Sour Cream-Nutmeg Sugar Cookies

Sour Cream-Nutmeg Sugar Cookies - A nutmeg and vanilla-flavored holiday sugar cookie that stays soft up to 2 weeks! The best sugar cookie recipe ever! |

In this monthly series, I commit to cooking whatever is on the cover of Bon Appetit, Saveur or maybe some other food magazine. There’s a reason these particular dishes are on the cover – they’re usually the best recipes in the magazine.

When I was a kid, I would only eat my mom’s Christmas cookies. Even when there were classroom parties at school with a bounty of homemade cookies, none of them were as good as Mom’s, and thus, I just ignored them. My mom got the recipe for these sour-cream nutmeg sugar cookies from my grandma, who got it from a co-worker.

Sour Cream-Nutmeg Sugar Cookies - A nutmeg and vanilla-flavored holiday sugar cookie that stays soft up to 2 weeks! The best sugar cookie recipe ever! |

What makes it so special? Two things – flavor and texture. The flavor largely comes from a generous spoonful of nutmeg. While most sugar cookie cutouts have very little flavor other than sugary dough, these ones have a spiced, holiday flavor. And the sour cream keeps them extremely soft. They even stay soft for about two weeks after they’re baked – an impressive feat for a sugar cookie.

Bon Appetit December 2013

December’s issue of Bon Appetit featured cookies that had been decorated with royal icing and luster dust (a shimmery substance used for painting sparkly designs onto your cookies). While our family sugar cookies usually get a casual smear of milk-powdered sugar-vanilla frosting, I figured I could Cook The Cover and do a “trial run” of cookies early in the month and luster-dust my heart out on them (and use them to send along in the Food52 Secret Holiday Swap!). Turns out, luster dust is pretty fun! So shimmery (more so than the camera can capture), and a chance to unleash your inner artist!

Sour Cream-Nutmeg Sugar Cookies - A nutmeg and vanilla-flavored holiday sugar cookie that stays soft up to 2 weeks! The best sugar cookie recipe ever! |

Oh, another thing about our family Christmas cookies? We have a lot of weird shapes in our cookie cutter arsenal. Nobody is really sure why we have a lion, a chicken and a shamrock mixed in with the Santa and Christmas tree cutters. They were acquired sometime in the last century, and have just become a family tradition. We embrace the oddity, and have even started adding new odd shapes, like a fox and Michigan’s lower peninsula.

Psssst – speaking of Christmas, I’m running late on gift-buying this year. The holidays snuck up on me, for sure. If you’re in the same boat, and you have family and friends who enjoy great food gifts, check out my post about Harry & David for some ideas!

Sour Cream-Nutmeg Sugar Cookies - A nutmeg and vanilla-flavored holiday sugar cookie that stays soft up to 2 weeks! The best sugar cookie recipe ever! |

Sour Cream-Nutmeg Sugar Cookies

Yield: Makes about 5 dozen (depending on what size cookie cutters you use)


  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3-1/2 cups flour (plus more if needed)


  1. Beat sugar, butter, sour cream, egg and baking soda at medium speed until well combined. Mix in vanilla and nutmeg.
  2. Gradually beat in flour. You want the dough to be not too dry, but not too sticky. If it's too sticky, gradually add a bit more flour. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, or overnight for best results.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In batches, roll chunks of dough to about 1/8-inch thickness (use floured surface and floured rolling pin). Cut it using your favorite cookie cutters. Bake cookies 8 minutes or until they just begin to brown around the edges (start checking them at 6 minutes). They will be very soft when they come out of the oven. Carefully transfer to wax paper and let cool completely.
  4. Frost as desired. If you'd like to decorate with royal icing and luster dust like I've done here, follow this tutorial from Bon Appetit

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For more recipes straight from the cover of food magazines, check out my Cook The Cover Archive!

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  1. Great job, Lor!! Of course, it touched my heart. Love the foxes!! ~Mom

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I am adding it to my binder and to my list of cookies to bake this holiday!

    • Yay! I hope you love them as much as my family does! One tip I forgot to mention – make sure you have PLENTY of flour on your board and rolling pin when you’re rolling them out. The dough is pretty sticky. Oh, and put the extra dough back in the fridge when you’re not working with it. Good luck!

  3. I am happy to participate in the cookie tradition – both in the giving, to your mom, of new shapes (Michigan, palm tree, wolf, and a new one upcoming this year) and the tasting. I can literally polish off 5 to 6 of these bad boys a day around the holidays. Though, most of the time, my brain outweighs the stomach and I limit it to 2 or 3. They are just soooooooo good!

  4. Make sure you make extra for ole Dad.

  5. Your cookies looks GREAT. I love the different shapes…stories are such a big part of holiday traditions.

  6. Nice looking cookies Lori! I like the addition of sour cream in the cookies – I’ll need to give them a try! Do you grate your own nutmeg? Pinned…

    • Thank you, Deb! While I love freshly-grated nutmeg generally, I don’t use it for this. Because we’ve always made this recipe using jarred ground nutmeg, I stick with that. I’m afraid that freshly grated would be overpowering, and I don’t want to ruin a batch of cookies finding out. I do make sure to have a new, freshly-opened jar of ground nutmeg, though!

  7. Fabulous! I am in love with those foxes. 🙂

  8. I love all things weird, odd and random so I think your cookie cutter shapes are fabulous! I’m especially digging the fox, even though they break easily. Just sweep the broken bits directly into your mouth. Problems solved!

  9. I like your problem-solving skills, lady 🙂

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