This is Grandma Prudy’s easy sugar cookie recipe for THIN and CRISPY cookies, not to be confused with the kind that you put frosting on. These ones are light, snappy, and shatter in your mouth when you take a bite. The flavor is exquisitely buttery. They are irresistible and I may or may not have eaten about 5,000. Dip them in milk! Die happy! (If you are looking for a frosted cookie, try The Softest Sugar Cookie Recipe of Your Life.) Originally posted March 15, 2019.
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Eric’s parents were in town last weekend for Charlotte’s baptism. On Sunday afternoon we were deciding what cookies to make for Cookie Sunday (a very serious tradition at our house).
We were having trouble narrowing it down, so I made everyone tell me which kind they wanted most, and then we all got 3 votes that we could put under any cookie. (So you could put all 3 votes under your own cookie or divide them up however you like.) Now you have a strategy for next time you can’t decide what cookie to make, you’re welcome. (What, no one else has this problem??)
Most everyone wanted chocolate chip cookies of some sort, but Eric wanted them to be these ones with maple and raw sugar, Truman wanted chocolate chip with M&Ms, and Chip wanted regular ones. (The phrase “divide and conquer” comes to mind) Kris was the only one who wanted CRISPY drop sugar cookies, the kind her Grandma Prudy used to make, even though none of the rest of us are huge fans of crunchy cookies.
Well everyone gave Kris a pity vote, don’t ask me why, it certainly wasn’t me, but she ended up winning. That was the point when Truman let out a guttural scream, like a wounded animal, and started crying real tears. For a moment I thought he had hurt himself somehow, and we all stared at him expectantly, but then he yelled, “I HATE CRUNCHY SUGAR COOKIES!!!!” and that’s when we all started dying laughing, trying to choke it back and bite our tongues so he couldn’t see, while we sent him into a time out.
We ended up making both kinds of course. (After a stern talk with Truman.) Kris decided to make a half batch of easy sugar cookies because she thought she would be the only ones eating them. We all enjoyed the warm chocolate chip cookies when they came out of the oven.
But guess what happened over the next 24 hours? We DEMOLISHED those crispy sugar cookies. They were gone way before the chocolate chip cookies. And we were all sad that Kris hadn’t made the full batch.
Grandma Prudy’s No Roll Sugar Cookies are Crispy Crunchy Heaven!
Here’s the thing about Grandma Prudy’s easy sugar cookie recipe: they are kind of like air. You breathe them in without really thinking about it. A warm chocolate chip cookie is like an event: you need to sit down with a glass of milk and really focus in on the warm richness of it.
But Grandma Prudy’s easy sugar cookie recipe? You nab one on your way to get a glass of water in the kitchen. You take two more as a snack on your drive to pick up the kids. You eat 4 with a glass of milk while Netflixing, and barely even realize what happened. I bet that in the process of writing this post I’ve had at least 7. Don’t judge. I’m telling you, these sugar cookies are dangerous.
And you can trust me, because I consider myself firmly entrenched in the soft sugar cookie camp. One of my most popular recipes is for The Softest Sugar Cookie Recipe of Your Life, and I stand by that title; I’ve never had a homemade sugar cookie that stayed so soft, even on the edges. Top it with The Best Buttercream Frosting For Sugar Cookies and you will be in heaven.
But these drop sugar cookies are in a different category entirely. They are impossibly thin and impossibly crispy. They shatter in your mouth when you take a bite, and then they melt into exquisite sugary bliss. You will get crumbs everywhere. You will have butter and oil on your fingers after eating them. And it will only give you an excuse to grab another one.
Sugar Cookie Recipe Crispy Ingredients
Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!
- Butter (I prefer salted, but unsalted will work)
- Granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Vegetable oil
- Vanilla extract
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Cream of tartar
- Kosher salt
- Red hots (optional)
How to make Crispy Sugar Cookies
Here’s a quick overview of how to make these cookies (full instructions below in the recipe card).
- Cream butter.
- Add granulated sugar, powdered sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat well with vanilla and eggs.
- Add dry ingredients and blend together.
- Shape dough into one-inch balls.
- Dip a glass in sugar and gently smash each dough ball.
- Press one red hot in the middle of each cookie, if you want.
- Bake until light golden brown, crispy, and perfect!
They are scary easy to make. You don’t even have to roll the dough, or chill it, meaning you can go from zero to warm cookies in 30 minutes. It’s a simple mixture that has butter, white sugar, powdered sugar, and vegetable oil. The oil is part of what makes them so crispy. The other thing that helps with texture is the cream of tartar. It gives these simple sugar cookies a tender crumb (that melt in your mouth texture), and the same tart aftertaste that you get with snickerdoodles.
