The Yeh Family Sugar Cookie

updated Jun 23, 2023
The Original Family Sugar Cookie Recipe

The combination of almond and lemon makes these intensely thick and soft treats taste like nostalgic bliss, and some almond flour in the dough gives them a lovely dense texture.

Serves15

Makes30 (2-inch) cookies

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sugar cookies in horse shape on cutting board
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling; Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Sarah Smart

This recipe is a part of Secret Family Cookies — a dozen recipes from our favorite bakers, inspired by the people who make them feel at home. Get all the amazing cookies here.

Welcome to our family’s sugar cookie recipe! What’s awesome about these cookies is that they’re super thick, really soft, and you don’t have to refrigerate the dough. The combination of almond and lemon makes them taste like the bakery cookies of my youth, and some almond flour in the dough gives them a pleasantly dense texture. The two tricks to achieving the best texture are to roll out the dough really thick and take them out of the oven when they are just starting to think about turning brown but haven’t yet.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling; Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: Sarah Smart

This is our go-to Christmas cookie, Hanukkah cookie, Halloween cat cookie, Valentine’s Day heart cookie, the cookie I’ll make with Bernie to bring to school on her birthday, and passport-shaped cookie in the event I have to try and sweet talk someone at the passport office in order to get mine renewed the day before I’m supposed to fly to Korea for the Olympics. (It turns out government officials can’t accept cookie bribes. But they did renew my passport in time, and I did fly to Korea, and I did watch Mirai land that triple axel in real life!!!)

The Original Family Sugar Cookie Recipe

The combination of almond and lemon makes these intensely thick and soft treats taste like nostalgic bliss, and some almond flour in the dough gives them a lovely dense texture.

Makes 30 (2-inch) cookies

Serves 15

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 3 1/3 cups

    (433 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 1/3 cups

    (149 grams) almond flour (*see note below)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 cup

    (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2/3 cup

    (133 grams) granulated sugar

  • 2/3 cup

    (80 grams) powdered sugar

  • Zest of half a lemon, optional

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons

    pure vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon LorAnn Princess Emulsion, on the off chance you have it)

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    pure almond extract

For the frosting and decorating:

  • 1/2 cup

    (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups

    (180 grams) powdered sugar

  • Pinch of

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    pure almond extract

  • 3 tablespoons

    (45 grams) heavy cream or 2 tablespoons (30 grams) whole milk

  • Food coloring, optional

  • Sprinkles, encouraged

Instructions

  1. If you plan to bake the cookies immediately, arrange oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside. (Alternatively, you can make the dough up to 2 days in advance.)

  2. To make the cookies, in a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together the butter, sugars, and lemon zest (if using) on medium high until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the extracts.

  3. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined, occasionally scraping down the sides to help everything combine evenly. At this point you can pat the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days, or you can make your cookies immediately.

  4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a scant 1/2-inch thickness (use your kitchen ruler!), dusting with a little more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut out your shapes as desired and transfer them to the prepared sheet pans, 1 inch apart. Reroll the scraps and cut out more shapes.

  5. Bake for 6 minutes, switch the racks and rotate the pans 180 degrees, and continue to bake until the cookies are just thinking about starting to turn brown. They should be set around the edges but still soft in the center; begin checking larger cookies for doneness at 6 minutes and smaller cookies at 4 minutes. If they need more time, check frequently so that they don’t overbake — every 30 seconds or so. Let cool on the sheet pans for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  6. To make the frosting, combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle and mix on low until you’re confident that sugar won’t fly everywhere, then increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until smooth. (It will seem like there’s too much sugar at first, but keep on mixing!) Add the extracts, heavy cream, and food coloring, if using; increase the speed to medium high, and continue to mix for a few more seconds, until combined and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary to ensure that everything combines evenly.

  7. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cookies and decorate with sprinkles as desired and enjoy!

  8. Store in a cookie jar or airtight container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. Frosted cookies can also be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a few months; thaw at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

*Not a fan of almonds? Sub any ground nut! Hazelnuts are my other fave, especially with some orange zest.

From Home is Where the Eggs Are by Molly Yeh. Copyright © 2022 by Molly Rebecca Yeh. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.