The Best Sugar Cookies

With crisp edges, thick centers, and room for lots of decorating icing, I know you’ll love these soft cut out sugar cookies. Use your favorite cookie cutters and try my classic royal icing!

decorated sugar cookies

These are my favorite sugar cookies with icing. I shared the recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction several years ago and even published them in my cookbook, too! I’ve made them at least 38577 times (that’s a lot of butter), so I figured it’s time to share new recipe tips, a video tutorial, and more helpful information.

Sugar cookie success is in your near future. I can smell them baking already!

Why You’ll Love These Sugar Cookies

  • Soft, thick centers with slightly crisp edges
  • Irresistible buttery vanilla flavor
  • Leave plain or flavor with extras like maple, cinnamon, and more
  • Hold their shape
  • Flat surface for decorating
  • Stay soft for days
  • Freeze beautifully

Sugar Cookies Video Tutorial

cookie cutter sugar cookies

soft cut-out sugar cookies

How to Make Sugar Cookies with Icing

  1. Make cookie dough. You only need 7-8 ingredients. With so little ingredients, it’s important that you follow the recipe closely. Creamed butter and sugar provide the base of the cookie dough. Egg is the cookie’s structure and vanilla extract adds flavor. I almost always add a touch of almond extract for additional flavor and highly recommend that you try it too! Flour is an obvious addition, baking powder adds lift, and salt balances the sweet. So many *little ingredients* doing *big jobs* to create a perfect cookie. By the way, I also make chocolate sugar cookies too!
  2. Divide in two pieces. Smaller sections of dough are easier to roll out.
  3. Roll out cookie dough. Roll it out to 1/4 inch thick or just under 1/4 inch thick. If you have difficulty evenly rolling out dough, try this adjustable rolling pin. Speaking from experience– it’s incredibly handy!
  4. Chill rolled out cookie dough. Without chilling, these cookie cutter sugar cookies won’t hold their shape. Chill the rolled out cookie dough for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days.
  5. Cut into shapes. If you need suggestions for cookie cutters, I love Ann Clark brand. (Not sponsored, just a genuine fan!) Some of my favorites include this heart set, dog bone, snowflake, snowman, leaf, and a pumpkin!
  6. Bake & cool. Depending on size, the cookies take about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Decorate. See my suggested icings below.

Have a little flour nearby when you’re rolling out the cookie dough. Keep your work surface, hands, and rolling pin lightly floured. This is a relatively soft dough.

sugar cookie dough process photos

The Trick is the Order of Steps

Notice how I roll out the dough BEFORE chilling it in the refrigerator? That’s my trick and you can see me doing it in the video tutorial above.

Let me explain why I do this. To prevent the cookies from over-spreading, the cookie dough must chill in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough right after you prepare it, then chill the rolled-out dough. (At this point the dough is too soft to cut into shapes.) Don’t chill the cookie dough and then try to roll it out because it will be too cold and difficult to work with. I divide the dough in half before rolling it out and highly recommend you do the same. Smaller sections of dough are simply more manageable.

Another trick! Roll out the cookie dough directly on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper so you can easily transfer it to the refrigerator. Pick it up, put it on a baking sheet, and place it in the refrigerator. If you don’t have enough room for two baking sheets in your refrigerator, stack the pieces of rolled out dough on top of each other.

How Thick Do I Roll Sugar Cookies?

These sugar cookies remain soft because they’re rolled out pretty thick. Roll out the cookie dough to about 1/4 inch thick or just under 1/4 inch thick. Yes, this is on the thicker side and yes, this produces extra thick and soft cookies! If rolling out cookie dough doesn’t sound appealing, try my drop sugar cookies instead.

plain sugar cookies

royal icing

Sugar Cookie Icing

I have TWO sugar cookie icing recipes and you can choose whichever works best for you.

