This Is the Secret to Making the Best Sugar Cookies for Decorating

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

There are two types of sugar cookies in my book: the ones that are soft and tender and come out of the oven just a little puffed at the center, and the ones I make for decorating. When I’m after ultra-flat, crisp sugar cookies for decorating, I always make the dough using this simple trick.

Make the Dough with the Reverse Creaming Method

Most cookie recipes, including sugar cookies, start by creaming together the butter and sugar until pale in color with a light and fluffy texture. But when I’m after ultra-flat sugar cookies for decorating, I make the dough using the reverse creaming method. With this method less air is incorporated into the dough, yielding a flat, sturdy cookie.

The Reverse Creaming Method and Why It Works

Reverse creaming refers to the order in which the ingredients are blended together. Instead of combining the butter and sugar first, reverse creaming starts by mixing the flour, sugar, and other dry ingredients and then adding the butter, followed by the egg. Since the butter and dry ingredients are blended for less time, there’s less aeration in the dough so the cookies bake up with a sturdy texture and flat-as-can-be surface.

You’ll notice that not all sugar cookie recipes have instructions for this method (including our cut-out sugar cookies), but that doesn’t mean you can’t still use this method. Go ahead and give it a try and see what a difference it makes when you want a flat surface to decorate.

Your turn! Do you use the reverse creaming method when making sugar cookies?

Recipes and Tips for Making and Decorating Sugar Cookies