Here is Grandma Prudy’s original recipe. (When she got older, her doctor told her to cut back on salt, so she cut it out entirely from her baking. But what’s a cookie without a little salt? Terrible, according to everyone who tried them. Kris (her granddaughter) added it back in you can see. And also some mace. Or nutmed?? ha! Nutmeg would be pretty good in these.)
Grandma Prudy is my husband Eric’s Swedish great-grandmother. Her parents were immigrants from Sweden. She was a lovely lady who I never had the chance to meet, but she left dozens and dozens of amazing recipes that we all remember her with. She was the Swedish cookie queen:
Grandma Prudy’s Classic Gingersnaps
Crispy Swedish Cardamom Cookies
Mexican Wedding Cookies (In our family we call them Sweethearts)
Eric’s mom Kris told me that every time they went on a road trip, her mother would make a giant batch of these simple sugar cookies, and another giant batch of Gingersnaps, and they would store them in empty coffee cans to enjoy while they were driving. I seriously can’t think of a better road trip snack!
One more thing, Prudy always baked these cookies with a red hot candy in the middle, like this:
I didn’t think I would be into this, but Kris proved me wrong, again. The red hot melts into the same texture as the rest of the cookie, so instead of having a hard cinnamon candy for your middle bite, it adds just a little kick of cinnamon that blends right in with the cookie. It’s delightful.
(Check the comments within a few days of me posting this. I’m SURE Kris will have LOTS to say about me eating crow over crispy sugar cookies. She’s been waiting for this day a long time I think. We argue about crunchy cookies vs. soft cookies ALL the time. I frequently have to save batches of cookies from the jaws of over-baked death when she is in charge.)
But not these sugar cookies. It’s impossible to over bake them. You want them to be BROWN on the edges when you take them out of the oven. Crispy heaven!! See, I’ve come a long way over the years. Crispy simple sugar cookies with no frosting or royal icing really do have a place in the world. Kris, you can die happy now.
How to Use Drop Sugar Cookies
I know. It’s tempting to keep the entire batch of these cookies to yourself to munch on every time you walk through the kitchen. And don’t let me stop you!
But these crispy sugar cookies also make an excellent holiday gift or addition to a party!
To gift your cookies, let them cool completely, then put a few in a cute bakery box or cellophane bag tied up with a bow. They’re the perfect way to share some joy (buttery, crispy cookie joy) to your friends and neighbors any time of year (but especially at Christmas).
To bring them to a party, simply let them cool completely, then layer them on a serving platter, cover it with plastic wrap, and transport.
Crispy Sugar Cookie Recipe Storage
These cookies will last at room temperature for up to 5 days, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Can you freeze these cookies?
Yes! Sugar cookies freeze extremely well, which makes preparing ahead for the holiday season so easy.
To freeze the cookies, let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready for the cookies, let them thaw at room temperature, then add them to your holiday cookie plate.
Thin Sugar Cookies FAQ
There are a couple things you can do to make sure you get the crispy crunch we’re going for with these cookies:
Smash them. Smashing the cookie dough balls flat before baking thins them out so they get nice and crispy in the oven.
Let them bake. I mean bake. The edges of the cookies should be browning before you pull them out of the oven. Then when you pull them out of the oven, let them cool on the baking sheet for five minutes to give them time to crisp up even more.
While smashing the cookies and giving them plenty of time to bake makes them crunchier, the granulated sugar also absorbs moisture in the dough. This creates a crispier texture than if you were using brown sugar.
Notice also that we are not chilling the dough here. Not only does this mean you’re putting cookies in your mouth faster (what, am I the only cookie monster here??) but it also means that the cookies flatten out nice and thin and crispy.
Chewy cookies are often created with brown sugar and eggs – the extra moisture creates a deliciously chewy texture, like a classic chocolate chip cookie. A chewy cookie should also be watched carefully so it doesn’t over-bake.
Crunchy cookies are created with granulated sugar, rolled out or pressed until nice and thin, and then baked not until soft, but until light golden brown and crisp.
This is where my mother-in-law and I disagree. In my world, soft sugar cookies are the only way to go. One of my most popular recipes is for The Softest Sugar Cookie Recipe of Your Life, and I am obsessed with how incredibly soft they are, even on the edges. BUT there’s something so delightful about the crunch of these thin sugar cookies that I cannot deny.
Because there’s no rolling out the dough with a rolling pin. You use a baking scoop (or two spoons if you’re old-school) to drop some dough onto a baking sheet and they’re ready to go in the oven.
More cookie recipes you will love!
- The Softest Sugar Cookie Recipe of Your Life << these really are the best sugar cookies, if you’re looking for a soft and buttery cookie that is frosted. Frost with The Best Buttercream Frosting For Sugar Cookies!
- Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies (That Hold Their Shape) << These are the chocolate versions of those ones.
- Coconut-Frosted Sugar Cookies with Strawberry Hearts << I LOVE these ones. They use the same sugar-smash method for shaping the dough.
- Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies << I could not stop eating these!
- Lemon Curd Sugar Cookie Sandwiches << for some reason this recipe never took off and I don’t know why, because what could be better than lemon curd + sugar cookies??
- Linzer Cookies (Original Austrian Recipe) from Also the Crumbs Please << crisp sugar cookies filled with apricot jam? Yes please!!
- Norwegian Butter Cookies (Serinakaker) from Bowl of Delicious << I really want to try these buttery almond shortbread cookies!
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Crispy Sugar Cookie Recipe (Grandma Prudy’s Thin and Crispy Cookies)
- 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks – I liked salted, unsalted is fine too)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 large large eggs
- 4 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for smashing cookies
- red hots, optional
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat 1 cup butter for about 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Make sure it is nice and smooth, light and fluffy.
- Add 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup powdered sugar, and 1 cup vegetable oil (I like to use light olive oil).
- Beat until well combined, scraping sides to make sure the butter and sugar gets incorporated.
- Add 1 tablespoon vanilla, and 2 large eggs. Beat well until smooth.
- Add 4 and 1/2 cups flour, making sure you measure it correctly (spoon it into the measuring cup.) Don’t stir yet.
- Use a small spoon to stir 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt into the flour. Break up any chunks of soda or tartar.
- Beat the dry ingredients into the dough until just barely combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Make sure all the flour is incorporated, but don’t over mix (or you will get a tough cookie. Who wants that??)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a few baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Use a 1 inch cookie scoop to shape the cookie dough. A 1 inch ball of dough will yield about a 2 and 1/2 inch wide sugar cookie. You don’t want them bigger than that. (Trust me. I’m usually the one using 1/4 cup of dough for my cookies. But not these ones. Tiny is better.)
- Place the cookie dough balls on the prepared baking sheets with about 2 inches in between each cookie. The dough is pretty soft because of the oil, but fear not, they bake up just fine.
- Add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar to a plate. Lightly wet the bottom of a drinking glass that has a flat bottom. Dip the glass in the sugar and use it to smash one cookie dough ball. Dip in sugar again and repeat with the remaining dough. You want to smash the cookies so they are about 1/4 inch thick.
- Press one red hot in the middle of each cookie, if you want.
- Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes. You want the edges of the cookie to be light brown, and there should be no shine in the center of the cookie. The bake time also depends on how much you smashed them.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the pan, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Eat 500 a day until they are gone. These are really good dipped in milk. Crispy crunchy heaven!
Finally found my favorite sugar cookies! Thank you!
My grandma use to make these as well. She would use a glass with sugar on the bottom. But she would color the sugar with red, green, or blue food dye to make bright festive looking cookies.
I love the colored sugar idea Rachael!! How fun is that! Thanks for sharing :)
This recipe is the Bomb! I’ve made this sugar cookies over 6x’s after discovering Karen’s recipe and she’s absolutely right….can’t stop eating them. I followed the recipe every time and it’s fool proof. Thanks for the recipe!!! Love it.
I’m so glad you are loving the recipe Darryl! They are absolutely addictive, right? So perfect for Christmas. Thank you for sharing your review!
I made these yesterday; they were very good but kind of dry & crumbly. As I was eating one, it fell apart into tiny pieces on the kitchen floor! Except for the addition of oil and powdered sugar, your recipe (& procedure) is similar to the No-Roll Sugar Cookies recipe in the “Life-Saver” Cookbook.
These cookies came out delicious snd yes they were so easy to make. We loved them.
I followed the recipe exactly except that I left out the cream of tartar because I didn’t have any. Just curious what difference it make?
Hi Nicole! Cream of Tartar adds a tart zing to the cookies! it also adds a bit of leavening. I’m so glad you loved the cookies!! Happy Thanksgiving!
I just made my first pan of these sugar cookies and got my first taste. I did not like the taste as it tasted bland. I couldn’t taste the tablespoon of vanilla I had put in. I’ve got a second pan in the oven now. I smashed them more so they would be crispy which I wanted. I’m thinking of adding more vanilla to the remaining dough to see if that helps. Thanks so much for posting her recipe.
I cannot get a good sugar cookie at any store and cutouts are too much work.i made these this morning and finally found what I’ve been looking for.they are crisp,sweet and easy to make.thank you.
I’m so happy you’ve found the recipe you’ve been looking for Mary! That is the best! Now I am craving these cookies :) Thanks so much for reviewing!
A search for crispy cookies took me to your website. I made these cookies today and they came out so well. I Did not have the patience to refrigerate the dough for two hours, I made the first batch after around half an hour. But the cookies held shape. I also found that baking at 350 for 12 minutes made better and crispier cookies than baking longer at a lower temperature (I tried both after going through the comments section, as the climate is warm where I live). I did not have white castor sugar, so I used 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup powdered white sugar. Instead of a glass I used a 1/3 measuring cup for smashing the cookies.
