Soft sugar cookies with crisp edges and a buttery, almost melt-in-your-mouth quality to them, these really are the best cut-out sugar cookies ever. Perfect for using your favorite cookie cutter shapes for any holiday or occasion!

If you love making sugar cookies, you should also check out our Mint Chip Sugar Cookies, Oatmeal Rolled Sugar Cookies, and Chocolate Cut Out Sugar Cookies!

Stacks of unfrosted sugar cookies cooling on a wire rack.

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Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

These sweetly decorated, easy cut-out sugar cookies check all the boxes for me when it comes to sugar cookie perfection.

They have a medium-soft, slightly dense texture, as opposed to some recipes I tried in the testing phase that I found to be too fluffy. If you prefer a crispy cookie, you can always bake them a minute or two longer than I suggest in the recipe below.

While I adore the look and idea of sugar cookies, most of the ones I have tried in the past have left me disappointed (except for this chocolate cut-out sugar cookie recipe). Too many of them are tasteless, dry, crumbly affairs.

So I set out to find the best sugar cookies I could possibly create so that I would have a go-to recipe once and for all.

I made at least 8-10 batches of sugar cookies to finally find (and adapt because I can't leave well enough alone) the recipe that was my ultimate cut-out sugar cookie. The sacrifices I make for the sake of sharing the perfect sugar cookie!

Thank goodness that I had plenty of reasons to keep experimenting and sharing cookies between St. Patrick's Day, Easter parties, and some events at church!

Easter egg shaped sugar cookies cooling on a wire rack, ready to be decorated with royal icing.

There is a good reason why I haven't posted a recipe for classic sugar cookies on the blog until now. It's that I haven't had a sugar cookie recipe that I absolutely loved and felt was worthy of the blog until very recently. And I only posts recipes on here that I have tried and tested and would for sure make again.

Also, I've been intimidated by royal icing since my decorating abilities are sub-par when it comes to creating Pinterest-worthy cookie creations, which held me back.

Not that these cookies need royal icing if you prefer buttercream or just plain sprinkles instead. Believe me, I ate plenty of these sugar cookies plain and unadorned and they were super delicious all on their own.

After trying sugar cookie recipes from some of my favorite baking cookbooks and bloggers, the one that ended up being the winner in my book was based off one shared by Bon Appetit in their "Best" collection of essential recipes. I now want to work my way through their list!

  1. First and foremost, they had to taste good!  I don't care how cute a cookie is, if it tastes bland then I'm not interested.
  2. Soft, slightly dense centers with slightly crisp edges.  Next to flavor, texture is king for me when it comes to food.
  3. Cut-out cookies that hold their shape when baked.  I wanted sharp, precise edges, not distorted, amorphous shapes once the cookies were pulled out of the oven.
An image of classic sugar cookies with precise edges, ready to be decorated with royal icing in multiple colors in piping bags.

How to Make Sugar Cookies

These sugar cookies start with the slightly unorthodox approach of beating the butter and sugar together while the butter is still cold.  As long as you are using a stand mixer and cut the butter into chunks, this works really well and results in a better cookie texture than creaming softened butter together with the sugar.

The rest of the recipe is pretty straightforward. There is ½ teaspoon of baking powder in the dough, which might cause concern that these won't hold their shape while baking, but it's just the right amount to give that melt-in-your-mouth texture to the dough without making the cookies fluffy or causing distortions while they bake.

I found that sugar cookies without baking powder weren't quite as tender and this small amount was just right.

Don't overmix the flour into the dough when it is added. 

Once the dough starts to come together, it will be thick and similar to the texture of play-doh.

An image of a disc of chilled sugar cookie dough on a floured surface, ready to be rolled out and cut into shapes.

I DO recommend chilling the dough.  It helps the butter re-harden in the cut-out cookies before baking so that they don't spread as much.

Also, sugar cookie recipes that do not require chilling the dough tend to be heavier on the flour, resulting in a cookie with a texture that is slightly more crumbly and not as light as this one.

It's not like you have to wait overnight though - 1 hour will do it, and even then you could fudge it a little closer to 45 minutes if you needed to.

I find that leaving the chilled dough out on the counter for just 10 minutes before attempting to roll it out makes a big difference in how easy it is to roll these out evenly.

An image of hands on a rolling pin, rolling out sugar cookie dough.

I have one sugar cookie specific tool that I HIGHLY recommend if you like making sugar cookies (besides fun cookie cutters, of course). It's a Joseph Joseph rolling pin (affiliate link) with adjustable rings that go on each end of the rolling pin to help you roll out your sugar cookie dough to an exact thickness, depending on which ring you are using.

