Orange-Cardamom Sugar Cookies

March 30, 2010
4 Ratings
Author Notes

Our family is all about cookies. We bake cookies for every occasion: birthdays, holidays, vacations, even funerals. I’ve made meringue cookies for my daughter’s birthday. We’ve had a giant chocolate chip cookie for my stepson’s. My mother brings big boxes of home-made cookies and muffins to our family vacation every year. My husband favors chocolate anything, and feels deprived if we don’t have home-baked cookies in the house. (All these recent baking fests have spoiled him!) I love sugar cookies because they’re perfect for throwing together on a rainy day (like today), they can be flavored any way you want, and I like them best when they’re soft and chewy.

Here are my tips for soft chewy cookies:
1. Measure the flour carefully. If you don’t scrape the top off the cup, you can easily add a tablespoon or two of flour, which can make the cookies tough.
2. Use brown sugar. I used 1 cup of light brown sugar and ½ cup of white sugar in the recipe below, but you can use dark brown sugar if you like.
3. Have the butter and eggs at room temperature before you start. Use large eggs.
4. Mix the ingredients together gently and stop just when they’re combined. If you use a stand mixer, keep the speed at “stir.”
5. Chill the dough before baking the cookies.
6. Know your oven and preheat it. Everyone’s oven is different. (This is why it’s so much fun to bake while on vacation—it’s always a surprise.)
7. If possible, bake one sheet at a time so that the cookies bake evenly. (I have to credit Maida Heatter with this suggestion.) Rotate the cookie sheet front to back halfway through the cooking time, and reverse the cookie sheets if you're baking more than one sheet at a time.
8. Err on the side of under-cooking. The cookies should be brown on the edges but still soft in the middle.

I like the combination of orange and cardamom so I used that in the recipe below, but really, the basic recipe can be a canvas for anything….Meyer lemon and finely-chopped toasted pecans…dipped in melted chocolate and covered with sliced toasted almonds…maybe some finely chopped thyme or rosemary….


Test Kitchen Notes

The flavor of these cookies is phenomenal -- perfectly balanced between orange, cardamom and butter, and not too sweet. The edges flatten and brown quickly while the center remains doughy, which makes for a butter-crisped edge and tender, poundcake-like center. They're a bit fragile after they're cooled, so store them with care. - Kristen —The Editors

  • Serves about 30
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 sticks ( 1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 yolk of large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of one large orange
In This Recipe
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir the butter and sugar together till just combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the egg and egg yolk; stir to combine. Add the vanilla extract and orange zest, stir again.
  4. Gently add in the dry ingredients a little at a time, stirring just until they are combined, about 30-45 seconds.
  5. Scoop the dough with a tablespoon and roll into balls. Place evenly on cookie sheets and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula. (If the dough is very soft, it may be easier to do this after the dough is chilled.)
  6. Place the cookie sheets in the refrigerator and chill dough for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 375. If you're baking one sheet at a time, place oven rack in the center of the oven. If you want to bake both sheets at the same time, place the racks so that the oven is divided into thirds.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes. Reverse cookie sheets front to back (and switch shelves if you're using 2 shelves). Bake for 5-7 more minutes until cookies are brown on edges and still soft in the center.
  9. Place cookie sheet(s) on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove cookies with spatula and place them on wire racks to cool completely.
  10. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ER
  • Cynthia Williams
    Cynthia Williams
  • Chaiwalla
  • AntoniaJames
  • testkitchenette

