6 Ways to Make a Perfect Cookie

Customize Your Cookie

With the new school year in full swing and holiday season coming up just around the corner, we're going to guess you've got cookies in mind. Whether you're thinking of making them for your kiddos' bake sale, as a hostess gift, or even if you're planning ahead for a stunning cookie swap ('cause we totally are), we've got just what you need to make your cookies the talk of the town.

In order to remain stress-free and still achieve optimum results, we recommend going with a classic icebox cookie. The recipe is straightforward, customizable, and you can chill it for up to 3 days before you slice and bake you treats. Here's our Icebox Butter Cookie Recipe, followed by six of our top-ranked stir-ins (praline pecan, anyone?).

Icebox Butter CookieIcebox Butter Cookies
Makes: 8-10 dozen
*Test Kitchen Tip: Bake 8 minutes for a soft and chewy cookie or up to 12 minutes for a crisp cookie.

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Parchment paper

1. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
2. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended after each addition.
3. Shape dough into 4 logs (about 2 inches in diameter); wrap each log in plastic wrap. Chill 8 hours to 3 days.
4. Preheat oven to 350°. Cut each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks, and cool completely (about 20 minutes).

Stir-Ins (pictured above, clockwise from left)
  • Praline Pecan: Stir in 1 1/2 cups roasted glazed pecan pieces after adding flour mixture.
  • Rosemary-Berry: Stir in 1 cup finely chopped sweetened dried cranberries, 2 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary, and 2 Tbsp. orange zest after adding flour mixture.
  • Spiced Sweet Tea: Add 3 Tbsp. unsweetened instant tea mix, 2 Tbsp. orange zest, 1 Tbsp. lemon zest, and 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice with first 4 ingredients. Roll logs in Demerara sugar before chilling.
  • Lemon-Basil: Add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil, 2 Tbsp. lemon zest, and 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds with first 4 ingredients.
  • Java Chip: Add 3 Tbsp. instant coffee granules with first 4 ingredients; stir in 4 (1.4-oz.) chocolate-covered toffee candy bars, finely chopped, after adding flour mixture.
  • Lime-Coconut: Stir in 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, 1 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts, and 2 Tbsp. lime zest after adding flour mixture.

Southern Living September 2012 Related Articles from Southern Living:
The South's Best Cookies
36 Delightful Cookies and Bars
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