It's a game changer in getting consistent results in thickness and reliable baking times and worth the investment, in my opinion.

An image of a rolling pin resting on top of rolled out sugar cookie dough.

Another, less expensive approach I have heard of but haven't tried, is to use wooden dowels from the craft or hardware store, placed on either side of your dough so that a regular rolling pin can be used in the same way.

Incidentally, this rolling pin also makes it easier for my girls to roll out cookie dough on their own since they can't get it any thinner than the measurement guides.

cutting out the egg shaped cookies
  • ¼-inch thick is my preference, but you can make these super thick sugar cookies if that's what you like.  I made a couple of batches where I rolled the dough out ⅜-inch thick and they were certainly yummy. But in side-by-side taste testing of different thicknesses, we found that the sugar cookies rolled out ¼-inch thick have a better mouth feel and icing to cookie ratio. Thicker cookies tend to be even softer and need to be baked an extra minute or two longer than the ¼-inch ones.
  • The key is to rolling out the dough is to let the chilled dough sit out on the counter for 10 minutes, then rolling it on a lightly floured surface using light pressure on the rolling pin.
  • Don't be afraid to use flour to keep the dough from sticking either to the surface you are rolling it on or to the rolling pin itself.
  • The secret to soft sugar cookies is slightly underbaking each batch.  You do not want to overbake these cookies unless you are intentionally going for crispy sugar cookies. Size will factor in to how long to bake, as well as the thickness you choose to roll your cookies out at. Mine typically are done right around the 12 minute mark, but I make large, ¼-inch cookies. ⅜-inch cookies might take closer to 15 minutes. Small cookies might be done in the 9-11 minute range. The key is for them to look “set” because often, these won't even brown around the edges (although the bottoms of the cookies will be lightly golden when lifted off the baking sheet).
  • Both the dough and the finished cookies freeze well.  If freezing the dough, transfer it to the fridge the night before you want to roll them out, then let the dough sit out on the counter for 30 minutes before rolling it the next day.
  • Use a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper on your pans so that the cookies don't stick.
  • Frost with royal icing or buttercream. Or just press the unbaked cookies in sprinkles before baking.
  • You can flavor the dough with a little almond extract or lemon zest, and I included amounts in the recipe notes. In my recipe testing, I experimented with each and liked them both (in fact, I was still on the fence between lemon and ended up photographing the batch with lemon zest, which you might notice in these photos), but when it came right down to it, I prefer the classic taste of a simple straightforward vanilla sugar cookie. If I really want a lemon sugar cookies, these double lemon glazed cookies are my favorite.
  • Once frosted, the sugar cookies can be stored in an airtight container on the kitchen counter. Royal icing helps the cookies stay fresh longer, but even unfrosted cookies are good for at least a few days without going stale if stored in a well-sealed container. For longer-term storage, freeze the baked and decorated cookies by wrapping them up well in plastic wrap and freezing. Just give them time to thaw when you are ready to eat them!
An image of cut-out sugar cookies on a silpat mat, next to rolled sugar cookie dough cut into easter egg shapes.

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Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

4.80 from 50 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Additional Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 23 mins
Course Cookies
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cookies
Soft sugar cookies with crisp edges and a buttery, almost melt-in-your-mouth quality to them, these really are the best cut-out sugar cookies ever.  Perfect for using your favorite cookie cutter shapes for any holiday or occasion!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ¼ cups salted butter, chilled and cut into ½" pieces
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, scooped & leveled (250g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (423g)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on high speed for about 3 minutes until well combined.  
  • Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  
  • Add in the flour, salt, and baking powder on low speed, mixing just until incorporated and the dough comes together.  Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Chill for 2 hours or up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  
  • When ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to soften slightly.  
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to ¼-inch thick.  Cut out using cookie cutters and bake on a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges just barely start to turn golden.  Cool completely before decorating with royal icing or frosting.

Video

Notes

  • Measuring flour: I measured the flour using the scoop & level method for this recipe.
  • Variation: You could add ¼ teaspoon almond extract or ½ tablespoon of lemon zest to the dough, if you would like, but I actually prefer the classic, vanilla flavor of these cookies.
  • Thickness: I have also rolled these ⅜-inch thick, which doesn't seem like much of a difference from the ¼-inch thick cookie, but is actually quite noticeable.  While I liked the thicker cookies too, I prefer the ¼-inch version for the cookie to frosting ratio and the different texture.  The cookies will need to cook an extra minute or two longer if you opt to make the thicker ones.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

Nutrition

Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 169mg | Potassium: 23mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 316IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

    1. What does the flour weigh in grams, if I guess 3 cups they will be different for everybody and it seems important in this cookie to not spread and so forth.

