Now you can make thick and fluffy sugar cookies despite high altitude with these High Altitude Sugar Cookies. They’re a Lofthouse Cookie copycat recipe and require no cookie cutters!
Fluffy homemade sugar cookies are no longer just a thing for our sea-level- living friends with these High Altitude Sugar Cookies. I adapted a favorite sugar cookie recipe to be nice, thick, and fluffy even at high mountain altitudes. Read below for all the adjustments I made and why, and be sure to measure your ingredients carefully to have the best, most tasty results!
Today I present to you a Mae’s Menu recipe that doesn’t have “healthy” written on it once… unless if you’re considering how healthy it is for the soul.
After all, food doesn’t have morality, life is about balance, and it’s often best to just go straight for a moderate amount of what you’re craving than to tell yourself to eat “healthier” things first… Only to do that and still come back to what you wanted in the first place.
Plus, if we’re being active and looking at nutrition as a positive game of adding in nutritious foods into our holiday diet alongside sweets and traditional treats — instead of looking at what we “cannot have” or need to remove from our diets — we’ll see that there’s room for almost anything in our diet while we nourish our bodies.. and our beings.
‘Cause, as not popular as it is to say it, there is a soul-nourishing part to eating food. Do we want food to be our only coping mechanism? Of course not. But, to deny ourselves the occasional personal, social, and psychological release of enjoying a treat is anything but self-care.
All that to say that these fluffy sugar cookies are good.
Baking at high altitude can be a hassle — I wish I could have shown you my garbage can full of failed baking attempts when I first moved to Colorado. They were mostly super spread out, air-bubbled globs of undercooked gluey dough.
So, I set out to understand what adjustments I needed to make and why to set my high altitude cookie baking straight. And when I recently tried my mom’s favorite Lofthouse Cookie Copycat recipe (see more below), I shouldn’t have been surprised to see them spread and turn into a similar cookie-like puddle.
What followed was two rounds of adjusting and tweaking, changing temperatures, and finding the best way to roll-out sugar cookies with no fuss (I’m not joking)!
Oh, and did I mention the vanilla cream cheese frosting? Maybe not your traditional sugar frosting, but one taste and I’m betting that it will become your new go-to.
These High Altitude Sugar Cookies Are…
- Thick and fluffy
- Made without cookie cutters
- Topped with a vanilla cream cheese frosting
- Perfect for people baking at high altitudes (over 3000 feet)
- Utterly addicting
- Quickly disappearing
- Just like Lofthouse sugar cookies (i.e., a copycat recipe!)
So, if you live a bit above sea level and are sick of having to deal with disappointing sugar cookie recipes, try these high altitude sugar cookies out!
I adapted my recipe (below) from Kelly’s Life Made Sweeter’s Lofthouse Style Frosted Sugar Cookie’s recipe. Her cookie recipe was delicious, but they did not bake up well here in Fort Collins (at about 5000 feet). So, I set out on a mission of adjusting the cookie recipe for high altitude baking.
Here are the high-altitude baking adjustments I made for this recipe:
- Increased the amount of flour – Kelly’s original recipe at high altitude spread out like crazy. The little balls of cookie dough each turned into a saucer the size of a tea plate. When I added an extra 1/2 cup plus of flour, however, the cookies baked up like they would at low elevation.
- Chose a flour with higher protein content – this is going to sound weird that I used this type of flour in a sugar cookie so I’m just going to ask that you trust me on this, but by using whole wheat flour I strengthened the structure of the baked goods. By using white whole wheat flour (I found mine at Trader Joe’s), it doesn’t even look like a dark whole wheat cookie.
- Reduced the amount of sugar – by reducing the amount of sugar (going from 3/4 cup to 2/3 cup), I also helped to control the amount of spreading that the cookies did while baking. The cookies don’t miss any of the extra sweetness, either — neither Chris or I could tell a difference in the flavor!
- Reduced the amount of leavener – Kelly’s original recipe called for a total of 1 teaspoon of leavener (baking soda and baking powder combined). On my first high altitude batch, I used a total of 1/2 teaspoon leavener but the cookies still had air bubbles (albeit tiny) in them. When I reduced the leavener to 3/8 teaspoon, however, they were the perfect thick and fluffy sugar cookies.
