Appalachia Appalachian Food Christmas Holidays in Appalachia

Granny’s Sugar Cookies

Granny's Christmas Sugar Cookies

Every Christmas since I was big enough-I’ve made Granny’s Christmas Sugar Cookies. Back in the day it was me and Paul making the cookies-and being silly. These days it’s me and my girls making the cookies-and there is still plenty of silliness going on too.

To make Granny’s recipe you need:

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel (I think this is what makes them so good!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons of milk
  • 2 cups sifted plain flour (all purpose)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly cream shortening, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla. Add egg-beat till light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend dry ingredients into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half, wrap, and chill for at least 1 hour.

Making colored sugar

While the dough is chilling-we make colored sugar to decorate the cookies with-by mixing food coloring and sugar.

Best sugar cookie recipe

After the dough has chilled-roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch or whatever thickness you prefer. Cut in desired shapes-sprinkle with colored sugar and bake on a greased cookie sheet at 375 for about 6 to 8 minutes or till light brown.

Once the dough has chilled the girls start cutting out cookies and spreading sugar on them-and on most of the kitchen floor as well.

After I was married Granny gave me some of her handwritten recipes-my favorite thing about them are the notes she wrote to herself on them-like: “When cutting shapes press with colored sugar and make real pretty cookies.”

Old fashioned sugar cookies

Every year our sugar cookie making project starts like a Christmas story book-you know lovely strains of music-artistic attempts to make every cookie prettier than the last one-sisterly harmony abounding.

Christmas traditions in appalahcia

But by the time we reach the end of the dough-the project has dissolved into silliness that results in sideburn shaped cookies-a few rock shaped ones-and a momma who wonders why she suggested making such a mess in the first place.

Christmas sugar cookies from appalachia

But after the mess is cleaned up and the cookies are shared-I’m always glad we took time to make Granny’s cookies.



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  • Reply
    December 17, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    I did this with my four children and a daughter is carrying on the tradition with her children and nieces and nephews. Makes my heart happy!

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    December 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Thanks Tipper for the recipe.. Sounds delicious.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Two cute cookies with cookie cutters cutting too cute cookies?

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Hi tipper,We will be using you alls recipe,but in moms later years we would paint the frosting on christmas and easter cookies,so we will do that this year.God bless. Jean

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    We did this every Christmas up until about 3 yrs. ago. Started with our son standing on a chair to reach the table. Thanks for a sweet memory!!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Tipper someone mentioned the memories made in the kitchen and that is so true. Once when my daughter was about four year old and my wife was gone (that’s when us two usually got into mischief) she wanted a ginger bread man and like a nut I told her I knew how. Well, I finally looked in my wifes’cook books and we made it. I’ll never forget those little fat hands getting into everything. We put M&m’s for the eyes and she couldn’t wait and ate those first. You know, that guy was good and we put all the pans back and cleaned the kitchen before my wife got back. I think she suspected something but she never knew. I guess it was the lingering ginger smell. Oh if I could live those days again!!

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    December 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Holidays are for making memories, because each year brings a different chapter, just as you remember the way it use to be, the girls will have the same one day, seems that it comes sooner than later… those cookies do look good,,,

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Giving of your time and sharing
    precious moments are the meaningful things in life. Just
    as you can reflect on your life
    with mama, those beautiful girls
    are building their own memories.
    But a “sideburn” cookie? …Ken

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Nothing like having recipes handed down to share with others. We love all BP recipes and use them just about every day. Granny’s cookies are the best!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Looks like yummy fun and I will treasure the recipe! :))))) I adore sugar cookies. Ours were almond or lemon flavored. I really like the idea of the orange zest version. Having Granny’s handwritten recipes is a treasure all it’s own and you are so sweet to share so many of them with us. BTW A friend of mine made archival print-outs of her grandmother’s recipes for her daughter for a wedding gift using a Kodak printer that used dyes(?)instead of ink so they do not age or deteriorate and then put them into a beautiful archival notebook. I know, I know, that’s just what you need – another project! 😀

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    December 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Morning Hot chocolate…
    Green and red sugar crystals…
    Dough…rolled out…
    Cute cookie cutters…
    Baking sheet…
    Warm oven…
    Aroma of baking goodness…
    Cooling on rack…
    Reminds me that it is,
    White snow falling…
    Small glass of milk…
    One cookie…
    Two cookies…
    Three cookies…
    Snuggled, curled up,
    Asleep, in the corner of the sofa
    ‘til Christmas!

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    December 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

    My Momma always done this with me and my brothers and usually a cousin or two threw in the mix and now I bake cookies with my kids. I, too sometimes wonder what was I thinking while their making the mess and I have to break up 3 or 4 fights, but I’m always glad we did in the end and its the first thing they mention doing when it gets close to Christmas. So its all worth it.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I just love this story. The recipe is very close to the one I used to make with my kids. They were the best sugar cookies ever. As a matter of fact, this story has made my mouth want some. Maybe I can get them by osmosis. I have the ingredients, so I might just have to break down. Wonderful memories!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Sure looks like they are having fun! I expected pictures of pretty girls with green teeth.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Sounds delicious! I am going to try them:) Thanks for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    December 20, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Tipper: I wish I could stop by your place and pick up some of those ‘homemade’ cookies! Have a blessed Christmas!
    Much good Cheer,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Love the addition of orange zest. Will have to try these! I concur with the making of the sugar cookies…there is a point midway that I always wonder if this darned memory is one I want to make with my kids…grrrrr…in the end, I am always glad I did. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Nothing better than making memories plus having something yummy to share when thru. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • Reply
    December 20, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Thank you for sharing the fun and silliness with us! You are building beautiful memories even if the cookies are a bit oddly shaped and the kitchen is a bit sticky.
    What a treasure to have Granny’s prized recipes set down in her own hand. It is wonderful to think of our grandchildren some day having the same kind of silly, loving fun baking the same recipes we love with their children.

  • Reply
    Tim Hassell
    December 20, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Some of our happiest and most precious memories are made in the kitchen. The kitchen is where all of my guests gravitate to, regardless of how inviting we’ve tried to make the rest of the house. Making these cookies will be some of the most cherished memories for Chitter and Chatter when they are old and grey. Enjoy every moment—-every gritty foot step.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    December 20, 2012 at 8:04 am

    :)If the weather doen’t get bad, rather iffy right now, we are having a cookie exchange party this evening here.
    Back when the girls were small, we had cookie baking with a lot of their friends present. Great memories!

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    December 20, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Looks like fun! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 20, 2012 at 6:26 am

    I love the colored sugar, going to try this.

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