Sugar Cookies, perfected by America’s Test Kitchen

Crunchy outside, chewy inside!

The folks over at America’s Test Kitchen sure know what they are doing.  I first became acquainted with ATK and Christopher Kimball’s, Cook’s Illustrated after my grandfather  started sending me a subscription of it. Soon after receiving the first copy, I was hooked.    The masterminds’s behind America’s Test Kitchen employs a 70 person cook staff who reinvent the wheel week after week. They aim to  make the home cook more efficient and better at technique and cooking; testing small appliances, kitchen gadgets, and recipes.  They’ve been at this game for awhile now, so they are a trustworthy, go-to source for finding some of the best recipes available.

As I have mentioned prior, I might have the smallest kitchen in the city of Boston.  Shelf  space is prime real estate, so naturally keeping lots of baking ingredients on hand is not usually part of my repertoire. After dabbling in Laugenbrezel’s and brownie cupcakes, I had more than enough flour, sugar, and unsalted butter than I needed hanging around.

I stumbled across a twitter feed from @TestKitchen (ATK’s twitter name) for a photo contest involving their Sugar Cookie recipe.  Although I didn’t have time to bake and shoot for their deadline, I decided that when I had more time I’d give these cookies a shot.   Seriously, these are some of the best cookies I’ve ever had.  Here is the recipe via America’s Test Kitchen:

Makes 2 dozen cookies

The final dough will be slightly softer than most cookie dough. For the best results, handle the dough as briefly and gently as possible when shaping the cookies. Overworking the dough will result in flatter cookies.


  • 2 1/4cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar , plus 1/3 cup for rolling
  • 2ounces cream cheese , cut into 8 pieces
  • 6tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , melted and still warm
  • 1/3cup vegetable oil
  • 1large egg
  • 1tablespoon milk
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
  • 2. Place 1½ cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft homogeneous dough forms.
  • 3. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each (or use #40 portion scoop). Using hands, roll dough into balls. Working in batches, roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 dough balls per sheet. Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle tops evenly with 4 teaspoons of sugar remaining in shallow dish (2 teaspoons per tray), discarding any remaining sugar.
  • 4. Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

      Sugar cookies can be cloyingly sweet, and even those billing themselves as chewy rarely are. These two ingredients helped us create the best flavor and chewy texture.

      Cream cheese is an ingredient not often included in sugar cookies. But we found it helps cut their one-note sweetness and round out flavors.
    • OIL
      All-butter sugar cookies may have rich taste, but they never boast real chew. Swapping some of the butter, which is mainly a saturated fat, for unsaturated vegetable oil boosts chewiness considerably. Why? The two types of fat create a sturdier structure that requires more force to bite through.

One response

  1. I’m honored that I can personally attest to the all-around greatness of this cookie. Definitely blog-worthy! Thanks Gretch :)

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