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.

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

194 Comments
  1. Amanda

    I’m not one to leave comments, but I made this batch twice this evening, and I will never make them again.

    I followed the recipe to a T, and the dough was beyond crumbly each time… I attempted to salvage the first dough, with no luck. So, I threw it out and tried again, thinking maybe I used a wrong ingredient, but nope.. After the second attempt, I had the same result – crumbly, dry as dust, ‘dough’.

    Now, not only do I have (another) unusable dough, but i also am out of double the ingredients listed above – what a waste.

  2. Brenda Milcetic

    Hi Lindsay,
    Just wondering why this recipe only calls for 1/2 cup butter. I have seen the same recipes but they all seem to ask for 1 cup of butter. I am new to baking sugar cookies so I need your help. Thank you,
    Brenda

    1. Lindsay

      All recipes are different. I don’t know what other recipes you’re looking at, but this one only needs 1/2 a cup of butter. Other recipes with one cup of butter more than likely also use more flour and other ingredients as well.

  3. Caitlin

    This recipe was so easy and amazing!
    I did have to add 1 teaspoon of milk (1/2 teaspoon at a time) to help it come together into a dough!

    When I rolled it, I found that it broke a bit (or started to crack) so what worked best for me was to have the bit of dough in a ball and to squash it down with your hands a bit before rolling!

    The cookies hold their shape amazingly and are so easy to decorate!
    I did mine as part of valentines gifts this year and I hope everyone likes them! I naturally dyed the icing pink using raspberries and then when it dried a bit once on the cookies, stamped it with these letters I have (you can use them on fondant too, they are specifically for baking purposes) depending on who I was giving it too!

    I was wondering if there was a way that we could share our creations with you , how do we send the photos?

    If I ever need a roll out recipe again, I will use this one!

  4. Gail Snyder

    After mixing the dough it was a crumbly texture.  I added one egg yolk.  Worked perfectly.  Tasted delicious

  5. Julia

    Awesome recipe! They are super soft and taste amazing! My only issue was that the dough was a little dry and crumbly so I added a bit of milk and that pulled it all together. 

    1. Emily Downing

      I had the same problem. I added heavy cream, a little at a time until it came together. I will try only using 2 cups of flour next time and see if that helps. Also, after cutting them out I chilled in freezer for 15-30 minutes so they held their shape when cooking and cooked for 10-11 minutes. Turned out great. Can’t wait to make more sugar cookies!

    1. Lindsay

      I haven’t tried it before to be able to say for sure. I think the condensation from the cookie thawing would mess up the icing though.

  6. Amy

    Hi! These are our favorite cookies to make when I feel like making “fancy” cookies…any thoughts on editing this recipe a bottle use as a pie crust? Thanks!

  7. Aubrey

    Are you able to freeze these cookies after they are baked?  I want to make them ahead and decorate the day before the party!  

  8. Chef Paul

    Way too much flour for the amount of butter, you need to double the butter or half the flour. way Too crumbly

    1. Kelly

      Did you knead it?  I initially was worried about the crumbly look of it but with a bit of gentle kneading it worked beautifully 

  9. Michelle

    These are delicious and so easy! The only difference I found is I only got about 12 cookies out of the batch using 4 inch cutters  and I had to increase the baking time to 15 minutes ( and they still weren’t really brown on the edges). Now on to make 100 for my son’s class Mardi Gras party! 

  10. Claire

    I made these cookies and they didn’t turn out as i had hoped. They were very crumbly and were not easy to roll. i will not be making these cookies again!! Would not recommend to anybody wanting a fun and easy recipe. Hopefully i will be able to find a better recipe since this one wasn’t good at all.

      1. Lindsay

        I find that sweetness is a preference. I think they’re just sweet enough, but that doesn’t mean you’ll agree with me. You can reduce the amount of sugar, but keep in mind that sugar also has moisture to things so your cookies might end up a little more dry.

    1. Lindsay

      No, there’s no water or oil. Did you weight the flour or measure by cups? It’s possible a touch too much flour was added. That said, sometimes you need to use your hands to help it all come together. If that doesn’t work you could add a touch of water to help it come together.

  11. Naya

    My toddler and I made these today. I didn’t read the note about measuring by weight until it was too late so the dough was super crumbly. I added an extra egg and another 1/4c of butter which worked perfectly( I’ll definitely pull out my scale next time though!). We added food coloring to make various colors as well. Really nice to have a recipe where you can skip chilling and still retain the shape of the cutouts.

  12. Mandi Nero

    I LOOOOVE this recipe. Seriously. Foolproof. This is the easiest dough to roll out. Other recipes I’ve had issues with re-rolling and the cookies becoming too tough or deformed while baking. I got four re-rolls out of this and each cookies came out perfectly. I also used your royal icing recipe and tips on different consistencies. Made my first time decorating so much fun!

