Here is the best sugar cookie recipe to make cut-outs! You will love that the cookie dough does not require chilling, the cookies do not spread much when baked, and you will get the most delicious tender and buttery sugar cookies to decorate with your favorite icing.
Anyone who loves baking cookies needs one good sugar cookie recipe, and I have the best recipe for you! This is a no-fail recipe that makes perfect sugar cookies every single time. I’ve been using this recipe for years, and it produces consistent results every time.
Sugar cookies are perfect for any occasion – whether you’re making Christmas cookies, looking for a fun weekend baking project, or simply craving a sweet treat. They are so fun to bake in different shapes and decorate!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- No chilling required: Unlike many sugar cookie recipes, this one does not require chilling the dough before you can start cutting out your shapes. This means you can get started right away and have your cookies ready to bake in no time.
- Easy to roll out: The dough is easy to roll out and transfer to your cookie sheets without having to use silicone mats or parchment paper. This saves time and makes the process much simpler.
- Cookies do not spread: One of the biggest challenges with making sugar cookies is getting them to keep their shape when baking. With this recipe, you won’t have to worry about that – the cookies hold their shape beautifully, resulting in picture-perfect cut-outs every time.
- Soft and tender: These sugar cookies are soft and tender but they hold their shape very well.
- Perfect for decorating! The cookies turn out with smooth tops and are perfect for decorating with your favorite icing or sprinkles. I will include some ideas below.
Complete list of ingredients with quantities and instructions is located in the recipe card below
- Butter: Unsalted butter is the base of the cookie dough and provides a rich and buttery flavor. Using unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in the recipe, but I personally like to bake with unsalted butter most of the time. Make sure your butter is softened to room temperature before starting to make the dough. This will make it easier to cream with the sugar and will ensure that it incorporates evenly into the dough.
- Sugar: Regular granulated sugar sweetens the cookie dough and provides structure to the cookies. Creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy is key to achieving the perfect texture for these sugar cookies, here’s how to properly cream butter and sugar. This step should take at least 2-3 minutes.
- Vanilla: Vanilla extract adds the best flavor to the cookie dough and complements the delicate buttery flavor. I like to use high-quality pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. You can also experiment with different extracts, such as almond, cinnamon, peppermint or lemon, for a different twist on the classic sugar cookie.
- Egg: The egg adds moisture and helps bind the cookie ingredients. Make sure your egg is at room temperature before adding it to the dough. This will help it to mix in evenly and will prevent the dough from being too cold and stiff.
- Flour: All-purpose flour (plain flour in the UK) provides structure and texture to the cookies. Be sure to measure your flour carefully, as too much flour can result in dry and crumbly cookies. To measure flour accurately, spoon it into your measuring cup and level it off with a knife.
- Baking powder: This is a leavening agent that helps the cookies to rise and become light and fluffy. Be sure to check the expiration date on your baking powder, as expired baking powder can cause your cookies to fall flat.
- Salt: This balances the sweetness of the dough, seasons it, and enhances the flavor of the other ingredients. Always use fine salt for baking.
How To Make Sugar Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C, or 160°C fan oven. Prepare 2 large cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth, light in color and creamy (2-3 minutes).
- Add vanilla and egg and mix again until the egg is incorporated but don’t overwhip (the longer you whip the egg, it can souffle up and the cookies will rise and you don’t want that).
- Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix again until just combined. Scrape the sides with a spatula so no dry flour is left. The cookie should pull away from the sides of the bowl (if it doesn’t, gradually add up to ½ cup of flour).
- Divide the dough into 4 portions, and roll out each using a rolling pin to ½ – ¼ inch thickness. I like to use an adjustable rolling pin, and it goes up to 3/8″ or 10mm thickness which is my favorite because you get tender cookies with a nice bite!
- Cut out using a cookie cutter (dip it in flour!) and with the help of an offset spatula transfer to the cookie sheet.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes rotating at 6 minutes for even browning (one sheet at a time). Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely before icing the cookies.
- Softened Butter: It is important to make sure that your butter is at room temperature so it properly creams with the sugar.
