Cutout Sugar Cookies Recipe

This easy cutout sugar cookie recipe is the best! It makes soft cookies with lightly crisp edges. The perfect sugar cookie for decorating!

Sugar cookies are such versatile cookies – there’s one for every occasion! This recipe makes amazing sugar cookies for decorating. You can also try Brown Sugar Cookies and these Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies for more ways to enjoy this classic cookie!

Cut out sugar cookies in holiday shapes.

Sugar Cookies: A Classic Holiday Cookie Tradition!

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. 🙂

Decorated Christmas tree sugar cookie

Why I Love These Cut Out Sugar 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.

Decorated Christmas sugar cookies

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.

How to Make Cutout Sugar Cookies for Decorating

Make the Cookie Dough

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.

Bowl with sugar cookie dough and spatula
Stainless steel bowl with sugar cookie dough

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.

These Are No Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies

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.

Shape Your Cut Out Cookies

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.

Floured counter with sugar cookie dough

Rolled out sugar cookie dough on floured counter

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.

Cookie cutters on rolled out dough
Shaped sugar cookie dough on floured counter

Bake the Cookies

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.

Stack of Christmas tree sugar cookies

Decorate Your Sugar Cookies

Once the cookies are completely cool, it’s 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 from Beyond Frosting 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!

Stacks of holiday sugar cookies in various shapes


Read transcript

You might also like these cookie recipes:

Best Gingerbread Cookies (Soft and Chewy Cutouts)
Christmas Tree Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
White Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Coconut Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
No Bake Salted Caramel Coconut Macaroons
Gingerbread Cookies with Eggnog Icing
Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
Frosted Sugar Cookie Bars

My favorite tools for making these cookies:
Silicone baking mat
Scale, for weighing ingredients
Parchment paper
Rolling pin

Print
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Cutout Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing dough with cookie cutters close up
Recipe

Cutout Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Life, Love and Sugar
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 9 minutes
  • Total Time: 19 minutes
  • Yield: About 20 Large Cutout Cookies
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This easy cutout sugar cookie recipe is the best! It makes soft cookies with lightly crisp edges. The perfect sugar cookie for decorating!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (112g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (207g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (293g) all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
2. Cream butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
3. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
4. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Dough will be very thick. You might need to use a spatula or your hands to help it all come together.
4. On a lightly floured surface and using smaller amounts of dough at a time, roll out dough to about 1/8 to a 1/4 inch. IF you roll them out too thickly, they might spread a little bit. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, lightly sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. See my notes about rolling out the cookie dough below.
5. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies, then transfer to cookie sheet. (If you want to be completely sure that they don’t spread even a little, put them on parchment paper and freeze them for 7-8 minutes before baking them.)
6. Bake cookies 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven just before they start to brown on the edges.
7. Allow cookies to cool for 4-5 minutes, then move to cooling rack to finish cooling.

Notes

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.

Rather than rolling the dough out onto a floured surface, you can also roll it out right onto parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, then you don’t have to transfer them and move them around after cutting. I’ve started doing this, and also putting parchment paper over the cookie dough when I roll it out so I’m not flouring the dough several times or the rolling pin.

If you’d like to use it, here is my royal icing recipe for decorating the cookies.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 136
  • Sugar: 10.1 g
  • Sodium: 121.5 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.1 g
  • Protein: 1.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 21.5 mg

Keywords: best sugar cookie recipe, holiday cookies, sugar cookies for decorating, easy sugar cookie recipe, cut out sugar cookies, christmas cookies

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Enjoy!

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Cutout Sugar Cookies Collage

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Recipe rating

229 Comments
  1. Tiffany

    The cookies tasted so good! Everyone loves them. My dough was crumbly at first, but I added a small amount of milk and formed the perfect dough. Thanks!

  2. Shari L Kalous

    OMG! This is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good!
    They are a little moist and a little crunchy! PERFECT COOKIE! Ty so much for sharing this! I did add 1 Tbls. of milk and 2 Tbls. of additional butter. I am also high altitude for anyone who needs that adjustment. I love these cookies and this will be my go-to for sugar cookies from now on! TY TY TY!

  3. Trinity smith

    So I did this recipe exact and my dough was crumbly? I used 1 stick of butter and it was way to dry and crumbly and then I added another stick and formed to dough…but now it’s way too buttery

    1. Lindsay

      Yes, I imagine a whole other stick of butter probably was too much. My guess is that you over measured your flour a bit. With cookies like these, even a little bit can make a difference. We are trying to get a thick dough that won’t spread, without having too much flour. Next time, I would recommend adding a teaspoon of milk to help it all come together.

      You could also try this cutout cookie recipe, which you may find a little more forgiving.

      How to measure flour accurately

    2. Mirella Lema

      Trinity mine was totally crumbs as well but I was certain that I measured correctly so I dumped the crumb mixture out on the counter and with my hands just started working it and it came together perfectly! I was pretty worried when I saw how dry and crumbly it was but they turned out great!

    1. Lindsay

      If you go ahead and add icing on top, they will stay fresh for at least a week. The icing insulates them pretty well and keeps them soft. You could also try these cutout cookies. You can bake them thicker so they may stay softer for a touch longer.

    1. Lindsay

      The problem with icing them before freezing them is that the colors in the icing can bleed when they thaw and moisture hits them. I would recommend freezing un-iced.

  4. Andrea

    Sugar cookies are always too soft and plain. The texture of these was great, slightly chewy and firm, but not hard.

      1. Kassi

        So something came up and I wasnt able to bake the cookies directly after mixing the ingredients so I stored them in the refrigerator for approx. 7-8 hours but now they are rock hard, do I need them to get to room temperature before rling the dough? Help, I dont want to start over.

      2. Lindsay

        I would let it come to room temperature and then roll the cookies. They should be just fine.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and a mom to twin boys and a baby girl! And I've got a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the treats!

Scripture I’m Loving

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29