Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies.

Soft cut-out sugar cookies with crisp edges and room for lots of icing and sprinkles. Use your favorite cookie cutter shapes and have fun baking and decorating!

The BEST Cut-Out Sugar Cookies. Soft centers, slightly crisp edges, and room for lots of icing and sprinkles!

Today is my birthday and I’m sharing a recipe I have been working since my last birthday. I kid you not. This recipe was supposed to go in my cookbook last summer, but I just could not get the texture perfected! Disappointment after disappointment.

I was going for a soft centered, yet slightly crisp edged roll out sugar cookie. A cookie that would keep its cookie cutter shape in the oven, a recipe without any crazy ingredients, and one that was easy and approachable for everyone. Cut-out sugar cookies are so temperamental! But luckily, I finally got it right. Happy birthday to me indeed! ;)

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies by sallysbakingaddiction.com. These are the BEST!

Cut-out sugar cookies are all the rage during Christmas time. I remember making and decorating dozens and dozens of them with my sisters growing up. We’d have them covering every inch of the counter! Our decorating “skills” probably seemed atrocious to others, but when sugar, butter, icing, and sprinkles are involved – who cares what the package looks like right?!

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you; I could hardly wait until December. Instead of snowflakes and santa hats, you’re getting hearts and hot pinks and rainbows.

Lucky for you, my decorating skills have vastly improved over the years!

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies by sallysbakingaddiction.com. These are the BEST!

Let’s get down to it. The recipe? It’s not complicated! It just took me a good while to find the perfect combination of butter and sugar, flour and leavener.

Start with the right consistency of unsalted butter. This is so important! Butter must be softened, but not melty in the slightest. You should be able to press your finger into the stick of butter and make an indent easily, without your finger sliding anywhere. Firm, but not cold. Lightly softened is what you should go for.

Here is a good visual. You’ll need 3/4 cup (170g; 1 and 1/2 sticks) of butter.

Perfectly Softened Butter for Sugar Cookies

The cookie dough will be thick and not wet. Slightly sticky and crumbly, yet manageable. I compare it to the consistency of play-doh.

Very, very important: This sugar cookie dough does require chilling. Not too long; only about 1 hour. Once the cookie dough is prepared, divide the sugar cookie dough in half, shape into balls, and then roll into two flat rectangles – about 1/4 inch thickness each. Stack onto a baking sheet and chill. Chilling is mandatory not only to keep the butter cold to help prevent spreading, but also to give the gluten in the flour a chance to rest. As you notice, I chill the cookie dough AFTER I have rolled it out. With all of my recipe testing, I learned that this method is so much easier than chilling the cookie dough as a whole and then trying to roll out a cold chunk of dough.

After 1 hour of chilling, you may use your favorite cookie cutter and cut into difference shapes. At this point you can just bake the shaped cookies plain or you may add sprinkles directly onto them. I lined some cookies with circle-shaped sprinkles, as you see above and below. This did take me awhile… maybe about 6 minutes per cookie. Also took me a lot of precision and patience, but hey… they’re pretty right?! Beauty is pain.

Visuals are SO important with these cookies, so I made sure to take a ton of pictures. Here are several of the steps I just explained:

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies by sallysbakingaddiction.com. These are the BEST!

The secret to their soft, tender centers? Underbaking. The cookies will take about 8-11 minutes, or until the look “set” and are very lightly colored on top. You do not want to overbake these cookies. I kept one batch in the oven for about 12 minutes and they were much, much crunchier on the edges than the others.

If you prefer a crunchy sugar cookie, just bake longer.

This cookie dough will hold its shape in the oven. Something so extremely important when it comes to shaped sugar cookies! The edges are sharp and precise; no spreading or distortions. Truly a perfect cookie cutter dough.

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies by sallysbakingaddiction.com. These are the BEST!

Have fun decorating and playing around with the icing! Making these cookies is all about enjoying the process with others, so this is the fun part. I used my all-time favorite sugar cookie icing recipe, available on All Recipes (with a video too!). It’s so simple. Rather than using egg whites or meringue powder, this recipe uses milk and corn syrup.

It’s fantastic, it’s quick, it’s the best in my sugar cookie experimenting!

I doubled the frosting recipe to frost a majority of my cookies. I used a paint brush for some and dipped others directly into it. I did not color the icing.

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies by sallysbakingaddiction.com. These are the BEST!

So here we go. My birthday present to you!

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the steps, I’m just extremely thorough.

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Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Soft cut-out sugar cookies with crisp edges and room for lots of icing and sprinkles. Use your favorite cookie cutter shapes and have fun baking and decorating!

The number of cookies this recipe yields depends on how thick you roll the dough and the size of the cookie cutter you use. If hoping to make dozens of cookies for a large crowd, double the recipe.

Prep Time: 2 hours (includes chilling)

Total Time: 4 hours (includes cooling)

Ingredients:

Cookies

  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (makes the flavor outstanding)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For Decorating

Directions:

In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamed and smooth - about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combine, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. 

Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.

Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Chilling is mandatory.

Once chilled, preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.

