (and through the next one). All you have to do is customize accordingly using cookie cutters, add-ins, and royal icing. Here's examples on how to do so for the next handful of major holidays:


Replace 1 cup of flour in the recipe with 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, then dig out your Halloween-themed cookie cutters and cut the dough into your favorite shapes (pumpkins, ghosts, etc.). Once your cookies are baked and cooled, make a batch of royal icing, and color 1/2 of the icing in a separate bowl with orange food coloring (mix red and yellow). Decorate your cookies with the orange and white icings as desired.


Obviously, everyone needs to add a turkey, a leaf, and a pilgrim hat to their cookie cutter collection (if you don't already have them). Pick up this set of 3 harvest cookie cutters from Wilton and get ready to make the cutest stinking cookies to ever show up at an elementary school class party (I assume such class parties are still a thing). I would recommend adding 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to your cookie dough for fall spirit. You could also ditch the turkey and pilgrim, and simply make a pretty pile of autumn leaves. Cut your dough into leaf shapes with a cookie cutter (or freehand it if you feel confident), bake them, and once they've cooled, hit them with a light glaze or frosting, and then quickly coat them in various autumnal colored sugars and sprinkles.


Add 2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon or orange zest to your cookie dough for a bright, citrus touch. Grab your best dreidel cookie cutter (or order this set of 3 Hanukkah cookie cutters) and get cranking. Decorate with royal icing as desired.


I feel like I probably don't need to weigh in too much on this one, given that Christmas is kind of the pinnacle of cut-out cookie holidays. But I would say that if you're typically a fairly traditional Christmas tree cut-out kind of person, going with the varied stars and snowflakes pictured above is an elegant and fun way to change things up this year. You can find all kinds of varied packs of snowflake cookie cutters, then use plain white and ice blue royal frostings, along with silver and white sugar sprinkles, to make dainty designs.

By Darcy Lenz and Darcy Lenz