Wondering how to make soft and chewy sugar cookies? Then you have to try this easy recipe. These simple sugar cookies don’t need to be chilled and stay wonderfully soft & chewy for DAYS!
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So I feel like I’m a tad bit late with these cookies, since I just missed Christmas and all, but the truth is that sugar cookies are good all year round. In fact, next to a good Snickerdoodle, chewy sugar cookies are a total favorite of mine any day of the week.
I feel like Cutout Sugar Cookies are the Christmas version of a sugar cookie while a classic drop cookie, like this one, is the year-round version, you know?
And as with any classic, simple cookie that doesn’t hide behind frosting or anything, it really needs to be just right. Soft and chewy for days, my friends. I don’t want some cookie that’s great for a day or so and then you have to toss them. No, these will call to you from the kitchen counter until they’re all eaten – and it could be 4 or 5 days later (if they last that long).
I tested SO many versions of these sugar cookies, I’m pretty sure my mother-in-law (who watches the twins while I work), thought I was losing my mind. I’d be all, “Just one more version!” and then a week later there’d still be new batches on the counter.
But seriously, I love a good old-fashioned soft sugar cookie. Like, for reals. So it just had to be right. And I’m happy to say these are it.
So what makes this the best soft sugar cookie recipe? These cookies are:
- Not too thin – They are just thin enough to get golden edges without losing their soft centers.
- Not too thick – They are just thick enough to be chewy without being cakey.
- Soft and chewy – These cookies have the PERFECT texture.
- Delicious! – I mean, many cookies are delicious, but these sugar cookies have the kind of flavor that makes you daydream about your next opportunity to eat one.
- And they stay good for DAYS. – I’ll be honest, these cookies are usually gobbled up stat. But for the sake of testing this recipe I did purposely see how long they would last and I’m happy to say these sugar cookies stay soft and chewy for days when stored properly.
In closing, these soft sugar cookies are dangerous because you want to keep eating them all!
In addition to all of the above, these sugar cookies have another major bonus – the dough doesn’t need to be chilled!
That’s right – there is no need for chilling the cookie dough or even pressing the balls flat. They spread perfectly on their own. These two features make these cookies perfect for spur-of-the-moment baking!
Before we get into how to make this cookie recipe in particular, lets talk a bit about what makes a cookie soft and chewy in the first place. Here are the major elements:
Baking Soda + Baking Powder
Sugar cookies can easily turn out dry or too cakey. In all my testing, I found that my favorite sugar cookies were ones that used a combination of baking soda and baking powder – and just a bit more soda than powder.
There is nothing wrong with using just one or the other – I have done both in other cookies. In fact, I have an all baking soda Coconut Sugar Cookie that is delicious!
But for the straight-up vanilla bakery-style sugar cookie, the combo works best. Baking powder only = thicker and cake-y. Baking soda only = chewy and thin. A combo = just right.
White Sugar + Brown Sugar
The other big thing here is the sugar. Naturally a sugar cookie is going to use white granulated sugar. It’s just how it is. But part of what makes a cookie chewy is a high moisture content.
Brown sugar has more moisture than white sugar, because it contains a little bit of molasses. You don’t want to overdo the brown sugar here, but I swapped out two tablespoons of white sugar for brown sugar and the result was fantastic. It makes a much softer and chewier cookie that stays fresh longer.
And just a little tidbit about baking cookies – it’s amazing how much of a difference such a small change can make to a cookie. Just two tablespoons! When I used all white sugar, the cookies didn’t spread as much (less moisture). When I used just a bit of brown sugar, they spread just enough AND stayed soft for DAYS! And when I used just a bit more brown sugar, the flavor started to get a bit too off track and they spread more than I wanted, leaving me with a little thinner cookie with less defined edges. So I totally suggest sticking with it as I have it. The best!
The Right Amount of Flour
The other important part of a chewy cookie is having enough flour. You have to have enough flour to support the moisture content, but not too much to make it dry. A tight balance, but it’s well achieved here.
So one of the best parts of these cookies is that they are quick and straightforward to make. Here’s a quick overview. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts and instructions.
- Cream the butter and sugars together until light in color and fluffy. You’ll actually be able to see the lighter color, so don’t quit mixing until you see it.
