It’s been about 30 days or so since the holidays and all things dessert and comfort food…are you ready for a cookie recipe yet? I hope so, because I’ve been tweaking this classic vegan sugar cookie recipe for the last, oh, four years and I think it’s finally perfect!
Truth be told I don’t often keep cookies at our house, mostly because we eat them in about two seconds flat. Aaron especially will eat cookies at every opportunity—morning snack, afternoon snack, and evening dessert, which I 100% attribute to his growing up surrounded by no less than ten different cookie options at all times. My mother-in-law is famous for making big batches of cookies so there’s never a shortage, no matter how many people she’s feeding. I joke that it’s not a visit to the Scott house unless you’ve eaten half a dozen cookies and left with an economy-sized bag of more to take home.
So when we do have cookies at our house, I try to keep them a) homemade (they feel more special that way) and b) heavy on the nostalgia. In recent years I’ve been really into the idea of making the same few treats at certain times of the year, like gingerbread cookies at Christmas and these frosted sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day. The food becomes our own little tradition, and I love that it’s a way for me to really dial in a handful of recipes instead of always feeling like I need to create something new (which is often the case as a recipe developer).
To make the sugar cookies vegan, I swap regular butter and cream cheese for vegan butter and cream cheese, and make sure my sugar is organic (organic sugar = no animal-derived ingredients like bone char). Everything else is exactly what you would expect in a classic sugar cookie recipe—all-purpose flour, vanilla extract, baking soda, and sea salt. That’s it!
The frosting is a non-dairy version of a classic mix: vegan butter, organic powdered sugar, and a little almond milk to thin it out. This time I also added a tiny bit of corn syrup for shine and natural vegetable dye to make pretty shades of pink, but you can totally omit the corn syrup and replace it with more almond milk, or skip the food coloring if you’d prefer.
Normally I would dip the tops of the cookies into a bowl of frosting and call it a day; however, I was feeling a little more ambitious with my cookie decorating when I made this last batch. I filled three small, sealable plastic bags with frosting (one for each color), cut off a tiny portion of one corner, and then piped frosting around the edges and in the middle. I used a butter knife to spread the frosting over the centers, and added fancy sprinkles to my heart’s content! Again, this part is very optional but very meditative, if decorating cookies is your thing.
If you’re looking for a classic and vegan sugar cookie recipe, I think you’re going to love this one. The dough is easy to work with, the cookies are sturdy while still being tender in the middle, buttery, and sweet…it’s basically everything you could ever want from a really good sugar cookie, vegan or not.
Wishing you a happy February and almost-Valentine’s-Day (with lots of cookies)! xo
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter, softened
- ½ cup organic cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons plain vegan cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set them aside.
- Make the cookie dough: In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla on high speed for 1-2 minutes, or until fluffy. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined. The dough should be very thick.
- Chill the dough for 30-45 minutes in the refrigerator (it can also be refrigerated overnight).
- Once chilled, roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper, lightly flouring the bottom piece of paper and top of the dough. The rolled dough should be about ¼-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Chill the cut dough pieces in the freezer for 10 minutes prior to baking to help them retain their shape.
- While the dough is in the freezer, pre-heat the oven to 350˚F. Arrange the cookies 1-2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet (they won't spread very much). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Prepare the frosting: In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream together the vegan butter and powdered sugar. Mix in the corn syrup (if using) and almond milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until the texture is spreadable. Stir in the food coloring one drop at a time, if using. Note: I made plain frosting, scooped out ⅓ into a bag, then added a couple drops of red food coloring to make light pink frosting, scooped out ½ into a bag, then added a couple more drops of red food coloring to make the remaining frosting darker pink. Transfer each of the frostings to sandwich-sized sealable bags. Squeeze out any air, then seal the bags. Use scissors to cut a tiny hole (about 1 mm) in one of the bottom corners.
- Decorate the cookies however you like. I piped frosting around the edges and a little in the center, used a butter knife to evenly coat the tops of the cookies, then added sprinkles before the frosting had set. Leftover cookies can be kept covered and stored at room temperature (up to a few days).
I use a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, which made about 34 cookies. I had a little extra frosting at the end (not a bad thing!).