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.
These are my favorite sugar cookies with icing. I shared the recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction several years ago and published them in my cookbook as well. I’ve made them at least 38577 times (imagine all the butter), so I figured it’s time to share new recipe tips, a video tutorial, and more helpful information.
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
Overview: How to Make Sugar Cookies with Icing
- 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!
- Divide in two pieces. Smaller sections of dough are easier to roll out.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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. I also use and recommend these heart cookie cutters.
- Bake & cool. Depending on size, the cookies take about 12 minutes.
- 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.
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. Just like when you’re making chocolate chip cookies, 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.
Sugar Cookie Icing
I have TWO sugar cookie icing recipes and you can choose whichever works best for you.
- 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.
- Easy Cookie Icing: This easy cookie icing is ideal for beginners. It’s 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 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. 🙂
Sugar Cookie Tips & Tools
Before I leave you with the recipe, let me suggest some useful sugar cookie tools. These are the exact products I use and trust in my own kitchen:
- Baking Sheets
- Silicone Baking Mats or Parchment Sheets
- Rolling Pin or this Adjustable 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. This Americolor Soft Gel Paste Color Kit is great to have if you do a lot of decorating and want to have a variety of colors on hand.
- 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 disposable piping bag or reusable piping bag.
- Couplers: Couplers are handy if you have multiple colors of icing and only 1 tip, and need to move the tip to the other bags of icing.
- Cookie Cutters: I like this heart-shaped cookie cutter, but you can use any shape you desire!
Here’s What You Can Do With This Dough
- Christmas Sugar Cookies
- Striped Fudge Cookie Sandwiches
- Snowman Cookies
- Cinnamon Roll Cookies
- Stained Glass Window Cookies
- Valentine’s Day Cookies
- Maple Cinnamon Stars
- St. Patrick’s Day Cookies
And if you’re craving sugar cookies with a little extra tang, try my soft cream cheese cookies.Print
Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes (includes cooling)
- Yield: 24 3-4 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 (spooned & leveled), plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks or 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 Cookie Icing
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld 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.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be a bit soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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 below. 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. (Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.)
- 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.
- Decorate the cooled cookies with royal icing or easy cookie 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Special Tools (affiliate links): Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand Mixer) | Baking Sheets | Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper | Rolling Pin or this Adjustable Rolling Pin | Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutter | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Color Kit | Disposable or Reusable Piping Bags | Couplers | Wilton Tip #4 | Squeeze Bottle
- Room Temperature: Room temperature butter is essential. If the dough is too sticky, your butter may have been too soft. Room temperature butter is actually cool to the touch. Room temperature egg is preferred so it’s quickly and evenly mixed into the cookie dough.
- 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. If using lemon extract, you can also add 1 Tablespoon lemon zest.
- Icing: Use royal icing or my easy cookie icing. See post above to read about the differences.
- 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
Reader Comments & Reviews
Thank you for sharing this amazing recipe! The piping bags are key if you’re making your own icing, thanks for the links!
This was my first time baking Sugar Cookies and everyone loved them. Said they were the best they have had. I contribute to you by sharing your recipe and adding special tips to follow. The only thing I did differently was adding coconut extract in place of the almond.
This is my go-to for rave reviews on cookies!
I substituted raw sugar for white which gives the cookies a delightful surprising “crunch”.
Exchanging white flour in favor of unbleached lends density and satisfying structure to the cookies.
I attest to incorporating 1/2 tsp almond extract; coupled with unbleached flour, provides an initial & mild “florality” at first bite. Additionally, the marriage of extracts presents a bouquet reminiscent of an Italian bakery.
I have tried many recipes and this one is my all time favourite. Super helpful tips.
5 stars because this IS a delicious cookie. But I have a question on decorating/baking?
I’ve seen photos of a smaller cookie baked on top of a larger base cookie, but never can I find instructions on how long to cook and at what temp. What I do know, is that they are cooked as ‘one’ cookie, not separately and then added. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Thanks for any help.
Hi Barb, I’m so glad to read that you love this sugar cookie recipe. I’ve never tried baking one shaped cookie on top of the other, so I can’t give any advice. I’ve “glued” two baked cookies together using icing though. But I know that’s not what you’re looking for. Feel free to test it out with this recipe and let me know how it goes!
