When I call these the best vegan sugar cookies, I do not make that claim lightly. These really are all that, and more. They are soft and tender with crispy edges, and they dissolve in your mouth in a pool of buttery, vanilla-kissed sweetness, exactly as good sugar cookies should.
I've been making vegan sugar cookies from scratch a long time, and this is my favorite recipe so far. They couldn't be closer to a traditional cut out sugar cookie--in fact, other than the vegan butter and the aquafaba standing in for the butter and eggs, you are pretty much in classic sugar cookie territory with these.
My family and I had lots of fun making these, and eating them, and I hope you will too. They couldn't be easier to make and they'll likely be gone before Santa gets to them!
This is a one-bowl recipe, and all you do is toss in the ingredients one after the other and mix. A stand mixer makes this much easier, but if you would rather use a bowl and a whisk, that's fine too.
Make sure the butter is at room temperature and soft when you start out. Then add in the sugar and whisk until the mixture is fluffy.
Next to go in are the vanilla and aquafaba. The aquafaba stands in for the eggs here, and it makes a perfect substitute. I choose not to add salt to this recipe because the aquafaba has some salt. But if you use homemade aquafaba that doesn't have salt in it, you can add a quarter of a teaspoon of salt when you add the flour.
The flour will go into the bowl next, with some baking powder. Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together. You don't want to overwork your dough at any stage and develop gluten, or you will get tough cookies. So keep all mixing to the minimum--stop as soon as ingredients are incorporated and make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently with a spatula to ensure everything is mixing together as it should.
This is a lovely, pliable dough that will easily bend to your will. It might stick slighly to the surface but it should not feel sticky or wet. If it sticks while rolling, here's a little trick: don't use flour, because you don't want to make these doughy. Instead, dust some confectioners' sugar on the surface and top and keep rolling.
I like a touch of vanilla in my sugar cookies. You could use another extract, like almond or lemon, if you want your sugar cookies flavored.
The cookies will bake at a low temperature--325 degrees Fahrenheit. You can adjust the texture of the cookies by baking for less or more time.
I like to give them 11 minutes in the oven, which makes them soft but with a slight crispness around the edges. Go 10 minutes for even softer cookies and 12 for cookies that are very crispy.
Make sure you turn the cookie sheet around halfway through baking, to ensure the cookies bake evenly. If you have multiple sheets baking at the same time, switch racks as well.
I chose not to decorate these because these are so perfectly sweet they don't need any gilding. But if you do decide to decorate the sugar cookies, here an awesome icing recipe naturally colored with mango puree, which I used in these vegan cardamom sugar cookies.
I hate using artificial dyes in food, and if you do too and are looking for ideas for naturally colored cookie icing, I want to point you to my buddy, Karin, who posts awesome plant-based, low-waste recipes on her blog Buddy and Buns. Karin recently offered some really cool tips for making homemade food dyes for icing on Instagram using beets and spinach, and you can find them here.
The best vegan sugar cookies
- Stand mixer or large bowl
- Baking sheet
- 16 tablespoon vegan butter (2 sticks or 1 cup, softened, at room temperature)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup aquafaba (chickpea brine, preferably at room temperature)
- 2½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt (optional, not necessary if the aquafaba is already salty)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- In a large bowl using a whisk, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, whisk together the sugar and butter until quite creamy and fluffy, about a minute.
- Add the vanilla extract and aquafaba and beat them in until well incorporated, about 45 seconds to a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once to make sure everything is mixing properly.
- Add in the flour, salt if using, and baking powder. Use a spatula to first mix them a bit before you start the stand mixer so the flour doesn't fly all over the place.
- Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together. Turn it out and shape into a disc. Cut into three pieces and quickly, without handling the dough too much, shape each portion into a disc. Wrap each disc in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roll out one of the discs into a circle about ¼th inch thick. If the dough is slightly sticky, dust it and the surface with powdered sugar, which will make rolling easier.
- Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather up any scraps, form them into a disc, and roll out for more cookies. Continue making cookies with the rest of the sugar cookie dough.
- Bake each cookie sheet for 9-12 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet around halfway through. The cookies should be very lightly colored on top with golden edges. Nine minutes will give you soft cookies, 12 will give you crispy cookies. I like baking for 10 minutes for the perfect texture.
- Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack where they can continue to cool. If icing, do so only after the cookies have cooled thoroughly.