Recipe Review

I Tried King Arthur’s “Perfect Cookie-Cutter Cookie,” and Now I Understand the Hype

updated Dec 7, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Leave it to King Arthur Baking Company to offer a cut-out cookie that is unlike all others. The dough is made with confectioners’ sugar (not granulated) and an egg yolk instead of whole eggs — both of which I believed would make for rich, crispy cookies. My expectations were at an all-time high, thanks to the hundreds of glowing reviews, a 4.5-star rating, and the title of “perfect cookie cutter cookie” on King Arthur’s website. Would these cookies live up to the hype? I had to find out.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How To Make King Arthur Baking Company’s Holiday Butter Cookies

Combine confectioners’ sugar, salted butter, egg yolk, fine salt, and flavorings (I used equal parts almond and vanilla extracts per the recipe notes) in a mixer and beat until smooth. Add all-purpose flour and mix until combined. If the mixture appears dry and crumbly and doesn’t come together upon mixing, add a tablespoon of water.

Split the dough in half and form into disks. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill. Once ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. The dough should be cold but soft enough to roll. Roll the dough 1/8-inch thick on a floured surface. Use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes and transfer to an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until slightly browned around the edges. Cool on the pan or transfer the cookies (still on the parchment) to a cooling rack.

Note: In order to bake all sugar cookies in this showdown on the same day, doughs were made and chilled one day in advance of baking.

Credit: Patty Catalano

My Honest Review of King Arthur Baking Company’s Holiday Butter Cookies

The texture and flavor of these award-winning cookies did not disappoint. Every bite was crisp, rich, and buttery — exactly what I was looking for in a holiday sugar cookie. The dough was slightly dry and crumbly, both in the bowl and after chilling, but a scant tablespoon of water quickly transformed it into a thick, soft (but not sticky!) mixture.

After refrigerating the wrapped disks of dough, I followed the instructions to let them soften slightly at room temperature before rolling. Unfortunately, the thick dough disks cracked at the edges and took a long time to roll 1/8-inch thick. After working through half of the dough as instructed, I sandwiched the dough between two sheets of parchment paper with much better results.

At 1/8-inch thick, these cookies are crispier than most, with a shortbread-like texture. During these taste tests, I realized I prefer a crunchier cookie to soft, thick cookies, but if you prefer the opposite, simply roll to 1/4-inch thickness. The cookies bake beautifully, holding their shape without spreading, and develop an attractive light golden-brown appearance at the edges. While the flavor and appearance earned high marks, the dry, cracking dough was not as easy to work with as I’d like.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making King Arthur Baking Company’s Holiday Butter Cookies, a Few Tips

  1. Use fine salt. Kosher salt is my go-to in the kitchen, but King Arthur’s standard for baking recipes is fine salt. Since salt is just as important in sweets as it is in savory foods, it’s important to use the correct one.
  2. Add extracts. While you can special order the Fiori di Sicilia called for in this recipe, I tested these cookies with equal parts almond and vanilla extracts with great success.
  3. Add water if the dough is crumbly. The dough may have a crumbly, dry texture when first mixed. If it doesn’t come together into a smooth dough, add water one teaspoon at a time until it’s thick and soft, but not sticky.
  4. Roll the dough between parchment before chilling. This will keep the dough from cracking, as it’s already rolled thin before the butter hardens, making working with the thinly rolled dough much easier.

Overall rating: 8/10

Have you baked King Arthur Baking Company’s Holiday Butter Cookies? Tell us about it in the comments.