  1. Favorite Royal Icing: This royal icing is my preferred sugar cookie icing because it’s easy to use, dries within 1-2 hours, and doesn’t taste like hardened cement. (It’s on the softer side!) I make it with meringue powder. Meringue powder takes the place of raw egg whites, which is found in traditional royal icing recipes. It eliminates the need for fresh eggs, but still provides the same consistency. You can find meringue powder in some baking aisles, most craft stores with a baking section, and online. The 8 ounce tub always lasts me awhile. The trickiest part is landing on the perfect royal icing consistency, but I provide a video in the royal icing recipe to help you.
  2. Easy Glaze Icing: You can find my easy glaze icing recipe paired with my Christmas sugar cookies. This icing is easier to make than royal icing because you don’t need an electric mixer and the consistency won’t really make or break the outcome. However, it’s thinner than royal icing and doesn’t provide the same sharp detail that royal icing decorations do. It also takes a good 24 hours to dry.

The pictured hearts are decorated with my royal icing using Wilton piping tip #4. If you’re not into piping tips, you can simply dunk the tops of the cookies into the icing like I do with my animal cracker cookies. 🙂

decorated sugar cookies

Sugar Cookie Tips & Tools

Before I leave you with the recipe, let me suggest some useful sugar cookie tools:

  • Cookie Sheets
  • Rolling Pin
  • Food Coloring: Liquid food coloring can alter the consistency of the icing, so I recommend gel food coloring. For the pictured cookies, I used a few drops of dusty rose and 1 drop of sky blue.
  • Piping Tips/Squeeze Bottle: If you’re using royal icing, I recommend Wilton piping tip #4 for outlining and flooding. This is a wonderful basic piping tip to have in your collection. If you’re using my easy glaze icing, I recommend using a squeeze bottle.
  • Piping Bag: If you’re using royal icing and a piping tip, you need a piping bag.

decorated heart sugar cookies

Here’s What You Can Do with This Dough

And if you’re craving sugar cookies with a little extra tang, try my soft cream cheese cookies.

sugar cookies with icing

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 24 4-inch cookies
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


With crisp edges, thick centers, and room for lots of decorating icing, I know you’ll love these soft sugar cookies as much as I do. The number of cookies this recipe yields depends on the size of the cookie cutter you use. If you’d like to make dozens of cookies for a large crowd, double the recipe.


  • 2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but makes the flavor outstanding)*
  • Royal Icing or Easy Glaze Icing


  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be relatively soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 Tablespoon more flour.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. 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. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days.
  6. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator. If it’s sticking to the bottom, run your hand under it to help remove it– see me do this in the video above. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough.
  7. Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
  8. Decorate the cooled cookies with royal icing or my easy glaze icing. Feel free to tint either icing with gel food coloring. See post above for recommended decorating tools. No need to cover the decorated cookies as you wait for the icing to set. If it’s helpful, decorate the cookies directly on a baking sheet so you can stick the entire baking sheet in the refrigerator to help speed up the icing setting.
  9. Enjoy cookies right away or wait until the icing sets to serve them. Once the icing has set, these cookies are great for gifting or for sending. Plain or decorated cookies stay soft for about 5 days when covered tightly at room temperature. For longer storage, cover and refrigerate for up to 10 days.


  1. Freezing Instructions: Plain or decorated sugar cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Wait for the icing to set completely before layering between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-friendly container. To thaw, thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature. You can also freeze the cookie dough for up to 3 months before rolling it out. Prepare the dough through step 3, divide in half, flatten both halves into a disk as we do with pie crust, wrap each in plastic wrap, then freeze. To thaw, thaw the disks in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature for about 1 hour. Roll out the dough as directed in step 4, then chill rolled out dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes – 1 hour before cutting into shapes and baking.
  2. Room Temperature: Room temperature butter is essential and room temperature egg is preferred so it’s quickly and evenly mixed into the cookie dough.
  3. Flavors: I love flavoring this cookie dough with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract as listed in the ingredients above. For lighter flavor, use 1/4 teaspoon. Instead of the almond extract, try using 1 teaspoon of maple extract, coconut extract, lemon extract, or peppermint extract. Or add 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon. Along with lemon extract, you can also add 1 Tablespoon lemon zest.
  4. Icing: Use royal icing or my easy glaze icing. See post above to read about the differences.
  5. Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.

