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!
Ok Karen, had to reply! These ARE TOO DELICIOUS and therefore IRRESISTIBLE!!! Getting ready to make my second batch. They are also very easy.
So I just wanted to Thank You and Grandma Purdy for, as Lesli put it so perfectly….” brown buttered sand crumbling in your mouth!” I too love it. Excellent description!
For those with GLASS PROBLEMS: Hey, I had absolutely no problem using the glass…here is what I did…let all us cookie monsters know if it helps….1. Used beer glass with an almost perfectly flat & clear of any raised writing or decorative bumps bottom…smooth and flat. My glass has an tiny L in center and 1 below with a tiny ripple or bump going around close to outside. 2. Used SMALL SCOOP for consistency. Have to keep scoop wet. I just dip it b 4 each scoop. 3. Dropped 12 balls..on parchment (tried sheet instead of roll…dang, wonderful – used 2 sheets for whole batch!). 4. Now I got glass, shallow bowl full of granulated sugar and 2nd shallow bowl water next to cookie sheet. Dipped bottom of beer glass into water, then sugar…pressed good in sugar. Probably double dipped into sugar to make sure all the glass bottom was covered…dip till nothing falls off…but sugar needs to stay dry….then dip sugar one last time…no water! keeping 1/4” (same thickness as bottom of beer glass) in your mind, GENTLY CENTER GLASS OVER BALL & LIGHTLY PRESS TO 1/4”. Don’t SQUASH!! Gently pressed COOKIE DOUGH should not stick. And my recipe WAS STICKY!! I also then dipped glass in SUGAR ONLY as that FIRST DIP & DOUBLE COAT/PRESS into the sugar formed a coating on my glass that only failed to be non stick 3x outta 100+ cookies….then I washed glass bottom & re-coated. If you sit glass on counter, make sure bottom is up!
So to repeat…dip glass into water – just once! Then press into sugar, remove, press again into SUGAR ONLY..make sure glass bottom is COMPLETELY COATED WITH A MOIST SUGAR.
Then for each cookie ball….dip now coated glass in DRY SUGAR 3rd dip (KEEP sugar DRY). Press GENTLY to 1/4”. Do not press hard!! DIP IN SUGAR ONLY again. Press next cookie GENTLY. DIP INTO DRY SUGAR YET AGAIN 😋 and flatten cookie …. REPEAT dipping SUGAR ONLY, Gently Press Cookie ….continue till yer dozen is flat!
I did not dip glass into water unless it Did STICK. Then I washed glass & started coating process again.
Sure hope this helps guys!!
I just got delivery of food colors with color chart & how to make like 20 colors, to give my cookies some pizzazz so I’m gonna try mixing up Ravens Purple in honor of our home team and their upcoming victory over Cincinnati. Go Ravens‼️
Also today I’m trying European butter, unsalted (is there anything else 😜).
I’ll post pic if they look cool! We know the taste will knock you out!! Thanks again Karen!!
Great 2023 to everyone!
Love to you all‼️
Thank you for these handy notes Don! I’m so glad you are loving these classic cookies!
Mace is an ingredient in some of my grandmothers recipes. She was Swedish as well. It is actually the outside shell of the nutmeg seed. I don’t have any recipe of my grandmothers except her Swedish pancakes, which is the only kind of pancake I make. My mother might have her spritz cookies recipe and I really wish I knew how she made her rusk. Thank you for this recipe. It is very similar to my grandmothers and deadly for the waist.
“Deadly for the waist” ahaha. I’m going to rename these cookies Amy. love it. I’ve never heard of rusk and just looked it up. looks delicious! So many Swedish recipes! So little time!
I’m doing a dessert reception for my mother’s 100 birthday and I’m making multiple cookie recipes and reeling the dough until the day before. Have you ever frozen this dough? I’ve made these cookies before and I think they are her favorite ever! Thank you for sharing it with the rest of the world.
