Cutout Sugar Cookies
These Cutout Sugar Cookies are the best! They are soft with lightly crisp edges and need no refrigeration. They are the perfect cookie for decorating for the holidays!
Decorating sugar cookies was a holiday tradition for my family growing up. My mom is not a baker but every Christmas she’d get things ready to make Christmas cookies with my brother and I. These caramel clusters were made very year, along with cutout sugar cookies. We’d actually ice the cookies with a traditional buttercream, but I decided to use royal icing this time around.
My mom actually gave me the cookie cutters we used to use a few years ago, figuring I’d get more use out of them now. I used those cookie cutters for these cookies. 🙂
I also used the same recipe we’d use – with a few modifications. The original recipe actually spread quite a bit. Not really ideal for cutout cookies.
So I did some playing around with the recipe and got them just right! I’m not going to lie, they spread juuuusssst a tad. It’s really more that they rise a bit. I considered making them a touch thicker so they didn’t spread/rise at all, but honestly I love them just the way they are. Too thick and you end up with a less than appetizing, dry cookie. The spread really isn’t much and as you continue to work with the dough and re-roll it, more flour mixes in and by the time you’re done, there’s no spread at all. The cookies hold their shape great, even when they spread a tad.
You will want to make sure to accurately measure your ingredients for these cookies. The amounts of ingredients – especially the flour – really do need to be correct to ensure your cookies turn out correctly. Too much flour and you’ll have some hard cookies. Too little and they’ll spread too much.
To help with that potential problem, I’ve included weight measurements for those who have a scale. It really is more accurate.
If you’re using a scoop, just be sure not to pack in the flour. I pour my flour into a canister and then scoop it out of there, so it isn’t densely packed but is loose.
To make the dough, start by creaming the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes. You should notice the color of the mixture actually get lighter in color and it should get fluffy in texture. Then you’ll mix in the egg and vanilla, then the dry ingredients. It’s a very simple and straightforward recipe as far as the ingredients and method.
The dough will actually be quite thick, even a little crumbly at first. If it doesn’t completely come together with the mixer, use your spatula or hands to press it into a ball.
You can definitely refrigerate this cookie dough and make it a few days ahead if you want, but it isn’t required. You can start rolling our cookies as soon as it’s ready.
Sprinkle a little flour onto your surface (I used our countertops). Grab some of the dough – I start with about 1/3 of the dough – and roll it out. If you find your rolling pin sticks to the dough, sprinkle a touch of flour onto it. You’ll want the dough to be 1/8 to a 1/4 inch thick after being rolled out.
Cut out your cookies, making the most of the dough and squeezing in as many cookies as you can. My cookie cutters were fairly big, so I didn’t get quite as many cookies per roll out. Remove the excess dough and lift the cookies with a lightly floured spatula, then place them on a lined cookie sheet. I like to use my silicone baking mat, but parchment paper would work well too.
The cookies bake for 7-9 minutes. You can wait until the edges are just starting to get golden, or remove them a touch sooner. The time might vary a bit between ovens, but 8 minutes was just right for me. Well baked, but not browned. I like mine a little softer.
Once you remove the cookies from the oven, you’ll want to let them sit for 4-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. They will be fairly soft until they firm up a bit as they cool, so it’ll be easier to move them once they’ve cooled a bit.
Once the cookies are completely cool, its time to ice them with royal icing. It’s really not as scary as it seems, it just takes a little time and you need the right tools. I liked these cutout sugar cookies best once I had the royal icing on them. The icing softens the cookie up a bit from the moisture and results in a seriously perfect decorated sugar cookie.
In fact, I took one with me to Chicago right after I made them so that my friend Julianne could try one. She said it was the best royal icing cookie she’s had! A big compliment. 🙂
If you’re wanting to decorate your cookies with royal icing when they’re ready, check out my post on how to make, color and pipe with royal icing. There’s even a video!
Cutout Sugar Cookies
Yield: about 20 large cutout cookies
NOTE: The best way to measure the dry ingredients for this recipe to ensure your cookie dough isn’t dry is to measure them by weight. If you don’t have a scale though, be sure not to pack the flour into your measuring cup. I usually store my flour in a separate container from the bag I bought it in, then prior to measuring I use a spoon or other utensil to loosen the flour. I use a scoop to scoop out the flour, then level it with the flat side of a knife. Don’t tap the scoop to settle the flour or pack in the flour.
If you’d like to use it, here is my royal icing recipe for decorating the cookies.
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