Keywords: sugar cookies, royal icing, Christmas cookies

heart sugar cookies

My FAVORITE Cut-Out Sugar Cookies! Soft centers, slightly crisp edges, and room for lots of icing and sprinkles!
These are the SOFTEST cookie cutter cookies. My go-to recipe!
These are the BEST cookie cutter cookies. My go-to recipe!


  1. I know this is strange question for “sugar” cookies but can I use monk fruit sweetener in place of sugar?

  2. Hi,
    I want to make this with my nephews and nieces but one can’t have any dairy. Can I use vegetable shortening or parve margarine instead of butter?

    1. I recommend shortening.

  3. the cookie is good on its own without icing, but when you have the option of adding icing you have to add the icing. We chose the royal icing. It was a great family activity to decorate them together. I’m certain we ended up with only half of the total cookie count after we finished icing them.

  4. Coleen O'Toole says:

    I love these cookies. Best sugar cookies ever and I have tried a lot of recipes. Find the tips and instructions especially helpful. Thanks Sally.

  5. I really love these sugar cookies! The almond extract sets them over the top! My husband now refuses to eat sugar cookies without it! I have a family member that can’t have gluten. Would these still turn out great if I used a gluten free flour?

    1. I’m so happy that you and your husband love these cookies, Layla! I have not tested them with gluten free flour but please let me know if you try!

      1. I baked these cookies with a gluten free all purpose flour. I did everything else the same except the cooking time. These definitely needed a little extra time. More of a golden brown is needed or else they will fall apart. Without gluten they have more of a dry crumbly texture but the flavor is still good. My sister in law was very happy about getting to have sugar cookies. She said the crumbly texture is normal with gluten free stuff. It was my first time baking with gluten free flour and think it went pretty well. I think maybe next time I will try adding an egg yolk. Maybe that will help with the texture?

      2. Hi Layla, I have not tested these with gluten free flour so thank you very much for reporting back with your experience! I’m happy that your sister in law was able to enjoy them!

  6. Any chance anyone has tried to make this recipe with a sugar alternative?? I need to bake regular sugar cookies and then some sugar free for diabetics. Any recommendations??

  7. My one note would be to be careful about the baking time. Usually my oven is accurate with Sally’s recipe’s but my cookies were overdone at 11 minutes, and the more appropriate time was 8 minutes. Keep a watch on them so you don’t have to toss your first batch like I did!

    1. Hi Kelly, Yes I always recommend using your eyes more than the oven timer! Especially for sugar cookies where bake time will depend greatly on the size and shape of your cookie cutters 🙂

  8. If my dough tends to spread out while cooking, what did I do wrong?

    1. Hi Stephanie, The most important thing for these sugar cookies is to make sure your dough is very cold! Also, this post, 10 Guaranteed Tips to Prevent Cookies from Spreading, will help you troubleshoot!

  9. I can not find the video tutorial! I need to see the recipe in action. Please help!

    1. Hi Molly, Do you see the words “Sugar Cookies Video Tutorial” and right below it a picture of me standing in my apron? In the center of the picture is a small triangle, if you click the triangle the video will play. You may have to temporarily turn off your ad blockers if it isn’t playing.

    2. I couldn’t see them either, but it was because I had ad blocker on. Pausing ad blocker and refreshing the page fixed it!

  10. I have found that some recipies don’t work very well if trying to triple or quadruple the recipe. I need to make 400 cookies, has anyone had success making a huge batch?

  11. Sally, this is the best cut-out cookie recipe I’ve used. I’ve been doing cut-outs for years always trying different recipes because there would be something small about each one that I didn’t like. I am finally done with all my experimenting! I love that you list the weight because that’s the key to good, consistent baking. Just got done making a batch of arrowhead-shaped cut-outs for the Super Bowl. Go Chiefs!

  12. Love your cookies and royal icing. I purchased your book so I would always have your recipes. My question is… Did you ever make chocolate royal icing?

    1. Hi Bre, thank you so much for buying one of my cookbooks! Hope you enjoy any recipe you try. I don’t have a recipe for chocolate royal icing at this time.

