I think there’s something special about holiday traditions that sets them apart from other types of traditions. Holiday traditions are steeped in a special sort of nostalgia, so much so that they start to feel foundational to the holiday itself!
And for me, there’s no better example of a foundational holiday tradition than making my mother’s soft and fluffy Sour Cream Cookies. When I was a girl, these cookies were so ubiquitous in our house during the holidays that I assumed everyone must set out a plate of them for Santa!
While I eventually learned that most people make standard sugar cookies for Christmas, I still believe that what people truly want to eat during the holidays are Sour Cream Cookies (Santa included!) I’ve given plates of these cookies away as gifts for decades now, and I’ve been met with wide eyes and requests for the recipe more times than I can count!
So pull out your baking supplies and give these cookies a try, whether to give as gifts to the neighbors or for your own family to enjoy. It’s a privilege to share such a meaningful holiday tradition with all of you, and I hope it adds something special to your holiday season too. :-)
My Mom’s Sour Cream Cookies
For the cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp milk
4-5 drops food coloring
Step 1 – Make The Dough
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a mixing bowl, then stir to combine.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the shortening and sugar together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy.
While the mixer is running, add the eggs one at a time. Wait until the first egg is incorporated before adding the second.
Next, add the sour cream and vanilla to the bowl and mix until creamy.
Reduce the mixer to low speed, then add one-third of the dry ingredients at a time until everything is incorporated and evenly mixed.
Once the dough is finished, put it in the fridge to chill for 1-2 hours. (This is a very sticky dough, so chilling it properly is crucial! Without that time in the fridge, the dough will be impossibly frustrating to handle, so be patient!)
Step 2 – Roll Out & Cut The Dough
Preheat your oven to 350°F and gather your supplies. For this step, you’ll need some flour, a rolling pin, cookie cutters, and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Start by dividing the dough into two. (It’s much easier to roll out one section at a time!)
Flour your work surface and rolling pin, then roll out your first portion of dough to a little over 1/4″ thick.
Dip your cookie cutter in flour, then cut out your cookies. Use a spatula or bench scraper to transfer the cookies to your baking sheet.
Step 3 – Bake
Once the baking sheet is full, put it in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. These cookies are done when they are just barely starting to brown around the edges, so keep an eye on them!
After baking, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.
Step 4 – Frost & Decorate!
While the cookies are cooling, prepare the frosting by mixing all the ingredients together in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer. If the frosting is a bit too runny, add more powdered sugar, and if it’s a bit too thick, add another splash of milk to achieve a thick, fluffy frosting.
Spread the frosting generously over your cooled cookies, then top with your favorite sprinkles!
Heap your frosted and festive holiday cookies onto a plate, and be sure to snag one for yourself before the whole plate disappears! ;-)
Tell me about one of your meaningful holiday traditions!
Sour Cream Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tbsp butter softened
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2-3 Tbsp milk
- 4-5 drops food coloring
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the shortening and sugar together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy.
- With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time.
- Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until creamy.
- Reduce to low speed and add the dry mixture 1/3 at a time until evenly mixed.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
- Divide the dough into two halves.
- Roll the first half out on a floured surface until it's a little over 1/4" thick.
- Cut out cookies with a floured cookie cutter, and use a spatula to transfer them to the baking sheet.
- Repeat with the other half of the dough, then bake the cookies at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, or until just beginning to brown around the edges.
- Move cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Prepare the frosting, adding powdered sugar or a splash of milk as necessary to achieve thick, fluffy frosting.
- Spread the frosting generously over the cookies and top with sprinkles.