Amish Sugar Cookies are soft, melt-in-your mouth, old-fashioned sugar cookies that everyone will love. These simple drop cookies are made with common pantry ingredients, and are super easy to make, just some mixing, and bake them up.
The unusual ingredients in these cookies give them a great texture, and a nice flavor. Of course, if you’re familiar with snickerdoodles, you’re familiar with the combination of baking soda and cream of tartar in a cookie.
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Why are they called “Amish” sugar cookies?
It’s come up a couple of times, why are they called Amish? Are they actually Amish in nature?
Well, I did a little research, and it turns out this recipe originally came from an Amish cookbook.
It has roots back to the 1700’s and may have originated in Pennsylvania. And, here I thought it was just because they are simple unadorned sugar cookies.
Why is Cream of Tartar in cookies?
Cream of tartar is a natural, pure ingredient left behind after grape juice has fermented to wine.
Instead of baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar are used in these cookies. Baking soda is about 4 times more powerful than baking powder, but it needs an acidic ingredient to interact with and create the leavening, or lift, in the cookies (that’s how you get soft puffy cookies!). The cream of tartar is the acidic ingredient in these cookies.
Cream of tartar also helps to stabilize the cookies as well as give them a little tang or acidity.
Pro tips on how to the best sugar cookies
Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for all ingredient amounts and directions in a handy printable card.
Be sure to check out my Baking Tips Guide for lots of tips and tricks to make spectacular baked goods.
First, make sure to get all your ingredients out, and have them at room temperature. And, yes, this even includes the eggs at room temp.
Be sure to use “Pure” Vanilla Extract. Don’t buy imitation vanilla, especially for this simple sugar cookie, you want the pure vanilla extract flavor to shine!
One of the unusual ingredients in this recipe is vegetable oil. The term “vegetable oil” refers to any oil that comes from plant sources. That being said, I recommend a neutral flavored oil for these cookies. Use plain vegetable oil (which is a blend of oils), canola, grapeseed, sunflower oil, or melted refined coconut oil. Leave the fancy olive oil out of these.
Measure the flour by lightly spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling it off with the back of a knife. If you get too much flour in the cookies, it will make them dry and dense rather than soft and puffy.
Make sure to check your baking soda and cream of tartar to make sure they’re fresh. Baking soda goes flat pretty soon after opening. And if either of these ingredients aren’t fresh, it could result in flat cookies.
Avoid over mixing the dough when you add the dry ingredients to the wet. Stop mixing when they are just combined, or you may get a tough cookie.
Be sure to chill the dough. It’ll help keep nice shapes, and stop the cookies from spreading too much.
Use a cookie dough scoop to get nice round and evenly proportioned dough balls, which means the cookies will bake in the same amount of time.
Bake on Parchment Paper. The parchment paper will help cookies bake more evenly, the non-stick quality of the paper also helps prevent the cookies from cracking or breaking when lifting them off the sheet.
These cookies are really kind of fun too, because you can choose to have them soft and puffy by leaving them in a dough mound when they bake. Or, if you flatten them, they will be a crisp sugar cookie. You can use the bottom of a glass to help flatten them, and you can dip the bottom of the glass in sugar before flattening each cookie to help get a nice sugar topping on each cookie.
Flattening or not, the choice is yours. I prefer them soft and puffy, but it’s really cool to know you can do either with one dough.
How do I store these cookies?
Keep the cookies in an airtight container on the counter for about 3-5 days. Pop them in the fridge for a little longer storage. Or, you can even keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Pop the completely cooled cookies into a ziptop bag and off they go into the freezer.
Can I freeze these cookies before baking?
Yes, the sugar cookie dough can be frozen.
Scoop out the dough balls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and pop the cookie sheet into the freezer. Once the dough is frozen, about an hour or so later, pop the frozen dough into a ziptop bag and store them in the freezer.
When ready to bake, place the frozen cookie dough balls directly from the freezer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake as directed, just adding a couple of minutes to the baking time.
Want to gussy these up?
Instead of sprinkling turbinado sugar (which is also called Sugar in the Raw) on top of the cookie dough balls, add colored sprinkles for the holiday: red & green for Christmas, red & pink for Valentine’s Day… you get the idea! Heck, sprinkle them with your team’s colors and serve them at little league practice or on football game day!
Try adding ½ teaspoon flavored extract to the dough. Lemon and almond come to mind for year-round flavor. But peppermint extract would also be lovely! You could also toss some lemon zest into the dough. Or sprinkle crushed candy canes on top.
Sprinkle a little coarse salt on top of the cookies instead of the sugar for a yummy salted cookie!
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Amish Sugar Cookies Recipe
Amish Sugar Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer or sturdy fork, cream the butter and granulated sugar together. Beat in the vegetable oil, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth. Beat in the egg just until combined. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix just until combined. Add the remaining flour and mix until the flour is just combined. Do not over mix.
- Spoon or scoop the batter onto the baking sheets lined with parchment paper in evenly spaced mounds by rounded tablespoons so you have 1 to 1 & ½-inch mounds.
- Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a pinch of turbinado sugar.
- Bake the cookies at 375° F for 8-10 minutes, until they begin to lightly brown around the edges.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes. Slide the baking sheet out from under the parchment paper, leaving the cookies on the parchment paper to cool completely while on the wire rack.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.