The Simplest 5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies to Bake with Kids This Holiday Season

published Dec 10, 2021
5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
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someone rolling dough in sprinkles with their hands
Credit: Caroline Wright

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After years of baking as an awe-struck child, then later as an adult and cookbook author, I am still obsessed with baking. Our home’s kitchen that my two young sons wander into, often in search of a snack, is my office of sorts. In the past few years, I have been making projects with my children — and a younger version of myself, really — in mind. It is during those years as a mother to young children that I recognized my work as a cookbook author isn’t just to offer dinnertime solutions or lessons in the kitchen, but to connect people. 

Like me and my kids, who baked batch after batch of cookies with me to create the simplest sugar cookie possible in service of my new board book series. These are deliciously simple, flexible enough to customize, but also perfect as-is. If you’re looking for a classic kid-friendly sugar cookie to set out for Santa — or just to enjoy with your loved ones — look no further.

Credit: Caroline Wright

5-Ingredient Sugar Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Nutritional Info


For the cookies:

  • 1 stick

    (1/2 cup) slightly squishy unsalted butter (at room temperature)

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 tablespoon

    pure vanilla extract

  • 2 cups

    all-purpose flour

For the icing:

  • 2 cups

    powdered sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    water, plus a few extra drops


Make the cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Beat butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With the mixer on lowest speed, add flour slowly, one heaping spoon at a time.

  2. Plop dough out onto a piece of parchment. Pat dough into a flat round like a giant hamburger and place another piece of parchment on top. With gentle hands, roll dough between parchment layers until it’s larger than a placemat and about the thickness of a pancake all over.

  3. Slide a baking sheet underneath the bottom piece of parchment and put it in the refrigerator to rest until it’s firm, about 1 hour. (While the dough rests, gather all your cookie cutters from their hiding spots and get your decorating supplies out on the counter.)

  4. Peel the top parchment away from the dough, then flip it over and peel the other paper away so it won’t stick later. Cut shapes from the dough with floured cutters; use a thin spatula or quick fingers to transfer the cut cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet (about 1/2-inch apart, they won’t spread) as they are cut. Repeat with remaining dough.

  5. Bake cookies until they are just golden around the edges and puffed, about 12 minutes per batch. Then gather up the scraps and repeat the rolling, resting and cutting part. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before spreading or drizzling with icing.

Make the icing:

  1. Stir together sugar and water with a fork in a small bowl; stir in enough water droplets so the icing falls from the fork in a thin, sticky stream. Flavor with vanilla, or lemon or orange juice and/or stir in your favorite color food dye.

Recipe Notes

Recipe excerpted from “Cookie Truck: A Sugar Cookie Shapes Book” by Caroline Wright. (HarperCollins 2021).