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 1x
  • 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!


Scale

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.

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

Enjoy!

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Cutout Sugar Cookies Collage

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Recipe rating

192 Comments
  1. Brittany

    I love this recipe and have used for nearly 3 years now! I was wondering how the cookies freeze and whether or not you ice them prior to freezing or after? I have a birthday party and I would love to knock these out ahead of time.

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you enjoy them! I would freeze prior to icing. Condensation from thawing them could cause icing colors to bleed.

    1. Lindsay

      I would add a teaspoon of milk at a time until it all comes together. You don’t want to add too much liquid or the cookies will spread.

  2. Amanda

    Hello,

    Two questions:
    1. Have you ever used powdered sugar for rolling the dough out, instead of flour? 🙂
    2. I have powdered vanilla. Should I add a tsp of water along with the tsp of powdered vanilla?

    (I also love how your mom had commented years ago, and her comment name was “mom”😄)
    Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried powdered sugar before. I’m not sure if that’d work as well or not. And yes, you could probably add a touch of water. And LOL about my mom, love her!

      1. Amanda

        I made the dough today (getting ready to roll and cut out!). It definitely needed the little bit of extra water, to make up from the powdered vanilla. 🙂 it tastes amazing….I can’t wait to try a baked cookie!

  3. Cheryl

    My daughter and I had fun making this cookie recipe and royal icing and even more fun decorating them! Your decorating video was helpful.

    I will say I had my doubts when mixing the cookie dough, it indeed was crumbly like many have said. However, we switched to hand mixing and it came together nicely!

    I am wondering how we should store them?

  4. Royce

    I can’t find my previous post. I want to decorate these great cookies with colored sugar – but with no icing! Do you have suggestions for this?

    Thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      Well without some kind of icing for them to stick to, the only way I can think of to make them stick is to add the sprinkles prior to baking and press them lightly into the cookies.

  5. Royce J Davis

    Great recipe – it helps if you follow the instructions! I put all the dry ingredients in a bowl – then tried to dig the sugar out from under the flour! At 68, you would think I would read more carefully! They were still very good! I would like to decorate my cookies with sugar, but no icing. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you in advance!

  6. Chrisy Tingle

    Hi Lindsay, I love all your recipes and wanted to try a chocolate cut out sugar cookie recipe, but couldn’t seem to find one.
    Have any recommendations?
    Thanks,
    Chrisy’s Creations

    1. Lindsay

      I’m so glad you enjoy the recipes! Unfortunately I don’t have a chocolate cut out cookie recipe and it’s hard for me to advise without testing it. Sorry!

  7. Donna

    I rarely ever make comments on cooking sites, but I just had to write on this one. I was skeptical because not only do I hate making sugar cookies (or any rolled cookies for that matter), but reading all the comments made me nervous.  Glad I went ahead and tried anyway. They were the easiest sugar cookies I’ve ever made and I whipped up a batch in no time at all, even though it was just for kicks and I didn’t have any real reason to ( except that I have these adorable Halloween cookie cutters that were calling me 😊). I can’t wait for Christmas to be with my grandkids and do them again – they’re THAT easy and forgiving! 

      1. Lindsay

        Oh wait, I’m sorry. I got confused about which recipe. These hold up well when frosting for at least a week, if not a little longer. The royal icing helps seal in the moisture of the cookie.

    1. Lindsay

      In theory, yes. The easiest way would be to swap out the vanilla extract for another. If you’re thinking about something that isn’t an extract, it would depend on how much liquid you’re adding. Since you don’t want these cookies to spread, adding too much liquid flavoring would cause more spreading.

  8. Becca

    This was perfect!! It was my first time making sugar cut out cookies and you made it so easy and fun. My boys were eating them with and without frosting 🙂

  9. Susana Martinez

    My dough came out thick but sticky. VERY sticky. I had to add quite a bit of flour and I could tell it was too much but the dough was STILL sticky.

  10. Louise Dickson

    Dear Lindsay

    You are a godsend…you made my day. What a perfect recipe for .sugar cookies. It was o easy and fun to make and bake. Thank you. This recipe will be used forever and passed down to my two girls as the go to for sugar cookies.

    I wanted to notch up the flavor so did a half vanilla/half almond extract combo. Yum.

    Thank you once again for sharing ❤

  11. Leanne

    Hi Lindsay,

    I know the recipe says it’s okay to make the dough a few days before. I need to make base these cookies on Tuesday (it’s currently Saturday), is making the dough three days in advance okay? Should I roll it up kind of tube style in plastic wrap and store in the fridge? And would you recommend letting it warm to room temp. when ready to use or it’s okay to handle and put in the oven a little colder?
    Thanks!

    1. Lindsay

      That should be fine. As for the temperature to work with it, it’s totally fine if the cookie dough is cool when you roll it and cut it and bake it. They will actually probably do even better in the oven if it’s cooler, since cooler cookie dough helps prevent spreading.

Lindsay
About Lindsay

I'm a wife and mom to twin boys, a baby girl and a sweet black lab with a serious sweets addiction! Bring on the sugar!

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“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12