  13. Seriously such a good sugar cookie recipe! 3rd time I have used it, perfect each time. They stay chewy and great for days. Amazing flavor. I only use 1/4 Almond extract in mine because I like a light almond flavor.
    My problem is that I am terrible at decorating so end up throwing some out because of my decorating fails!! 🙁

  14. What heat should the oven be?

  15. Can I make these in a heart shaped pan? Like a ‘cookie cake’?

    1. Hi Sheila, I don’t see why not! Or depending on the size of your pan and if you want it to be a little softer, you can use the sugar cookie crust from my Fruit Pizza.

  16. Hello, how many cookies does this approximately make?

    1. Hi Karla! This recipe makes 24 4-inch cookies. Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, the number could be more or less.

  17. Love love love !!! The cookies can be kept in fridge while frosted ?

    1. Very easy and yummy cookies. Love this recipe.

    2. Hi! I’ve made this recipe before and it was a great success. Just wondering if it’s possible to double the recipe? Thanks!

      1. Sure can! I double it all the time. Divide into 4 sections instead of 2.

  18. I made these (heart shaped) and they were so cute and so yummy! I’m planning on making more for Valentine’s Day! Do you think it would be possible to freeze the dough in a heart shape? Should I put plastic wrap around them or can I put them in a Tupperware container?

    1. Hi Kennedy! You can definitely freeze the shaped cookie dough. I recommend freezing between layers of parchment paper so they don’t stick together.

  19. Just made these as a test before making them for my kids school for valentines day. Amazing recipe! So soft and tasted great. I skipped the almond extract. Definently a recipe keeper!

  20. Delicious recipe! But, I didn’t get close to 24 cookies out of the recipe using a 4″ cookie cutter. I got 13 cookies out of it, rolling at 1/4″ or even less.

  21. I always cook these just a couple minutes less so they’re extra soft, and the flavor is just perfect. The chocolate sugar cookie recipe of yours is just as wonderful too – I always bake a batch of both when I make sugar cookies. So so good!

  22. I’ve been making these for several years since I first found them and they are always a hit!! Now I’m using your site as my go to. For these cookies I make them even thicker than 1/4″ and add almond to the icing…nothing but happy smiles every time and people asking for the recipe. Thank you!

  23. Brittany Peterson says:

    Love this recipe, thank you for sharing!

  24. Delicious! Wondering if I can refrigerate the dough to chill it before rolling it out?

    1. Hi Debbie, I don’t recommending chilling the cookie dough and then trying to roll it out because it will be too cold and difficult to work with.

  25. I haven’t made these yet but I was wondering if there would be any changes due to high elevation?? I plan on making a double batch but not sure if elevation is an issue. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Emily, I wish I could help, but I have no experience baking at high altitude. I know some readers have found this chart helpful:

  26. Planning on making these for a Valentine’s Day treat! Is it possible to let the rolled out dough chill in the fridge overnight and then bake the cookies the next day? Thanks!

    1. Yes, you can leave it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Enjoy!

  27. Really nice biscuits, thank you

  28. Waynette Traub says:

    Love this recipe. I googled best sugar cookies and fell in this one to make. It’s perfect for espresso!

  29. Christi Phillips says:

    Happy Valentine’s Day! We’re snowed in and it’s 2 degrees today. I only have salted butter and can’t get to the store. Can I use it and cut down the salt you add?

    1. Hi Christi- absolutely. Reduce the added salt in the cookie dough from 1/4 teaspoon to 1/8 teaspoon. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too!

  30. Just made these egg free for my son with an egg allergy. In place of the egg, I used 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt and I’m sure it changed the taste a bit, but they are yummy. They are probably even more delicious with the almond extract but I didn’t have any. I’m thrilled that they kept their shape and my son can be part of decorating cookies! Thank you for sharing your recipe! I hope this comment is helpful for anyone else looking for egg free with no weird ingredients.

    1. Hi Amy, Thank you so much for sharing your experience using a substitute for eggs! I’m thrilled that your son is able to enjoy them!

    2. Hi! I followed to a T but the dough is dry, crumbles, I can’t roll it out. What can I do differently? TIA 🙂

      1. Same here just made the dough last night crumbling dough

      2. Hi Tina, Are you rolling the dough out *before* chilling it? Don’t chill the cookie dough and then try to roll it out because it will be too cold and very difficult to work with.

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally