BEST EVER Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe - Crazy for Crust (2024)

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This Cut Out Sugar Cookie recipe is my family’s annual Christmas tradition! They’re easy to make, hold their shape, and are a thick, soft sugar cookie! I’ve been making this recipe for over 20 years and it comes out perfect EVERY time.

BEST EVER Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe - Crazy for Crust (1)

BEST Powdered Sugar Cookie Recipe

My daughter is really big on traditions. Things at holidays happened once when she was little and now that’s the way they’re supposed to happen. This means we have to do three things: have Christmas Eve at her Aunts house, have monkey bread for breakfast, and make cut-out sugar cookies on Christmas Eve with my parents.

This is the only sugar cookie recipe I’ve used for more than 20 years….so you know it has to be the best recipe in the world. They are SOFT and you can make them as thick as you want.

The Best Cut Out Sugar Cookies are great ALL year, not just for Christmas! I love making these for every holiday – cookie cutters come in all shapes! They are my favorite cookie, after all.

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Important Ingredients

  • Butter – I always use unsalted butter, but you can substitute salted by reducing added salt in the recipe. Make sure the butter is softened.
  • Powdered sugar – instead of using granulated sugar, this is a powdered sugar cookie recipe. Powdered sugar has a teeny bit of cornstarch in it to keep it from clumping and that plus the powdery consistency of confectioners sugar keeps the cookies soft and tender.
  • Cream of Tartar – in addition to baking soda keeps these from spreading AND keeps them soft. You don’t need to use baking powder because of the cream of tartar.
  • Flour – All-purpose flour is best for cookies. Be sure to measure it correctly so you don’t use too much or too little!
  • Extract – I always use pure vanilla extract in my cut out cookies. Sometimes I add a teaspoon almond extract for some extra flavor.
  • Food coloring – I prefer gel food coloring for the frosting, or you can use regular grocery store food coloring (or leave the frosting white).

Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!

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How to make Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  • Cream together butter and powdered sugar until nice and fluffy.
  • Add egg, baking soda, cream of tartar, and vanilla, then mix until smooth.
  • Add flour and mix until cookie dough forms. It will be slightly sticky.
  • Divide the dough in half.
  • I always roll my sugar cookie dough before I chill it! Roll it between sheets of parchment paper or wax paper so you don’t need to add extra flour, then chill.
  • Once the dough is hard, cut shapes using cookie cutters.
  • Chill again before baking!
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Rolling Hack

Much like I roll out my pie dough, I roll out my cookie dough between two sheets of wax paper, right after I’ve mixed it up. Just place the dough between two sheets of wax paper and press it into a disk, then roll flat.

While I’m rolling, I’ll occasionally (carefully) lift up the wax paper on the top, put it back down, flip, and do the same on the bottom. That’s because the force of the rolling can cause the wax paper to crinkle.

Using room temperature just-made dough makes rolling out easy. No elbow grease is needed, like when you chill the dough first.

Using two sheets of wax paper makes less mess and eliminates the need for extra flour, which makes a more tender cookie.

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How do you get sugar cookies to hold their shape?

As long as you follow my directions these cookies will hold their shape. They’ll puff a little bit but stay in the shape you cut. Here are my tips for cut out cookies that hold their shape:

  • Be sure you’ve measured your flour correctly.
  • Chill the dough before you cut the cookies.
  • Chill the dough AFTER cutting cookies BEFORE baking.
  • Do not bake cookies on a hot cookie sheet. Let the cookie sheets cool in between batches.

It really is better to chill sugar cookie dough for best results. It will ensure that your cookies hold their shape but are tender and soft and not too floury.

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How to make Sugar Cookie Frosting

Pro Tip: you don’t have to make flood icing or royal icing for sugar cookies. Buttercream tastes better, is easier to make, and more fun! I make a homemade buttercream for these cookies and it’s SO delicious.

  • Butter
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Salt
  • Milk or cream

Just mix it together like you’d mix a buttercream. You can color your frosting as desired, or leave it white, but don’t forget all the sprinkles for decorating! Kids LOVE this frosting so much better than royal icing (and so does Santa).

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How to Freeze Cut Out Cookies

How to freeze unfrosted cookies: Stack similarly shaped cookies in airtight containers and freeze for up to 2 months. Freeze prepared frosting in an airtight container. Thaw both on the counter.

