The Ultimate Holiday Sugar Cookies

Carla Lalli Music, recipe by Alison Roman

If you're like us, you've always dreamed of turning your kitchen into a cookie factory. You've just gotta believe in yourself. Even though "master" is in its name, our master sugar cookie recipe requires absolutely no expertise. And with these tips for getting started, even a total novice will soon wield the rolling pin like a professional. In other words, schedule a ribbon-cutting ceremony-your cookie factory is open for business.

TIP #1: If you chilled the dough, let it sit out for a few minutes so it's easier to roll out. Work on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or marble to prevent the dreaded sticking.

TIP #2: If the dough gets soft or sticky, pop it back in the fridge to firm up again. Cut out your shapes as close together as possible to minimize waste (you can also reroll the scraps).

TIP #3: Sugar cookies don't spread much while baking, so you only need to leave an inch between them. Because large cookies take longer to bake than small ones, always keep similar shapes together. Rotate the sheets from front to back halfway through baking for even browning. Parchment paper, your secret weapon: Use the sheets to roll, cut, and bake.

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makes 2-3 dozen

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/4cups (2 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 325°. Whisk salt, baking powder, and 3 cups flour in a small bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until well combined (butter does not need to be fluffy), about 3 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla; beat just to combine. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine. Form dough into two ¾"-thick disks; wrap in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours.

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Let 1 disk of dough sit at room temperature until softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper until about ¼" thick, dusting with flour as needed (if dough gets soft or sticky, chill on parchment until firm). Cut out shapes with floured cookie cutters; transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12-16 minutes, depending on size. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with scraps and remaining dough. Decorate cooled cookies as desired.

DO AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze instead of chilling. Cookies can be baked (left undecorated) 2 weeks ahead; wrap tightly and freeze.

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