My mom’s classic snickerdoodle recipe. These cookies are sweet with just a hint of cinnamon. Nothing fancy, but they are loaded with Christmas memories.
At Christmas time, every family brings out their own, time-honored traditions. For some it’s the decades old Christmas tree ornaments and heirloom nativity scenes, for others it’s the classic carols and Christmas movies. For me, it’s always been making Christmas cookies with my mom that takes me back, especially when we are talking about the snickerdoodle.
The snickerdoodle dates back to the end of the 17th century here in the United States, but know one really knows who made it first. It’s a fairly simple, but delicious recipe. Best part is, it’s not fancy and doesn’t require hours of decorating.
The recipe says to let it chill 4 – 6 hours, but growing up my mom knew better. If she let this dough sit in the fridge that long, half of it would have been eaten. I mean, who’s to tell me not to eat raw dough if I’m pairing the finished cookies with a glass of homemade eggnog?!
This snickerdoodle recipe is a great starter recipe for getting kids into the kitchen! The dough mixes up in minutes, can be refrigerated until after nap time, and lets the kids get their hands messy when rolling out the cookies! When we were little, my sister and I remember being so excited to get to roll the dough in the cinnamon sugar after our mom had shaped them into cookie balls.
While it’s completely possible to make cookie dough by hand, if you have one, I would highly recommend using a stand mixer for most cookie recipes. It makes creaming the butter and sugar so much faster! The one I own and recommend is the 5-quart artisan KitchenAid stand mixer.
If you have ever creamed butter and sugar by hand, you know it’s not an easy task. When using a mixer, it takes about 5 minutes on medium low for the softened butter and sugar to lighten in color and turn into a fluffy mixture, the texture of whipped frosting. Getting this part of the dough done correctly will result in more evenly baked cookies, and more of them! For more info on the science behind it check out this video by Serious Eats.
If you forgot to set out your butter in advance, it’s okay. You can cut the butter into smaller chunks or run it through the large side of a grater. Both of these methods will help increase surface exposure and speed up the softening process.
One thing not to do is put the butter in the microwave. Hot or even warm butter will start to melt the sugar. Melted sugar will not aerate properly and you won’t get the fluffy, cake-like cookies we want. I tend to set my butter out the night before when I make cookies. I do keep it in the microwave, but that’s just to keep it away from my cats while I’m sleeping.
As I mentioned above, the original recipe says to refrigerate for 4 – 6 hours. I aim for a minimum of 60 minutes, which is long enough to get the dough to stiffen enough to be handled without sticking to your hands. If the dough is sticking too much, pop it back in the fridge just a little longer.
Don’t add extra flour to roll them into balls, if the dough has refrigerated enough it won’t stick to your hands. If you have refrigerated the dough overnight, you may want to let it sit out for 15 minutes or so, so that it isn’t too cold to handle. There is a sweet spot with this dough and you’ll find it with practice.
If you want to make this dough in advance, it does freeze well. In fact, if you don’t want to eat all of the cookies right away, freeze the dough instead of the cookies. It tastes better and you get fresh baked cookies later. Since it’s just James and I, I usually make the dough, portion it into cookies, freeze them overnight on a baking sheet. Once the cookies are frozen, they store really easily in a ziptop bag and can easily be baked one at a time.
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Ann's Snickerdoodles Recipe
My mom's classic snickerdoodle recipe. These cookies are sweet with just a hint of cinnamon. Nothing fancy, but they are loaded with Christmas memories.
- 1 cup butter - softened
- 1 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 TBSP white sugar
- 1 TBSP cinnamon
Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, whip the softened butter and sugar together 5 minutes on medium low. The mixture will lighten in color and it should expand in size.
With the mixer running on low, add the eggs until incorporated.
In a medium mixing bowl, measure out the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well to combine.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture in two to three batches.
Scrape with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough a minimum of 60 minutes, up to two days.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. (*If baking from frozen, start here.)
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
- Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a medium bowl.
- Roll the cookies into 1 1/2" balls.
- Roll the cookies in the cinnamon sugar mixture, then place on the baking sheet 2 inches apart.
- Bake 8 - 10 minutes. Shorter baking time makes a softer cookie, longer baking time will make a crunchier cookie.
*If you don't want to bake all the cookies at once, freeze the dough and bake it later. To make it easier to bake cookies one at a time later, roll them into balls and freeze overnight on a baking sheet. Once frozen, place in a zip top bag and bake as needed.