Aunt Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

Today we invite Heidi, from Heidi’s Recipes to join us at the table!  Heidi is a talented kitchen cook who knows how to keep her family, friends and kitchen warmed with hospitality.  Through the years we’ve enjoyed everything from iced tea to sugar cookies at her real life table!  Today we are so glad to have her and Aunt Ethel join us at our “virtual” table! ~Chris Ann & Kristin


Although I have no idea who Ethel is, I do know that her sugar cookie recipe is a part of the family.  In December of 1982 when my mother announced that she refused to bake any cookies that required rolling and cutting, and when my father simultaneously begged for sugar cookies just like his mother used to make, I took on the challenge.  At the awkward, yet determined age of 13, I searched through all of my mother’s cookbooks until I found a recipe for sugar cookies that my father deemed similar to what he ate as a child.  I then entered the kitchen alone and attempted to make Ethel’s Sugar Cookies.  This was my first independent cooking experience and it was a success!

During the last 28 years I have attempted a few other sugar cookie doughs, but have always returned to Ethel’s.   The recipe is from the 1977 cookbook Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book and shares a page with instructions for Mary’s Sugar Cookies, but sorry Mary, Ethel is far superior.  With the exception of 2001 when I had recently given birth to my third child, I have made Ethel’s Sugar Cookies every Christmas since 1982.  I have also used this recipe to turn these cookies into shamrocks, Easter eggs, rubber duckies, poke balls, and the state of Texas.  I even made my dad a batch of heart-shaped sugar cookies with red sprinkles and delivered them to the hospital right before his open-heart surgery.

The beauty of Ethel’s Sugar Cookies is that the cookies are thick and cakey with just the right amount of sweetness and a hint of vanilla.  The recipe uses both butter and shortening which creates a soft yet sturdy dough that rolls easily with a wooden rolling pin on a board that has been dusted with a combination of flour and confectioner’s sugar.  The cookies can either be topped with sprinkles prior to baking or iced with Easy Cream Icing after they have been cooked and cooled.

Needless to say, my mother passed on her rolling pin and her copy of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book to me when I got married.  The cookbook is now battered and yellowed and easily falls open to page 18 of the section on rolled cookies.  At some point I penned a star next to Ethel’s Sugar Cookies recipe, less I become confused and make the mistake of baking Mary’s Sugar Cookies.  I also penciled in the measurements for making a double batch of the dough.  I have found that one batch is never enough.  I’m grateful that Ethel and her sugar cookies have joined our Christmas traditions and remain a part of our family.  My hope is that you will invite Ethel and her delicious sugar cookies into your home as well.

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies

adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book  (copyright 1977)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

  1. Mix butter, shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla thoroughly.
  2. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. Blend butter mixture and flour mixture.
  4. Divide dough into 2 discs.  Cover each with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  5. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
  7. On a board that has been lightly floured with a mixture of flour and confectioner’s sugar, roll dough until it is 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with your favorite cooky cuter.
  8. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.  Top with colored sanding sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until cookies are a delicate light golden color.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.  If desired, decorate with Easy Cream Icing.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cutter

Easy Cream Icing

1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-3 Tablespoons cream, milk or water

food coloring or icing tints

  1. Blend sugar, salt, and vanilla.
  2. Add liquid (cream, milk, or water) 1 tablespoon at at a time until icing reaches a spreadable consistency.
  3. Add food coloring.
  4. Spread on cookies with an off-set spatula.

Makes icing for 3 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size.


Thank you Heidi, from Heidi’s Recipes, for sharing your recipe at our table!



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