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Whether you’re celebrating a holiday or prepping for a birthday party, you’ll love these easy sugar cookies! The soft-baked cut-out cookies are not too sweet and perfectly hold their shape. Frosted cookies can be paired with buttercream or icing. Plus you only need about 30 minutes to chill the dough!
Tis the season for sugar cookies!! Traditionally sugar cookies are thought to be Christmas cookies, but they are also perfect for any holidays and even birthday parties. I made construction truck cookie for my son’s 2nd birthday!
This is the sugar cookie recipe that I grew up with. It was handed down from my grandmother (Nana) and was definitely one of my favorite holiday traditions as a child and I’ve already started this with my own family. It’s truly special to me.
If this is your first time making sugar cookies, or you’d just like to brush up on your skills, then you’re in the right place because we’re going to go through this step by step so you’ll get perfect cutout cookies every time.
Why You’ll Love These
- Super easy recipe with simple ingredients
- Only 30 minutes to chill the dough
- Holds a perfect shape when baked
- Makes soft, buttery cookies
- Not overly sweet
- Freeze the dough or the baked cookies
Use a baking mat: It provides a barrier between the cookies and the cookie sheet and helps prevent the bottom of the cookies from browning too quickly. Plus they’re nonstick.
Bake one tray at a time: Always bake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven for even baking. Once one pan goes in the oven, I have another one ready to go. Always keep it moving. It does help things go faster.
Don’t roll all the dough at once: The more you work the dough, the softer it becomes. Soft dough can get sticky and hard to work with. So divide the dough into three equal balls before refrigerating.
Step 1: Cream the butter and sugar.
Butter should be slightly colder than room temperature, about 20-30 minutes on the counter. I also like to cut the butter into 1-tablespoon size pieces to make it easier for the mixer to break down.
Cream together the butter and sugar. This is an essential step to any cookie recipe. It creates and traps air pockets which later helps during baking to actually slow down the process of the butter and sugar melting.
Step 2: Add the liquid ingredients
Add the eggs. The mixture will still be a bit “chunky”, but it will still be a cohesive mixture.
Add remaining liquid ingredients: Dissolve the baking soda in the milk (this activates the chemical leavening process of the baking soda) and vanilla extract.
Step 3: Add the dry ingredients
I highly suggest using a kitchen scale to measure out the flour because it’s so easy to add too much flour to your dough,.which makes for dry and brittle cookies. I never bake without my kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, make sure you spoon and level the flour.
Slowly add the flour to the dough, 1 cup at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. At first, this dough might look like a crumbly mixture. However, as soon as you press the dough together, it’s like play dough, it’s soft and forms easily into a ball. Keep mixing it together and you’ll have a nice ball of cookie dough.
Step 4: Chill the dough.
This dough needs to be chilled for about 30 minutes, which will make it much easier to handle when rolling it out.
I recommend making 2-3 flattened discs of dough, no larger than a softball. This allows you to work in small batches, which is easier to roll out, and it prevents the dough from getting too soft. Wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill.
Step 5: Roll & cut
I like a good thick sugar cookie that is still soft! I recommend rolling to about 1/4″ thickness, they will rise slightly in the oven. If your dough is thinner on the edges, roll it into the next batch
Use a well-floured surface: I always use a silicone baking mat or a large piece of parchment paper (and I tape down the corners). You can generously flour the dough without it drying it out. After you cut out the shapes, brush away excess flour with a pastry brush.
Roll from the center: Always roll from the center to the edge. Slightly flatten the dough in the center, flip it over and rotate to flatten the other edges, and continue this process 2-4 times until the dough starts to thin out.
Maximize the space: Layout the cookie cutters until there’s no room left. You can use every nook and crannies. Give the cookie cutter a little wiggle to release it from the dough.
Save leftover dough scrapes: Once my dough becomes too soft or after rolling out a couple of times, I set any leftover dough aside, and wait until the end to use it again. Once you have all your scrapes, press them together and re-roll.
STEP 6: Bake
Remember my tips to use a silicone mat and bake one tray at a time.
How to tell if the cookies are done: If the edges of my cookie start to brown, they’re done. The recommended baking time on my cookies is 10-12 minutes. I always bake it for 9 minutes, because as the cookie cools, it is still sitting on a hot pan.
This is both my most favorite and least favorite part of the process. I always start out super excited to decorate, but by the end, I always get lazy and just slap some frosting on the last few cookies.
Decorating can be as easy or as complicated as you’d like. I always pair them with buttercream, but my icing recipe is also a quicker and easier option.
For a comprehensive guide to decorating cookies with buttercream, check out this full tutorial.
Does This Frosting Harden?
Yes, this does form a light crust to hold the design. However I don’t recommend stacking them once decorated, as the buttercream is not quite stiff enough to hold up if you have a beautifully designed cookie.
More Helpful Decorating Tutorials
These are best kept in an airtight container, and they will stay fresh for several days. While this buttercream does have a little “crust”, I don’t recommend stacking more than 1 cookie on top of another, as it will crush the peaks of the frosting.
