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Easy Sugar Cookies

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These easy soft sugar cookies are chewy drop cookies with crisp, buttery edges. They’re a simple alternative to cut-out sugar cookies! Decorate them with icing or sprinkles for any holiday.

Easy Drop Sugar Cookies

I love cut-out sugar cookies, especially come Christmas time. However, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day, and that’s where this recipe for drop sugar cookies comes in. These soft sugar cookies are chewy in the middle, crisp and buttery at the edges, with a mouthwateringly sugary crumb.

This is a family-favorite recipe for sugar cookies that require zero chilling, no fancy gadgets, and only a handful of simple ingredients. Whether you’re a cookie wizard or a baking beginner, I promise, you’ll never need another recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe

These are the absolute BEST sugar cookies, hands down. It’s been my go-to recipe for years, and before that, it was passed down through my husband’s family. This generational cookie recipe is:

  • Quick. Drop cookies are the best fuss-free alternative to classic cut-out cookies. They bake up fast and easy.
  • Versatile. I’ve used this soft sugar cookie recipe as a base for countless variations, including sugar cookie bars. Find more easy recipe variations further down in this post.
  • Perfect for decorating. Give your cookies a festive spin by topping them with frosting, or rolling them in sprinkles. It’s easy to adapt them to any holiday. See the section below for ideas!
Close up of a soft sugar cookie decorated with a pink frosting swirl and sprinkles.

Ingredient Notes

You can make delicious, buttery, and soft sugar cookies with just a handful of pantry ingredients. Below are some short ingredient notes, with the full list and recipe details available in the recipe card.

  • Butter – Unsalted butter, softened before you start. If you use salted butter, there’s no need to add additional salt later on in the recipe. 
  • Sugar – Classic sugar cookies call for granulated white sugar.
  • Vanilla Extract – These cookies are also great with almond extract.
  • Cream of Tartar– Cream of tartar adds a touch of tang and gives the cookies some chew (same as in my Snickerdoodles, which is a version of this cookie recipe rolled in cinnamon sugar!). You can make these cookies without cream of tartar, though the texture will be slightly less soft and chewy. See below for cream of tartar substitutes.
A stack of five soft sugar cookies with a bite missing from the top cookie.

How to Make Soft Sugar Cookies

Here are the quick steps to make these easy drop cookies:

  • Beat the wet ingredients. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs and vanilla. 
  • Combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk the rest of the dry ingredients. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet batter until the cookie dough forms.
  • Prepare for baking. Scoop the cookie dough using a cookie scoop, and drop portions onto a baking sheet, spacing each cookie a couple of inches apart.
  • Bake. Bake the cookies at 350ºF for 10-12 minutes, then take them out and leave them to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes. Finally, move the sugar cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

Can I Substitute Cream of Tartar in Sugar Cookies?

Yes! You can check out my post that covers cream of tartar for more information, but here are two easy substitutes for the cream of tartar in this sugar cookie recipe:

  • Lemon Juice or Vinegar – When testing these cookies with a cream of tartar substitute, I replaced ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice (or vinegar). The cookies baked up with slightly less of a rise, but they still tasted great.
  • Baking Powder – Substitute 1 teaspoon of baking powder in place of both the cream of tartar and baking soda in this recipe. The texture of the cookies will be a bit crunchier and more puffed-up.

Can I Make the Cookie Dough Ahead?

Absolutely. While I’ve tweaked this recipe over time so that it doesn’t require chilling the dough, you can still prepare the sugar cookie dough up to 2 days in advance and pop it into the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to bake it. Simply store it or wrap it airtight.

If your cookie dough has been in the refrigerator for longer than 2 hours, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before baking. If you’ve frozen the cookie dough, allow it to thaw completely before you bake it. See below for tips on storing and freezing your baked sugar cookies!

Scoops of drop sugar cookie dough lined up in rows on a metal baking sheet.

Recipe Tips

Here are some additional tips for making perfect drop cookies:

  • Use room temperature butter. Before you begin, it’s important to bring your butter to room temperature. This not only makes it easier to combine with the other ingredients, but it also helps the cookies bake more evenly, with less spreading.
  • Quickly soften butter. You can soften up the butter by taking it out of the fridge ahead of time, or gently warming it in the microwave for a few seconds. Afterward, it’s ready to combine into dough.
  • Pre-scoop the dough prior to refrigerating. If you’re preparing the sugar cookie dough ahead, this is a handy way to speed up the process. Once the dough is cold it’s a bit harder to scoop.
  • Use a large cookie scoop to portion the dough. I use one that’s about 3 tablespoons, which yields about 20 cookies per recipe. If you use a medium-sized cookie scoop, you’ll get closer to 36 cookies.
  • Bake the cookies on a silicone baking sheet. This helps to prevent the bottoms of the cookies from burning. The added layer also keeps the cookies from spreading too much.
  • Leave the cookies slightly underbaked in the middle, while letting the edges get a little crispy. This is the secret to soft and chewy sugar cookies.

