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Easy Sugar Cookies

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.

Soft sugar cookies arranged on a plate.

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

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 30 reviews
  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 20 Cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American


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.


  • 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


  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


  • 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. 


  • Serving Size: 1 cookies
  • Calories: 196
  • Sugar: 8.2g
  • Sodium: 57.9mg
  • Fat: 8.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 28.7g
  • Fiber: .4g
  • Protein: 2.2g
  • Cholesterol: 35.8mg

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