    24 Reviews

    Josie October 30, 2018
    These cookies were so delicious!! The orange and cardamom go so well together and this recipe also called for a little more salt than usual which I really liked. The only thing was that the cardamom was not very strong and I needed up adding an extra dash but all in all I would definitely make these cookies again.
    Author Comment
    drbabs October 30, 2018
    Thanks, Josie. I’m so glad you liked them!
    ER February 26, 2018
    I baked the first batch as directed but then tried refrigerating the dough and then making the balls with cilled dough. There was no appreciable difference in the end product
    Author Comment
    drbabs February 26, 2018
    Thanks for trying them.
    Cynthia W. December 2, 2015
    To say these cookies are amazing is almost an understatement. I followed the recipe exactly and wouldn't change a thing. They have now made my top three list.
    Author Comment
    drbabs December 2, 2015
    I'm so happy you liked them!
    Chaiwalla March 13, 2015
    I used a really coarse dark brown sugar to replace the brown sugar...because it was all I had. My cookies held their shape without the fridge, and turned out more roundy like a fat ginger snap kind of cookie! Super yum, and lots of flavour :)
    Author Comment
    drbabs December 2, 2015
    I just saw this-- I'm so glad your variation worked well!
    bronxbaker November 16, 2014
    I made these last week to send as part of care package for a college friend and they were so delicious! She hasn't received them yet but I am certain she will love them.
    Author Comment
    drbabs November 16, 2014
    Oh, I hope she likes them!. Thank you for letting me know.
    fortyniner June 26, 2010
    Thanks for the info on possibilities of making the flavoured sugar I was after.

    I made these cookies tonight and they were firstly very easy to make and secondly very tasty - I ended up substituting mandarin zest for the orange zest and used 2 small organic eggs.
    Discovered after I had already added the butter that I had picked up the salted butter from the fridge, but it certainly didn't affect the taste! Just have to make sure that we leave enough for my morning tea on Monday - these are the type of cookies that you just can't stop at one!!
    Author Comment
    drbabs June 26, 2010
    So glad you liked them.
    fortyniner June 25, 2010
    Have all the ingredients ready to make these tonight. They look delicious and have friend calling for morning tea so thought I would give these a go. Originally was looking for recipe for orange, cardamom and vanilla sugar and happily discovered this recipe. I used to be able to buy small jars of McCormicks orange, cardamom and vanilla sugar here in Oz, sadly they stopped making it a couple of years ago and oh how I miss that yummy flavouring. It was great for adding to cakes, shaking over icecream,pavlovas etc.
    Anyone know how to make this flavoured sugar?. Ingredients on side of jar seem very basic.
    Author Comment
    drbabs June 26, 2010
    I hope you and your friend enjoy the cookies! I don't know how to make the sugars, but I bet you could try 3 small jars of sugar, one with a vanilla bean, one with a few crushed cardamom pods, and one with some orange zest--and make it yourself. Have a good tea.
    AntoniaJames May 10, 2010
    Orange + Cardamom (Anything) = Scrumptious. These are drop dead gorgeous. Great recipe. Have actually copied to my online cooking journal (for personal use only, of course) the many very helpful tips in this. I've been baking for please-don't-ask-how-many decades -- since I was about 8 -- and still have so much to learn!! ;o)
    Author Comment
    drbabs May 10, 2010
    AntoniaJames, you flatter with all your amazing breads. Feel free to use the tips--they're all ideas I worked up from reading so many cookie recipes and experimenting over the years. Don't we all still have so much to learn?! And isn't this fun?!
    testkitchenette March 30, 2010
    I love the flavors of these! We are a slightly cookie obsessed family as well!
    Author Comment
    drbabs March 30, 2010
    Thanks. Aren't cookies just the best?
    mrslarkin March 30, 2010
    Great tips! And great cookie, too!
    Author Comment
    drbabs March 30, 2010
    Thanks, Mrs. Larkin. Your cookies both look amazing. I can see why you're a professional baker.
    TheWimpyVegetarian March 30, 2010
    I've really only been baking for a couple years - a neophite by any definition. There's so many variables. Thanks so much for laying out these tips! And I love cardamom and orange!
    Author Comment
    drbabs March 30, 2010
    Me, too! This is what has worked for me--I hope it works for you, too.
    Lizthechef March 30, 2010
    wow - great cookie-making lessons, much needed in my kitchen!
    Author Comment
    drbabs March 30, 2010
    Thanks, Liz!