  13. Laura

    We made these cookies last year for an event at our church and everyone loved them.  This year we will be making 200 cookies. I wonder if I can bake the cookies in a convection oven?

    1. Lindsay

      So glad you loved them! I’ve never tried a convection oven, but I imagine it might change the way they bake a bit.

  14. Candy walton

    I always roll my sugar cookies between wax paper w a sprinkle of flour, will this recipe be good w that??

  15. Mariana

    HI! I dont know if somebody ask this before, but I want to know if I can make this in advance, how much time before is recommended and how can I preserve the cookies till the day I will use them? Thanks!

      1. Lindsay

        The baked cookies with royal icing already on them should be fine for a week or so. The icing helps keep the cookies soft for longer.

  16. Alyssa

    This recipe is absolutely AMAZING.  I can’t tell you how many I have tried & disliked.  Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

  17. Sarah

    We have made these 4 times in the past 2 weeks! They are the BEST!!! Our new favorite cookie! Perfect royal icing! Thanks for sharing!
    Merry Christmas
    The Oliver Family – Louisiana

  18. Brandy Hood

    What do you suggest if the dough is too sticky to try to pick up ? I’m scared to try more flour since you said to be sure to use what ingredients call for, lol. Maybe refrigerate a lil bit?

    1. Lindsay

      Where the ingredients weighed? Or did you use cups? If you used cups, it’s possible that you need a touch more flour.

  19. Jaren @ Diary of a Recipe Collector

    Lindsay, we’ve made these cookies the last two years and love them! This dough is so easy to make and I love that you don’t have to chill it!! Perfect recipe! Merry Christmas!!

  20. Lauren

    How cute! I wish my sugar cookies came out like this. How did you make your icing? Recipe Please? 🙂 thank you for sharing!! 

  21. Jennifer

    I came across your royal icing tutorial on Pinterest, and decided to use your sugar cookie recipe as well! They came out just perfect! They have a slightly crisp bottom but the cookie itself has a soft but toothsome bite. I really appreciate that you added the weight of the ingredients! It helped keep all four batches consistent. Great recipe, thank you!

    1. Lindsay

      Yay! I’m so glad to hear you used the weight measurements – always turns out best! So glad you enjoyed them! 🙂

  22. Judy

    Merry Christmas! I have to tell you ,this is my new favorite sugar cookie recipe! so easy and I love that the dough doesn’t have to chill and that the cookies keep their shape. such a time saver! I also have to share with you and your readers that I used Truvia baking blend (Stevia) instead of sugar- and it still turned out perfect! thank you for sharing this recipe! Happy New Year 🙂

  23. Lynn Bylor

    As an experienced baker I thought I would try your recipe.ni was a little skeptical that there was only 1/2 cup butter to 2 cups flour. However, I follwed yoyr recipe and found myself with not a dough but fliyr meal. So I added another 1/2 cup shortening and the recipe turned out fine. 
    My biggest pet peeve is trying recipes on pinterest that are not accurate ir that ingredients have been omitted.

    1. Lindsay

      Hi Lynn. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out as expected. The reason for that ratio is that these cookies don’t spread when baked so they maintain their shape. Adding additional butter (or shortening) would likely result in cookies that spread. The ingredients are accurate and nothing has been omitted, so there was likely some other issue. Thanks.

    2. Sonja

      I was just comparing recipes and this one has the same flour to butter ratio as the Martha Stewart sugar cookie recipe.

  24. Nat

    What a beautiful recipe and story!! I absolutely can’t wait to try this recipe!!!
    Just a quick question, while I have definitely flagged your royal icing recipe for future use, I was hoping to make something a little easier my first time. Your story mentioned that you used to use a buttercream frosting when you were younger. While obviously not as gorgeous as royal colored icing, any other cons to buttercream frosting? (Cookie doesn’t last as long?)

    1. Lindsay

      As I’m sure you can guess, it’s really more of an appearance thing. Certainly as a kid, buttercream was easier to work with. The buttercream won’t be quite a firm as a royal icing, but that might not be an issue. I’d think the cookies would last a similar amount of time. Royal icing does typically hold better for longer, but the cookie might be even softer over a weeks time with buttercream because of the moisture. I hope that helps!

    1. Lindsay

      Honestly, the cookie would dry out if made too much ahead. Once frosted, they’ll last a little longer. It depends a little on your tolerance for a crispy cookie. 🙂 I’d say 3-4 days is best, but up to a week or so should be ok.

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!

Scripture I’m Loving

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