    1. Absolutely you can! I wouldn't recommend storing it longer than 5 days in the fridge, but you could also freeze it and just thaw in the fridge overnight.

  1. 5 stars
    I've been making sugar cookies for years - always trying to make them visually perfect and delicious, too.

    This recipe has been the best so far, especially for the chewy sugar cookie lover. Thank you so much! I'm about to make cookies for a 1st birthday, so I gave this recipe a try... they came out perfect! I made them a nice 3/4" thick and baked for 11 min at 325. Going to be using your royal icing recipe too!

  2. This may be a stupid question, but this is my first time baking, salted or unsalted butter? I received a kitchen aid for a wedding gift and I’m dying to use it! Figured this would be a great recipe to learn.

    1. First, congrats on your wedding! So honestly, I always use salted butter. Most bakers will say to use unsalted but I hate bothering with two types of butter. The difference between the two is that each stick of salted butter has about 1/4 teaspoon of salt in it. So you could decrease the salt called for in a recipe by 1/4 teaspoon for each stick of salted butter used. Or if you are like me, just use them interchangeably. Honestly, I don't notice a significant difference in recipes with that amount of salt. It's more noticeable for when you are eating the butter on toast or bread and accidentally use unsalted butter, which is why I stick with salted butter for basically everything.

  3. Hi there!!! I love your recipe...I've made my first batch today and the cookies taste wonderful! I'm having a problem with spreading in the oven...a lot of spreading. They really aren't keeping the shape of the cookie cutter and I'm not getting the sharp edges either. What did I do wrong? Do you know what I might do differently to get a cleaner edged cookie? I followed your recipe to the letter, and I'm sure I must have done something wrong. Is there anything you might suggest to fix my oops?

    1. Hmm, that shouldn't happen with this recipe, but my first guess is that if you have a lot of spreading then something is off with how the butter (or flour) got measured. Those are going to be the two biggest culprits for sugar cookies not holding their shape properly. My only other thoughts are to make sure your dough is well chilled and even stick the cookies back in the fridge on the baking tray after rolling and cutting but before baking.

      1. I’m having the same issue I measured everything accordingly . Put it in the fridge for 2 days took out let sit for 10 mins or so then cut out the pieces and put back in fridge for 10 minutes till cold! And then baked them at 325 for 12 mins and spread so much! Not sure what I’m doing wrong

  4. Just made these and they're delicious! I used your royal icing recipe too which turned out great - thank you! I know these are sugar cookies and of course are supposed to be sweet, but I find them, a tad too sweet when covered in icing. Could you cut back the sugar in the cookies? If so what would you suggest to keep the consistency the same? Thanks again, this recipe is a keeper!

    1. You could easily scale the sugar back by 1/4 cup without adversely affecting the dough too much. I'm thinking you might even be able to get away with just 3/4 cup of sugar. Let me know if you try them this way! I would love to hear!

  5. 5 stars
    I have made sugar cookies before, but never really good ones. I stumbled upon this recipe a while back and now it's my go to. I love the tips that you add in, it really helps to make me understand. The royal icing recipe pairs perfectly with it (even though I made a small mistake with the consenstiencies the first time). It is super tasty, fluffy, and helps to soothe my sweet tooth! I made fall leaf sugar cookies the first time around and I am now planning to make Santas to give as gifts. I don't often give reviews or comments. But this is really good so I thought it deserved the praise.

    1. Emma, thank you so much for your thoughtful, positive review of this recipe. I definitely appreciate it and I know it helps other readers!

  6. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe! Our cookies were delicious. We even used your royal icing recipe. They turned out perfect. I appreciate your advice and opinions on different variations for each one of your recipes. I find myself searching your website first when I'm looking for the perfect recipe! I'm going to try out your chocolate crinkle recipe next. Thank you for all your hard work.

  7. 3 stars
    Like another poster, I had trouble with these cookies spreading in the oven. I made a double batch ( 3 separate times), so the butter came out to whole sticks (no mismeasurement there), flour spooned into measuring cup and leveled off. The first double batch was in the fridge for two days before I had a chance to bake them and were so spread out that I had to recut them with the cookie cutter after they were baked to make them usable.

