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article number 82
article date 12-01-2011
copyright 2011 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Grandma Wells’ Sugar Cookies
by Jackie Wells Jamison and Jason Wells

When I share this, I am not just sharing a recipe with you but part of my family tradition and a little piece of family history. This recipe spans 6 generations of my family. Many members of my family thought this recipe was lost with the passing of my grandma. They were thrilled when several years ago my brother and I made a big batch for the Wells family reunion.

I have presented this recipe as a Christmas cookie, but these cookies are good anytime of year. When I was a kid we made these cookies every year for Santa (and he loved them), so I carried on the tradition with my kids. I hope when the time comes my grandkids will carry on the tradition. This recipe will make 6 to 7 dozen cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutters so sometimes I just do half of the recipe. While at my brothers home in Monroe Michigan we decided to make a batch of cookies. When his friends and neighbors found out we were making grandma’s sugar cookies they wanted to know when the cookies would be ready to eat. His tradition is to make a big batch to hand out to friends and neighbors every Christmas. My brother’s neighbor Debbie Thompson of Monroe, MI said “these cookies are the bomb”.

To be true to my grandma, we will include how she herself used to make the cookies, way back when before colored sprinkles and confectioner’s sugar was a luxury. A luxury not easily afforded on my grandpa’s income as a self employed wallpaper hanger and painter with 8 children to feed (Some of those years were during the great depression).

My grandparents Oliver and Ellen Wells.
Here are the ingredients you will need.

2 ¼ c. butter
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 c. milk
3 teaspoons vanilla
9 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
9 c. flour
And of course a rolling pin and cookie cutters.

Cream together sugar, butter, and eggs.
Mix well.
Add salt, milk, vanilla, and baking powder and mix thoroughly.
Gradually add flour.
Cover dough and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
Roll out dough on a floured surface 1/8 inch to ¼ inch thick depending how thick you like your cookies…I like a little thicker cookie.
Cut out your cookies and place them on a cookie sheet and bake 11 to 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
This is how my grandma used to cut her cookies, yes she used a glass.
She would put the cut out cookies on a baking sheet and sprinkle just plain white sugar over the top and bake them. I don’t believe grandma had the parchment paper though.
This is the way my dad, his brothers, sisters and many of my “older” family members remember my grandma’s sugar cookies….round and sprinkled with sugar.
We do ours a little bit differently than grandma:
We make powdered sugar icing.
In several colors.

Then we add colored sugars and sprinkle candies.


My brother and I hope you enjoy this recipe and encourage you to pass along your recipes to your family. You might have the only copy of Aunt Betty’s Apple Crisp, and no one even knows you have it.

Merry Christmas!

Our powdered sugar recipe:
2 lbs powered sugar
8 tablespoons of butter softened
2/3 cup of milk (you can add a little more for spreading consistency)
Now most people add vanilla but I use almond extract instead as I like the flavor it adds so I put in ¼ of a teaspoon.
Mix well, divide into bowls and add your food coloring.

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