A soft sugar cookie coated in red sanding sugar leaning against a red carton of decorated sugar cookies.

Easy Variations

I’ve made nearly a dozen variations of this easy sugar cookie recipe ever since I perfected it, from brown sugar cookies to pumpkin sugar cookies, and more. It’s so easy to make one batch of dough, divide it, and customize the portions with add-ins and decorations. Some fun ways to mix it up include:

Assorted Christmas Cookies laid out on a table

Ways to Decorate Sugar Cookies

I love decorating finished cookies with my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting. Or, try easy sugar cookie icing! Both recipes are easy to customize. Add a few drops of your desired gel color (see my post on how to color buttercream frosting) and you’re ready to decorate for any occasion. Here are some more ideas: 

  • Holidays – Even though they’re cut-out cookie recipes, check out my tutorials on how to frost sugar cookies, as well as these Halloween sugar cookies and Easter sugar cookies for fun holiday cookie inspiration.
  • Sugar Coating – Roll the cookies in granulated sugar or colored sanding sugar for a simple, elegant look. This is my go-to!
  • Frosting – Use a 1M piping tip to make a frosting swirl, and then just add some colorful sprinkles. Check out my guide on how to use piping tips for loads of easy decorating techniques.
A soft sugar cookie with a bite missing, leaning against a stack of sugar cookies.

How to Store Sugar Cookies

  • To Store. Whether they’re frosted or unfrosted, I’ll usually store cookies at room temperature. Store these cookies airtight, in a cool and dry spot in your kitchen for up to 7 days. If you’ve made different flavored cookies, I recommend storing them in separate containers so that the flavors don’t “bleed” into each other.
  • Freeze. The finished, unfrosted sugar cookies can be stored airtight and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw the cookies uncovered at room temperature before serving.

More Sugar Cookie Recipes to Try

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Homemade sugar cookies arranged on a plate.

Easy Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 20 Cookies

Description

These soft sugar cookies are chewy drop cookies with crisp, buttery edges. They’re a simple alternative to cut-out sugar cookies! Decorate your them with icing or sprinkles for any holiday.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened (see notes)
  • 1½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • Additional 1/2 cup granulated sugar for finishing

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 
  2. Soften the butter in the microwave for 10-12 seconds. Combine the butter with the sugar and beat on medium speed until well creamed together.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix into the butter and sugar until the eggs are well beaten.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Slowly add into the dough and beat on medium-low speed until well combined and dough forms.
  5. Use a large cookie scoop and portion the dough. Roll each ball of dough in granulated sugar and then place each one about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake at 350° F 10-12 minutes. Allow cookie to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Notes

  • Butter temperature: Either allow butter to come to room temperature or soften cold butter in the microwave for 10-12 seconds. 
  • Cream of tartar substitute: If needed, replace the ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar in this cookie recipe with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar. 
  • Decorate these cookies: Roll in granulated sugar, sanding sugar, or sprinkles. Or top these with Perfect Vanilla Frosting or Easy Sugar Cookie Icing
  • Mix ins: Add 1 cup M&Ms or 1/2-3/4 cup sprinkles. Roll them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar for Snickerdoodle
  • Make ahead and storage options:  Prepare the dough ahead of time and leave it in the refrigerator or freezer. If it’s more than 48 hours, I recommend freezing the dough in an airtight container. Thaw to room temperature prior to baking. Finished cookies can be frozen and stored in an airtight container.
  • Storing finished cookies: These can be stored at room temperature for 7 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. 
Nutrition Information:
1 cookies
196
8.2g
57.9mg
8.2g
4.9g
28.7g
.4g
2.2g
35.8mg
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: soft sugar cookie recipe, soft sugar cookies, soft sugar cookies recipe, drop sugar cookies

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

98 Responses
  1. Teri M

    This was my favorite recipe this Christmas. I made a batch with Christmas M&M’s. Then I tried the Chocolate cookie version and it was incredible! I was inspired to put my own twist on it by adding a box of strawberry jello mix to the batter. It gave the cookies a gentle strawberry flavor and automatically colored the cookies a medium pink. They were so good, I made a batch with lime jello. These also had a gentle lime flavor and were a mint green color. I rolled each type of cookie in different kinds of sugar or sprinkles. When I fixed my cookie treat bags to give as gifts, I had a wonderful assortment with just this basic recipe. I made a few others to give some variety but I am so glad I found this recipe! Thank you for sharing it.

  2. Amber Fischer

    This sugar cookie recipe is SO GOOD! I love a soft and chewy sugar cookie and this is it! I am not a fan of the flat cookies so when I saw these they were perfect! This will be a favorite moving forward!

