Vanilla Sugar Cookies

These cookies have a unique and irresistible texture: a little crisp at the edges, with a soft, sandy center that melts in your mouth. Every bite is a perfect balance of butter and vanilla; hints of both almond and nutmeg add signature bakery-cookie flavor. 

Want to reduce the carbs and calories in this recipe? Substitute our King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative for the sugar called for. See how in "tips," below.

12 mins
12 to 15 mins
2 hrs 24 mins
2 1/2 dozen 3" cookies
Vanilla Sugar Cookies


  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the oil, butter, and sugars; beat until combined. Add the egg, extracts, and nutmeg, beating until smooth.

  2. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour; mix until smooth. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, until it's stiff enough to scoop easily and hold its shape; overnight is fine.

  3. To assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.

  4. Put the sugar for coating in a bowl. Scoop the chilled dough by the tablespoonful (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here) and roll in the sugar to coat.

  5. Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2" clearance among them.

  6. Bake the cookies for 13 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

  7. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • To make bakery-style butter cookies, add 1 tablespoon of water to the dough and instead of refrigerating, place the dough in a pastry bag (no more than half full) fitted with an open star tip. Pipe cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in desired shapes about 1 1/2" in diameter. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges just barely begin to brown. Dip the edges in Fudge Frosting if desired. 

  • Vanilla is obviously the most important flavor in these cookies, but we suggest nutmeg and almond extract, as well. Nutmeg will give the cookies a distinctive, old-fashioned "sugar cookie taste." And we feel a small amount of almond highlights vanilla's flavor without adding any flavor of its own.

  • Here's an easy way to reduce the carbs and calories in this recipe: substitute King Arthur Baking Sugar Alternative, cup for cup, for the sugar(s) called for. Be sure to substitute by volume (not weight); follow mixing directions as written. Since our Baking Sugar Alternative will bake and brown more quickly, reduce the recipe's suggested oven temperature by 25 degrees; and start checking cookies for doneness three-quarters of the way through the suggested bake time.