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Simple Sugar Cookies

These "trees" are made from stacks of sugar cookies coated with white icing. See our Royal Icing recipe.

  • Yield: Makes 7 dozen
Simple Sugar Cookies

Photography: Gentl and Hyers

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2000


For the Dough

  • 4 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for pressing cookies
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of one orange


  1. Sift together flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda; set aside. Place butter, olive oil, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, and 1 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium until fluffy.

  2. Beat in eggs, vanilla extract, and orange zest until well combined. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture slowly, until fully incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

  3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Form dough into balls measuring about 1 inch in diameter, and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches part. Press flat with a glass dipped in sugar. Place cookies in oven, and bake until very lightly golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Reviews (10)

  • edog 26 Dec, 2010

    Greasy- not good at all! I questioned the use of 1 cup of olive oil but trusted the reviews. I wonder if there isn't a typo in the recipe. These are the first cookies I've ever made that I've actually thrown away.

  • Carolinalu 11 Dec, 2008

    I used a set of snowflake cookie cutters instead of the stars and the tree looks adorable!

  • at0micgirl 26 Nov, 2008

    Does anyone know if the cream of tartar is necessary? I'm allergic to gluten and SOY, and the only gluten-free cream of tartar that I can find is in the UK and unable to ship to the US. Any suggestions??? (btw, i sub with rice flour

  • hughgarcia 12 Jan, 2008

    7 min. perfection! Salted butter works best for me though!

  • PoivreMediaCo 20 Dec, 2007

    if you use just one size of star cutter, make a layer of 6 spread on the bottom, not overlapping, and then continuously decreased the amount of cookies as you build towards the top of your cookie tower. less work, less money and fussing spent on numerous sizes of the same cookie cutter.

  • GLAMACI 19 Dec, 2007

    My mom made these cookies and they are out of this world. These are the best butter cookies I have ever eaten. And,by the way, don't rely on the picture which, as someone else said, is misleading. These cookies are just formed into balls and then flattened. They are awesome and so very crispy. I like mine a little bit more than just lightly golden but kind of brownish. This makes them even crispier.

  • siouxbeez 18 Dec, 2007

    you need a set of graduated star cutters -- my set has 5. you make 2 or 3 of each size, and then stack them accordingly, leaving the one above askew from the one below. pretty cool lookin for something so simple!

  • hanser 18 Dec, 2007

    It looks to me like you can either make different sizes of star shaped cookies to get the visual display shown here, or make one sized star cookie and arrange them in such a way as to get this very nice display. Anyone else have any ideas of how you go about achieving the display shown?

  • bcorton 17 Dec, 2007

    Does this recipe really have 1 cup olive oil and 1 cup of butter? I want to make them for Christmas, but would like clarification.

  • Esta 17 Dec, 2007

    The picture vs the recipe is misleading.....One would think the recipe is how to make what the picture is showing. Too bad, it is a great idea not covered in the recipe.

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