Before baking, you can apply sprinkles like I did on the rainbow sprinkle lined cookies shown in this post. If you’re planning to only ice them instead, or you just want to keep them plain -  skip the sprinkles.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly colored on top and around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. My cookies took 9 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing. I always let mine cool overnight, just to be sure.

Make the icing and decorate the cooled cookies however you'd like. I doubled the frosting recipe to frost a majority of my cookies. I used a paint brush for some and double-dipped others directly into it. I did not color the icing, as you can see. Add sprinkles on top of the icing if preferred. Once the icing has set, these cookies are great for gifts, sending, or munching on right away. I find they stay soft for about 5 days at room temperature.

FREEZING: unfrosted cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Frosted cookies do not freeze well at all.

*Room temperature egg is preferred for even disbursement in cookie dough. Good rule of thumb: always use room temperature egg if recipe calls for butter at room temperature or melted.

© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

 

BONUS: Cookbook Discount! 

Since today is my birthday, I have a very special offer for you! Celebrate my 29th birthday with a batch of these cookies AND with a 29% discount off my cookbook!

Hop on over to my publisher’s website and enter the code SALLY29 to receive 29% off. The discount code expires after today (May 27th 2014). 

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies by sallysbakingaddiction.com-10

 

See more birthday recipe ideas.

 

 

 

   

230 Responses to “Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies.”

  1. #
    121
    Dianaposted September 4, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    These look so amazing. I’m planning for Christmas cookies and these are on the list. Do you think I could freeze the baked cookies and then thaw them before frosting with the kiddlet? I like to prep everything so he doesn’t get bored with the waiting and such that requires patience most 4 year olds don’t have. :) If you think they would thaw okay, how long do you think they would be okay in the freezer? Weeks?

    Do you have a soft snickerdoodle recipe too? ;)

    Reply

  2. #
    122
    bethposted September 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Is it possible to replace some of the flour with cocoa to make them into chocolate sugar cookies? And if so, how much flour do you replace?
    Anyway, they look great!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on September 8th, 2014 at 9:31 am

      I’m unsure – I’ve never tried it, so I’m not able to give any recommendations.

      Reply

    • Kitareplied on September 20th, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      I would replace about a cup of flour with cocoa powder. Should be good! If they don’t come out as chocolatey as you want, you can always frost with chocolate.

      Reply

    • Maggiereplied on October 23rd, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      I replaced 3/4 c of flour with cocoa and they turned out fantastic. My husband said they taste like brownies. They’re rich and not exceptionally sweet, but that’s perfect for cookies that will be frosted. Mint frosting would be killer!

      Reply

  3. #
    123
    ACSposted September 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Sally, your technique and recipe was by far the best and easiest way to achieve a crispy soft sugar cookie I have ever tried! Your directions and descriptions were spot on. Thank you! I truly enjoyed making them and now look forward to making a huge batch of “T-shirts” for my daughters field hockey team.

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on September 9th, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      And the t-shirt cookies sounds adorable. Thanks for reporting back! I really appreciate it.

      Reply

  4. #
    124
    Elizabethposted September 12, 2014 at 6:19 am

    is it possible to freeze the dough?

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on September 12th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      You may freeze the dough up to 3 months.

      Reply

  5. #
    125
    Thomasposted September 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    What would happen if it’s not chilled for at least an hour?

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on September 23rd, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      The cookies will lose their shape when baked and just spread all over the baking sheet.

      Reply

  6. #
    126
    Jessicaposted October 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    This is, hands down, the greatest cut-out sugar recipe EVER. Seriously … ever.
    I’ve tried a ton over the past week (I bake for a local orchard) and so many of the recipes that I’ve tried have been SO temperamental. But alas, I’ve found the PERFECT recipe. I didn’t have to make any adjustments, I made them just as the recipe calls for. Which, by the way, the almond extract is a fabulous touch. They turned out great and kept their shape amazingly. I ended up getting just short of two dozen cookies (22 to be exact). Oh, and I didn’t roll them out and chill because I didn’t have the room in my fridge. I had to chill the dough as a ball, but they turned out just fine.
    Eek, I’m so excited. Thanks for sharing!!!

    Reply

  7. #
    127
    Jaimeposted October 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I looked up your recipe for the icing…looks easy enough :) but how did you paint it on so smoothly? And so evenly from the edges?looks so professional. I’m the video their icing is kinda bumpy (I would assume from the bristles of the brush)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on October 13th, 2014 at 8:49 am

      I used a paintbrush for some, dipped a few directly into the frosting once, and then for some – I actually put the icing into a squirt bottle (I got an empty plastic condiment bottle from Walmart) and slowly applied it. That works well!

      Reply

  8. #
    128
    Marilynposted October 11, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I am getting ingredients together to make these and was wondering why no salt is included.

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on October 12th, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Hi Marilyn, I do not prefer my sugar cookies with salt. However, feel free to add some if you prefer.

      Reply

  9. #
    129
    Sereenaposted October 14, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Great recipe….nice, soft and yummy….I added 1/4 cup sugar because when I taste the dough it was a little plan in taste. I’m going to decorate it with royal icing so, maybe I shouldn’t have added the extra sugar lol….but either way this is a great recipe.