Because of the powdered sugar, these soft easy cut out cookies are delicate, so be careful when freezing them!

How to freeze frosted sugar cookies: Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and cover them with plastic wrap. Freeze until solid then stack in airtight containers between layers of parchment or wax paper. Separate stacks before thawing.

How to make sugar cookies ahead of time: Roll the dough as directed before chilling. Stack the dough (between sheets of wax or parchment) on cookie sheets and wrap with plastic. Chill up to 24 hours before cutting and baking.

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FAQs

Why does sugar cookie dough have to be refrigerated?

Chilled dough means your cookies stay in the shapes you cut them in. I love that about this recipe – the cookies always stay in shape. No bloated men or round hearts here – a candy cane stays a candy cane and a tree stays a tree! It sounds like a lot of chilling but in the time it takes the oven to preheat your cookies will be ready.

Why do you roll out the dough before chilling it?

Chilling it once it’s already rolled flat makes the dough chill so much faster – you can cut out your cookies after as little as 30 minutes.

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Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

4.39 from 228 votes

These are my family's favorite Cut Out Sugar Cookies! This easy cookie recipe holds it's shape and makes soft and delicate sugar cookies!

Prep Time 30 minutes minutes

Cook Time 10 minutes minutes

Chill Time 1 hour hour

Total Time 1 hour hour 40 minutes minutes

Yield 36 cookies

Serving Size 1 cookie

Save RecipeRate RecipePrint Recipe

Ingredients

Cookie:

  • 2 ½ cups (304g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups (141g) powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Frosting:

  • 4 cups (452g) powdered sugar
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk regular, low- or non-fat are all fine (or use heavy cream)
  • Food color and/or sprinkles if desired

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer). Mix on low, scraping the bowl occasionally, until the mixture forms a cookie dough. Be sure to start on low or the dry ingredients will fly everywhere!

  • Divide the dough in half. Place a large sheet of waxed paper on a large cutting board or flat surface. Place the cookie dough on the wax paper. Place another large sheet of wax paper on top of the cookie dough. Press down into a flat disk with the palm of your hand, then roll out the dough between the two pieces of wax paper. After each 3-4 rolls, carefully lift the top sheet of wax paper off the dough, then replace it, flip the dough over, and carefully peel the other wax paper sheet, replace it, then continue rolling until the dough is about 1/4” thick. Place the dough, still between the wax paper sheets, on another cutting board or cookie sheet.

  • Repeat with second half of dough. Place both rolled out cookie dough sheets in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or wrap them well with plastic wrap and chill overnight).

  • When ready to cut cookies, preheat oven to 375°F.

  • Cut cookies in desired shapes and place them on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Save the scraps of dough and re-roll them as needed. Note: once you re-roll the dough, you may want to chill those cutouts for about 10 minutes before baking them so they’ll keep their shape.

  • Bake cookies for 6-10 minutes depending on the size. I take them out as soon as the bottoms start to brown because we like them softer. If you want crunchy cookies, let them cook longer. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

  • To make frosting, beat butter until smooth in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, then vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the frosting is the consistency you desire. Tint the frosting if you want it a color.

  • Frost cookies, decorating them with sprinkles. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • If using salted butter, reduce added salt to 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Do not skip the chilling steps if you want your cookies to hold their shape. Roll then chill and cut, then chill again. This is important!
  • Feel free to use pastry bags and tips or just a knife to frost the cookies.
  • These are great in any shape!
  • How to freeze unfrosted cookies: Stack similarly shaped cookies in airtight containers and freeze for up to 2 months. Freeze prepared frosting in an airtight container. Thaw both on the counter.
  • How to freeze frosted sugar cookies: Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and cover them with plastic wrap. Freeze until solid then stack in airtight containers between layers of parchment or wax paper. Separate stacks before thawing.
  • How to make sugar cookies ahead of time: Roll the dough as directed before chilling. Stack the dough (between sheets of wax or parchment) on cookie sheets and wrap with plastic. Chill up to 24 hours before cutting and baking.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 67mg | Potassium: 28mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Dessert

Cuisine American

Author Dorothy Kern

Did you try this recipe? Click the stars to rate the recipe below

Some of my other favorite cookie recipes:

  • Gingerbread Cut Outs
  • Chewy Soft Sugar Cookies
  • Sprinkle Cookies
  • Shortbread Cookies
  • Cake Mix Sugar Cookies
  • Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
  • If you’re looking for other Christmas cookie recipes click here.

