Sugar Cookie Recipe

Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe from the 1940’s

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This sugar cookie recipe is very special to me, because it was my grandmother’s recipe. She clipped it out of a newspaper sometime in the 1940’s. It was re-written on a piece of paper, which I still have, stains and all!

Everyone needs a basic sugar cookie recipe! Growing up it was always a tradition to make these sugar cookies for Christmas with my mom. I have carried this tradition on with my kids now too! I can remember as a kid always eating these while frosting them. I couldn’t resist. My kids do the very same thing! Frost one, eat one, frost one, eat one! Lol! These sugar cookies are the best! Let’s be honest, we need to continue to pass along recipes from the past when we can. These cookies are made with love!

This recipe makes a lot of cookies! You could cut it in half, thirds or make the whole thing and freeze some fully baked cookies for later. Bake these right, and they are soft and oh so delicious! Depending on the size of the cookie they will need to bake at different times. The bite size cookies can really bake in 4-5 minutes and the larger cookies are done in about six minutes. I like them a little brown on the bottom, but not on the top. Underdone is better than overdone!

You are definitely going to need a stand mixer for this recipe. There is a lot of flour and you have to add it slowly while the dough is mixing.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups Shortening (I use Spectrum because it is soy free!)
  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 8 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt


  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Blend shortening, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla
  • In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients
  • Slowly add in the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until well incorporated
  • Once it’s mixed, put in the refrigerator for 15+ minutes until chilled
  • On a well floured counter roll out dough 1/8th of an inch thick
  • Bake 5-7 minutes
  • Let fully cool before frosting

These cookies are so good! I hope you enjoy them 🙂

27 thoughts on “Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe from the 1940’s”

  1. What a great recipe. I was wondering if you could sub butter for the shortening or even go half and half?

    1. Thank you! I would probably go half and half before doing all butter. They may spread too much with the butter? I have never tried it with this recipe.

  2. This is the recipe I have been looking for just for ever, since my printed recipe disappeared.
    The best sugar cookie recipe anywhere.

  3. I made these with my grandma and made these with my grandkids. I recently had everything I had stolen and my recipes given to me by my grandma were one of the hardest to lose . I now can make these cookies again with my newest grandbabies!! Thank you so much

  4. Question…….could I possibly add Cocoa Powder to make Chocolate Sugar Cookies…..and if so, how much would you suggest??????

    1. Oh that’s a good idea! Maybe 1 cup?! Depends on the size of the batch your making. I’ve seen recipes use 3/4 cup cocoa powder for 2 cups of regular flour. It’s not an exact science but maybe that helps?

  5. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I love it and so does everyone that Ive shared with! Can you by chance freeze this dough or the cookies?

    1. Hello! I’m so glad to hear that! You can definitely freeze the cookies in an airtight container. I’ve never frozen the dough but I would think it would freeze just fine. I have used other frozen cookie dough before and it worked great!

  6. Hello,
    I made my dough yesterday it was beautiful. I am getting ready to roll it out now and it’s cracking a little bit. Do I need to let it warm up a little since it has been in the fridge a little more than 24hrs?
    Thanks for any tips🎄

  7. Good evening,
    I want to make this cookie dough,it sounds sooo good….I was wondering if I could use butter flavored Crisco in place of the regular and also I was wondering how many it makes?
    Thanks so much and Merry Christmas,

    1. Hello. Yes you can definitely substitute the butter flavor Crisco, but it will obviously alter the taste a bit. I can’t confidently say how many cookies it makes only because we use so many different size cookie cutters ranging from small to large. It does make a decent amount, at least 2 dozen. I hope that helps!

  8. I was so excited when I saw this recipe because like a lot of people looking at this recipe, it looks like grandmas long lost recipe. However I was extremely disappointed when I actually made it. There has to be an error with the amount of flour (I see other people were surprised about the flour too) because not only did they bake horribly but tasted even worse and I ended up throwing everything away. I was hoping for the “old recipe” as the title stated because I prefer the old almost crunchy sugar cookies like grandma made but they baked up like those soft Walmart sugar cookies, and tasted horrible. I thought this was the recipe but definitely not. Please fix☹️

  9. I made the cookies last night using the 400゚ temperature. They came out beautiful! The only thing that I would change is to add more sugar and maybe a little more vanilla or maybe even some lemon. I love how they puffed up when I use my cookie cutters that have an impression in them. When I do it with my other sugar cookie recipe that has crisco they always go flat when they cool. I used my large cookie cutters so I didn’t get that many cookies out of it. When I use my smaller cutters I’ll be able to get a lot I’m sure. Thank you for this recipe.

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