- Increased the baking temperature – often we need to increase the temperature when baking at altitude. This is because as the liquid evaporates quickly and the leaveners work faster we want to keep the baking temperature commensurate. Doing so helps to encourage the structural integrity of the baked good. In my recipe, I increased the temperature to 385 degrees and it was perfect.
How do you roll-out sugar cookies without cookie cutters?
Thankfully, there is a low hassle way to roll-out sugar cookies without cookie cutters.
First, roll your cookie dough into balls. I used 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each ball.
Then, cover the bottom of a drinking cup with parchment paper and lightly press down on the balls until they’re about 1/4 inch thick.
Now you have round sugar cookies ready to bake!
Why do you need to adjust baking recipes for high altitude?
You need to adjust baking recipes for high altitude because the baking conditions are different at higher altitude.
For example, the air is thinner when you’re far above sea level so the gas inside the baked goods expands more easily, meaning you don’t need as much of a leavener (baking powder, baking soda, yeast, etc.) when baking. Water also evaporates quicker at higher altitudes, calling for more moisture in the recipes and for the need to adjust the amount of sugar and flour.
So, if you live above 3000-3500 feet and your baked good recipes aren’t turning out, consider adjusting your recipes for altitude changes.
Other baked good recipes you might like:
- Peanut Butter Brookies
- Pumpkin Spice Blender Muffins
- Lemon Blueberry Muffin Bread
- Apple Blender Cake
- Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Quinoa & Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars
- Healthy No-Bake Chocolate Bars
- No-Bake Date Energy Balls
- Fudgy Date Brownies
If you make and like this recipe, please rate it by clicking on the 5-star rating on the recipe card. I appreciate it so much! <3
The perfectly thick and fluffy sugar cookies for all of us at higher altitudes.
Make sure to use whole wheat flour -- the cookies need the extra protein in the flour to bake up well at altitude.
The almond extract is optional but highly encouraged. It creates that classic sugar cookie flavor and is worth finding it for this recipe if you don't already have it.
without being too chewy or dark.Use white whole wheat flour for the best results. I find mine at Trader Joe's. This flour will give them the heartiness they need
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional but encouraged)
- 2 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (or 270 g) white whole wheat flour
- 5 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 oz. (or 1/4 cup) cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons milk (2% or whole)
- Additional powdered sugar and/or milk, as needed
- Food coloring (optional)
- Sprinkles (optional)
- Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- With a stand or handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for 45 seconds- 1 minute or until the two are mixed together.
- Mix in the egg, sour cream, vanilla, and almond extracts and cream for another minute or so, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through, until any chunks of butter are blended into the rest of the liquid and the mixture is a pale yellow. It's okay if the mixture looks slightly curdled. That's just the sour cream.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients (the flour- the cream of tartar) and mix together lightly with a fork.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and blend in slowly at first and then speeding up as the flour absorbs into the rest of the dough, blending for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and repeat with the rest of the flour, making sure all the flour is mixed in.
- Roll the dough into large tablespoon-size balls and place on the baking sheets 3 inches apart.
- Wrap the bottom of a drinking glass in parchment paper and press down lightly on each ball to flatten them out to about 1/4 inch thick.
- Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes each, until the cookies are *just* starting to turn golden around the edges.
- Move the cookie trays to wire racks and let the cookies cool on the sheets (they will finish cooking as sit on the trays).
- When cookies are completely cooled, move them to the wire rack and then ice with frosting.
Make the icing:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip up the butter and cream cheese for 2.5-3 minutes, or until light and creamy.
2. Add in the vanilla and almond extract and whip in until combined, or about 15-30 seconds.
3. Pour in the powdered sugar by the 3/4 cup full and blend in, starting at a slow speed and then building up until it's combined each time.
4. Pour in the milk and whip it in, starting slowly and then building up the speed, for about 15-30 seconds or until the milk is absorbed into the frosting.
5. If the frosting is still too thick, add in extra milk by the teaspoon full and whisk in as you did in step 4. If it is too loose, add in extra powdered sugar by the tablespoon full until it reaches the desired consistency.
6. Stir in food coloring, if using, and frost your cookies using a knife or spatula.
7. Let dry on cooling racks and then store in airtight containers.
1. These cookies will keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days.
2. You can also freeze them in an airtight, freezer-safe container for 2-3 months. Don't defrost with heat.
Amount Per Serving Calories 265Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 36mgSodium 62mgCarbohydrates 40gFiber 0gSugar 25gProtein 3g