This recipe turned out some delicious cookies! It was my first attempt at sugar cookies which I decorated with royal icing- following your recipe and instructions for that also. Everyone was so impressed with the results and I now have another great addition to my gift-baking repertoire!
I was hesitant to add the almond essence as I don’t generally like the taste of that, however the half teaspoon combined with the vanilla was absolutely brilliant!
Thanks again Sally…just awesome!
Hi! Would this turn out if I added some mini choc chips to the dough?
Hi Mo, You can definitely add mini chocolate chips to this dough before rolling it out. (Do not use regular size as they are too large.) We recommend beating in 3/4 cup after you mix the wet and dry ingredients together. You may need to use a little arm muscle (or very sturdy cookie cutters) to cut through the mini chips. Keep that in mind when shaping. Enjoy!
Could I add jimmies to these to make them funfetti cut out cookies?
Absolutely! We recommend beating in 3/4 cup after you mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Enjoy!
This recipe is perfect for using cookie cutters. They are very tasty. I get compliments every time I make them. They are soft and great for using royal icing or buttercream frosting. I highly recommend them.
This are amazing cookies!!! My family beg me to make these all the time because they love the recipe – I use it for chocolate chip cookies. Thank you so much 😀
This dough is so workable and velvety!!! They’re still in the oven but I’m that confident in the recipe.
hi sally!! i’d like to convert these to snickerdoodle, you suggested mixing 1tsp of cinnamon… i’m also going to sprinkle coarse sugar over the top. is the 1tsp cinnamon enough to get that snickerdoodle taste or should i add more? ty 😉
Hi Sonny, you could try adding the 1 tsp of cinnamon into the dough and then adding a bit on the tops of the cookies with your coarse sugar. Then feel free to adjust more/less for future batches. Let us know how it goes!
Love this recipe! Just wondering if butter can be substituted for coconut oil? Can you use other types of flour with this recipe?
Hi Fedilyn, you could try creaming solid coconut oil for this recipe. We’re unsure how well the dough will roll out. We’ve only tested this recipe with all-purpose flour and recommend sticking with that for best results. Some readers have reported success using a 1:1 gluten free all-purpose flour, but we haven’t tried it ourselves. Let us know if you do!
Loved this cookie. Texture was perfect! Will be my go to!
This is my most requested cookies! I’m a gluten free baker and this recipe is perfect with my gf flour. I have found that I can’t freeze the dough before baking and then thaw and bake. It does change the texture/consistency of my gf dough. I’m sure it’s something related to that and not the recipe! They are amazing baked and then frozen as well. Keep the great recipes coming!!
Any chance you have the nutritional info for this recipe anywhere?
Hi Christina, we’re so glad these cookies are a favorite for you! We don’t usually include nutrition information as it can vary between different brands of the same ingredients. Plus, many recipes have ingredient substitutions or optional ingredients listed. However, there are many handy online calculators where you can plug in and customize your exact ingredients/brands. Readers have found this one especially helpful: https://www.verywellfit.com/recipe-nutrition-analyzer-4157076
Hi! I love this recipe. I’ve made is several times over the years! Quick question, what do you recon is the shelf life of these? I have the idea to send them to someone via parcel mail but I anticipate that they will only receive it about 1.5-2 weeks later. Will they still be good if stored correctly?
While they are just fine for up to 2 weeks, they taste better when they’re a bit fresher. Can you speed up that delivery? If not, they should be just fine.
I absolutely love this recipe❤️ !!! I have made these and the chocolate sugar cookies numerous times. Always with the royal icing, no need to ever find a different recipe!! They are always in high demand with friends and family. If you want a fun flavor combo add some lemon extract/juice to the royal icing and top it with shredded coconut, absolutely delicious with the flavor and texture of the cookie itself. I always check your site first when trying new recipes!! The steps, photos, and videos are a tremendous help! Thank you so much for all that you do!!!
I have made this recipe probably 50 times and I absolutely love it! It’s not too sweet so when you add a royal icing it makes it just perfect.
Followed this recipe exactly and they turned out perfect!
What am I missing ? How do you follow a recipe exactly when there’s no measurements or time? I read through and watched the YouTube and it’s just ingredients list.
Do you see the gray recipe card above this comments section? At the top of the page you can click the blue “jump to recipe” button as well. Happy baking!
