If you’re looking for the most versatile and BEST Sugar Cookies recipe, look no further! These buttery cookies can either be rolled out and cut into shapes or baked soft and chewy! They are just what Santa and his elves will be looking for this year. If you want other amazing cookies, try these Peanut Butter Cookies, Lemon Tea Cakes, Neapolitan Cookies, Butter Ricotta Cookies, Southern Tea Cakes, Eggnog Butter Cookies, or Shortbread Cookies.
The holiday season is here and that can only mean one thing…Christmas cookies.
I (and I know I’m not the only one) just can’t resist a good cookie, and this time of year they’re practically everywhere. Office parties, cookie swaps, and heck, even my dentist’s practice is offering these sweet treats.
Whether they’re gingerbread, thumbprint, shortbread, or snickerdoodle, I don’t discriminate. But, Christmas sugar cookies have a special place in my heart and after you’ve had this recipe, they’ll have one in yours too.
While this rolled or drop sugar cookie recipe is perfect for making Christmas cookies you can use it year-round as your go-to cookie recipe for cutouts! When time is short, you can also opt for drop cookies instead.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Flexible sugar cookie recipe! Roll them out, drop them, add some sprinkles, frosting, or leave them plain. The choice is yours.
- Simple ingredients. There is absolutely nothing unusual you need when it comes to making these cookies. You might actually already have everything you need to make a batch!
- Lots of tips and tricks! I’m sharing EVERYTHING I know about making these cookies so that yours come out great!
There are no real surprises when it comes to the ingredients needed to make homemade plain or decorated sugar cookies. Let’s briefly talk about the highlights. Check the recipe card for the full ingredient list and quantities.
- All-purpose flour: Gives the cookies their structure.
- Baking powder and salt: For flavor and leavening.
- Butter: The crucial element that gives these freshly baked cookies their rich flavor. Use unsalted butter so you have a bit more control over the salt in the recipe.
- Granulated sugar: White granulated sugar is best so it doesn’t contribute any color to the dough.
- Egg: In this cookie recipe, the egg gives the dough some moisture and color as well as acts as a binder to hold everything together.
- Vanilla extract: Use a pure vanilla extract for the best flavor.
How to Make Sugar Cookies
Are you ready to get cooking? I know I am! Here’s an overview of the steps for how to make this cookie recipe. For detailed instructions check the recipe card.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Add the butter and sugar to your stand mixer and mix on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and creamy. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the mixing bowl and continue mixing until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Turn the mixer down to slow speed and add the flour mixture in three separate intervals.
- Mix the flour in until it’s fully combined.
- Remove the cookie dough from the mixer and cut it into four pieces of dough.
- Wrap each portion with plastic wrap creating disks. Refrigerate for about 30-40 minutes.
How to Make Drop Sugar Cookies
- Scoop out 1-inch balls and place them on a cookie sheet leaving space in between.
- Press down with your hand slightly to flatten them into small cookies.
How to Make Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- Add a disk of dough to a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper.
- Roll the dough until it’s about ⅛-inch in thickness.
- Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes.
TOP TIP: Don’t forget to chill this dough. It is crucial so your cookies don’t spread especially when using cookie cutters.
How to Bake
- Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.
- When ready, remove the tray and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
How To Decorate Cookies
I take no issue with a bare sugar cookie; they have enough flavor to stand on their own. But y’all, it’s Christmas! Who doesn’t like a beautifully decorated plate of frosted sugar cookies?
You don’t have to be an artist to whip up a few snowmen or some snowflakes that might just look too good to eat.
Step 1: Choose Your Icing
The choice of frosting is truly all up to you. Use your favorite icing recipe such as meringue buttercream or royal icing which hardens. You can also buy a store-bought buttercream or get fancy with a chocolate ganache. Because a sugar cookie has such a mild flavor, you really can’t go wrong.
Step 2: Choose Some Sprinkles
The sky’s the limit these days when it comes to sprinkles. There are tons of options and colors to coordinate with the theme of the holiday or party you are planning.
