Basic Cookie Dough
Yield: 4 dozen cookies
This simple dough is the perfect starting point for holiday cookie baking. Use holiday-themed cookie cutters, icing and sprinkles for a classic sugar cookie or see our list of variations in the notes section below and get creative!
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer for 1 minute or until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until well mixed. Gradually beat in flour mixture just until blended.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets and press down with a spoon to flatten. Sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.
Bake cookies 11 to 13 minutes or until golden. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
You can make rolled cookies by freezing the dough for 15 minutes or refrigerating it for at least 1 hour. Working half the dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Do not add more flour than necessary. Roll about 1/4-inch-thick and cut with cookie cutters; decorate as you like. Bake as above, reducing the cooking time to 8 to 10 minutes.
This dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or placed in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make a batch and use as needed!
5 variations you'll want to try
Substitute brown sugar for half or more of the white sugar, or simply add 1 tablespoon of molasses along with the egg.
Omit the vanilla and add 1 tablespoon of lemon or orange juice and 2 teaspoons grated lemon or orange rind along with the egg. A couple of tablespoons of poppy seeds also can be added.
Add 1 tablespoon ground dried ginger to the dry ingredients. For even better flavor, add 1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger to the batter by hand (this works well in addition to or in place of the ground ginger).
Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice and ground ginger and 1 pinch ground cloves and mace or nutmeg to the dry ingredients.
Other chunky cookies
To the finished batter, add about 1 cup of SunDrops (or similar candy); roughly chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews; slivered almonds; raisins; coconut; dried cherries or cranberries. Or combine any chunky ingredients you like.