Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies

These easy Cut Out Sugar Cookies have a secret ingredient that makes them super soft and moist while still allowing them to hold their shape in the oven. Paired with a classic sugar cookie icing, they’re perfect for decorating!

A plate full of neatly organized cut-out sugar cookies with a cloth napkin underneath it

The Softest Cut Out Sugar Cookies Ever!

I made sugar cookies every Christmas as a kid, and the same is true to this day. It’s always tons of fun to decorate them! While I still swear by my Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe, I wanted to share this new one so that you can choose between them based on your preferences.

While my classic sugar cookies work great and are delicious, the cookie dough isn’t always as forgiving. You need to have just the right amount flour or you could end up with cookies that spread (too little flour) or cookies that are dry (too much flour). These cookies are more forgiving because they’re made with cornstarch, which helps to cookies to keep their shape while using less dry ingredients. You generally need about half the amount of cornstarch compared to flour. As a result, your cookie dough isn’t as dry, which helps make sure that your cookies turn out super soft and tender. At the same time, cornstarch is. thickener, so it prevents them from spreading so that they’ll still hold their shape throughout the baking process.

You’ll also notice that these cookies don’t contain any baking powder or baking soda. These are leavening agents and therefore cause cookies to rise. Rising can mean spreading, and we want to avoid that in these cookies. Without any leavening agents present, you’re able to make these cookies thicker than my other ones since you don’t have to worry about spreading.

With that extra thickness comes extra sturdiness, which makes these cookies great for shipping to faraway friends and loved ones!

What is the Difference Between Cut Out Cookies and Drop Cookies?

Cut-out cookies are shaped with a cookie cutter before they’re baked, while drop sugar cookies are simply scooped onto the baking sheet. Usually, that means cut-out cookies are crispier. But this recipe cheats the system and gives you flawless cut-out cookies that are impossibly soft and moist!

A pile of candy cane, gingerbread person, pine tree and snowflake sugar cookies

Ingredients You’ll Need

I’ve paired these cookies with a very simple homemade icing that hardens on top of them with time. It’s a great recipe for beginners, but it doesn’t allow you to make super intricate designs on your cookies. If you’re looking to decorate your cookies with loads of detail, I recommend whipping up my classic Royal Icing instead.

For the Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  • All-Purpose Flour: Make sure you do not pack the flour into your measuring cup – if you do, you’ll add too much. I like to use a food scale to be completely accurate, but if you don’t have one, you want to spoon the flour into the cup and then level it.
  • Cornstarch: Measure the flour and cornstarch with a food scale to ensure accuracy.
  • Salt: For flavor. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes in baked good.
  • Unsalted Butter: Brought to room temperature.
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Egg: To bind the ingredients together.
  • Vanilla Extract: Choose a high-quality extract for the best flavor.

For the Sugar Cookie Icing

  • Powdered Sugar: This provides the base.
  • Milk: To thin out the icing. You could also use water.
  • Light Corn Syrup: Corn syrup gives your icing that glossy finish. If you must omit this, replace it with equal parts honey or just leave it out.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Icing Colors: Don’t use liquid food coloring – it changes the consistency of the icing.
  • Sprinkles: Optional, for decorating.
A close-up shot of holiday-themed cookies in a small tin

How to Make Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies

These cookies are just as easy to make as my original cut-out sugar cookies. While chilling the dough is not required, I find that it makes for more tender cookies.

Make the Cookies

Combine Flour, Cornstarch & Salt: Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set the mixture aside.

Beat Butter & Sugar: Add the butter and sugar to a large mixer bowl and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until well creamed. You should notice that it gets lighter in color and creamier in texture.

Add Egg & Vanilla: Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.

Combine Dry & Wet Ingredients: Add the combined dry ingredients and mix just until the dough is well combined. It will be thick. The dough may seem a little crumbly at first, but it’ll come together. Don’t over-mix it. You can help it finish coming together by hand with a spatula if needed.

Chill Dough: Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least an hour or up to 3 days.

Heat Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Roll: Bring the cookie dough back to room temperature so it’s easier to work with and divide it into two equal parts. Roll each part out between two pieces of parchment paper until they’re about 1/4-inch thick.

Freeze: Transfer the parchment-lined cookie dough onto a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Freezing it isn’t necessary, but it gives you sharper edges on your cookies and makes them easier to transfer onto the baking sheet.

Cut: Remove the dough from the freezer, peel off the top layer of parchment paper and immediately cut it into shapes. Transfer the shaped dough to a cookie sheet.