I have a question, I have used your easy icing recipe. I used dipping method they dried nice and smooth like they are suppose to. I put in freezer (only in for a few days) They have white spots in frosting from freezing. I had the same thing happen twice. It doesn’t go away after thawed. Do you know what would be causing the icing to turn leave the white in spots? Thanks
Hi Jean, that can happen sometimes with cookie icing. We find it doesn’t happen as much if we replace some of the water with milk. If you try them again and want to freeze the iced cookies, you can replace half of the water in the icing with milk. Hope this helps for next time!
okay, thank you I will try that the next time I make a batch. Jean
Amazing recipe! I doubled the butter the first time I made it. I had it in my head as 1.5 cups.. oops. Of course they didn’t hold shape well, but if you want a super buttery cookie make sure the dough is super chilled before baking. This time (with the correct amount of butter) they look amazing and taste great! I do find that some of the ones made with the scraps are a bit too dry. How do I re-roll the scraps without them becoming too dry? Thanks!
Made these to decorate as Christmas Wreath cookies and they were a hit. The cookies are not too sweet and have a nice texture as they are soft enough for everyone, even older folks who normally can’t eat anything with any kind of crunch at all. The only issue I had was that I broke a couple when I tried to move them onto a wire rack for cooling, but I left the others to cool on the cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes and then I could move them without breakage. Thanks for sharing this great cookie recipe!
I adored this recipe! I tried others, this is so much better! This will be my go to!
The cookies are very flour-y tasting…and the dough was too dry to roll out without cracking…and yes, I leveled the flour just as you said….we really wanted to love them.
Mine dough turned out too dry like Brenda. I did make sure the measurements were exact and followed the recipe. I added more butter and a splash of milk. Hopefully they’ll turn out ok.
Hi! These look great! Can I just double or triple the ingredients directly?
Hi Amanda, yes you can. Tripling can easily overwhelm your mixer though. I usually double it with no problem. (Just double every ingredient.)
I absolutely LOVE this recipe!! I have at least made them 6 times! They turn out so well! And my friends and family LOVES them! ❤️
This recipe js amazing, always get compliments when I make them. I have just 1 question, this recipe was kinda given to me first without sources and Im pretty sure it came without eggs (managed to find it due to the very specific measures). I did it again when I found your pageand I didnt use an egg… just noticed it uses it. Is the egg extremely necessary? Just asking, dont want to disrespect such a versatile and amazing recipe
Hi Diego, If you liked it without an egg, that’s fine! We also have these shortbread cookies, which are egg free and have a similar flavor.
These are my new cut out cookie recipe! They turned out delicious and perfect! I decorated them with royal icing.
I make 4 recipes at once in my KitchenAid stand mixer, if that helps anyone. I love this recipe. Thank you!
Hi! I’ve been using your recipes for 7 years now in Palestine! From food to desserts and I always get so many compliments! Your detailed descriptions are so helpful. You are my go to! I am going to try these out today for my sons birthday party. Seems delish!!
My sugar cookies and ginger bread cookies are fabulous, but they seem to break, they are the correct thickness any ideas?
Hi Susan, How thick are you rolling the dough? We suggest about 1/4 inch thick, but if you have very delicate shaped cookie cutters you may wish to roll it a bit thicker to help the baked cookies be more sturdy.
I use 1/4″ wooden dowel rods on the sides of the cookie dough. But I also sandwich the rids and the dough between two pieces of parchment paper top and bottom. The tolling pin stays clean too!
I am getting half the cookies it says it should make. I doubled and got 26 3.3-3.5 inch cookies. The first time I made them 1/4 inch thick. Second time I made them 5/16 not a big difference. I just keep getting half of what it says I should which is frustrating bc butter is pricey. I re-roll the excesss as much as I can. Help!! I love the recipe otherwise.
Hi Ashley! The exact yield will depend on the exact cookie cutter shape. You can try rolling the dough a *bit* thinner if you prefer. Glad you’re enjoying this recipe!
I’m sorry but these are not how you described them to be! You said they might be a little sticky? I went by the recipe to the letter and my dough was like the consistency of crumbs. I had to squeeze the crumbs together to fork dough and when rolling it just cracked! Then I sat down and read over the recipe again to make sure I measured right and everything..I did! I don’t think I will use this recipe again! I could not find my mom’s so I Googled and this was the one I settled on cause it was so simple!
Hi Brenda, did you spoon and level the flour (or weight it)? If the flour is packed into the cup, you may be using more than necessary which would give you a thick, crumbly dough.