Christmas baking just got a whole lot easier.

By Allrecipes Magazine
Updated November 03, 2020
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one cookie dough with 5 variations
Credit: Allrecipes Magazine

Here's a time-saving tip for peak cookie-baking season: Make one basic sugar cookie dough and simply change it up with easy variations. We'll share the basic sugar cookie recipe and six easy ways to change it up.

Chewy Sugar Cookies


  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups butter or margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup white sugar for decoration


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter or margarine and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until just blended.
  3. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll the balls in remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets and flatten slightly. OR follow one of the six variations below.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned at the edges. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

1. Chewy Sugar Cookies

If you like 'em chewy, you'll love these. For this base recipe, the sugar cookie dough is rolled in red or white sparkling sugar before baking.

sugar cookie base recipe
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2. Snickerdoodles

Omit sparkling sugar. Roll dough balls in a blend of ¼ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon before baking.

snickerdoodle cookie
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3. Jam-Filled Cookie Cups

Increase flour to 3¼ cups. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and omit rolling in sugar. Press balls into ungreased 13/4-inch mini muffin cups (try this $9 Target best-seller). Bake 8 minutes, press centers down with the back of a measuring spoon, and bake 2 minutes more. Cool in cups 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Fill each cup with 1 teaspoon of your favorite jam or jelly. Makes 5½ dozen.

jam filled sugar cookies
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4. Chewy White Chocolate, Macadamia, and Cranberry Cookies

Stir 1 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries into dough; drop onto cookie sheets using a small cookie scoop (try this $14 Bed, Bath, & Beyond popular scoop) instead of rolling into balls. Bake as directed.

white chocolate cranberry cookies
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5. Chocolate-Mint Pinwheels

Divide dough in half. Add 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder to one half. Add 3 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, and green food coloring as needed to the other half. Divide each half into 2 portions; wrap in plastic wrap and chill 10 minutes. Roll each portion between parchment paper into an 8x10-inch rectangle. Layer each green portion with 1 chocolate portion, then roll each stack into a log, starting from a long end. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Slice 1/4 inch thick. Arrange 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake as directed. Makes 6 dozen.

chocolate mint pinwheels
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6. Mod Plaid Sugar Cookies

Omit rolling balls in sugar, then bake and cool cookies as directed. In each of 2 small bowls, stir 11/2 cups powdered sugar and 21/2 to 3 tablespoons milk to make 2 thin icings. Leave one of them white and tint the other red (or desired color) with food coloring. Dip cookies partway into colored icing; let stand on wax paper until set (20 minutes). Dip cookies at another angle in white icing; let set. Note: This also works well with store-bought gingerbread or sugar cookies.

plaid sugar cookies
Credit: Allrecipes Magazine

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This article originally appeared in the December/January 2020 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.