If you aren’t adding icing, add sprinkles to the tops of the cookies before baking and lightly press them into the top of the cookie to make sure they bake into the cookies.
Step 3: DIY Piping Bags
Professional piping bags can be expensive and in my opinion, unnecessary. Just bust out a few of those trusty Ziploc baggies you stuff into junk drawers.
Fold over the top of the baggie, spoon your icing into the baggie, and use scissors to cut the pointed tip off one side of your bag.
Be careful! The size of the cut you make will determine how much icing will come out at once.
Step 4: Invest in Piping Tips
Wanna step up your cookie-decorating game? Piping tips come in an assortment of sizes and shapes. They allow you to create more intricate patterns and achieve a more polished look. You can find inexpensive sets of piping tips online or at your local craft store.
To use the tips you’ll need to cut a larger hole at the tip of your bag and insert the tip before spooning in your icing. Make sure the tip is snug otherwise the icing will seep out around the bag.
Don’t be afraid to play! Have fun with the trial-and-error process. They may not all look great but at least you’ll have had fun.
How to Store
For best results store cookies at room temperature for up to three days. Make sure the location you keep them is cool and dry. If you are using soft icing on your cookies such as buttercream, lay them out in a single layer instead of stacking them.
If you want to freeze baked cookies make sure to store them in a container without any icing. When you want to eat some, allow them to thaw out on the counter and then decorate as you wish.
We all know the tell-tale qualities of the classic Sugar Cookie: soft, chewy and buttery. Each bite flirts with the line between too-sweet and just right. The perfect sugar cookie can be enjoyed on its own or coated with colorful icing. In order to get that perfect cookie you’ve gotta take the right steps!
- Don’t skip out on chilling time. Just like you, the dough requires a little bit of downtime. This allows the dough to stiffen and therefore, makes it easier to be rolled out. Allow your dough to rest for at least 30-40 minutes before getting to work.
- Roll out your dough in small batches. Rolling out one large sheet of dough can be difficult. It often results in uneven cookies and more work for you. Cut your dough into tennis ball-sized pieces and roll them out one at a time. Treat the rolling process the same as you would a pie crust.
- Slightly underbake the cookies. Sugar cookies can be a bit temperamental so it’s essential that you bake them properly. Underbaking your cookies gives them that chew that develops after they’ve cooled. If the edges of your cookie start to brown, they’re overcooked. Start to keep an eye out on your cookies at about 9 minutes and don’t leave them in the oven for longer than 12.
Absolutely! Prepare the sugar cookie dough according to the recipe provided. Wrap the cookie dough tightly in plastic wrap. Place your dough in a sealed freezer bag and label it with the current date. When you’re ready to bake, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator. Roll it out, cut it into shapes and bake according to the recipe. Done!
More Cookie Recipes
- Turtle Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookies
- White Chocolate Chai Butter Cookies
- Flourless Chocolate Orange Cookies
*Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating and leave comments below!* Post a photo of how your version of the recipe came out on Instagram (using #grandbabycakes)!!
How To Make Sugar Cookies Recipe
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Start by preheating oven to 375 F.
- In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt and whisk together until well combined.
- In your stand mixer, add butter and sugar and mix on medium high speed until light, fluffy and creamy (about 4-5 minutes).
- Next add in egg and vanilla and continue mixing until smooth. Scrape down sides if needed.
- Finally turn mixer down to slow speed and add flour mixture in intervals of 3 and mix until combined.
- Remove the cookie dough from mixer and cut into 4 mounds of dough and wrap with plastic wrap creating disks. Refrigerate for about 30-40 minutes.
- For regular drop sugar cookies, scoop out 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Pat with your hand slightly to flatten.
- For roll out/cut out sugar cookies, add a disk of dough to a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll until about ⅛ inch thickness and use cookie cutters to cut shapes.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes.
This post was originally published in December 2019. It has been updated with new images and content.