Vintage Icebox Cookie Recipes

Decorated Icebox CookiesDecorated Icebox Cookies for a Special Occasion
(Source: ©zharate1/

Old fashioned icebox cookie recipes made baking cookies easy and convenient thanks to the arrival of kitchen iceboxes. Freezing cookie dough in long cylindrical rolls and simply slicing off cookies from the frozen roll whenever needed for baking proved to be a big hit with busy homemakers.

You can take advantage of these vintage cookie dough recipes to make a plateful of cookies whenever you feel like it, maybe for a school lunch, or simply for snacking on. Why buy expensive cookie dough from the supermarket when you can easily make it yourself, and homemade is more wholesome too.

Mom's Icebox Cookie Recipes

Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)

You'll find it's always handy to have a roll of frozen cookie dough in the fridge or freezer. As Mom used to say, you never know when company will arrive.

The following instructions were written in the 1920s when some families didn't have iceboxes, and they needed to take advantage of winter weather to use these recipes. Thankfully, that's seldom the case today, so why not try an icebox cookie recipe tonight?

How to Make Icebox Cookies

If you have a refrigerator or any sort of icebox, and your favorite icebox cookie recipes, no doubt you make icebox cookies the year-round. Whether you have ice or not, you can make cookies in this way from now until spring, as you can chill the dough by placing it in a covered container out-of-doors. It won't hurt the dough to freeze.

The icebox method has two great advantages over rolling out the dough. It is much quicker, and as no flour has to be added after the dough is made, and there is no manipulation of the dough with the hands or rolling pin, the cookies are shorter and of better texture than when rolled.

How to Freeze Cookie Dough

Mixing cookie dough is done as usual, then shape it in long rolls from 1-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, depending on the size of cookie you want. Wrap in waxed paper and place in the icebox or in a covered container out-of-doors until the cold has hardened it well.

When well hardened, take a sharp knife and slice off pieces of whatever thickness you want for cookies. Replace remainder of roll in icebox. Place sliced pieces on a baking sheet or pan and bake as usual.

Chewy Icebox Cookie Recipe

1 cup butter, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 eggs, 3-1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 cup nuts, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 teaspoon flavouring.

Cream butter and sugar; add beaten eggs. Sift four with baking powder and add to butter and sugar. Add flavouring, nuts and raisins. Form into a long roll about 2 inches in diameter, wrap in waxed paper, and let stand in the icebox until stiff enough to cut off in thin slices. Bake in a moderate oven.

These cookies are most satisfactory if you have a refrigerator or icebox. The dough can be kept almost indefinitely, and a few cookies baked at a time.

Beatrice Little's Icebox Cookie Recipe

Basic cookie dough recipe: 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 cups flour, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon soda dissolved in tablespoon water. Knead into roll and place in refrigerator or icebox on waxed paper until it is chilled; cut paper-thin slices and cook in moderate oven.

Remembering Beatrice Little

Beatrice Little, not to be confused with musical comedy star Beatrice Lilly, was a noted Broadway performer in the first half of the twentieth century. Late in her career, she had a cameo role in the 1956 Best Picture Oscar winning movie "Around The World In 80 Days" produced by Michael Todd.

Iowa Butterscotch Cookies

You can make three different cookies from this icebox cookie recipe — all three interesting and quite delicious with their butterscotch flavoring. Make them with fine shortening and you will have crisp, snappy cookies with delicious flavors, and they are so easy to bake when the pans are greased.

One cup shortening, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 eggs unbeaten, 1 cup nutmeats chopped fine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 cups pastry flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon soda.

Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly; add eggs, nuts, and vanilla. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, and soda together. Mix well. Turn onto floured board. Divide the batter and knead each half into oblong rolls about 3 inches in diameter.

Lay in greased pans and cover with waxed paper and put in icebox overnight, or until thoroughly chilled. When ready to bake, slice thin, and bake in moderate oven (350°F) for 10 minutes. This makes about 75 cookies.

  • California Chocolate Cookies

    Use Butterscotch Recipe. After adding eggs stir in 3/4 cup cocoa. Follow the same method for mixing and baking.

  • New York Raisin Nut Cookies

    Use Butterscotch Recipe. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, sifting with dry ingredients. After adding eggs stir in 1 cup raisins with the nutmeats, both having been put through the food chopper.

Icebox Shortbread Cookies

1 cup icing sugar, 2 cups butter, 4 cups flour. Mix well, knead until the dough begins to crack, shape into a round cake about 1/2 inch thick, crimping the edge like a pie crust, or roll out and cut like cookies, or prepare as you would for icebox cookies.

Bake on ungreased tins in a slow oven until delicately browned. Allow the shortbread to cool on the tin.

For Christmas or special occasions, shortbread cookies are nice when decorated by pressing pieces of blanched almonds, citron, peel or candied cherries in each icebox cookie slice just before baking.

Aunt Audrey Clysdale's Icebox Cookie Recipe

1/2 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1-3/4 cups flour, 2 cups chopped nuts. Mix first three ingredients, next three, then combine all; pack in waxed paper and put in icebox overnight, then turn out and slice; or, if immediate baking is desired, drop by teaspoon onto greased pan. Decorate with currants, nuts, raisins, or cherries. Bake in moderate oven.

Do You Remember the Kitchen Icebox?

Norton Raiding the IceboxNorton Busy Raiding Alice's Icebox
(PD Source: Jackie Gleason Magazine - Sep. 1955)

For anyone too young to remember the kitchen iceboxes,  if you watch reruns of The Honeymooners, the hit comedy series from the early 1950s, you'll see Alice Kramden's icebox with its pan of water resting beneath it waiting to be emptied.

Try as he might, Ralph always failed to convince Alice that he had provided her with the very latest in modern kitchen appliances.

Sometimes, neighbor Ed Norton delighted in raiding Alice's icebox between meals. I seem to recall him finding a layer cake once, but he could just as easily have found a roll of icebox cookie dough. Many housewives had their favorite icebox cookie recipes at the time when that classic television series was filmed.

Old Fashioned Kitchen IceboxKitchen Icebox

We never had an icebox on the farm, as a trapdoor cellar beneath our kitchen kept foods and milk cool before Dad purchased our first refrigerator in the early 1950s. But, I do recall my Aunt Daisy having one.

Once, while playing outside with my cousin, Barbara, the iceman arrived to install a fresh block of ice in the ice compartment. It was a sweltering hot day, and as he chipped the block to size on the tailgate of the ice truck, he kindly offered Barbara and me small chunks of frozen ice to suck on.

My aunt happened to be watching us through the kitchen window. She rushed outside and made us throw them away, saying it was frozen lake water and dirty. Naturally, we were quite disappointed and walked away muttering to ourselves, failing to understand the problem. Those cold ice chips had tasted so cold and refreshing.

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