Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies Recipe

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Use this old fashioned soft sugar cookies recipe to make cookies just like your grandma. So delicious, these soft sugar cookies are the perfect sweet treat!

soft sugar cookies recipe

One of the hardest things for me about the COVID-19 quarantine was being separated from my dad. We were accustomed to having dinner together a few times a week, and attending mass together on the weekends. He was a champ about taking the quarantine seriously, but he was alone, so I didn’t like it at all! Anyway, I continued to cook and bake for him when I could. One day, he asked me about my mom’s soft sugar cookies. He looked for a recipe in her cookbooks, but couldn’t find one. When I checked my own recipe box, there was a card, in her handwriting, that said Drop Sugar Cookies. So I gave them a try, and sure enough, they are delicious…and very soft!

soft sugar cookies dough on parchment paper

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For the Best Soft Sugar Cookies:

  • The refrigeration step takes extra time, but don’t skip it. It’s necessary for the dough to easily come out of the scoop. The scoop I used measures 2 inches across the opening, and is considered a 50 MM scoop. Click {HERE} for my favorite cookie scoop. You can definitely use a smaller scoop, just make sure to adjust the baking time.
  • If you don’t want to purchase buttermilk, my mom used to make sour milk. For 1 cup of sour milk, put 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a measuring cup. Fill it to the 1 cup mark with milk. Stir to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes. Lemon juice can also be used as a substitute for the vinegar, but it will slightly change the taste.
  • This recipe makes a lot of cookies! It’s so nice because there are plenty of cookies to keep for yourself, and plenty to share as well.

soft sugar cookies recipe

soft sugar cookies on plates

Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies

Use this old fashioned soft sugar cookies recipe to make cookies just like your grandma. So delicious, these soft sugar cookies are the perfect sweet treat!
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4.73 from 22 votes
Servings: 3 dozen
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Refrigeration Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
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  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups all purpose flour


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, or bowl of a standing mixer, combine the sugars, eggs, shortening, and vanilla.
  • Beat for 2 minutes, making sure to scrape the bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, gently whisk together the baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and flour.
  • Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in 3 increments, alternating with the buttermilk.
  • Beat just until completely mixed together.
  • Cover loosely and refrigerate dough for 2 hours.
  • Using a 2 inch scoop, drop the dough onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. The scoops should be scant, and not over-filled.
  • Carefully sprinkle sugar on each cookie dough scoop.
  • Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. The cookies will crack on top. Test with a toothpick to make sure the middle is done.
  • Let cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Remove to a cooling rack.
  • Store cookies in an airtight container.
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**If you make this recipe, I would love for you to leave a 5 star review in the comments below. If you share on Instagram or Facebook, make sure to tag @onsuttonplace so I can see what you’re making!

soft sugar cookies on plates

I’m not sure these cookies taste exactly like my mom’s, but my dad gave them a thumbs-up, which made me happy. These are very pretty soft sugar cookies, and easy to mix up, so I definitely recommend giving them a try. They taste like days gone by, and made me think of a simpler time. Which was, at least for me, a very good thing. Until next time…

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Recipe Rating


  1. Susan Jovanovich says:

    5 stars
    These cookies bake up beautifully and we so enjoy them. Thank you for sharing this recipe! Merry Christmas 🎄

  2. 5 stars
    They made up beautifully! Thank you for sharing the recipe. They were well received by everyone. Happy New Year!

  3. I love simple cookies like this. Pinned!

  4. i love the sound of soft sugar cookies but i cant get it to pin with a picture

  5. 5 stars
    These are the best. My mom used to make these, too. Reminds me of her and my childhood baking in the kitchen with her. Wonderful memories. I even grew up and became a pastry chef. You never know how your kids are going to use those memories of childhood throughout their lives.

  6. I’m going to try these! They look very much like a beloved recipe in my family called Sugar Jumbles, from the old red and white Betty Crocker cookbook my 87 year old mother had. There’s my aunt used t make a big batch of these in southern CA when all the cousins were swimming in the summer. We would get out of the pool shivering a bit and come in and devour these warm, soft little bites of heaven. Great memories!

  7. Thanks! The recipe sounds delicious and pretty easy. I like that it uses buttermilk. Will try it (I love sugar cookies!). Also, I wonder if anyone reading the comments here may know of another type of sugar cookie recipe I’ve been looking for. I’ve been trying to find a recipe for a not-too-sweet, roll-out sugar cookie that can be rolled out thinner than most, and still hold its shape when baked, without browning or getting too dry. Long ago I tasted some delicately flavored cut-out sugar cookies that were quite thin, didn’t crumble when you picked them up, and when you took a bite, they snapped off cleanly in your mouth. The snap was great! Some were decorated sparingly with dots of frosting, others with a little fine sugar, and others served plain. All were WONDERFUL. I could kick myself for missing an opportunity to get the recipe! If anyone has a lead to a recipe that sounds like it makes this type of cut-out sugar cookie, please share! Thanks, again, Ann!

  8. Pat Snyder says:

    5 stars
    glad to have this recipe that takes buttermilk. When I make biscuits, I use buttermilk, but always have leftover, with no idea what to do with the rest. These cookies are perfect.