Bake: Bake your cookies for 7-10 minutes, or until the cookies look done and just before they start to brown on the edges.

Let Cool: Allow the cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Repeat With Remaining Dough: Continue rolling the dough, cutting out the cookies and baking them until you’ve used all the cookie dough.

A wire rack on a countertop with sugar cookies stacked on top of it

Make the Icing & Decorate

  1. Combine Ingredients: Once the cookies have cooled, make the icing. Add the powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract and 4 tablespoons of milk to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together until well combined. The icing may seem dry at first, but it’ll come together.
  2. Adjust Consistency: Add additional milk only as needed to get the right consistency.
  3. Color: Divide the icing into as many bowls as you need for the colors you want. Stir in the gel icing color, a little bit at a time, until it reaches your desired shade.
  4. Add to Cookies: Transfer the icing to squeeze bottles or piping bags with small round tips for piping, or use a knife or an offset spatula to spread the icing onto your cookies. Add sprinkles if you’d like.
  5. Let Set: Allow the icing to dry. For it to be fully hard and able to be stacked on, give it 4-5 hours or overnight.
Frosted sugar cookies cut into various Christmas-themed shapes

Tips & Tricks for Success

There are a few things you should keep in mind when you’re making these cut-out sugar cookies. Check out these tips before getting started with the recipe.

  • Use a Food Scale: I strongly recommend using a food scale to weigh your dry ingredients. Over-measuring the flour or cornstarch will result in dry cookies. If you don’t have a food scale and don’t want to invest in one, be sure to stir up your flour to loosen it, then scoop spoonfuls of it into your measuring cup. Level it off with something flat like a butter knife or an offset spatula.
  • Bring the Butter to Room Temperature: Bringing your butter to room temperature helps it properly cream with the sugar. You want to beat the mixture until it lightens in both color and texture, and using room temperature butter will help you do so with ease.
  • Line the Dough With Parchment Paper: Placing the dough between two layers of parchment paper before you roll it out will prevent it from sticking to your rolling pin or the surface you’re rolling it out on. This also avoids the mess of using flour, which can seep into your cookie dough and dry it out.
  • Freeze the Dough Before Cutting: Even though popping your dough into the freezer before cutting it is optional, I suggest giving it a try. You’ll notice that the dough is much easier to work with after just 5 minutes in the freezer.
  • Adjust the Icing’s Consistency: Only add extra milk as needed to thin out your icing. When you pick up some icing with a spoon and drizzle it back into the bowl, it should take 3 or 4 seconds to flatten on the surface. For more tips on making this icing, refer to the standalone Easy Sugar Cookie Icing recipe.
Sugar cookies shaped like snowflakes, candy canes and Christmas trees inside of a metal tin on a kitchen countertop

How to Store Homemade Sugar Cookies

These cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They will stay good for up to 2 weeks, but I recommend enjoying them within 1 week of making them.

Can I Freeze These?

You can definitely keep these cookies in the freezer if you’d like. Place them in a freezer-safe container with parchment or wax paper in between layers if stacking is necessary. Enjoy frozen cookies within 3 months. Thaw them out on the counter before chowing down. Keep in mind that colors from sprinkles can bleed upon thawing.

Print
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Sugar cookies shaped like snowflakes, candy canes and Christmas trees inside of a metal tin on a kitchen countertop
Recipe

Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 37 minutes
  • Yield: 35
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These easy Cut Out Sugar Cookies have a secret ingredient that makes them super soft and moist while still allowing them to hold their shape in the oven. Paired with a classic sugar cookie icing, they’re perfect for decorating!


Ingredients

For the Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  • 2 3/4 cups (358g) all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp (49g) cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (224g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (207g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the Sugar Cookie Icing

  • 4 1/2 cups (514g) powdered sugar
  • 46 tbsp of milk or water
  • 3 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Gel icing colors
  • Sprinkles, optional