- Add the egg and vanilla. Next you’ll add the egg, then the vanilla extract.
- Next are the dry ingredients. Now add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Mix it until it’s all combined. But don’t over-mix it. Over mixing any batter or dough can lead to toughness.
- Bake. Divide the cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls of dough and roll them in a little bit of granulated white sugar. Place the balls onto a cookie sheet (I like to line my cookie sheets with silicone baking mats) and bake them!
How Long to Bake Sugar Cookies?
Mine baked just enough at 7 minutes, but keep an eye on them to see how they do in your oven. I removed mine when they had spread nicely, looked just done enough without looking undercooked, and the edges weren’t quite golden. Don’t worry if the centers of the cookies are still quite soft, they will firm up as they cool.
These sugar cookies are the perfect example of a treat that doesn’t have to be fancy to be awesome. In fact, I think something simple like this is one of the most impressive things when done well and right. And these are SO right!
Want to add a little something extra to these sugar cookies? Here are some ideas:
- Sprinkles: If you’re looking to make sugar cookies for a holiday or an event, these cookies would be great rolled in sprinkles, instead of sugar. Use any color you like!
- Frosting: If you simply can’t have a sugar cookie without it being frosted, check out my royal icing or my vanilla buttercream frosting. Even my cream cheese frosting would make a tasty addition. Any of them would be delicious!
Tips for Success
Although these soft sugar cookies are super easy to make, there are a few simple tricks you can use to make sure that your cookies come out perfectly. Here’s what I recommend:
- Make sure your butter is at the right temperature. Room temperature can be a little misleading if your house is too warm or too cool. Your butter shouldn’t be so soft that your finger goes right through it if you press on it, but it should also be able to make an imprint. If it won’t, or it barely does, it’s likely too cold still.
- Be sure to use just two tablespoons of brown sugar. It adds just enough additional moisture to the cookies to help them spread correctly and stay soft and chewy for days!
- Don’t over-mix the dough after you add the flour. It can over-develop the gluten and cause the cookies to not spread as nicely or be tough.
- Make sure your cookie dough balls are 1 1/2 tablespoons each or you’ll want to adjust the baking time. I also found that size to be just right for spreading well.
- Counter: Store these cookies on the counter in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Fridge: If you want to extend their shelf life, you can pop the container in the fridge. The cookies will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days.
- Freezer: These cookies freeze nicely too! Just let the baked cookies come to room temperature, then pack them in a ziplock bag and freeze them. Thaw them in the fridge or on the counter when you’re ready to eat them.
Read Transcript Print
If you’re wondering how to make soft and chewy sugar cookies, then you have to try this recipe. These cookies require no chilling, are easy to make, and stay wonderfully soft and chewy for DAYS!
- 2 3/4 cups (358g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup (224g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (233g) granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp (28g) light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sugar (additional for rolling)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugars together in a large mixer bowl on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. You should be able to see the change in color happen and know it’s ready.
- Add the egg and mix until well combined.
- Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough is well combined. It will be thick and shouldn’t be sticky. Do not over mix. Once it’s well combined, use a rubber spatula to help it come together to form a more cohesive ball.
- Create 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough. Gently roll into a ball, then roll each ball in the additional sugar to coat. Set the balls on the baking sheet.
- Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes. The cookies will spread and the centers will look soft, but should look done. Remove just before the edges begin to turn golden. Don’t over bake. The cookies will be a little puffy when you take them out of the oven but will fall a bit as they cool.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 4-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
The sugar amounts are important for these cookies. If you chose to use all granulated sugar, rather than a little brown sugar, the cookie won’t spread quite as much and will be a little thicker and a little less soft.
Be sure to measure the flour accurately. The best way is by weight with a food scale, but if you don’t have one, give your flour a stir, then scoop it out with a measuring scoop. Do not pack it into the measuring cup.
- Serving Size: 1 Cookie
- Calories: 126
- Sugar: 8.4 g
- Sodium: 79.3 mg
- Fat: 6 g
- Carbohydrates: 16.7 g
- Protein: 1.4 g
- Cholesterol: 21.1 mg
Keywords: easy sugar cookie recipe, how to make sugar cookies, soft cookies, chewy cookies