Pan Banging Sugar Cookies are decorated with pearl sugar for a delightful Christmas cookie. These unique sugar cookies are the perfect mix of crunchy and chewy, plus, they look like they’re dusted with snow!
Making Christmas cookies for DIY dessert gifts is one of my favorite holiday traditions, and these Pan Banging Sugar Cookies are some of our favorites! With golden brown, crispy edges and a gooey barely-baked center, these cookies are studded with beautiful pearl sugar.
They make for the best Christmas sugar cookie and would be perfect nestled into a holiday dessert charcuterie board this year!
What Are Pan Banging Cookies?
As the name suggests, you literally bang the pan on the oven rack every few minutes while they bake. This odd but unique cookie baking technique developed by the brilliant baking mind of Sarah Kieffer makes the puffy cookie centers collapse, forming the iconic ridges and giving these cookies a crispy edge but a soft, chewy center.
You’ll create the pan banging effect by lifting the side of the baking sheet off the oven rack a few inches and dropping it down.
The cookies have a tell-tale wrinkled top so don’t worry when these don’t turn out to be puffy like traditional sugar cookies; that’s the point of pan banging.
I love these Christmas sugar cookies because they’re so simple and unique! Here’s your basic shopping list, with the full measurements in the recipe card below!
- Baking soda
- Cream of tartar
- Softened butter
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Pearl sugar
How to Make Pan Banging Cookies
Here’s some are the basic steps for making these soft and chewy sugar cookies. Be sure to read the full list of instructions in the recipe card below!
STEP 1: Whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar.
STEP 2: In a second bowl, beat the butter until creamy before adding the sugar. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the batter.
STEP 3: Once the dough is almost combined, add the pearl sugar. You will definitely be able to see the pearl sugar in the cookies, but all other ingredients should be fully combined.
STEP 4: Form the dough into large balls (about a 1/4 cup per cookie) and roll them in some granulated sugar. You can make smaller cookies, but you’ll have a harder time getting the wrinkled edges because there will be less surface area to work with. Arrange the dough balls out on the baking sheet and bake one pan at a time on the middle oven rack.
STEP 5: When the cookies start to spread and centers have puffed up, lift one of the short sides of the pan a few inches and drop it back on the oven rack. Repeat this pan-banging step a every few minutes until the cookies are golden brown on the edges but have a gooey, lighter center.
STEP 6: Let cookies cool briefly on the pan to keep their shape intact before moving them to a rack.
What to Put in Pan Banging Cookies
I love to make these Pan Banging Sugar Cookies for Christmas because the pearl sugar is extra sweet and reminds me of a fresh dusting of snow! I actually got the idea for them from the Pearl Sugar Cookies I fell in love with from Trader Joe’s a few weeks back and I just had to make a homemade version.
However if plain sugar cookies aren’t your thing or you can’t find pearl sugar, there are so many other mix-ins you can add to this Christmas sugar cookie recipe.
If you want to keep these cookies simple, add sprinkles instead of pearl sugar for an easy sugar cookie with a funfetti feel!
If your crew loves chocolate chip cookies, make those. They’re the original pan banging cookie recipe!
I recommend adding chopped chocolate instead of chocolate chips because it spreads better in cookies and makes little puddles of chocolate, but use whatever you have. You could also add white chocolate (chopped or chips), butterscotch chips, or peanut butter chips!
Dried cranberries, some orange zest, and white chocolate chips would be fantastic in this sugar cookie recipe!
If you’re a fan of nuts in your cookies – we aren’t here – toasted chopped pecans and chocolate chips might work for you.
What to Serve with Pan Banging Cookies
When I need a little afternoon boost, I pair these soft sugar cookies with a holiday latte. It’s so easy to make a latte at home!
I love this Gingerbread Latte because it’s warm and cozy with real gingerbread spices and a dollop of whipped cream.
If you love eggnog, you’ll love this festive Eggnog Latte! Skip the coffee shop and the flavored syrup and make the real thing in your own kitchen without putting on real pants.
Sometimes nothing beats a super soft sugar cookie with festive frosting, and these Lofthouse Soft Sugar Cookies can be made for any holiday with the same amazing flavor.
Need more Christmas cookies to give your friends and family this holiday season? Try these adorable Snowmen and Mitten Sugar Cookies you can decorate with the family for Santa. I haven’t been brave enough to face the mess of a toddler decorating sugar cookies with royal icing yet but maybe 2020 is the year?
- 2 cups [284 g] all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup [2 sticks or 227 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ¾ cup [350 g] granulated sugar, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup pearl sugar
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line three large baking sheets with aluminum foil, dull-side up.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until creamy, about 1 minute. Add 1 ½ cups [300 g] of the granulated sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the egg and vanilla on low until just combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until almost combined. Stir in the pearl sugar just until the dough comes together and sugar is distributed throughout.
- Add the remaining ¼ cup (50 g) of granulated sugar to a wide, shallow bowl. I like to use a glass pie dish or an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop out slightly heaping rounds of dough (about 3 oz, ¼ cup, or 85 g) and roll them into a ball in your hand. Roll the dough balls in the sugar so they are covered really well. Place 4 dough balls on each baking sheet, spaced evenly in the shape of a square.
- One pan at a time, bake for 6 minutes (see Note below). The centers of the cookies should be puffy by this point. Open the oven and pull out the rack. Using an oven mitt, lift the right side of the pan about 4 inches off of the rack and let it drop down with a little force onto the rack. The cookies will deflate and the first wrinkle will form around the edge of the cookies. Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, repeating the pan banging process every 2 minutes alternating the side of the pan you drop each time, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown and the centers are pale in color.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely. While the cookies cool, repeat with the additional pans of cookies, again baking 1 pan at a time.
The original recipe instructs to start the pan banging after baking for 8 minutes but I found that 4 bangs of the pan didn't make enough wrinkles in my first pan of cookies to mimic the look of the cookies in the cookbook. So I started banging at 6 minutes, giving me 5 bangs over 10 minutes of baking. That made a big difference in the iconic look of these cookies!
adapted from 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer
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