Stained Glass Cookies

December 2016

Christmas cookies are a big deal at my house. We spend days whipping up all different family recipes, boxing them up, and delivering them to our neighbors. Our all-time favorite Christmas cookie recipe is a classic sugar cookie with a little 1960s twist—Stained Glass Cookies. My grandpa makes stained glass windows. When my mom and uncles were kids, he made stained glass cookies with them. He followed a simple sugar cookie recipe and used Lifesaver candy pieces as glass. The recipe is below. When the cookies are done, you can hold them up to the light and see all of the colors shine through the cookie. 

Sugar Cookie Recipe from Better Homes & Garden, Dessert Cook Book 1960


  • 2/3 cup of shortening
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange peel
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • 2 cups sifted, enriched flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • about 3 rolls of Lifesaver candies
  • flour or powdered sugar for rolling out cookies
  • Cookie cutters or cups to make the cookies different shapes
  • Aluminum foil and Pam, or parchment paper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream shortening, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla together. 

2.  Add egg and beat until light and fluffy

3.  Stir in milk 

4.  Sift together dry ingredients

5.  Blend into the creamed mixture

6.  Divide dough in half and chill for 1 hour

7.  While dough is chilling, break up the Lifesaver candy into small pieces to resemble broken glass (I sandwiched the candy between wax paper and gently broke it up with a hammer). 

8.  Once dough is chilled, lightly a dust a smooth surface with flour or powdered sugar and roll out dough ( I used powdered sugar to keep from making the cookies taste too bitter).

9.  Use cookie cutters to cut out the cookies. Once you have the cookies rolled and cut, cut smaller shapes into the cookies (I found that smaller holes work better and used a large straw to make holes in my cookies. You can also use a knife to cut your own shapes. This works best when the dough is still pretty chilled.). The smaller holes and shapes will become the windows in your stained glass cookies. 

10.  Place cut out cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle the broken Lifesaver pieces into the holes (“windows”) in your cookie. You can use aluminum foil instead of parchment paper, just be sure to spray the foil with Pam to prevent sticking. 

11.  Bake for about 6 minutes. Depending on your oven 6-9 minutes may work best. If you need to or if you prefer a crunchier cookie, bake your cookies without the candy first (about 4-5 minutes), pull them out and sprinkle the candy in the windows, and then return them to oven to finish baking and melt the candy. It may be worth trying one cookie first to test out your oven. Since I like soft cookies, I did the cookies and the candy at the same time and it worked perfectly. It took about 5-6 minutes to melt the Lifesaver candy. Let cool for about 10 minutes

12.  Enjoy!

Stained Glass Cookie Ornaments

You can also poke a hole in the top of the cookie and string a ribbon through it to hang on the Christmas tree as an ornament. The lights from the tree will shine through the window in the cookie. Just overbake the cookies, about 12 minutes, and then melt the candy in the windows another 5-6 minutes. This works best in a low humidity climate. My family has never been able to make the cookies into ornaments in south Louisiana. If you are short on time, you can use store-bought sugar cookie dough. It works just as well! My family just loves making a big mess and getting their hands all sticky around the table, so we make our own dough. We hope your family will enjoy this retro twist on the classic sugar cookie. Merry Christmas!

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