The Simple Ingredient That Will Majorly Upgrade Your Sugar Cookies

While many people love sugar cookies, they can be a divisive dessert. This treat is typically made by combining sugar, butter, flour, and other optional ingredients. Additionally, sugar cookies are usually decorated with frosting or sprinkles to add some extra sweetness and an aesthetic appearance. Though they are always a tasty treat, sugar cookies are particularly popular during holidays, as many people enjoy decorating them in festive ways. 

Those who love sugar cookies generally cite their soft, fluffy texture and sweet, buttery flavor. However, those who can do without the cookies have several reasons why they feel they are subpar. Some people despise the frosting and sprinkles on sugar cookies, arguing that these elements add too much sweetness or ruin the texture of the cookies. Others argue that the cookies are simply too flavorless. You may be wondering how sugar cookies, a dessert with a name that implies flavor, are described as flavorless by some. Well, it's actually quite easy for sugar cookies to lack flavor when people forget one simple ingredient. 

Extracts work wonders when it comes to enhancing flavors

Extracts will kick the flavor of your sugar cookies up a notch. Perhaps one of the most popular extracts is vanilla. Its warm flavor is perfect for adding a subtle sweetness to sugar cookies. Though vanilla extract's flavor is key to its popularity, the extract has another lesser known benefit: its ability to highlight other flavors (via Vegan Foundry). While vanilla adds a sweetness to sugar cookies, it often stays in the background, enhancing the flavor of other important ingredients like butter. So, if you're looking for an extract that adds a hint of sweetness to your sugar cookies while emphasizing other ingredients, vanilla is a perfect option! A good deal of sugar cookie recipes call for about one to two teaspoons of vanilla extract, depending on the desired amount of sweetness.

While almonds are one of the most popular nuts in the world (via World Atlas), almond extract is a fairly unpopular choice. However, this makes it interesting for those who dare to be different. Almond extract adds a pleasant, nutty flavor to sugar cookies that many don't expect. About 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract should accomplish this nutty profile.

Lemon extract is another less popular extract choice, but it really packs a flavorful punch. It's perfect for adding a zesty flavor to sugar cookies without infusing them with bitterness or acidity. You'll only need one teaspoon of lemon extract to give your sugar cookies a delicious citrus flavor.

Don't be afraid to combine extracts when baking

Using extracts is sure to elevate the flavor of your sugar cookies. You can even combine extracts to develop a unique flavor (via Taste of Home). 

A popular pairing is vanilla extract and almond extract, as this combination provides a sweet and nutty flavor. Another tasty combination is lemon extract and vanilla extract. This pairing infuses cookies with the sweetness of vanilla and zest of lemon. So, if you usually add two teaspoons of vanilla extract to your sugar cookies, consider adding one teaspoon of vanilla and one teaspoon of almond or lemon to add depth to your flavor profile.

In addition to extracts, there are several other tricks that infuse sugar cookies with flavor. For example, using unsalted butter instead of margarine gives sugar cookies a delicious, homemade flavor. However, extracts are simple ingredients that are at the core of enhancing desserts. When baking sugar cookies, be sure to give your cookies a flavorful punch and use extracts!