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My Easy Sugar Cookies recipe makes buttery, soft, and chewy drop cookies that are ready to decorate for any holiday! This recipe is the perfect, time-sensitive alternative to cut-out sugar cookies. Top your homemade sugar cookies with icing, or cover them with sprinkles.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 easy sugar cookies comes in.
My drop cookies have saved my bacon on many occasions. Last-minute bake sales, emergency holiday cookie plates, sudden sugar cookie cravings – you name it.
These cookies are soft and chewy in the middle, with buttery, crisp edges and a mouthwateringly sugary crumb. They’re ideal for decorating. Best of all, they bake up fast and easy.
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 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 a faster, fuss-free alternative to classic cut-out cookies.
- Versatile. I’ve used this versatile 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!
You can make delicious, buttery, and soft sugar cookies with just 8 pantry ingredients. Below is a quick overview of what you’ll need, with the full details available in the recipe card.
- Butter and Sugar – I always use unsalted butter when baking, as it gives more control over the amount of salt in the recipe. You absolutely can use salted butter, but if you do, there’s no need to add additional salt.
- Large Eggs
- Vanilla Extract – These cookies are also great with almond extract.
- All-Purpose Flour
- Baking Soda and Salt
- Cream of Tartar– Cream of tartar adds a touch of tang and gives the cookies some chew (same as in my Snickerdoodles, which is basically 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.
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.
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. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- 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 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.
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!
Tips and Recipe Notes
Here are some additional tips for making perfect drop cookies:
- 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.
I love decorating finished cookies with my Easy Sugar Cookie Icing. This Vanilla Buttercream Frosting also makes great sugar cookie frosting. Both recipes are easy to customize, all you need to do is add a few drops of your desired gel color or flavoring extract.
You can also roll the cookies in granulated sugar for a simple, elegant look. This is my go-to. One of my other favorite ways to decorate is with colored sanding sugar. Or, a simple 1M piping tip can be used to make a frosting swirl, and then just add some colorful sprinkles.
For more ideas and easy decorating techniques, check out my helpful tutorials on How to Color Buttercream Frosting, How to Use and Decorate with Piping Tips, and How to Decorate Sugar Cookies.
If you’re dressing these up for a holiday like Valentine’s day, Halloween or Christmas, you can prepare just one batch of dough and add sprinkles or M&Ms to one half, and decorate the other half with drizzled chocolate or buttercream.
Easy Recipe Variations
I’ve made nearly a dozen variations of this easy sugar cookie recipe ever since I perfected it. It’s just that good. Some fun ways to mix it up include:
- Add-Ins – Turn these into M&M Sugar Cookies, or mix your choice of candy into the dough. Or, stuff them full of other sweet add-ins as I do in my Circus Animal Sugar Cookies and Fruity Pebble Cookies recipes.
- Sprinkles – Add rainbow sprinkles for funfetti Sprinkle Sugar Cookies. Great for birthdays!
- Holidays – Give this recipe a festive twist and try Peppermint Crunch Sugar Cookies or White Chocolate Cranberry Orange Cookies.
- Chocolate – Try making Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies for a fudgy treat.
Whether they’re frosted or unfrosted, I’ll usually store sugar cookies at room temperature. This keeps them at their freshest and doesn’t affect their taste or texture. Store these cookies airtight, in a cool and dry location on the countertop 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.
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.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 20 Cookies
These Easy Sugar Cookies are soft and chewy drop cookies with crisp, buttery edges, and a simple alternative to cut-out sugar cookies! Decorate your homemade cookies with icing or sprinkles for any holiday.
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened (see notes)
- 1½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
- 3 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
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- 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.
- Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix into the butter and sugar until the eggs are well beaten.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Butter temperature: Either allow butter to come to room temperature or soften cold butter in the microwave for 10-12 seconds.
- Decorate these cookies: Rolled in granulated sugar, sanding sugar, or sprinkles. Or top these with Perfect Vanilla Frosting or Easy Sugar Cookie Icing.
- 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 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.
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: how to make sugar cookies, holiday cookies, homemade sugar cookies
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?
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.
LOOK AWESOME GONNA TRY.
Is it possible to make these without the cream of tartar? Thanks so much!
Hi Lisa, you can make without it, but the cookie may not be as chewy.
Thank you for your quick reply! Happy Holidays!
You can use 1teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar for 1/2 teaspoon of the cream of tartar.
Thanks for the suggestions Jo Ann, I have not tested either of those suggestions
Could I use gluten free flour with this recipe?
If it is a 1:1 measure for measure gluten-free flour that includes xanthan gum, then ye!
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
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.
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
That’s so wonderful Esther! Thank you so much for sharing!
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.
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!
Yees! That is amazing Michelle! Thank you so much!