Can I Make The Dough in Advance?
If you want to make this dough ahead of time, just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. Beyond that, I suggest freezing it.
To defrost the dough, just place it in the fridge the night before you’d like to use it. You might need to let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes before you start rolling it out, making it much easier to handle.
To freeze baked cookies, prepare and cool them completely. Place in a freezer-safe air-tight container for up to one month.
To freeze decorated cookies, place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for 15-30 minutes until the frosting is hard. Transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze. You can stack two layers high, place a piece of parchment between them. Thaw on a cookie sheet in a single layer to prevent damaging the frosting.Print
- Prep Time: 60 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 24 cookies
If you’ve ever wondered how to make sugar cookies this easy cut-out recipe is for you! It makes soft sugar cookies that hold their shape and are perfect for decorating!
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (95g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tablespoons (30m) milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Pinch of salt
- 2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
- Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the sugar is dissolved and creamy.
- In a small glass dish, dissolve the baking soda in the milk. Add the baking soda/milk, vanilla and egg to the butter. Beat until all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Slowly add the salt and the flour 1 cup at a time and mix until a stiff dough forms.
- Form 3 softball size balls of dough. Flatten and wrap tightly in plastic wrap then chill in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, roll the dough out on a well-floured surface about ¼” thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut the shapes and transfer to a lined baking sheet. Use parchment paper or a baking mat.
- Bake at 350° for 8-12 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Frosting options: These are frosted with my perfect vanilla frosting. They also go great with this easy icing recipe.
- Make the dough ahead of time: The dough can be refrigerated for 3 days, otherwise I suggest freezing. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator.
- How much does this recipe make? This batch produces about 24 cut-out cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutters. It can easily be doubled for a large batch
- Storing baked cookies: These are best kept in an airtight container, and they will stay fresh for several days. While this buttercream does have a little “crust”, I don’t recommend stacking more than 1 cookie on top of another, as it will crush the peaks of the frosting.
- Freezing baked cookies: Baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stacked in an airtight container and frozen for one month. Thaw completely before frosting. Frosted cookies can be frozen as well. Place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for 15-30 minutes until the frosting is hard. Transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container and freeze. Place a piece of parchment paper between stacked layers. Thaw on a cookie sheet in a single layer so as not to damage the frosting.
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: cut out sugar cookies, frosted sugar cookies
Although it came together well the taste was just not good after baking. We ended up trashing it all.
Hi Angela, I wish you could provide more feedback on why they did not taste good. I see you left another comment on another recipe indicating that maybe you used a wrong ingredient. These cookies are not overly sweet, as the frosting is sweet. This has been a family favorite for decades but I understand everyone has their own preference.
Yes my previous comment was in error I said corn startch but meant corn syrup. The cookies were very dry and tasteless. They did not have the classic sugar cookie taste that I am use to which I guess is a much sweeter cookie.
Got it, thanks for clarifying. As mentioned in the blog post, it’s not a sweet cookie since one you add the buttercream, it becomes very sweet. If they were dry, maybe try baking them for 1-2 minutes less, they shouldn’t be dry at all. And also adding additional extract or trying swaping the vanilla or almond will add to the flavor.
This dough came out way too crumbly. I made sure I followed the recipe. I even added a little more milk because it wouldn’t form a ball. I have made sugar cookies in the past but decided to use yours. I’m concerned that I won’t be able to roll the dough out.
Hi Becky- try increasing the speed of your mixer, or take half of the dough out and do it in batches. It will come together!
These turned out exactly as you said. But most of all they turned buttery with the best flavor. Thank you so very much!!
Yeah Pat!! That’s so wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing!
I’m going to make your lovely cookies this week, because I noticed you don’t use baking powder and I love how yours hold their shape. I really don’t like my cookie recipe that spread out and puff too much. Is this why you don’t use baking powder? I would really love to find out why this happens because I have failed too many times when making cut outs. Also, do you think I could just leave out the baking powder in my family recipe to avoid the puffy cookies that lose their shape? I need the help from an experienced baker. Thank you so much
Hi Connie, it’s not possible for me to weigh in on another recipe because so much goes into the ingredients and how they react to each other. You could try to reduce the baking powder to reduce the puffiness but the spreading is a whole other issue. My cookies use baking soda, not baking powder, and they rise a little bit in the oven but they also perfectly hold a shape
Omgosh!!! I used your recipe and it’s the first time in my adult life that I was so happy the way they held their shape and tasted delicious!!! I also added almond extract and extra vanilla. My kids and I were able to decorate them beautifully and they took pictures of the final product to post for their friends to see. They were so proud. Looks like I can stop searching for the perfect cutout recipe!! I finally found it❤️❤️❤️❤️ Thank you so much!!!
Thank you so much Connie! I am so happy you found this recipe and honored to have a place in your recipe box!
If I use salted butter, do I omit the salt in the cookie recipe?
Will using salted butter and omitting the salt change the flavor of the cookie in a very bad way?
Nope! Salted butter is just fine.
Where is your icing recipe
Linked in the blog post and recipe card