Vanilla Sugar Cookies

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
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Yield: 2 1/2 dozen 3" cookies

Recipe photo

AJ Quigley, a regular on King Arthur's Baking Circle community, emailed us this recipe with the following message: "I ran across one of my favorite sugar cookie recipes years ago in one of those 'company' fundraiser cookbooks, and have used it quite often since then. I checked KAF's recipes and there's not one like it, so I thought I'd share. It makes a tender-crisp, melt-in-your-mouth cookie." We've changed AJ's recipe slightly (baker's prerogative!), but feel it's still true to its origins. Thanks, AJ!

Interestingly, this cookie can go either way, texture-wise: crisp-crunchy, or soft-chewy. If you store them airtight, the cookies will remain crisp. But if you prefer soft sugar cookies, bake them for 13 minutes, then leave them uncovered overnight; they'll soften nicely.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

star rating (16) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen 3" cookies
Published: 08/30/2011



  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, to taste; optional
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • *Reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter.


Tips from our bakers

  • 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.


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1) Beat the oil, butter, and sugars together until fairly smooth; a few lumps of butter may remain.

2) Add the egg, beating until smooth. Beat in the extracts and nutmeg.

3) Stir in the dry ingredients, again beating until smooth.

4) 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.

5) Just before shaping the cookies, preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) 2 or 3 baking sheets.

6) Place some granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar in a shallow pan, and scoop the chilled dough by the tablespoonful into the sugar, rolling to coat. Roll each ball into a round in your palms. The dough softens quickly; refrigerate it between batches.

7) Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.

8) Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, until their edges are just beginning to brown. Bake slightly longer for a crisper cookie.

9) Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

10) As soon as the cookies are completely cool, store them airtight, to retain their crunchy texture. For soft cookies, allow them to rest uncovered overnight before wrapping and storing.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen 3" cookies.


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  • star rating 12/07/2014
  • Claudette from Concord, NH
  • Absolutely delicious after following the recipe exactly! Also appreciated the fact that half the fat was oil. Will be adding this recipe to my collection.
  • star rating 08/06/2014
  • member-vkwetzel31012 from KAF Community
  • Love,Love, Love this recipe!!! So does my husband! Vanilla is one of his favorite flavors. I made 2 batches! I followed the recipe on both batches except for the second batch I made I used slightly less of the almond extract because to me in the first batch they were more predominantly an almond flavor, I also used less nutmeg in the second batch and I think my husband loves the second batch more!! Both are very, very good sugar cookies!! I love KAF's recipes!! I follow them step by step and everything always turns out perfect!! If I have a question about something in the recipe during chat hours, there is Always a friendly and helpful baker to help me out and encourage me along the way!! Thank you KAF for everything!
  • star rating 03/21/2013
  • Colton Greer from ,NY.
  • The taste was excellent, I left the dough in the fridge overnight it was harder than I thought but it was fine. I also used a regular spoon. 10 minutes was fine.
  • star rating 12/22/2012
  • WithWings137 from KAF Community
  • I made this with half white whole wheat flour. It turned out delicious and I couldn't tell there was whole wheat at all. They didn't flatten out very much though.
  • star rating 12/19/2011
  • Mary Ann from AZ
  • For the vegetable oil, I used fresh canola oil. I'm not a fan of these cookies. They were pretty cookies, rather crumbly, but lacked the delicious flavor of a sugar cookie. Someone said they tasted almost "meaty". I used the vanilla, almond and nutmeg according to the recipe. Think I'll go back to my tried and true Land O Lakes recipe for Blue Ribbon Sugar Cookies and experiment with adding more vanilla, a bit of almond and nutmeg.
  • star rating 12/11/2011
  • deedoheny from KAF Community
  • Was feeling guilty that my cookie jar was empty and just finished making a batch of these. They're wonderful...they melt in your mouth(!) and they're easy.
  • star rating 11/29/2011
  • quenya from KAF Community
  • Looks great but just wanted to know if the butter should be softened or used straight from the refrigerator. Thanks!
    The butter should be room temperature. The softer, the better. But not so soft that it is shiny looking, just malleable. Elisabeth
  • star rating 11/29/2011
  • plafollette from KAF Community
  • I did not have coarse white sugar and used demara raw sugar instead. It gives a slight sweet molasses taste which goes really well with the vanilla. I instruct people not to chew them but allow them to melt in their mouths to get all of the flavors.
  • star rating 11/28/2011
  • lunatuna from KAF Community
  • I have a question, Gurus of K.A.--I really, deeply HATE using oil in any baked product and usually use melted and cooled butter. Is the use of oil critical to this recipe? Could I use melted butter and soft butter to replace the oil? Sorry I had to ask this in a review; I gave the recipe 5 stars so I wouldn't bring the rating system down.
    This recipe performs best as written using both oil and butter. If you'd like an all butter recipe, use the Sugar Cookie recipe which is also tried and tested with all butter. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF
  • star rating 11/28/2011
  • momcat1944 from KAF Community
  • yes, the nutmeg does deepen the vanilla. What a good idea! I had made up a jar of sugar and lilac flowers in May, so used this to sprinkle over the finished cookies. I'll try it next time with an earlier Spring blend from our French hillside made with violets, stronger than the lilac.
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