Grandma’s Famous (to us) Soft Sugar Cookies


Mini me and my grandma in 1981. No, we did not plan to color coordinate, it just happened that way.

My grandmother was a card playin’, polka dancin’, figure skatin’, sewin’, cookin’, bakin’ kind of grandma.  In case you were wonderin’, no, she was not a hillbilly.  She was lovingly adored by many, including me, her oldest granddaughter.  Mary was a mother of six, a grandmother of eleven and now, years after she has been gone, a great-grandmother of two.  Even though my daughters will never know her, they will know her recipes as I make them time and time again.  When I take her bubbling cheesy potato casserole out of the oven, or put a damp towel over her yeast rolls to rise, or mix the dough to make her famous (to us) soft sugar cookies, it reminds me of Grandma, and brings a smile to my face.

What keeps me motivated is not the food itself but the bonds and memories the food represents.   ~ Michael Chiarello

When I was collecting my thoughts to write this post, I tried to pinpoint an exact moment in my life when I realized that baking + memories = happiness.  After all, sometimes happiness comes in unexpected forms, and if you’re lucky, like me, happiness comes right when you need it…..

I was a junior in college.  I had just entered my teaching cohort, and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I began to count down the days until winter break.  It was a welcome opportunity to escape the madness and head for the hills (well, the flat plains of Northwest Ohio, but you get the idea).  When the weather turned cold and the snowflakes started to fall, I loaded up my car with laundry baskets of unwashed clothes and headed home to spend the holidays with my family.  While my clothes were whirling away in the washing machine in the basement, we would congregate in the kitchen, baking and decorating cookies.  My grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe lay splattered with flour next to my mother’s marble rolling pin, the sweet smell of half baked cookies wafted from the oven, and the sound of the Kitchen Aid mixer whipping away mingled with familiar Christmas melodies.  It was as if I had stepped back into my childhood, and all I did was BAKE COOKIES!

So I’m sharing with you my grandmother’s famous (to us) soft sugar cookie recipe.  I hope baking + memories = happiness for you, too! 🙂

P.S. Listening to Christmas music while you bake is completely optional, but since it IS October already, I highly recommend it! 😉

Ready to be frosted with buttercream and melted chocolate! YUM!
Ready to be frosted with buttercream and melted chocolate! YUM!

Grandma’s Famous (to us) Soft Sugar Cookies

Yield: 18 - 24 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters


  • 3 1/4 cup flour plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Sift together flour and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Add butter and sugar to a large mixing bowl ( I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with a paddle attachment, but you could use a hand mixer as well).
  4. Mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add egg and vanilla, mix until incorporated.
  6. Add 1/2 cup sour cream, mix until incorporated.
  7. Add flour and baking soda mixture, mix until dough comes together, do not overmix.
  8. Form dough into a flat disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  9. Flour your counter and roll dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut with desired cookie cutters.
  10. Gather dough scraps, form another flat disk, and repeat last step.
  11. Space cookies at least one inch apart on a baking sheet.
  12. Bake for 5-7 minutes.
  13. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for one minute before transferring to a cooling rack.
  14. Cool completely before frosting, or enjoy now! 🙂


Coming soon, a tutorial for making fall leaf cookies with your kids!
Coming soon, a tutorial for making fall leaf cookies!






  1. Cathy Mielke says

    I love this post! Somehow, I sense a published book in the future. Title: “Baking+Memories=Happiness”
    Sure do miss my mom! She would be so proud of you, Katie!!

  2. Donna Kozak says

    Katie, That made me teary eyed. My mom/Grandma loved to bake and loved to make people happy. When she made me a cheesecake I had to eat at least two pieces. Ah, and her donuts were the best had Crispy Creme, Mister Donut beat by far, I still fantasize about those and the sugar molds she used to make at Halloween, I still crave those. I was just talking to someone about those the other day. Her cooking was magical. Everything about her was. She is smiling down at you, I know. Proud of you, Aunt Donna

  3. Dr. J says

    Great post, but a glaring error in you recipe. So sorry to be the one to point it out, but Grandma, her kids, grandkids would never enjoy these cookies without the frosting and ideally Rachaelscic sugar and other adornments. They’re only 1/2 done before that point!

    • KatieKatie says

      Did you read the caption with the last photo? Don’t worry, my next post is about THE FROSTING! 😀