These are the BEST Cut Out Sugar Cookies we’ve been making for years. Easy soft cut out sugar cookies that hold they’re shape and topped with sugar cookie icing that’s like a buttercream – it’s easy and fast.

Last Updated on November 3, 2023

BEST EVER Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe - Crazy for Crust (2024)

FAQs

What is the secret to cut out cookies? ›

Pull off the top sheet of parchment, then slide the sheet of dough onto a baking sheet, then pop it in the freezer. (You can stack as many sheets of dough onto one baking sheet as you'd like.) Sandwich your dough between two sheets of parchment, roll, then freeze; it makes cut-out cookies a breeze!

Is it better to use powdered sugar or granulated sugar in sugar cookies? ›

Powdered sugar has a much finer texture and a higher cornstarch content, which can absorb moisture and lead to a drier, crumbly cookie texture. If you use powdered sugar in place of granulated sugar, you'll likely end up with cookies that are more cake-like and less chewy.

What is the secret ingredient to keep cookies soft? ›

If you enjoy your cookies soft and chewy, chances are likely the recipe contains a common ingredient that serves a very specific purpose. No, it's not granulated sugar, nor the butter. It's not the egg, all-purpose flour, or even the vanilla extract. The simple, yet oh-so-necessary component is cornstarch.

Is butter or margarine better for cut out cookies? ›

Choose the Right Fat (Preferably Butter)

Butter is the ideal fat for cookies because it adds the best flavor. However, stick margarine (with at least 80% fat content) and shortening will also yield good results.

How to keep cut-out sugar cookies from spreading? ›

To prevent this make sure the baking sheets are always at least on room temperature. Ideally you want to cut your cookies and then chill them with the baking sheet. that way the tray is still cool when it goes in the oven and the cookies have no time to spread before they are baked through.

How do you keep cut-out cookies from spreading while baking? ›

1) Don't grease your baking pan — line it instead

“For the best results, choose a silicone baking mat or parchment paper to line your pan,” Dawn recommends. “Simply greasing your pan — basically adding fat to it — will encourage your cookies to spread.” (Check out our side-by-side test baking to see for yourself.)

What does cream of tartar do in sugar cookies? ›

Cream of tartar makes cookies chewy, as it precludes the sugar in the dough from crystalizing, which would lead to crispiness (ie: the opposite of chewiness).

What does brown sugar do in cookies? ›

Brown sugar

Brown sugar is also hygroscopic (more so than granulated sugar) and will therefore also attract and absorb the liquid in the dough. The difference is in the molasses that makes brown sugar brown: It adds moisture and slight acidity, resulting in a moist and chewy texture.

How do bakeries keep their cookies soft? ›

Usually the fat used is a combination of shortening and liquid oil or melted butter, which keeps the structure of the cookie tender by absorbing into the flour and preventing gluten formation.

What makes a cookie crispy? ›

How to Make Crispy Cookies. While brown sugar keeps your cookies moist and soft, white sugar and corn syrup will help your cookies spread and crisp in the oven. Using more white sugar in your cookies will result in a crispier end product. To achieve a crispy cookie, skip the rest in the fridge.

What makes cookies chewy vs. crunchy? ›

The ingredients you use and how you shape your cookies both play an important role in whether your cookies turn out crispy or chewy. The type of flour and sugar you use, if your cookie dough contains eggs, and whether you use melted or softened butter all factor into the crispy-chewy equation, too.

What is the best thickness for cutout cookies? ›

To ensure the wonderfully soft sugar cookies of your dreams, you want to roll the dough about ¼-inch thick. This may seem too thick when you are rolling and cutting, but it's absolutely vital.

How thick should you roll out sugar cookie dough? ›

Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.

How do you get cut-out cookies to keep their shape? ›

I can't wait to read through all of the great ideas posted there! To help cookies keep their shape, freeze them! I freeze each batch of cut-out cookies for 5 to 10 minutes before baking.

Why won't my cut-out cookies hold their shape? ›

Too much flour will make your cookies dry and crumbly. Too much sugar and butter can make sugar cookies spread and lose their shape when baked. This one requires a little patience because once you roll out your dough, you are ready to bake. Be patient and bake your cookies when the dough is really cold.

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