Hi Karen, how fun is this? 100!! So amazing! Yes you can freeze this dough. You will have to decide if you want to freeze in balls, thaw, and then smash with sugar, or if you want to smash with sugar and then freeze the flat discs. I think either way will work, it just depends on what kind of time and freezer space you have. I don’t think you need to change the baking time if you freeze them flat and just pop them frozen into the oven. maybe an extra minute or two. I hope you have so much fun, tell your mother happy birthday!
We love these! I add lemon zest and lemon juice
and i don’t flatten them. Oh My !’ These are divine!!
Hello – I’m wondering if you’ve tried making it with lemon extract in the cookie dough and using lemon zest in sugar before smashing cookie.
Hi Pat! I haven’t tried that but it sounds delicious! Let me know how it goes!
Can you substitute almond extract for the vanilla
Hi Nancy, yes totally! Enjoy!
I’ve tried this recipe to a T even tried 2 batches of dough. These are great shortbread cookies but not crispy sugar cookies.
these are the best crisp sugar cookies! and, Karen, love that you supplied the original recipe from Grandma Prudy, all written out for the recipe box. good memories here, too. anyway, just made them and have already eaten 3 mid-afternoon. how high can I go??
also, love-love-love all your introductions to your recipes. you have such a cute sense of humor. keep ’em coming, and we’ll keep smiling and baking.
Judy, I believe in you, I think you can make it higher than 3. haha! I’m so glad you loved the recipe, and thanks for the feedback on sharing Prudy’s original recipe card, I always love seeing old recipes the way they were, I’m glad I’m not the only one! Thank you so much for reviewing the recipe and for your kind words about my blog, I enjoy writing it so much!!
Hi; Cassandra Wolf again. I failed to mention that no matter what I do with the cookie dough (refrigerate it, in attempt to allow the buttered, sugared glass to stick?) the glass still gets all sticky and schmeared with dough! And I absolutely follow the recipe to the letter. Please help me make this cookie to perfection because we there are just no words to describe how much we LOVE these otherwise! 😋🥰
Hi Cassandra! I’m so happy to hear you are enjoying the recipe! That’s so frustrating that it’s sticky. I would add a bit more flour! Generally speaking for cookies, flour amounts are static across climates. but sometimes you do need to adjust it, just as you would for bread. Start by adding an extra 2 tablespoons or even 1/4 cup and see how it goes!
Hey there! I have made these UNBELIEVABLE cookies exactly 3,742,891 times. They. ARE. that. DELICIOUS! Hands down, the best out there! I’ve even made them for showers and parties, at people’s request! My only issue with these guys? Each and every time I’ve tried to smash them to flatten, having dipped a glass in soft butter and sugar, the dough invariably sticks to the glass, therefore making it impossible to have a nice flattened result! The cookies are literally ruined, before even baking. So I end up just rolling each one into a small ball – in my hands – then smashing with my palms, and zero butter/sugar is used to flatten. I hate this! Any suggestions??
Thanks for a delicious cookie recipe..and many thanks to Gramma Purdy 😋
These are hands down the best cookies. My grandmother, I am 63) used to bake these when we were children and I have searched high and low for her recipe through her old cookbooks and happened upon this recipe..thanks for sharing. They literally crumble like sweet brown buttered sand in your mouth. They’re also great to let the little ones help sugar the cup and press them down.
that is the perfect description Lesli! brown buttered sand crumbling in your mouth! I love it. I’m so happy that you’ve found the recipe and that it brings back old memories! There is nothing better than that! Thanks so much for sharing.
First time baking these cookies I made night before and baked next day, it worked out great.
This is the second time I have made these in 2 weeks. My husband loves crisp cookies he asked me to make them again as soon as the cookie jar was empty.
Mashing with a glass does not work for me I press with fingers after sprinkling colored sugar on top of rounds. I like that they do not spread while baking.
We like a less sweet cookie so I used 1 cup white sugar and ½ cup powder sugar.
Thank you for sharing I think I will be making these a lot.
I’m so glad you enjoyed them Nancy, thank you for sharing your notes! Your husband is a lucky guy :)