  3. Erin

    Just want to be sure that the amount of flour is 3 1/2 cups? My cookies puffed up. They taste delicious but I need them flat so I could decorate them.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Yes, I’ve also made them with 3 cups, but they tend to deflate a bit. I find that if they are baked all the way through, they will stay a little puffy but if they are slightly unbaked, then they will fall and settle in to be a bit flatter.

  4. Mary Mobley

    These were awesome! Followed the recipe exactly! My husband said its the best sugar cookie he has ever had and he is kinda picky lol…this is a must try! Thank you for the recipe!

  5. Tim Voigt

    Gave this recipe a spin this morning. Really good flavor and texture. They are slightly darker in the top center but golden on the very edge and bottom. Am I short on flour? I’m not much of a baker, but this was a fun project. Love your site!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Tim, hard to say. It could be the oven as well if the tops baked more than the bottom. If you can email me a picture I can try and troubleshoot.

  6. Cindy T

    Very nice recipe, they baked up soft with good flavour. I added crushed candy canes to my batter!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      How puffy? It’s possible the flour was over measured. My do expand in the oven and then as they cool, the dome settles down and flattens a bit creaking those nice crevasse

  7. Eva

    These are very good, I like them alot and they were easy to mix up. These are the best sugarfree cookie that Ive made.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Jenn, something must not be right, I use this recipe all the time and I have not experienced that. Was the butter too soft perhaps?

      1. Kim

        Nice job blaming the person making the recipe. You are so rude. I was going to make these, but I will find another recipe without a rude author. Shame

      2. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
        Beyond Frosting

        Kim- I have over 15 variations of this recipe on my site, I’ve made it dozens and dozens (and dozens) of times, so if the dough was too wet, I know that something wasn’t right in the preparation. Without additional information from the person leaving the comment, I can only try and troubleshoot and ASK what might have been wrong to try and determine WHY the dough was wet. It’s too bad that you see it as me blaming the person who left the comment and not as me trying to troubleshoot what may have gone wrong.

  8. Jennifer Blackburn

    I never leave reviews but feel I must on these cookies! Absolutely the best ever, and I’ve tried a lot! I didn’t have the cream of tartar but one of the previous reviews said to sub a tsp of vinegar, my favorite chocolate chip recipe uses vinegar so I gave it a go. AMAZING! I rolled some in cinnamon sugar and left some plain to frost with a little buttercream I had left from a cake and it’s incredible. My stomach is sick bc I’ve eaten so many 🤣

    1. Sue Kirkey

      If you don’t like someone’s comments about a recipe they were nice enough to share. Please find you own recipe. You are the rude one. She is only trying to help

  9. Sara

    This was an amazing and easy recipe! I rolled my cookies in cinnamon sugar and they were so good. I will definitely be making these as a go to when I need a treat.

  10. Ronald

    These had great taste but I wanted them to spread out more and not be thick and pillowy so next time I will roll them out in a log refrigerate just long enough to firm them to make them slice able them put the sugar on them then bake I put cinnamon and sugar on them like I said taste was great

  11. Zina

    I made mine smaller than the recipe called for. They were fluffy but chewy. Made some rolled in sugar and some with sprinkles. I will definitely use this recipe again!

  12. Jill

    Our favorite sugar cookie recipe! I use almond extract and today we mixed in rainbow sprinkles and green food color per my 4 year old request. They are so good and so easy!

  13. Lorraine

    My daughter has celiac disease and has to eat gluten free, I decided to give your recipe a try for Christmas cookies this year… they came out perfect, everyone loved them!! All I did was sub the flour with Better Batter GF flour they came out perfect!! They were so good we made more yesterday.. this time we made 1/2 of the batch with chocolate chips and the other 1/2 with m&ms everyone loved them!! This is now my go to recipe!!!

  14. Lilian

    Made this easy recipe and the cookies came out delicious! My guests loved them. I added buttercream frosting! Yum! Thank you!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Love that Lilian, these cookies are great on their own but with a little but of buttercream they are just that much better! Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Ann

    I just made this recipe for my grandkids who we will be visiting today. They are so good and easy to make. I rolled half of the batch in sprinkles and topped with Skittles. The remaining batch I added walnuts and sprinkles. The cookies spread but I rounded with my knife as best as I could. They are pretty big so perhaps I will use the small scoop next time. But hey who doesn’t like a soft big chewy cookie 😆. I also added 1/4 tsp of cinnamon powder. Thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Lisa Gregory

    I just made these. Rolling them in colored sprinkles is genius! They are beautiful. Definitely take them out on time. They don’t look down but they are.

