Grandmas’ Sugar Cookie Recipe

The definition of a cookie is as follows: a small, sweet cake, typically round and flat and having a crisp or chewy texture. That pretty much sums up my Grandmas’ sugar cookies. The sugar cookies I am talking about have many different names but in our family, the official name is; Grandmas’ Sugar Cookies.  

My two grandmas could not be more different than if they tried. My Mom’s mom was Irish, tall, and strong as an ox from her many years of working as a butcher. She grew up with six brothers, she being the baby of the family and only girl. She wore her black wavy hair short with curls at the temples, which I often see in the mirror. Her daily attire was a patterned blouse with a jean skirt and wide, black, women’s work shoes. Once in her golden years, when Grandpa was sick and needed to be taken to ER in quick fashion. She ran in the bedroom, put on a clean skirt, and was ready to go. Later that evening, with Grandpa laying in his hospital bed under a pile of blankets, she commented she was so hot. She went into the bathroom and came out holding a jean skirt while still wearing one. She said, “I guess, I was in such a hurry putting on my clean skirt, I forgot to take the old one off.”    

My Dad’s Mom came to America from Germany when she was sixteen years old. She stood 5 feet tall and was the perfect description of roly-poly. Her cheeks were as soft as marshmallows. When she hugged you, you could get lost in her bosoms. She had a strong constitution, worked hard, and was an excellent baker. Grandma never tired of cooking, baking, and feeding, harvesters, hired hands, and her family over the years.

One thing these two wise, brave, smart women shared was the same sugar cookie recipe and method of topping them off with sugar.

The recipe:

Grandmas’ Sugar Cookies


8 dozen


  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour


  • Step 1

Beat sugars, margarine, vegetable oil, and salt very well. Add eggs and dry ingredients.

  • Step 2

Make into balls, roll in sugar and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

  • Step 3

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 8 minutes.

Note: Sometimes Grandma changed the vanilla for lemon flavoring.

The special touch when baking these cookies both Grandmas used before they even knew each other was a cut-glass bottom drinking glass. These glasses were very special and handled with great care. Both families coming poor working-class families didn’t have a lot of money to spend on fancy glassware. I don’t know where they ever picked up these glasses, but we all knew they were special. When not being used, the glass sat on a high shelf in a kitchen cupboard. As kids, we eagerly awaited our turn to use the prized glass to dip it in colored sugar and imprint each cookie before popping the pan in the oven. My kids were treated to the same cookies while growing up and visiting Great-Grandmas’, Grandma’s kitchens for sugar cookies or in my own kitchen.

I find myself turning glasses over while shopping in thrift stores looking for the perfect cut-glass bottom glasses to pass on to my own kids. One year for Christmas, they each got Grandmas’ Sugar Cookie recipe, a cut-glass bottom glass, and containers of green and red sugars to start their own baking traditions. Now, with 17 grandchildren plus another one on the way, I better get busy collecting a few more glasses!

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