Holiday-themed sugar cookies of various shapes sit on a tray lined with brown parchment paper

Recipe: Foolproof Sugar and Gingerbread Cookies

Get photos and recipes from ICE LA's cookie decorating days

ICE Los Angeles students, faculty and staff celebrated the holiday season in true culinary school fashion — by baking and decorating lots and LOTS of cookies.

A student pipes royal icing onto a cookie on a sheet pan of decorated cookiesGingerbread cookies shaped like snowflakes sit on a parchment paper sheet

The baking bonanza kicked off with a Holiday Cookie Baking and Decorating Deep Dive led by Chef-Instructor Norma Arellano-Salazar and Lead Chef-Instructor Missy Smith-Chapman on Saturday, December 10. Many students from multiple ICE programs arrived on campus, decked out in their finest “ugly” holiday sweaters and got to baking.

On the menu were gingerbread and sugar cut-out cookies, all adorned with a variety of sprinkles and other edible decorations. From snowflakes to reindeer, many winter-themed cookie creations were made (and eaten) during the four-hour Deep Dive event. The cookie doughs were all pre-made by faculty members, and are solid, all-purpose recipes that are great cookies for any time, not just the holidays.

A student pipes royal icing onto gingerbread cookiesA student takes pictures of decorated cookies

Chef Salazar adds sprinkles to the top of a sugar cookie
Chef Salazar decorating cookies

More from Chef Salazar: Mexican Wedding Cookies

Next, on Friday, December 16, ICE LA’s staff and faculty members came together to bake their own cookies. The staff members were primarily tasked with portioning, cutting out cookies, and decorating the cookies, all while being guided and taught by ICE’s knowledgeable Chef-Instructors.

Cookies packed in plastic bags

Staff and faculty members also held their own "ugly" sweater contest, with real prizes at stake. Standouts were Admissions Support Coordinator Stephanie Asavapibhop's hand-crocheted sweater and Christmas tree hat combo, Senior Admissions Representative Jeff Haines' gift-wrapped present and Assistant Dean of Students Bridget Vickers' handmade ornament-bedecked ensemble (which won her first place in the contest).

Since the best part of the holiday season is being able to give to others, and ICE made sure that many of the cookies were given away. In total, the ICE staff made over 7,000 cookies and were grateful to donate nearly half of them to Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena.

Get the recipes for the tried-and-true sugar and gingerbread cookies below.


Sugar Cookies and Gingerbread Cookies

Yields approximately two individual recipes' worth of dough


For the sugar cookies:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces butter, cubed and kept cold

For the gingerbread cookies:

  • 8 ounces butter
  • 7 ounces sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


For the sugar cookies:

  1. Whisk together egg, vanilla extract, salt and almond extract in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in another bowl and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process the sugar for about 30 seconds, until the sugar is super fine.
  4. Add cold butter pieces into the food processor with the sugar and process for 30 seconds and then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  5. Process for about 30 more seconds until the dough forms into a ball.
  6. Add the mixture of egg, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt into the food processor bowl and process for 10 seconds.
  7. Add the dry flour, baking soda and baking powder mixture and process for 30 seconds or so, until no pockets of flour remain. The dough should look crumbly.
  8. Place dough on a work surface and knead for a few seconds until it comes together.
  9. Divide the dough in half. Flatten both halves out on individual sheets of parchment paper and place in a refrigerator to chill.
  10. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300°F.
  11. Pull out half of the dough and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes from the rolled out dough and place on parchment-lined sheet pans.
  12. Bake each tray at 300°F for 14-17 minutes, until lightly golden.
  13. Once done, let the cookies cool completely before decorating with royal icing and sprinkles.

For the gingerbread cookies:

  1. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and eggs together in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
  3. Once combined, add molasses to the bowl and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add dry ingredients into mixed and mix until just combined. The dough will be somewhat stiff.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten and wrap completely. Store in a refrigerator overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Unwrap the dough and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes from the rolled out dough and place on parchment-lined sheet pans.
  7. Bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes. Do not over bake.
  8. Once done, let the cookies cool completely before decorating with royal icing and sprinkles.

Prepare to make more than 30 kinds of cookies in Pastry & Baking Arts.

Add new comment