  9. Ann Lepper says:

    5 stars
    Just finished making these and they turned out great! Getting ready to deliver them to the neighbors for a sweet Christmas treat.

  10. 5 stars
    I have been searching for years for a sugar cookie recipe that is reminiscent of my childhood. This one is it! It takes me back to my gra!ndparents farm house and the sugar cookies and milk we shared together. I love it– thank you!!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Thank you for letting me know!

  11. I love sugar cookies but not all the rolling and cutting out. This recipe looks much quicker. I’m looking forward to giving it a try. Thanks for sharing. Stay well as the covid 19 numbers are on the rise.

  12. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    5 stars
    Ann, how nice that you were able to find your dear Mom’s sugar cookie recipe and bake some for your dear Dad. I know he would just love what you did for him. This has certainly been a very tough time for our elderly family members and friends.
    Thanks for giving us this family recipe! Just the other day, I was looking for a “soft” sugar cookie recipe and couldn’t find one. Now, I’ve copied your recipe and will put it in my recipe book. I am actually going to make these cookies tomorrow! Can’t wait to have one or two with our afternoon tea!
    Again, thanks Ann for always bringing us such great recipes!

  13. Brandless Artist says:

    5 stars
    I really like your technique regarding baking! Many thanks for this great recipe, will try it for sure.

  14. I love hearing personal stories of family and life so thank you for sharing this story and the wonderful recipe!

  15. Can you use butter instead of Crisco?

    1. I wondered that, too, Jane. Did you try it with butter?

  16. Melissa Roberts says:

    Thank you for sharing your moms sugar cookie recipe!!

    I have a few of my moms favorite recipes framed in my kitchen …makes my heart happy to see her handwriting!!

    Thank you! Can’t wait to try them!!

  17. Teresa Alesia says:

    This virus and the need to shelter in place/quarantine has been particularly hard on elderly family members. Glad that you could make a favorite treat for your father. When you’re able to physically. be with your father, please give him a hug from all of your readers! The cookies look fabulous, thanks for sharing a heart-warming story.

  18. So glad you were able to bake for your Dad. I bet the smell in your kitchen was worth a fortune in memories! My mom almost always burned her banana bread and we jokingly cut a slice, then sliced off the bottom–a great memory! My two grown kids and grands are nearby and I want to hug them SOOOO badly. We have stayed pretty much home as Al stays with his 89 year old frail mother who has dementia 2 days a week. Did the 2x/month grocery run this a.m. and plan to try at least 1 new recipe. Tired of everything I know how to cook! My ex (9 years older than me) is in a rehab for falls and lotsa medical problems and the kids can’t visit him which is a bummer for him. With his dementia, sometimes he is just plain nasty!

  19. Lovely post. You made me cry for the sentiments so sweetly expressed.
    Thank you.

  20. This made me smile… I have a recipe very similar to this from my mom that was my dad’s favorite. He had quite the sweet tooth. He’d ask my mom to make these cookies extra large. Then he would split them in half butter each side then spread strawberries jam on each side. God love Hume he had no cholesterol problems😱😂
    Thanks for my “sweet” memory 💕

  21. Hi Anne,
    Thank you for sharing!
    To help with the distancing from my beloved mom, I purchased an Echo Show, which I could set up remotely. Now Mom and I “drop in” each morning over coffee. While it was nice to talk with her on the phone, having a video chat makes it so much better! To be able to see her face and really get a pulse on how she’s doing makes all the difference. While we don’t live close enough for me to drop off favorites, like these cookies, we do cook together over video sometimes!
    It’s so hard to be apart, but I’m glad you’re finding different ways to make memories with and for your dad!
    Blessings to you,

  22. Interesting recipe. Would love to try, but in AZ I limit turning on the oven in the summer. Have to keep them in mind for the fall.

  23. The notion of your dad asking you about your mom’s cookies and of you being able to oblige is just the sweetest thing in the world. What a charming post! They look delicious!!

  24. Carol Metzgar says:

    Good Morning,
    This gave me a much needed smile this morning, as sugar cookies are one of my favorites. I’ll definitely be trying this recipe! I was in the same boat with my mom, and sadly lost her last week to a stroke. Not spending that time with her over the last few months was hard enough, but then losing her unexpectedly just escalated that even more. She was a huge baker and this quarantine had me baking her old recipes and I’m convinced the memories you have using a loved one’s recipe puts a whole new meaning on the task, no matter what the outcome. Keep doing what you do, I enjoy this email everyday…

  25. When you list shortening, what is it that you actually use? I usually use unsalted butter but I understand that is not shortening and would affect the cookie texture.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Carol…by shortening, I mean Crisco. I have never tried it, but I think using butter would make a flatter cookie. I added a notation to the recipe. Thank you!

  26. Heather B. says:

    Ann, my heart goes out to you being separated from your father. Our days are precious and I totally agree that our seniors need a “ring of protection”! His request also lead you to find a sweet memento from your mother which was an unexpected surprise. I love when a recipe makes a big batch because they usually disappear. I will give them a try! Thanks ❤️