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How to Make Sugar Cookies

Learn how to make the absolute best sugar cookies! This cut out sugar cookie recipe makes soft-baked, buttery cookies that hold their shape when baked, perfect for decorating.

I’m sharing all my secrets for the best frosted sugar cookies that you can make for the holidays. Craving a chocolate version? Try my easy cut out chocolate sugar cookies!

Frosted Christmas Tree sugar cookie with sprinkles

The Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

‘Tis the season for sugar cookies! This is the classic sugar cookie recipe that I grew up with, handed down from my grandmother (Nana, of pinwheel cookie fame). Now, I’m sharing my cut-out, frosted version! Frosted sugar cookies are one of my favorite holiday traditions, and this recipe makes the perfect Christmas cookies.

Thick, soft, pillowy in the middle with crisp edges. The texture of these cookies is buttery and not overly sweet (that’s what the frosting is for). What’s better than a perfectly soft-baked, frosted cut-out sugar cookie? If you ask me, not much.

Why You’ll Love This Frosted Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • Soft, buttery cookies. I love my cookies on the softer, thicker side, and this is the softest sugar cookie recipe. They’re not too sweet and perfect for frosting. My family has spent generations perfecting the recipe, so you KNOW it’s gonna be good.
  • Easy to make. This is a super easy sugar cookie recipe with simple ingredients. You only need to chill the dough for 30 minutes, and it’s enough for these cookies to hold their shape when baked.
  • Make-ahead. Because we all love a make-ahead-friendly cookie recipe during the holidays. You can prepare the dough ahead and freeze it, or freeze the baked cookies for later frosting.
Overhead view of frosted sugar cookies

Ingredient Notes

Below, I include some notes on the key ingredients you’ll need for the best cut out sugar cookies! Be sure to scroll to the recipe card below the post for the full amounts and details.

  • Butter – I recommend using unsalted butter, softened to room temperature. If you use salted butter, consider leaving out any added salt that comes later on in the recipe.
  • Sugar – For classic sugar cookies, white granulated sugar is the way to go.
  • Baking Soda – Dissolved in milk, see below.
  • Vanilla – Make sure you’re using real vanilla extract and not the imitation kind.
  • Egg – Beaten before you start.

What Does Adding Baking Soda to Milk Do In Cookies?

For this recipe, I dissolve the baking soda in milk before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. This is a handy trick that works for a few reasons. Without getting too technical: First, since these cookies aren’t in the oven for long, it helps to kickstart the baking soda’s chemical reaction (which would normally be triggered by the hot oven). Secondly, it ensures that the baking soda is evenly distributed throughout the dough.

How to Make Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

This sugar cookie dough recipe is quick and easy, requiring only a short 30 minutes of chilling in the fridge. I’m here to walk you through my failproof method for perfect cut-out sugar cookies, every time.

Step 1: Make the Cookie Dough

You’ll start by making a batch of sugar cookie dough. This recipe keeps it very simple:

  • Cream the butter and sugar. First, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Add the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, dissolve the baking soda in milk, then add this to the creamed butter. Beat in your egg and vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients. Next, mix in the salt, followed by the flour a little at a time until you reach a thick dough. Use a kitchen scale if you have one (see my post on how to measure the flour correctly).
  • Chill the dough. Portion the dough into three even-sized balls, about the size of a softball. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and place them into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. If needed, you can speed things along by chilling the dough in the freezer. Either way, don’t skip this step! 

Troubleshooting Tips

  • If the dough is crumbly- this can happen since it’s such a big batch of dough.
    • Try increasing the mixing speed to a higher speed first to see if the dough comes together
    • If it’s still crumbly, add 1-2 teaspoons more of milk, and beat the dough at a higher speed
    • If a portion of the dough has come together but the bottom of the bowl is still crumbly, remove half the dough, and continue mixing what’s left in the bowl.

Step 2: Roll and Cut Out the Sugar Cookies

Take your cookie dough out of the fridge. After 10 minutes, it’s time to get your rolling pin and cookie cutters! I recommend rolling out your cookie dough on a silicone baking mat or a large piece of parchment paper (tape down the corners).

  • Roll out the dough. I like to roll my dough to about a 1/4″ thick for a nice, thick sugar cookie. Note that if you roll your dough out thicker or thinner, you may need to adjust the baking time accordingly. Always roll from the center to the edge, flip, rotate, and roll again to ensure the dough flattens out evenly.
  • Cut out the cookies. Cut the cookies into shapes using the cookie cutters of your choice. Brush off any excess flour using a pastry brush and place the cut-out sugar cookies onto a lined baking sheet. Save your scraps of dough and then re-roll them to cut out extra cookies at the end.
  • Bake. Bake your sugar cookies at 350ºF for 8-12 minutes, until they’re golden at the edges. I recommend baking the cookies one tray at a time so that they bake evenly. As one pan goes out, another one goes in.
  • Cool and decorate. Rest the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving them to a wire rack. Once they’re completely cool, it’s time to decorate! See further in this post for tips on how to decorate sugar cookies like a pro.
Baked cut out cookies on a silicone lined tray, Christmas tree, Snowman, Stockings and gloves

Recipe Tips

You’ll be showered in sugar cookies in no time! Keep these final tips in mind so that your cookies come out perfect each and every time:

