These cutout sourdough sugar cookies have a soft tender middle and crisp edges. Plus they are a great way to use up sourdough discard.
There are so many ways to use up sourdough discard. You can add it to waffles, scones, and pancakes. Use it to bread chicken or make flatbread. One of the best ways to use sourdough discard is to make these sugar cookies.
Most people make sugar cookies around the Christmas holidays but I think they should be eaten all year round. Just switch up your cookie cutters, hearts for Valentine's Day, bunnies and eggs for Easter, and turkeys for Thanksgiving.
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Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Sourdough discard tenderizes the gluten in the dough creating a softer cakier sugar cookie.
- These sugar cookies are buttery and tender the perfect holiday treat.
- They also hold their shape as they bake making them perfect for your favorite cookie cutters.
Learn More About Sourdough Discard
Sugar: Use white granulated sugar to keep sugar cookies color as light as possible.
Butter: Bring the butter to room temperature to make creaming the butter and sugar together easy. I prefer to bake with unsalted butter so that I can control the amount of salt that goes into a recipe.
Egg Yolk: Egg yolk adds additional fat to the sugar cookies to keep them soft and chewy. Using just the egg yolk helps us adjust the cookie recipe to account for the extra moisture in the sourdough discard.
Vanilla and Almond Extracts: Vanilla and almond extracts add additional flavor to the cookies. To change the flavor of the cookies try substituting lemon or orange extract.
Sourdough Discard: Don't worry your cookies won't be sour. This is plenty of sugar to eliminate the sourdough flavor. This recipe uses 100% hydration starter. You can use either fed and active starter or inactive sourdough discard.
All-Purpose Flour: Since we want tender cookies use all-purpose flour it has just enough protein to give the cookies structure without being too tough.
Baking Powder: Baking powder helps to create a soft interior and a crisp edge.
Salt: I add at least a pinch of salt to all of my recipes. Salt complements and intensifies the other flavors. For all of my recipes, I use Morton Kosher Salt which is saltier than Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. If you are using Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt you will want to double the amount of salt you add.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Kitchen scale: Kitchen scales make baking faster and neater. Accuracy matters in baking. Scales are more precise than measuring cups. Too much flour or not enough sugar can dramatically change a recipe. The most accurate way to bake is to measure your ingredients by weight rather than volume.
A kitchen scale also reduces the number of dishes you will need to wash because you are measuring each ingredient directly from the container into the mixing bowl without the use of measuring cups.
This scale from OXO is the one I use after it was recommended by Alton Brown. What makes this scale great is the display pulls out to make viewing measurements easier when using a large bowl.
Stand Mixer: I have a stand mixer from KitchenAid. My mom and brother bought it for me for my birthday almost 15 years ago. I use it weekly and it still works just like it did when it was brand new. It makes so many kitchen tasks easier and comes with a variety of attachments.Sign up for KitchenAid's Newsletter to receive 10% off your next order!
Rubber spatula: For folding batters together, I prefer a stiffer spatula like this one from OXO. It fits comfortably in my hand, is dishwasher safe, and is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the handle and head are silicone coated which makes it easy to clean and safe to use with my non-stick cookware and bakeware.
Cookie Sheet: My secret for perfectly baked cookies is this AirBake cookie sheet. My cookies bake evenly every time I use these pans.
AirBake cookie sheets have two aluminum layers with a layer of air in between them. The layer of air decreases the temperature of the top layer of metal, preventing the bottom of the cookie from browning too quickly.
These pans are also really easy to clean. Just wipe them clean with a little soap and hot water. It is not recommended to fully submerge these pans in water or place them in a dishwasher.
In a large bowl using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes.
Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extracts and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sourdough discard and mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the flour baking powder, and salt. Mix just combined being careful to not overmix.
Wrap the cookie dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface using a floured rolling pin, roll each piece out until it is ¼ inch thick. Any thinner and the cookies will be crispy instead of soft.
Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gather up the scraps and roll them out again to cut out more cookies.
Refrigerate the cutout cookies for 15 minutes to help them keep their shape as they bake.
Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes. You want to remove the cookies from the oven before they start to brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Decorate using your favorite icing and decorations. I really like this cream cheese icing on these sourdough sugar cookies.
Quick Tip: Don't have time to ice and decorate cookies? Sprinkle each cookie with colorful sanding sugar before baking.
Make-Ahead: You can mix up the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Storing: Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Freezing Baked Cookies: Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, place them on a sheet pan and freeze until solid. Transfer the frozen cookies to an airtight container or zip-top bag. Label with the date and contents.
Thaw frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter.
- For the best results, I recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients rather than the cup measurements. In baking accuracy matters. If you don't have one this is my favorite kitchen scale, because the display pulls out making it easy to see even if you are using a large bowl.
- Use room temperature eggs and sourdough discard. Chilled eggs or sourdough discard may cause some of the butter to resolidify prematurely. To quickly bring the eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl of warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the flour has been added, don't overmix the dough. Over mixing can create tough cookies.
- You must chill the dough for at least 2-3 hours before baking. Chilling allows the sugar to absorb more liquid further solidifying the dough. If the dough is baked without chilling it first, the cookies will spread while baking and become thin, hard, and crispy. If the dough is too stiff to work with when it comes out of the refrigerator allow it to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften.
- Roll the dough out evenly so that all of the cookies are the same thickness and cook evenly.
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper to be absolutely sure the cookies won't stick and distort when you remove them from the baking sheet.
- Refrigerate the cutout cookies for 15 minutes to help them keep their shape as they bake.
- Baking times for all recipes are only suggestions. The actual baking time will vary depending upon your oven. It is helpful to know your oven and worth purchasing an inexpensive oven thermometer. Oven temperatures can vary as much as 50 degrees plus or minus.
- Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.
- Let the cookies cool completely before decorating them. If you try to ice them when they are still warm the icing will melt.
Frequently Asked Questions
You want to remove the sugar cookies from the oven before they start to brown so the color isn't a reliable method to tell when sugar cookies are fully baked. Remove sugar cookies from the oven when the tops begin to look rough and dry.
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Thanks for Reading!
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