The Ingredients That Will Give Your Sugar Cookies A Savory Spin

There's a comforting nostalgia that sugar cookies bring as a hallmark of family gatherings, themed cookie cutters, and frosting art. And just as sugar cookies are a blank slate for frosting decorations, they're also a blank slate for flavor building. Herbs are a wonderful option to add complexity to your sugar cookie by infusing a savory touch to an otherwise one-dimensional flavor profile.

If you're mulling over which herb to try, rosemary is a good place to start. It's a versatile and popular additive to a panoply of sweet and savory dishes, from roasted sweet potatoes to rustic bread. It's widely available fresh at grocery stores around the nation, not to mention its presence as a decorative bush in many yards. Other delicious and popular candidates used often in baked goods include basil, thyme, and lavender. All these herbs have distinct flavors that are both unmistakable and subtle.

These herbs' aromas blend seamlessly with the buttery smell of freshly baked sugar cookies, giving you a tantalizing preview of the elegant flavor profile you'll get when you take the first bite. Each herb has a different ratio of earthy to floral, but they all complement the sweetness of the sugar.

How to add herbs to sugar cookies

You can add herbs to sugar cookies using various methods, from herb-infused sugar to diced herbs incorporated directly into the batter. Chopping or otherwise breaking down an herb helps release its aromatic elements and facilitates its infusion into a dish. 

Rosemary especially needs at least a rough chop because it's more liable to become bitter if you add it whole. You can add roughly chopped rosemary to cookie batter for the visual aesthetic of dotting their golden color with deep green specs. A little bit of rosemary goes a long way, so you don't need much for your cookies.

Flavor-infused sugar is a powerful weapon in the baking world, and you can infuse herbs into sugar by burying whole leaves in a container of sugar to sit over time or blending it with sugar together in a food processor. Another easy option is to infuse butter with the sprig herb of your choice over medium heat before removing the sprig and adding the butter to the batter. 

You can also press dried herb leaves or buds into the top of each cookie before baking them for a stunning visual cue and blast of flavor. Many sugar cookie recipes pair herbs with ingredients like citrus juice or zest to enhance their flavor and add even more complexity to sugar cookies.