    Thanks

    Reply

  10. #
    130
    Michelleposted October 21, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Hi, can you not roll them before chilling? The reason I ask, is that they were just too, too soft, after adding an additional cup and a half of flour. I’m pretty sure they will be ruined, but I’m not giving up! I just decided to put the thing back in the bowl and chill, hoping it will get better.

    Reply

  11. #
    131
    marissaposted October 22, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Is there milk? I made this step by step and it’s like a powder.

    Reply

  12. #
    132
    chelseaposted October 26, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    I just made these cookies today and I loved how they stayed in the exact shape of the cookie cutter! I also thought that they were a little bit plain so I added more sugar;) I found that the thicker cookies tasted better

    Reply

  13. #
    133
    Jeannieposted October 27, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Hi Sally!

    I made the dough and didn’t have time to make the cookies within one day. Today is day two. Is the dough still okay to use? It does seem very hard but is workable. I noticed you wrote chill up to one day. Thanks! Love your blog and all the wonderful recipes!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on October 27th, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Let it sit at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes and then roll. That helps. And yes, you can absolutely make them today on day 2.

      Reply

  14. #
    134
    Jessicaposted October 28, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Do i to add the almond extract?

    Reply

  15. #
    135
    Shannon Yooposted October 29, 2014 at 1:33 am

    hi sally! can you substitute vanilla extract for the almond extract?

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on October 29th, 2014 at 8:21 am

      Absolutely.

      Reply

  16. #
    136
    Aprilposted October 29, 2014 at 2:13 am

    How would you recommend altering this recipe for high altitude? Generally, you add flour, reduce leavening, increase temperature and decrease oven time. What is your recommendation?

    Reply

  17. #
    137
    Myriam Arseneauposted October 30, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    how many cookies does this recipe make?

    Reply

    • Suzannereplied on November 7th, 2014 at 1:30 pm

      It depends on the size of cookie you are cutting, for a reese’s cup sized cookie I would say about 12.

      Reply

  18. #
    138
    Loriposted November 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I tried these last week for a fun activity to do with me daughter and her dad.
    We all LOVED the experience and the cookies are perfect in taste and how they hold their shape. We made another batch today with friends as a play date. I made and used the frosting this time (I didn’t the 1st time), and found the
    Taste was ever better with the frosting. I also think the thicker cookies look and
    taste better than the thin ones. Thank you for sharing this’s recipe. I’m already planning to makes these for the holidays and my daughter’s upcoming birthday!

    Reply

  19. #
    139
    Suzanneposted November 7, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    These turned out great!

    I can’t wait to make them again for my family Christmas!

    Thank you!

    Reply

  20. #
    140
    Rosaposted November 12, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Every year for christmas I look for a different cut out cookie recipe. I started early this year and I stumbled upon this recipe. I have to say…. These were the best cookies I have ever made!!! They were soft not only the day I baked them but also the day after and the day after that…. I think my search for the perfect cut out cookie recipe is finally over!! These are definitely my favorite!! They taste great, the recipe was easy to follow and they didn’t come out too hard or too soft. Just perfect!!!

    Reply

  21. #
    141
    keriposted November 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    This is the best recipe ever didnt have almond escence so I did 2 1/4 cherry essence, it came out great

    Reply

  22. #
    142
    heatherposted November 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

    These were amazing made them for our holiday party at work and I had to pass out links to your site It was so loved! I agree the almond extract just makes them.this is my new go to sugar cookie recipe! Ty so much for posting it!

    Reply

  23. #
    143
    Julie Fryeposted November 22, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Sally-I was just wondering about the butter measurement.
    In reading your post you say 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks).
    I may be wrong, but isn’t 1 1/2 sticks-1 1/2 cups?
    Please confirm the amount of butter for me. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • Julie Fryereplied on November 22nd, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      Sally, never mind you are correct. Lack of sleep on my part, as I am making a double batch since all the comments were so inspiring. Can’t wait to taste them. :)

      Reply

  24. #
    144
    Kevinposted November 23, 2014 at 11:30 am

    These came out great. Thanks for the recipe and very thorough instructions.

    Quick question: how do you measure out your flour?

    I’ve seen a lot of different techniques. I want to make sure I’m getting your version correctly. I stir mine up in the bag with a spoon and then spoon it into a measuring cup so it doesn’t get too packed. I know other bakers will go by weight or just go for it and dip the measuring cup right into the flour.

    Thanks again!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on November 23rd, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Hey Kevin. I spoon and level my flour, and then I weigh it.

      Reply

  25. #
    145
    Casey Taylorposted November 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Just made the cookies with my grand kids… Turned out perfect. I prefer a crisy, crunchy cookie.. Any suggestions on how to make these crispy? I love the flavor.

    Reply

  26. #
    146
    Nyletteposted November 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    These are hands down the most amazing cookiesi have ever made.everyone loved them. Next to my grandmother you have the best recipes ive ever tasted. Thank you,so easy to follow cause i need a baking 4 dummies book. I can cook but baking is another story. ..thank u again…gonna be a great holuday 4 anyone that makes these awsome cookies…

    Reply

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