    I liked the flavor and wanted the cookies to be consistent since they are all for the same event so I made two additional double batches that were rolled to 1/4" in parchment paper with my joseph joseph, chilled for 30-75 minutes, cut and placed on chilled baking sheets (this probably took less than 3 minutes since the dough was already rolled out) then baked as directed at 325 (oven space and the availability of chilled baking sheets account for the difference in chilling times of the dough since I rolled it all out at the same time). This technique helped somewhat, but there was still too much loss of definition for my needs. I am going to use buttercream on these cookies to camouflage some of the loss of definition, but my next project is personalized basketball jersey cookies for my son's team.

    The test jersey cookies I included with the holiday cookies lost shape on the long straight side edges. I definitely want to use royal icing to get an ultra smooth finish so I can stencil numbers on the cookies, so I am looking for suggestions to help these cookies keep their shape since I won't be able to "hide" any flaws with icing.
    Thank you for any suggestions you can provide.

    1. Hmm, it's really hard to assess what happened without being there but based on your description, I'm wondering if possibly a little more flour would help with the structure. Because you should definitely not need to recut after baking to make them usable! I don't typically spoon and level off flour when making cookies - that is a technique I tend to feel is more important for cakes - so that's why I'm wondering if a little more flour could make the difference.

  8. Thanks or the quick reply. Do you have any suggestions as to how much addtional flour to add, or what I should be looking for in the consistency of the dough to tell when it is right?

    1. Hmm, the dough should still be soft, not stiff, but pretty close to play-dough before chilling. I would start with 1/4 cup of additional flour and see how that goes.

        1. Honestly, I have just never bothered and it doesn't seem to make a huge deal in my baking. I am careful not to pack the flour into the measuring cup, but otherwise don't take specific measures to sift the flour, which is supposed to make it lighter and baked goods softer or something I think.

  9. My mom and I made these yesterday and they are AMAZING! We bake a lot of cookies and will definitely be using your recipe again! They turned out perfectly, crisp edges, chewy center and delicious. Thank you!!!

  10. I have just made this rough. Think I may have put too much butter in though. It feels very oily if that makes sense?

    I’m in AUS and tried to convert it to grams.

    Also I assume the oven temp is in Fahrenheit

    1. Yes, the temperature is in Fahrenheit. I don't think of this as an oily dough, so yes, I would think a measure is off somewhere because of the conversion.

  11. My dough is very crumbly when I'm rolling. It's hard to keep it together and I keep having to start over. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Sounds like possibly either too much flour was added, not enough butter was added, or the dough didn't get mixed long enough.

  12. Hello! This looks like a lovely recipe! I was hoping to make these on Saturday, just in time for Easter Sunday! However, I have a gluten and dairy intolerance, so I was wondering how the recipe would be affected if I replaced the butter with dairy free butter, and the all purpose flour with gluten free all purpose flour. Thanks!

    1. I have used gluten free all purpose flour before (Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 replacement flour) with no problems, but I can't speak to dairy free butter. Let me know how they turn out!

  13. 5 stars
    I tried a lot of different sugar cookie recipes. I needed one that would hold it's shape and tasted good, had a good snap, but was also chewy. Every recipe failed , until I tried this one. I have made over 200 cookies in the last 2 days for graduation. This recipe is outstanding. Consistent rolling, cutting, baking and taste. I will never use another cut out recipe. Thank you!

  14. Hello! I am in the process of baking these. They are beautiful! How does the dough freeze? (I'm already planning on making these again.) Also - I wonder how many times you can remix your scraps without the cookies cracking when baked. Thanks for a great recipe and helpful hints!

    1. I haven't actually frozen this particular dough, but in my experience most cookie dough freezes well. You just need to let it thaw in the fridge so it's workable. I try my best to cut my cookies close together to keep the scraps minimal, but I can usually smush scraps back together and re-roll twice before I notice issues in the cookies. The amount of flour you use on your rolling surface will also factor in. I'm glad you enjoy the recipe and the tips are helpful!

  15. I made these today, reducing the sugar to 1 cup, with great results! I made 3 batches, & all held their shape during baking and came out soft & delicious. I used air-bake pans, and I had to increase the baking time from your 12 minutes to my 16 minutes. Very pleased! This will be my go-to recipe for sugar cookie cutouts! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  16. Its silly question but its my first time baking and I’m new to all nuances. Recipe calls for 11/4 cup. Could you tell me in terms of sticks ?

    1. So sticks can vary in size, but standard is 8 tablespoons per stick, which is 1/2 cup. So this recipe would be 2 1/2 sticks of butter. Unless the sticks were smaller, half-size sticks, which granted, you don't see as frequently. The measurements are typically printed right on the paper that the butter is wrapped in.

  17. If I cut my cookies into 3” circles to fit a stencil I will use, should I change the cooking temp or time? I have always been terrible at roll & cut cookies, so I appreciate your input. Thanks in advance.

