Making tasty cookies without butter is a challenge, especially if you want something simple, like a classic sugar cookie. With no chocolate or raisin or peanut butter enhancements, no oats or nuts to add texture, the flavor of the dough really counts.
Now, I pretty much loathe margarine. While it yields pretty cookies, it's neither delicious nor healthy. As for this recipe, it was a happy accident. I was working on a hamantaschen dough made with oil, and was struck by how similar it felt to the roll-out butter-based sugar cookies I'd made the day before. So I reserved a piece of dough, shaped it into a log, chilled it, and then sliced it up icebox cookie style. The result? A simple, yummy cookie that doesn't scream "pareve."
Tip: Want a more wholesome cookie? Swap 1 cup of the all purpose flour with 1 cup of white whole wheat flour.
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil, such as grapeseed or canola
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour, OR 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Sanding sugar to taste (turbinado sugar or cinnamon sugar to decorate) (optional)
1. In a large bowl or electric stand mixer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flour(s) and baking powder.
2. Mix in the flour with a sturdy spoon or the mixer until it is well-incorporated, no streaks of flour remain, and the dough begins to pull into a ball. (The dough will be thick, so if you if you are mixing it by hand, it is helpful to knead it a few times with clean hands after stirring in the flour.) If the dough is very sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing between each addition.
3. For sliceable icebox cookies, divide the dough in thirds, and shape into a 1- to 2-inch thick log, depending on the size of cookies you prefer. Wrap the dough in parchment or wax paper, place in a freezer bag, and chill in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 1 hour.
If you'd prefer to roll out the dough in order to use cookie cutters, divide it in half, shape each half into a disc, wrap in parchment or wax paper, place in a freezer bag, and chill for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease 2 large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper or Silpat liners. For icebox cookies: If desired, place sanding sugar, turbinado sugar, or cinnamon sugar on a large plate. Unwrap a log of dough, and roll it in the sugar, pressing gently so the sugar adheres to the dough. With a sharp knife, cut the logs into thin slices (about 1/4" thick) and place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.
For rolled cookies: On a lightly floured surface, roll out a disc of dough to about 1/4" thick. Cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters. Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies.
5. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and the undersides are golden. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze, well wrapped, for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough may be kept in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.