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!

Stacks of cut out sugar cookies in shapes for different holidays on a baking sheet.


Table of Contents
  1. Cut Out Cookies that Hold Their Shape!
  2. What Makes these the Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies
  3. Cut Out Cookies Ingredients
  4. How to Make Cut Out Sugar Cookies
  5. Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe Tips
  6. Best Sugar Cookies Storage
  7. Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe FAQs
  8. More like this Sugar Cookie Cut Out Recipe
  9. Best Sugar Cookie Cut Out Recipe Recipe

Not all sugar cookies are created equal. Too many are bland, too hard, too soft, to crunchy or dry, or spread too much. This easy sugar cookie recipe solves all those problems! These are the best sugar cookies with a moist, chewy texture that almost melts in your mouth with the perfect amount of sweetness. We make these every year for multiple occasions (or no occasion at all!) and always get requests for the recipe!

Cut Out Cookies that Hold Their Shape!

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!

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.

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!

What Makes these the Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  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.

Cut Out Cookies Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
Ingredients for rolled sugar cookies.

How to Make Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  1. Cream butter and sugar. 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.
  2. Add wet ingredients. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add dry ingredients. 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.
Mixing sugar cookie dough in a large glass mixing bowl.
  1. Chill dough. Chill for 2 hours or up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven. When ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 325°F. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes to soften slightly.
  3. Roll & cut out. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to ¼-inch thick. Cut out using cookie cutters.
  4. Bake. 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.
A rolling pin on top of sugar cookie dough.
  • Use cold butter. 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.
  • Don't overmix the flour.
    Once the dough starts to come together, it will be thick and similar to the texture of play-doh.
  • Chill the dough. It helps the butter re-harden in the cut-out cookies before baking so that they don't spread as much. 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.
  • Let the dough warm a bit before rolling out. 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.
  • Use the right tools. 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 (affiliate link) 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.
  • Cut shapes close together. Once the dough is rolled out to your desired thickness, go ahead and cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Try to cut them close together to maximize the number of cookies you get before you have to squash the rest of the dough together and reroll.
  • 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.

Best Sugar Cookies Storage

Allow the sugar cookies to cool completely before storing them. This prevents condensation, which can make the cookies soggy. Place the cookies in an airtight container. You can use plastic containers, cookie tins, or even resealable plastic bags. Make sure they're completely airtight to keep the cookies fresh. Sugar cookies can be stored at room temperature for a few days, especially when kept in an airtight container.

Freezing sugar cookie dough is a great way to have freshly baked cookies whenever you want without having to make the dough from scratch each time. Shape the dough into a flat disk or divide it into manageable portions for easier handling when it's time to bake. You can also roll it into a log wrapped in parchment or plastic wrap for slice-and-bake cookies. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, ensuring there's no air or gaps. For additional protection, place the wrapped dough in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container.

Place the wrapped dough in the freezer. It's best to lay flat portions or logs on a baking sheet initially until they're solid to prevent misshaping. Once frozen, you can stack them to save space.

When you're ready to bake, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight if you still need to roll and cut out cookies. Alternatively, if you're using frozen cut out sugar cookie dough that has already been cut into shapes, you can bake directly from frozen—just add a few extra minutes to the baking time.

An overhead image of a baking sheet filled with stacks of unfrosted sugar cookies cut out in different holiday shapes.
What's the difference between a cookie and sugar cookie?

Cookies encompass a wide variety of treats, while sugar cookies specifically highlight a simple, versatile type. Our sugar cookies have a buttery, sweet taste with a subtle vanilla flavor, and they’re rolled and cut into shapes before baking. In contrast, cookies in general have a greater variety of textures, flavors, and ingredients beyond the classic sugar cookie base, ranging from chewy chocolate chip to crispy oatmeal raisin and beyond.

Are sugar cookies just shortbread?

Sugar cookies and shortbread have distinct differences. While both have a buttery, crumbly texture, sugar cookies typically contain flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract and are usually sweeter than shortbread due to a higher sugar content. Shortbread, on the other hand, consists of only flour, sugar, and butter, lacking eggs and often using a higher ratio of butter to flour. Sugar cookies tend to be softer and more tender, while shortbread has a crisper, more crumbly texture due to its higher butter content and absence of eggs.

Are sugar cookies soft or hard?

Our sugar cookies are firm with a soft chew to them as long as you take care not to overbake them.

Should you refrigerate sugar cookie dough before baking?

We recommend refrigerating your sugar cookie dough before baking to make sure that your cut out shapes hold their shape and don’t spread or puff.

What happens if you don't chill sugar cookie dough?

If you don’t chill your sugar cookie dough it isn’t the worst thing in the world, but you might experience more spreading of your shapes and the edges won’t be quite as sharp.

Can you roll out sugar cookie dough before chilling?

Yes, you can actually roll out your sugar cookie dough before chilling! The dough will likely be slightly more sticky, so we recommend rolling it between two sheets of parchment paper to help prevent sticking, or you will need to use enough additional flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling surface.

Did you make this recipe?

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.

Stay in the know
4.85 from 115 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 23 minutes
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 (284g)
  • 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°F. 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
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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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. 5 stars
    This recipe is so good! We made these sugar cookies at our bowling retreat to decorate and, let me tell you, they were SO GOOD. We rolled them out pretty thin, so I had thought oh they might be too crispy. However, these cookies are SUPER soft and delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. 1 star
    OMG! Looking at the reviews I decided to try these for Christmas, unfortunately with no time to turn back. I can't say one nice thing about them. One batch with butter needed an hour to work with after chilling overnight and one batch with margarine for lactose intolerant needed a lot more flour to make it rollable. Not much flavor. Baking time was longer than expected and very, very crunchy. Don't waste your time and ingredients. So disappointed ☹️ I could not disagree more with this author

  3. 5 stars
    I had an order for for 4 dozen tea bag shaped cookies. I scaled up the recipe for 72 cookies and the cookies came out perfect! I baked per the instructions and they taste great with slightly crispy edges and soft centers when eaten within a day or two!

    1. Hey Vanessa I actually have an Easter Order I was gonna use this recipe for, do you have any extra tips you can share.

  4. I have the old fashioned wood cookie molds. Do you think I would be able to use this recipe with the wood molds without the cookies loosing their shape?