  • Room temperature ingredients. Take your butter, milk, and eggs out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you start. Room temperature ingredients combine more smoothly.
  • Real flavor. When it comes to perfect sugar cookies, real vanilla flavoring is a must. Skip the artificial stuff and make sure you’re using real vanilla extract.
  • Chill the dough. This recipe keeps the chilling time quick, but it’s absolutely necessary for the best sugar cookies. Chilling the cookie dough makes it easier to roll out, and also prevents the cut out cookies from spreading too much while they bake. 
  • For even rolling, roll out the dough from the center and out towards the edges. Make sure to roll out your dough on a well-floured surface.
  • Use a silicone baking mat, or at least line the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the bottom of the cookies from burning. 
  • Bake the cookies on the middle rack of your oven to ensure they are evenly baked. I also recommend baking these sugar cookies one tray at a time.
  • Don’t overbake the cookies. Taking the cookies out just as they begin to turn golden at the edges is key to soft, thick sugar cookies that aren’t dry or crunchy. They’ll continue to set up on the baking sheet while they cool.
  • This dough can be colored using gel colors. I’ve even turned them into Christmas Pinwheel Cookies.
A decorated present Christmas cookie with red and white buttercream

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies

If you’re new to cookie decorating, I encourage you to check out my tips on how to decorate sugar cookies. That post covers all of the basics for decorating these holiday cookies, from how to color buttercream to step-by-step instructions for easy piping techniques. 

You can also find loads of helpful decorating tricks in my posts on how to use a piping bag and how to use piping tips.

The Best Frosting for Sugar Cookies

It’s common to use royal icing for sugar cookies (see my recipe for sugar cookie icing), but I’m also a firm believer in buttercream! I love the contrast of sweet and classic vanilla buttercream on these fluffy homemade sugar cookies. Each bite literally melts away in your mouth.

My homemade buttercream recipe is creamy and stable and perfect for decorating everything from sugar cookies to cupcakes. It holds color well and also pipes like a dream. If you’re looking for a chocolate version, try my chocolate buttercream frosting recipe.

Close up of a frosted Christmas cookie in the shape of a stocking.

Can I Make The Cookie Dough Ahead?

Absolutely! You can refrigerate this sugar cookie dough up to 2 days in advance, or freeze it for later. I love having ready-made cookie dough on standby throughout the holiday season. It makes it that much easier to get a headstart on the recipe or whip up a last-minute batch of cookies.

  • Refrigerate. Portion and wrap the cookie dough as directed, and place it into the fridge to chill for up to 2 days. Take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before you plan to roll out your cookies, and proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed. 
  • Freeze the sugar cookie dough. Once your cookie dough is portioned and double-wrapped in plastic wrap, flatten each ball into a 1-inch thick round. Store the cookie dough in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator before rolling it out and baking the cookies as directed.

See the next section for detailed instructions on how to store your sugar cookies once they’re baked and frosted.

How to Store Frosted Sugar Cookies

  • To store. Store these cookies airtight in a single layer for up to 2-3 days. Unless you live somewhere particularly hot and humid, frosted sugar cookies should always be stored at room temperature.
  • Freeze the baked cookies. Freeze the baked cookies after they’ve cooled and before they’re frosted. Place them in an airtight, freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag, and keep them frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before frosting.
  • Freezing decorated cookies. Flash-freeze the frosted cookies on a baking sheet for 15-30 minutes, until the frosting is hard. Afterward, transfer the cookies to a freezer-safe, airtight container. You can stack the frozen cookies in layers with a piece of parchment in between. Freeze these sugar cookies for up to 1 month. Thaw the cookies in a single layer to avoid damaging the frosting.

More Sugar Cookie Recipes To Try

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Frosted Christmas Tree sugar cookie with sprinkles

Easy Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.4 from 7 reviews
  • Author: Julianne Dell
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American


If you’ve ever wondered how to make perfect holiday cookies, this easy cut out sugar cookie recipe is for you. It makes buttery soft sugar cookies that hold their shape. Perfect for frosting and decorating!


  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 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 (300 g) all-purpose flour


  1. Beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the sugar is dissolved and creamy.
  2. 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.
  3. Slowly add the salt and  the flour 1 cup at a time and mix until a stiff dough forms.
  4. 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.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  6. 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.
  7. Bake at 350° for 8-12 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


  • If you find the dough to be crumbly, see my troubleshoot tips in the blow post.
  • 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 2 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.


  • Serving Size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 101
  • Sugar: 4.3g
  • Sodium: 127mg
  • Fat: 4.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Fiber: .7g
  • Protein: 1.7g

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43 comments on “How to Make Sugar Cookies”

  1. I just made these today. I thought they turned out quite well. I agree with the comment above that they are not sweet. Which is fine as the purpose of making the cookies were for the grandchildren to decorate on Christmas Eve.
    I left out about 1/2 cup of the flour. I figured this flour would be added back into the dough when I put the flour on the counter to roll out the dough. The cookies didn’t turn out dry or crumbly.

    Another thought on the dry and crumbly cookies might be the way that you scooped out your flour. If you packed your flour in the measuring cup then you could have been inadvertently adding more flour than necessary. Always save about 1/2 cup of flour to see how the dough turns out and then add more as needed. Other recommendations are to weigh the flour vs using the measuring cups.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Max, you are spot on with the how to measure flour using a scale or spoon and level method! I usually don’t recommend leaving out that much flour from a recipe, because you aren’t going to be adding 1/2 cup back in when you roll it out, it should need minimal flour, and I’d be concerned that removing 1/2 cup of flour could lead some cookies to spread more. There’s not that much sugar in this recipe, so sounds like yours turned out well. Thank you for sharing! Have fun decorating with your grandchildren!

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      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.

      1. 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.

      2. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
        Beyond Frosting

        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.

  2. 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.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      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!

  3. These turned out exactly as you said. But most of all they turned buttery with the best flavor. Thank you so very much!!

    Merry Christmas,
    Pat Price

  4. 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

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      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

      1. 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!!!

      2. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
        Beyond Frosting

        Thank you so much Connie! I am so happy you found this recipe and honored to have a place in your recipe box!