    1. I think you will be fine with the same cooking time. Just watch them carefully and maybe add an extra minute, if needed.

  18. Hello,
    I have an interest in trying your sugar cookie recipe. Can you please share how much in gram weight, how much flour you are using.
    thank you. Judy

  19. This is my new go-to recipe for cut out sugar cookies. In the fall I add 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice which gives them the perfect fall flavor kick.

  20. Going to use your recipe with my granddaughters and grandson. It should be a lot of fun. Thank you for the recipe

  21. Hi  I haven't made any of the Sugar cookies yet. I am excited about making them in the next few days. Can i freeze the dough so I can bake them later for Christmas ? How long can you freeze the dough, how much time does the dough need to thaw ? Over night?  Any info will help me . I love to bake with my granddaughter. Thank You  Happy Holidays .

    1. Hi Rosemary! Yes, you can freeze the dough for up to 2 months actually! Just let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then on the counter for 10-15 minutes before you try rolling it out. What wonderful memories you both will have!

  22. I am excited to try these. I have searched for the perfect sugar cookie that is soft but doesn't lose shape. I've never tried Royal Icing because I thought it would be too difficult and messy, but I really want to try. Do these need to be warm for icing? I wanted to bake them today and ice them tomorrow or the next day. Thanks!

  23. I used this recipe for the first time a couple days ago but by accident left out a 1/2 cup of unsalted butter. They turned out well for us even with that mistake. I didn’t realize it until I went to make them again tonight. I decided to stick with what worked the first time and I’m glad I did after reading some of the comments stating some were having problems with keeping shape. Maybe just a little less butter would fix that problem. Enjoy! 

  24. We made these last Saturday Dec 21, 2019 for Christmas. Rave reviews coming in I did substitute almond flour for regular flour (the dough became super sticky) keep refrigerating the dough. This will now become a family favorite receipe. Thank you for the cookie recipe! Gail Reimard

  25. Hi my cookies spread like crazy. Did you measure using a scale, I did and found huge discrepancy in amount of flour called for and how it measured out, I also added almond plus vanilla as most sugar cookies are so bland. Any recommendations,thank you, I am just starting out.

    1. I did not use a measuring scale but that surprises me that your cookies would spread so much. To me, that sounds more like the butter was too soft or some of the flour was left out. That's a good idea to add some almond. I'm with you on sugar cookies often tasting bland, which is why I will often add lemon zest to mine.

  26. Can the dough be frozen in batches?

    Can the baked cookies be frozen before applying icing? 

    Just trying to think of some time saver methods 🙂 

    1. You can freeze them for 1-2 months in an airtight container! Otherwise, I would recommend storing on the counter in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

  27. Not just the Best, but the BEST! I use anise for Xmas cookies. Even "overbaked" (by accident), they were still delicious. I also made them using 2 1/2" cutters, so got more cookies.

  28. These are great! I've made them twice this holiday season and each time they turn out wonderfully.

    With frosting... without out. Nomnomnom.

  29. These are great! I like to bake but sugar cookies always seem like too much fuss for something that tastes eh. Usually they just look pretty and people eat them after all the other cookies are gone. But these are delicious. Buttery, soft but not like fake cookie soft, a bit chewy, not cakey at all, and not too sweet, exactly as described. Saving for next Christmas. These will be my go tos. Thanks for all of your testing! 

  30. I made several different sugar cookie recipes. After tastes tests by my family, we all agreed these are the winners! So, so good! I baked some thick with little to no color. They were soft and delicious. Our favorites were 1/4 inch with  browned bottoms and edges. These were crispy/crunchy. Carmelized sugar. Divine!

  31. Hey! I have made these cookies once and they are great! Just the right crumble and sweetness!

    Quick question though for next time since I’m
    Still a beginner with frosting decoration. Once the plain cookies are cooled off and I have iced them, do they remain uncovered on the counter for the few hours it takes to allow the frosting to dry? And if I add a second layer of detail to the frosting and again let them dry on the counter, is it still uncovered? I feel like the 3-12 hours sitting on the counter allowing the frosting to dry will also dry the cookie out and make them not so tasty?? 

    Thanks so much!! 

    1. So glad you love these cookies! Yes, to answer your question you want to leave them on the counter uncovered until the icing has hardened and dried. And same if you add additional layers of icing. Your concerns about the cookies themselves drying out make sense but the icing actually seals the cookie and keeps it nice and moist so they will be fine until the icing has fully hardened!

  32. 5 stars
    Very tasty looking! I do love cilantro, but I have heard that some people have an aversion to it. Love your photo!