Thank you so much. Everyone loved them. This one is a keeper. <3
Hi Vrinda, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! And happy to hear that a “crispy cookies” search brought you here, my mother in law would be so proud! Thanks for sharing all your tips!
I grew up helping my beloved grandmother, who passed away many years ago, make these. She would color the sugar with red, green or blue food coloring before using the glass to press the cookie flat. It always gave them such a great holiday look. And it was fun, because I always got to color the sugar, the more food coloring the darker the color. Such a great memory!
That is so fun Rachael! What a great memory. I never thought to use colored sugar, that’s a great idea for the holidays! Enjoy making these again :)
It’s the only way we have ever made them. Red and green (now you can do silver and gold too) for the Christmas holidays and pastel colors for Easter!
I should add the colors I’m referencing are the different colored sugars now available. :-) Making these tomorrow!
OH. MY. GOODNESS!!! These are INCREDIBLE!!!
Easy recipe and THANK YOU for the extra instructions/suggestions (keeping the dough chilled). I made these as a gift for a woman who will turn 100 on Friday, December 20 (2019). She is English and LOVES thin, crispy sugar cookies. She’s going to LOVE these! :)
Oh that is awesome Kathryn! I hope your friend loves the cookies! I’m due to have a baby any day, maybe I will have him on your friends 100th birthday :) I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, and thank you so much for commenting!
These were really light and crispy!
I had to do a bit of modifying, though :
1) Baked at 325 for about 14 mins as the first batch burned in my oven at 350. Might be as I live in the Caribbean and it was a hot day.
2) I let the batter come almost to room temp because the first batch I baked (with cold dough) came out puffy and cakey. I think it’s the type of butter I used. I realllly had to flatten them out to get them crispy. I also had issues flattening them with the sugar coated cup and had to use my fingers.
This recipe made a pretty big batch so I put the rest in the freezer for emergency cookies :)
Thank you so much for sharing!
Emergency cookies is totally a thing and I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one, haha! Thanks for all the tips and tricks Shanna! I’ve never had these cookies come out overly puffy before, I wonder if the climate has anything to do with it (California where I live is not humid), or if it’s just the type of butter. I’m glad it worked out in the end, and thanks again for commenting!
They’re so good! I followed the recipe exactly (with the exception of halving everything bc I could only find one stick of butter). Also, I’m pretty sure it’s just bc I’m just bad at it, I could not for the life of me flatten the dough with a glass cup. It was coated in sugar too. I made sure of it. Perhaps it came to room temperature too quickly bc it took some time for me to scoop out the dough… anyways, I flattened it with my fingers and a bit of sugar and put the tray back in the fridge until it got cold again. Baked for about 11 minutes. And they came out a little big (I realized when I squished them but I was too lazy to start over). I was using my small cookie scoop which claims that it’s 2 teaspoons. I may halve it for next time… But they were so good! My husband said that it reminded him of those tin cookies you eat at Christmas. I think they’re kinda like butter cookies that aren’t too sweet with a more delicate kind of crispy. I love them. Thank you! And thank you to Grandma Prudy for having the wisdom to write down her recipe so you can share it <3
I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies Mares! Thanks for all the details! I think they taste like a more delicious version of the tin cookies too :) Thank goodness Prudy wrote it down!
Oh, Karen, what can I say? I will definitely be dying happy. A day has come I thought I would NEVER see! The amount of gratification I feel at this moment cannot be described! Thank you for this post from the bottom of my heart! You have made me a happy woman. Now I can say “I told you so!! Crispy cookies FOREVER!!!
I do believe you left one VERY important fact out of your post though – the moment when you counted up the votes and when you saw that I had won, your very loud and distressed exclamation of “NOOOOOO!!! Kris won!!! How did this happen!!”
Hahaha!! No doubt my reaction is what inspired Truman’s tears :) Way to make everyone CRY Kris. Haha! Thanks for all the laughs and crispy cookies Kris!
I have to make these. They look amazing! I love the photo of the recipe. Vintage recipes are wonderful! Thank you for sharing!
It’s so fun to see the old recipe cards, right? I love how simple they all were. Everyone knew how to bake back then, I guess?? Prudy took like 4 sentences to explain these cookies, and I’ve got 18 steps in my description, haha! I hope you love them Millie, thanks for the comment :)
Never mind,I now see you already substituted with butters sorry!!!
Sounds great! My question: I don’t like baking with oil, how best to substitute real butter? Thank you.
Hey Lisa! So I’m a little confused because the recipe calls for both 1 cup butter AND 1 cup oil. If you replace the cup of oil called for in this recipe with butter, you will get a nice cookie, but it won’t be the same texture as these ones. (Maybe you were talking about replacing the margarine called for in Prudy’s recipe card with butter?)