Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies

Five years ago we moved into a wonderful neighborhood. We live about eight miles from the nearest store which can be a challenge, but we accepted the location because we love the area. It is fun to be on the outskirts of town...I love the green hills in the winter and spring, and even the golden hills in the summer and fall. The wildlife is fun...well, maybe not always fun. Skunks and rattlesnakes don't rate high on my list....mountain lions and bob cats don't rate much higher...but we do have a variety of critters that I enjoy. I am intrigued by the red fox that runs the fence line and the coyotes and the multitude of birds...hawks and eagles, included, that surround us. I digress....

The Kitchen Gnome and I have been blessed with wonderful neighbors. My neighbor is a wonderful cook, more about that later, maybe I can convince her to be a guest on my blog. We have great fun sharing over the back fence!

When I am in the middle of preparing a dish and have failed to check all of the ingredients needed, I can no longer dash out the door to the store on the corner. Instead, I pick up the phone and call the Store Next Door to see if, just maybe, my neighbor has the missing ingredient. Such was the case with the Sugar Cookies. I didn't have enough flour but my neighbor rescued me, as she has many times.

Strange to be borrowing a cup of flour when I was actually secretly making the cookies to share with them. You see, upon returning home from a recent trip to Napa, my neighbor brought me Rainbow Sugar! I wanted to show off the new sugar and these cookies were a perfect choice.

I had recently read Debby's post about Martha Stewart's Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies and it was a perfect match. I read and compared three sugar cookie recipes before deciding that Debby's at A Feast for the Eyes was my choice. I liked the idea of the combination of brown and granulated sugar in Debby's recipe and I loved the idea of adding lemon zest and juice! In the Baking Handbook, that I have by Martha Stewart, the recipe would have yielded enough cookies for the whole neighborhood! Dorie Greenspan's recipe was very close to this one but without the lemon, so, I decided that if Debby liked it, I would also!

The only adjustment I made to the recipe was to add vanilla. Debby had mentioned that she thought she would try that the next time she made them, so, I tried it for her! I also used Dorie's technique of rubbing the lemon zest in the granulated sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the lemon scent is strong.

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl; set aside.

Put sugars and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 30 seconds.

Add butter; mix until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, the vanilla and the lemon juice.

Reduce speed; gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined.

Scoop the dough with a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop. Space the cookies at least 2 inches a part on parchment-lined baking sheets. (These cookies spread when baked.)

Flatten cookies slightly with a spatula.

Sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar, then lightly brush with a wet pastry brush; sprinkle with

more sanding sugar.

Bake cookies until golden, about 15 minutes.

Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes.

Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.


The cookies are crisp, a little bit chewy, and flavorful. They are not moist and soft as the Cowboy Cookies were. These are two totally different kinds of cookies. I loved them. If I remember my chemistry correctly, cookies with a high sugar content will spread during baking. The more the cookie spreads the thinner and crispier it will become. It is much more complex than that but that is the basic idea. Somebody correct me if I am wrong.

These cookies are great for dunking in a glass of milk!
They may be crisp but they sure have flavor!


  1. I am so proud of you and thrilled that you liked these. That beautiful rainbow sugar is amazing!
    Thanks for being the guinea pig by adding vanilla-- I think that was a great choice. My batches disapppeared in the blink of an eye! Great job and thanks for the shout!

  2. These look beautiful. That sugar! Amazing. We don't have that in Belgium. I love the idea of rubbing the lemon zest with the sugar to bring out the oils. Thanks for sharing these with us!

  3. What a sweet friend and neighbor you are Kate. Those cookies look perfect; I'm sure they were delicious.

    We, who live far from town can surely relate! But I love living in the rurals, for the reasons you mentioned. It's a great life, yes? :)

  4. These cookies are perfect! I adore those cute sprinkles!

    I would love to live out in the country again. Your post made me miss it even more!

  5. Sugar cookies are a favorite here and the rainbow sparkles dress them up perfectly.

    Lovely photos, Kate. I wish I could reach right through the screen for a cookie to go with my coffee.

  6. They are soo cute w/ the rainbow cristals..I have some Dean and Deluca spices..I love the tins!!!


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