- Don’t Overmix: When you mix the cookie dough, mix until it’s thoroughly combined but don’t overdo it. Overmixed cookie dough will result in tough cookies.
- Roll Rough Evenly: I highly recommend investing in an adjustable rolling pin, honestly, it’s a game changer! It makes sugar cookie making so easy, and you will be so pleased with the results when your cookies bake at the same rate.
- Don’t Overbake: You want your sugar cookies to be soft and tender, and have a nice bite to them. If they’re overbaked, they will become too crispy and you definitely don’t want that so keep an eye on them as they bake. They are ready when they are slightly golden at the edges, and remember they’ll continue to cook and firm up after they’re removed from the oven.
- Add Flavor: This is a basic sugar cookie dough recipe that I normally add vanilla extract to, and I usually use a high quality pure vanilla extract. Many people argue that imitation vanilla tastes the same as pure vanilla extract in baking, but I personally can taste the difference. Other extracts are also delicious! Think coconut, cinnamon, almond, lemon, peppermint, you name it!
- Have Fun! The best cookies are made with love and joy. Enjoy the process, involve your family or friends, and don’t stress about making them look perfect because they are going to be 100% delicious!
How to Decorate Sugar Cookies (8 Ways!)
There are many ways to decorate sugar cookies!
- Buttercream: This is my favorite way to decorate cookies because buttercream tastes incredible! I have the perfect buttercream for cookies recipe and it does not contain corn syrup.
- Easy Cookie Icing: This is the easiest icing for cookies, I usually make it during the holiday season because it’s very forgiving and easy to work with, and you can use it to dip the cookies and add sprinkles, or decorate with piping tips if you make a thicker consistency. This icing does harden, but it takes around 24 hours to fully set.
- Royal Icing: As you probably already know, royal icing will produce the most beautiful cookies with a smooth finish and it dries quickly and completely. Royal icing-decorated cookies are perfect for shipping
- Cream Cheese Icing: Made with cream cheese, this frosting is tangy and creamy. It’s softer than other types of icing, so it’s not the best for complex designs or shipping, but it’s delicious on softer cookies like cookie bars, banana bread cookies, or pumpkin cookies.
- Maple Glaze: A fun and easy 3-ingredient icing that is perfect for fall or winter cookies. I usually use it to decorate my pumpkin sugar cookies.
- Fondant Icing: Fondant creates a smooth, firm surface on cookies and is often used for intricate and polished decorations. It can be rolled out and cut into shapes to match the cookies, or molded into 3D shapes.
- Ganache: Ganache is a rich, chocolate icing made from chocolate and cream. It can be used to dip cookies, drizzled over the top, or spread onto cookies.
- Powdered Sugar Icing: This is probably the easiest and simplest icing of all, made with just powdered sugar and milk, you can drizzle cookies, or even create simple shapes. To see an example, check out my Red Velvet Sugar Cookies.
Sugar Cookie Storing Tips
- To Store: Undecorated cookies will stay fresh for up to 1 week if you’d like to make the cookies one day and then decorate them later.
- To Freeze Baked Cookies: Seal the cookies in an airtight container with a layer of parchment or wax paper between layers. Decorated and undecorated sugar cookies will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Freezing Sugar Cookie Dough: Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then place it in a zip-top bag. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then allow to soften to room temperature for 15 minutes before you roll, cut, and bake.
Sugar cookies may spread due to several reasons such as warm dough (chill in the fridge for 15 minutes, and try again), too much butter, or an oven that’s not hot enough (invest in an oven thermometer). This recipe, however, is designed to prevent cookies from spreading so make sure that you follow the recipe closely.
Yes, sugar cookie dough freezes well. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then place it in a zip-top bag. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then allow to soften to room temperature for 15 minutes before you roll, cut, and bake.
Yes, you can simply roll the dough into small balls, flatten them slightly, and bake. Or use a knife to cut out shapes.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Each batch you make will be a learning experience, helping you improve your baking skills and bringing you closer to making your best ever sugar cookies. Don’t forget to rate and review this recipe, and share pictures with our cookie baking community on Facebook! Enjoy the journey!