  17. Allison Ray

    In the recipe it says 3 cups or 420 g. However, I usually use King Arthur flour and King Arthur flour is 120 g per 1 cup, so it should be 360 g for all 3 cups of all purpose flour. Should I use the 420 as recommended above?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Allison, thanks for asking. This was calculated based on a measurement of 140g of flour/cup, so I weighed my flour at 420g for this recipe.

  18. Linda

    Don’t use a large scooper it takes almost 25 mins and still not quite done use a smaller or medium and then cook it for 18 minutes

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Linda, maybe your oven is different, or your large scoop is different but 25 minutes is double the time it takes in my oven.

  19. Esther

    These were the BEST sugar cookies I’ve made. They were still soft on the inside and rose really nicely. I also followed the link in the recipe for the icing recipe to top them off and it was perfect

  20. Cindy Hess

    just took these out of the oven. Perfect consistency for non decorating, in the mood, sugar cookie… I left out the salt and used salted butter.

  21. Michelle

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I had been searching for a really good sugar cookie (I’ve tried 2 others just today) and hhhhoney let me tell you, this one is IT! I did roll them in sugar. This recipe is 🔥!

    My family ripped through the first batch; working on batch #2!

  22. Alexa

    So good! I think the key is to fluff your flour before measuring. I also used Crisco instead of butter (I can’t have dairy currently) and I added a couple drops of butter flavoring along with the vanilla to mimic using real butter. We loved your recipe and will make these again!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Wonderful Alexa! Thank you so much! Yes, fluffing the flour is part of the proper way to measure is you’re using a spoon and level measure method.

  23. Tiffany Meadows

    I made these and followed the exactly ….except I did roll them in granulated sugar before baking. These were soft, chewy, and absolutely delicious!!! My husband loved them also! This recipe is a keeper!!

  24. Sandy B Lax

    I made these Easy SugarCookies. But a large ice cream scoop only yelds 12 cookies. Had to leave them in longer.
    But they tasted great.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Sandy, it sounds like maybe your scoop is larger than mine. Mine is about 3 tablespoons in size. You’d have to make pretty large cookies to only yield 12 from this recipe, and thus I am not surprised that they baked for longer.

  25. CJ

    I just xo eted my first batch. Definitely, not what I expected. Followed the directions. Cookie turned out dry & tasteless. I believe 3 cups of flour too much .

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      If the cookies were dry, you likely overbaked them or over-measured the flour. This is the first time I’ve heard anyone say they’re tasteless but to each their own.

    2. Liz Meier

      Clearly, your tastebuds are tasteless. They are sugar cookies..buttery, full of vanilla flavor and sweet…Since you are unfamiliar with what a delicious sugar cookie tastes like

  26. Tara Dalton

    These are very easy and the kids love them. I used 1 cup of sugar and added 1/2 cup of sprinkles for a confetti look! They are a hit. Thanks!

  27. Tiffany Gordon

    Ours came out like bread lol, I re read all the instructions twice and we didn’t mess anything up… What could have went wrong?

  28. Kate Morsch

    Is it possible to get your original recipe (the one that required chilling). These were great but not quite the same as the old recipe. Thanks!

  29. Monica

    These will be my new sugar cookie recipe, but I got 40 cookies out of it using my 1 1/2 tbsp cookie scoop!

  30. Reba Files

    All of your recipes are special and keepers. I am always in awe of all the new recipes I find on your site. I have been collecting recipes for more than 60 years and I seem to print more from your site than any other.

    Thank you for making it possible to print with the picture. I am more likely to try something if I have a picture of it.

  31. Shakira Love

    I love this recipe! I’m not a big sugar cookie fan, but these are DELICIOUS!!! They’re soft and chewy. All of the ingredients blend perfectly. I’ve definitely added this recipe to my favorites. Thank you for sharing. #HighlyRecommended

  32. Lily

    These cookies look great!
    I was wondering you would package these without ruining the frosting? I want to gift these to friends in cookie boxes for Christmas. Im not shipping them by mail though. But I’m wondering if the frosting would get smushed wrapped in plastic wrap. Do you have any tips?

    Should I have the cookies frozen when packaging?

    Thanks

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      The frosting will “set” a little bit, but any type of stacking could ruin the design. I don’t recommend wrapping them in plastic. If you have a cookie box, I would place them individually in a single layer in the box. Are you worried about them staying fresh?

      If so, you could freeze them, pack them and deliver them, but I still would not wrap them, as they thaw, the plastic could ruin the frosting,

  33. Ann

    It looks so beautiful and spectacular! Such a dessert on the table is like a cherry on the cake. Be sure to keep this post to make this easy sugar cookies right today. Thank you for the idea! I am a frequent guest on your blog and I always find something new and creative here. The list of other recipes for cookies is perfect too. And now I am also interested in bakung White Chocolate Cranberry Orange Cookies.

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