Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft sour cream sugar cookies are a holiday must have with our family! This sugar cookie Christmas tree is made with these cookies because they hold their shape well and do not spread during cooking. The cookies stay pale in color after baking and are very soft and tender. A royal icing looks lovely and does not stick so the layers can be easily removed. 

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

I did something for the first time last weekend. I made decorated cut-out sugar cookies. To most, this may not seem like that big of a deal. But for me, it was huge. For several reasons.

If you have followed my blog a while now, it is no secret that I have a thing for cookies. Possibly an obsession. I have 25 cookie recipes on this blog. Twenty-Five!

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

But for some reason I have always stayed away from decorated cut-out cookies. I usually say that it’s because I don’t like frosting, and that really is true. I much prefer things without frosting. But the truth of the matter is that I am intimidated by them.

While I may be confident in my creativity at creating recipes and and flavor combinations, my artistic ability is literally about the level of a 5 year old. So naturally I run and hide and make excuses for anything that I’m not amazing at. It’s what I do.

But I’m trying to make it not what I do. I started simple. I don’t know if you can really consider these “decorated cookies,” but they involved a piping bag and a steady hand so for me that is waaaaay out of my comfort zone. And using the tree cookie cutter set was perfect because you can easily hide the imperfections by the way you stack them.

I do admit, it came out really adorable. I was pretty pleased and will definitely have to try more advanced versions of the decorating soon.

If you have never had a sour cream sugar cookie you NEED to make these. The are perfect. Several of my family members and friends make these around the holidays every year and they are my favorite.

They stay perfectly soft, have a bit of tang, and are just a little too addicting. The perfect holiday cookie.

They also work really well for this star cookie tree because they do not spread at all during baking and hold their shape well. The royal icing also hardens so the cookies can easily stack and not stick to one another.

The specific cutters I used here are from Crate and Barrel and they sadly no longer carry them. You can find similar cookie cutters to make this tree on Amazon.

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Yields 3

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

2 hr, 30 Prep Time

6 minCook Time

2 hr, 36 Total Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


for the cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
23/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup full fat sour cream
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
Juice of 1 lemon
for the icing
2 large egg whites
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar
food coloring (optional)


    for the cookies
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening about 30 seconds or until softened.
  2. Add sugar, egg, sour cream, baking powder, and lemon juice and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour. Scrape sides as needed.
  4. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours or until easy to handle.
  5. Preheat oven to 375.
  6. Roll dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Cut with desired cookie cutter, dipped in flour to prevent sticking.
  8. Place on parchment or foil lined baking sheet.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are firm and very lightly browned (these will not turn golden, they should still be white in color)
  10. Slide parchment paper with cookies attached onto counter top to cool for 5 minutes.
  11. Remove to wire rack to cool completely before icing.
  12. for the icing
  13. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or a hand mixer) beat egg whites and lemon juice until frothy.
  14. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined and smooth.
  15. Add food coloring, if desired, and beat until combined.
  16. The icing needs to be used immediately, as it hardens.
  17. Place in a piping bag fitted with a fine tip.
  18. Trace the outer edge of the cookie with the icing
  19. “Flood” the inside of the cookies with icing (go back and forth with the icing until it is mostly covered with icing)
  20. Use a toothpick or an offset spatula to smooth out the icing and pop any air bubbles.
  21. Allow to harden for at least 2 hours.
  22. Store in an airtight container.

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87 comments on “Sour Cream Sugar Cookies”

  1. I love what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and exposure! Keep up the terrific works guys I've included you guys to my personal blogroll.
  2. Where can we get the cookie cutters?
  3. This exact set is no longer available but you can find a similar set here:
  4. Is saled butter ok?
  5. sorry...that would be salted butter..ok?
  6. Lemon in sugar cookies - that sounds so good! Somewhere in the chaos of my garage, I have those cookie cutters. I made sugar cookie trees one year.
  7. this is so pretty and looks like a lot of work!
    • Thanks Dina! It was actually incredibly easy to assemble. The cookie cutters are a set of different sizes. I made one batch of dough, cut out the cookies and baked them, iced them, and then just stacked all the cookies up from largest to smallest. For the pictures I just sprinkled some powdered sugar over top.
      • How many cookies does one batch make?
        • It really depends on the size of cutter you use. If you use this cookie cutter set it is enough to make 1 tree (17 cookies of varying sizes) plus about 1 dozen smaller stars. So if you are using a regular smallish cookie cutter you should be able to get about 3 dozen cookies.
  8. Mine didn't come out quite as good-looking as yours, but practice makes perfect I guess! it was like the Leaning Tower of Piza. :P
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  10. Sour cream sugar cookies have been a favorite part of my Christmas memories for over 60 years! My grammy's recipe is very similar to yours. So glad to find someone else who appreciates the deliciousness of these cookies!
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  28. Hello.  My first attempt to make this star tree.  I was wondering:  did you make 2 ea of each star size to make your tree?  Also do the sour cream recipe make the cookie real soft  for presentation  or will it be hard enough to decorate?  Thanks and Merry Christmas.
  29. Hello.  I want to make this Christmas Star tree.  I have the cutters.  Will the sour cream cookies be hard enough to stand up to decorating each cookie?  Also  did you make 2 of each stars for  stacking?  Thanks and Merry Christmas, Deborah
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