Great-Great-Grandma Selma’s Sugar Cookie Recipe 

This century-old sugar cookie recipe makes delightful confectionary treats sure to liven up any occasion with a sweet and festive taste!

by Stephanie Thurow
PHOTO: Laura Ballard/AdobeStock

My great-great-grandma Selma passed away nearly 30 years ago. She was 93 years old when she died, and I was 10. Though our time together was short, she left a lasting (loving) impression on me.

She didn’t cook much by the time I was born, though from what I’ve been told, she was quite the chef back in her prime. My grandma shared stories about all the cooking Selma would do and how she’d have a big pantry filled with boxes of various types of cookies she’d prep for the holidays. 

When my great-great-grandma passed away, my uncle and his family inherited her cookbooks. Her cookbooks consisted of mostly handwritten recipes or recipes she’d clipped out of publications and glued into a notebook. When my uncle came to town earlier this year, he hand delivered me these cherished cookbooks.

It’s an honor to now call them mine, as these recipes are 100 years old.  

In one of the books is my grandma Selma’s hand-written sugar cookie recipe. We’ve made this recipe annually each December since my daughter was born. The cookies can be frosted and decorated, eaten plain or rolled out and cut into shapes and baked. 

Happy holidays! 

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Yield: about 65 small cookies 

Sugar Cookie Dough Ingredients 

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 2 sticks (1/2lb) unsalted organic butter, softened 
  • 1.5 cups white granulated sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 cup sour cream 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract  


  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) and set aside. 
  3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer. 
  4. Add eggs one at a time until mixed well.  
  5. Add sour cream and vanilla, mix until well combined. 
  6. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until all is combined into a dough. 
  7. Spoon dough and make 1.5-inch dough balls. Use a glass dipped in flour to flatten the balls into cookies. 
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The top of the sugar cookie will not brown, however the bottom will. 
  9. Allow to cool completely before decorating. 

Read more: Warm up your holidays with handmade scented jar candles.

Sugar Cookie Frosting Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1/2lb.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk (as needed to create a smooth consistency)
  • Food dye, colors of choice 

Frosting Instructions

Beat butter and vanilla using a hand mixer until creamy and smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing until combined well. Add milk and continue to mix. 

Once frosting is made, divide up the frosting into small bowls, and add food coloring until the desired color is reached. 


If you intend to cut the dough into shapes and bake, allow it to cool in the refrigerator for two hours before rolling out. 

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