Instructions

Make the Cookies

  1. Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the butter and sugar to a large mixer bowl and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until well creamed. You should notice that it gets lighter in color and creamier in texture.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough is well combined. Dough will be thick. It may seem a little crumbly at first, but it’ll come together. Don’t over mix. You can help it finish coming together by hand with a spatula, if needed.
  5. Refrigerate cookie dough for at least an hour or up to 3 days. You don’t have to refrigerate the cookie dough, but the cookies turn out a little nicer and more tender if you do.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.
  7. Bring the cookie dough back to room temperature so it’s easier to work with and divide the cookie dough into two equal parts. Roll each part out to about 1/4 an inch thickness between two pieces of parchment paper.
  8. Transfer the parchment-lined cookie dough onto a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes. You don’t have to freeze the dough before cutting the cookies out, but it gives you sharper edges on your cookies and it makes it easier to cut and transfer if the dough is firm.
  9. Remove cookie dough from freezer, peel off the top layer of parchment paper and immediately cut into shapes. Transfer cookies to cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 7-10 minutes or the cookies look done and just before they start to brown on the edges.
  11. Allow the cookies to cool for 3-5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  12. Continue rolling the dough, cutting out cookies and baking them until you’ve used all the cookie dough.

Make the Icing & Decorate

  1. When cookies are baked and you’re ready to decorate them, make the icing. Add the powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract and 4 tablespoons cream to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together until well combined. It may seem dry at first, but it’ll come together.
  2. Add additional milk or cream to get the right consistency.
  3. Divide the icing into as many bowls as you need for the colors you want. Stir in gel icing color, a little bit at a time, until it reaches your desired shade.
  4. Add the icing to squeeze bottles or piping bags with small round tips for piping, or use a knife or offset spatula to spread the icing onto your cookies. Add sprinkles, if desired.
  5. Allow the icing to dry. For it to be fully hard and able to be stacked on, give it 4-5 hours or overnight.

Notes

  • To Store: Keep cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy within 1-2 weeks.
  • To Freeze: Place cookies in a freezer-safe container with wax paper between layers if stacking is necessary. Eat frozen cookies within 3 months. Thaw on the counter before enjoying.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 179
  • Sugar: 22.4 g
  • Sodium: 71.8 mg
  • Fat: 5.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 31.4 g
  • Protein: 1.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 19.3 mg

Keywords: sugar cookies soft, cut out sugar cookies, sugar cookie icing

More Easy Sugar Cookies to Try

There’s no end to my love and appreciation for sugar cookies. I encourage you to try the following recipes next – you’ll be happy you did!

This post may contain affiliate sales links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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Recipe rating

14 Comments
  1. MARIA LANUM

    Hi, question about the icing.. I’ve seen lots of recipes that use meringue powder. Can you tell me the difference in using it or not? I understand corn syrup makes a softer turn out, but not sure what the meringue does..Thank you so much! Love the site and reading about the kids! God bless you guys!

    1. Lindsay

      Icings that use meringue powder are a completely different icing than I use on these cookies. Icing with meringue powder is royal icing, and you can see my recipe below. Royal icing dries much firmer and lasts for a longer amount of time. It’s what you see most typically on decorated cookies at the store or bakery. It’s whipped and the meringue powder is basically like dry egg whites that help with whipping. The icing on these cookies is far simpler and some might say tastier. You can’t do as intricate of decorations with it, but it still dries fairly firm and works great. It really depends on what you’re doing with decorating your cookies. If you want to be intricate and have them dry really firm, and I would use royal icing. If you want a more simple decoration with icing that’s a little softer and has a little more flavor, then I would use the one on this recipe. Here’s the royal icing recipe if you’d like it – https://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/how-to-decorate-cookies-royal-icing/

  2. Laken Cairns

    I didn’t make the frosting but I made the cookies and they are soooo good! I’m such a snob when it comes to cookies because I cannot stand crunchy cookies. These are so soft and so simple! I’ll make these every time for sure!

  3. Liyah

    love the recipe and these look amazing but how come no baking powder?? Dont think Ive come across a recipe that doesnt use it..

    1. Lindsay

      I mention it in the post where I talk about ingredients. – “You’ll also notice that these cookies don’t contain any baking powder or baking soda. These are leavening agents and therefore cause cookies to rise. Rising can mean spreading, and we want to avoid that in these cookies. Without any leavening agents present, you’re able to make these cookies thicker than my other ones since you don’t have to worry about spreading.” Hope that helps!

  4. Leah

    Holy crap. I never leave reviews because I usually don’t have time, but I HAD to for this one. They turned out PERFECTLY. I’ve never had a sugar cookie that is so soft AND can be cut out!! This recipe is now my go to for sugar cookies. Thank you so much!!!

  5. E Martin

    Can I use the Christmas sprinkles instead of using the icing? I wanted a chewy cookie cut out recipe but I don’t want to use icing

    1. Lindsay

      Sure, you can press some sprinkles onto the top of them before you bake them. You just don’t want to press too hard or the cookies may spread of bit.

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