They taste just as buttery as classic ones but are much lower in fat and calories.
Last week, I quickly darted into the grocery store to grab the ingredients for my strawberry cheesecake rice krispie treats. After dropping a jumbo-sized box of cereal into my basket, I strode over to the baking aisle to pick up the pudding mix. While I hurriedly scanned the overcrowded shelves, an elderly woman accompanied by a store employee approached the adjacent display.
As I reached for my flavor and turned to leave, I overheard the customer remark, “You should see the recipe!”
When I arrived at the produce section to cross “Brussels sprouts” off my list (we roast these every day!), I nearly slammed my palm against my forehead. I completely forgot to toss marshmallows into my basket while on the baking aisle! I doubled back, and after nestling the package between my other boxes, I noticed the tiny old lady a few yards away, still studying a pouch of cookie mix.
I slowly approached her, politely inquiring, “What are you baking?”
“Oh!” she responded. “I want to make sugar cookies with my shamrock cookie cutter for St. Patrick’s Day. But you should see the recipe I have… It’s so long! So I thought I’d take a shortcut and buy a mix.” She peered at me. “Do you know anything about baking?”
I suppressed a smile and replied, “Well, I love baking cookies! Let’s take a look at the package you have.”
We slowly read through the instructions at the bottom for roll-out cookies, skipping the drop-cookie variety at the top, before shuffling down the aisle to browse through the different food coloring options. Her eyes looked slightly overwhelmed, so I handed her my food blogger business card and offered, “Why don’t you email me if you have any questions? Do you have a computer?”
She accepted my card and responded, “Yes, I live with my daughter and she has one.” She glanced at the text, then back at me. “Amy, you’re an angel!” she exclaimed while wrapping me in a frail hug.
She then shared, “I’m 93 years old and have bad arthritis in my index finger, but I really want to bake these cookies. My husband’s birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day, so I’m throwing a party at the Senior Citizen’s Center and baking cookies for that.”
After pausing, she continued, “I go early—around 9 am—to set up decorations. And I never have my party on the actual holiday because they usually schedule a luncheon or something else that day. You should come!”
I walked home positively glowing, a smile permanently etched on my heart. When I turn 93 years old, I still want to be baking cookies too!
But as I started up the driveway, another thought crossed my mind. Those cookie mixes aren’t very good for you… I should develop my own recipe for healthy roll-out sugar cookies!
Dozens of cookies later, I finally perfected my recipe. These little beauties are as easy as a premade mix—no electric mixer needed!—and taste just as buttery as your grandma’s traditional treats. With their rich flavor and soft texture, no one will ever guess they’re actually skinny and really low fat!
These low-calorie cookies begin with the dry ingredients. Compared to regular drop sugar cookies, the roll-out variety generally require a bit more flour and a lot less baking powder. Too much baking powder creates a funny-looking bump in the center of your shapes, making them awkward to decorate. With a mere ¼ of a teaspoon, you’ll end up with perfectly smooth tops and just a hint of airiness inside.
I also added cornstarch. As my secret weapon in many of my recipes, it creates irresistibly soft cookies. I prefer my sugar cookies firm with a little chew—not crunchy!—so I mixed in just ¾ of a teaspoon, which resulted in the perfect delicate texture.
Classic sugar cookies typically contain 1 or 2 sticks of butter. That’s ½ to 1 full cup! I reduced the amount to a mere 2 tablespoons of butter, and I melted it to subtly increase the cookies’ chewiness (see here for details), as well as to eliminate the need for an electric mixer. The fewer dishes to wash, the better!
Note: Make sure your melted butter cools and your egg warms to room temperature before mixing them together. If you add a cold egg to hot butter, it rapidly chills the butter and creates tiny spheres of solidified fat.
My low fat recipe requires both vanilla extract and butter extract. The butter extract gives these treats the rich buttery flavor of traditional indulgent cookies without their excess fat and calories. I highly recommend buying a bottle! It’s shelf-stable and will keep for ages. With a fairly inexpensive price tag, you can find it at almost any grocery store, as well as Walmart and Target.
I bounced back and forth between what sugars to use. I originally mixed in half granulated and half brown because brown sugar provides a slight caramel undertone to cookies in addition to a little extra chew. When I ran out of granulated on my second batch and substituted raw cane sugar instead, the cookies turned out freckly! The brown and raw cane sugars failed to completely dissolve, so in the final recipe, I omitted both and stuck with granulated sugar.
Once you mix up the cookie dough, place it in the fridge for 1 hour. Chilling is mandatory! The cookie dough is too sticky to roll out after you first stir it together. However, don’t leave it for more than 1.5 hours; it’ll be too stiff and will crack under the rolling pin.
Now we’re ready to roll out the dough! Most of you are probably expert cookie makers already, but as a quick refresher, here are my 4 Helpful Tips for Fail-Proof Cutout Sugar Cookies:
♥ Use LOTS of flour. Cover your working surface with it, rub it into the rolling pin, and sprinkle it on both sides of the cookie dough. It’s easy to brush off any lingering flour from your cookie dough cutouts before placing them on the baking sheet, and you’ll avoid the frustration of peeling up cookie dough in stretched out, mangled shapes.
♥ Flour the cookie cutter. Dip it in flour, shake off the excess, and press down. Repeat. You don’t want dough sticking to the cookie cutter either!
♥ Make cuts as close to each other as possible. This minimizes the amount of leftover cookie dough you need to reroll. Rerolled cookie dough contains more flour, which reduces its soft texture and increases the chances of crunchy cookies.
♥ Peel leftover cookie dough away from the cutouts. NOT the other way around. Again, this reduces the likelihood of stretched out, mangled shapes.
In my oven, the first round of rolled out cookies required a little bit more time. I baked them for 11-13 minutes to achieve that gorgeous pale, perfectly done color. The rerolled cookies finished in barely 9-10 minutes, due to their extra flour. These bake times resulted in the firm, barely soft cookies that I absolutely adore. However, this may vary depending on your oven and the thickness of your cookies, so keep a watchful eye on your pans to prevent burned crunchy ones!
You only need 4 ingredients for this easy pastel pink icing: powdered (confectioners’) sugar, vanilla, milk, and a teensy tiny itty bitty drop of red food coloring. Basically the smallest amount you can possibly squeeze out of the bottle. Stir everything together, spoon it into a zip-topped bag, and cut off the corner before piping it onto the cookies. Draw whatever designs your heart desires; the sky’s the limit!
Guys, you are going to fall head over heels for these adorable Skinny Heart-Shaped Sugar Cookies. Warm buttery flavors fill every bite, completely deceiving all of my taste testers into believing they were the traditional fat-laden treats. With their incredibly easy instructions and perfectly soft texture, you’ll never need another sugar cookie recipe again!
As soon as I finished their photo shoot, I offered one to my guy, mentioning that I left the unused icing on the counter along with 3 undecorated cookies. He nibbled on that first one while I walked out of the kitchen, and when I returned, I found an entirely empty bag of icing. And not a single cookie in sight.
Yes, he polished off 4 of these skinny sugar cookies… And he doesn’t even like cookies!
I absolutely positively promise you—they’re that good.