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 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

stack of cookie cutter sugar cookies

soft cut-out sugar cookies on a pink plate

Overview: 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 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.

collage of 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 in mixing bowl

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. 🙂

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 sugar cookies on a baking sheet

stack of 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.

clock clock icon cutlery cutlery icon flag flag icon folder folder icon instagram instagram icon pinterest pinterest icon facebook facebook icon print print icon squares squares icon
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 more Tablespoon of 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. 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.
  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. (Note: It doesn’t seem like a lot of dough, but you get a lot of cookies from the dough scraps you re-roll.)
  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. If the dough is too sticky, your butter may have been too soft. Room temperature butter is actually cool to the touch. You can read more about it in this post. 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 with royal icing and pink sprinkles


  1. Epic fail for me on this. Everything was perfect until I tried to take one sheet out of fridge. The two layers stuck together and had to break apart in pieces to get separated. Letting soften now to hopefully re-roll. Did I miss a step to not put in fridge on top of each other with parchment in between??

    1. Oh no! So sorry you experienced that, Carol. I usually stack them with parchment in between. Was the dough particularly sticky?

    2. Kimberly, I had that issue the first time I made them (last year). This time, i had 2 pieces of parchment between the layers. It was parchment, dough, parchment, and the same for the next layer, etc. I didn’t have any problem with the layers sticking together this time.

    3. If you have problems with the pieces sticking together in the fridge, after you’re done rolling, sprinkle flour or powdered sugar on the top of the bottom piece. The flour/sugar seals in moisture so it doesn’t stick!

  2. Jennifer Hansen says:

    I absolutely love this recipe! It has quickly become a family favorite for kids and adults alike!

    Question: how long do the keep once baked? I’m trying to make some early for vacation. Will they lose softness if I freeze them?

    1. Hi Jennifer! I find they stay soft for about 5 days covered tightly at room temperature. After freezing and thawing, they’re pretty soft. But, of course, nothing tastes as good as fresh!

  3. Tried this recipe and the biscuits were deeeelicious :)!!!

    1. YAY! So happy you loved them!

  4. Hi so I was wondering can you make the recipe without almond extract someone is allergic and I just wanted to know if you can

    1. You can definitely just leave the almond extract out, Ella!

  5. I’ve been reading a few comments that say the cut raw cookies stick together when stacked in the fridge, and I’d just like to say that I’ve worked with this recipe a few times, and I’ve always refrigerated the whole dough, then taking chunks out to roll out and cut after refrigerating. I roll and cut about 1/4 of the dough at a time while leaving the rest in the fridge (because otherwise the dough softens quickly and becomes more difficult to work with). It’s always worked amazingly for me, I’m not sure if there’s a specific reason not to do this, but just thought I’d share my experience.

  6. I just made these again. I made the chocolate sugar cookies as well. This is my go to cutout sugar cookie recipe. Everyone who eats them LOVES THEM! When I make them, I have to bring them to work or I would eat the whole batch! LOL Thank you for your yummy recipes! Your flaky biscuit recipe is also my go to!

  7. Do I have to add almond extract into these cookies ? I am asking because I don’t have any and it is kind of hard to get some here but if it is necessary I will get it.

    1. You can leave it out if it’s difficult to find!

  8. I’ve tried other sugar cookie recipes and this recipe is by far the best. The shape remained intact and the flavor is amazing! I will definitely use this recipe again!

  9. Lindsay Pleasant says:

    I’ve used this recipe countless times and all my friends and family love it! Question, do you think I could freeze the cut (raw) cookies? Would they thaw and bake well? I have 3 events that need cookies in September.

    1. Hi Lindsay, Yes! You can absolutely freeze the raw cookie dough cut into shapes. Bake them directly from the freezer – no need to thaw – just add an extra minute to your bake time. Enjoy!

    2. I like to make both the white and chocolate cookies! But I like to frost between the cookies! I start with a white cookie and frost it with chocolate ganache and then put a chocolate cookie on top! This way I have the best of both kinds! These cookies are totally supper in every way! Good job Sally!

  10. I have a question. Can I use, this icing or royal icing in my Sugar cookies . Thank you Sally

  11. I used the cookie crust recipe from your fruit pizza to make cut out sugar cookies. They were so good. Is there much difference in these two recipes?

    1. Hi Vandana, For the fruit pizza I started with this recipe and modified it – so they are pretty similar! The fruit pizza crust is scaled down and the biggest change is that I added corn starch to keep it extra soft.

  12. I think this is the only time you’ve done an update with new pictures and I’ve preferred the old pictures! The snowflake shapes in your original post really showcase how beautifully these cookies hold their shape. I would love it if one of your original snowflake cookie pictures was added to this updated post. This recipe is a mainstay in our Christmas cookie line-up, and we make the little stamped snowflakes like in your original post. No other dough can do that!

    1. Alex, I think you’re thinking of these pictures (in the snowman sugar cookies post!) 🙂 I’m so so so happy you love these sugar cookies too.

  13. These really are the best! I have made them numerous times and love them every time!

    1. I’m so happy you love these cookies, Joanne! 🙂

  14. Sally,
    These look lovely! I have a recipe for sugar cookies but it uses a food processor which I no longer have. Instead of royal icing on top, I sandwich buttercream between two cookies. Yours are rolled out much thicker than my old recipe. Can you roll these out thinner? It would make for a better cookie/frosting ratio.

    1. Hi Amy! Thank you! Yes, you can definitely roll this cookie dough out thinner– closer to 1/8 inch. The bake time will be a little shorter.

  15. Love the new photos!! Those icing colors are GORGEOUS! 😀

    1. Thank you so much Erin!!

  16. Hello Sally! These cookies look interesting to make and easy. I am willing to try these!
    I like Russian recipes but the measurements are hard for me. I am not good at math so I hate it. But willing to learn and improve. Do you have a conversion chart that you use for your recipes? Like 5 gr. to tablespoon? I might be confusing. I hope you understood my question.

    1. Hi Lana! I don’t really use a conversion chart, I weigh each as I go and transfer the information to the written recipe. I have some basics listed here though:

  17. Carolyn Garcia says:

    Hi Sally, Carolyn Garcia here my question is if I don’t have meringue powder, is there anything else I could use, I know probably egg whites but how would you start off doing it with the egg whites when it comes to making the royal icing, and by the way you have the best recipes and love your site. Also if I didn’t want to use egg whites is there anything else? Thank you Sally. Carolyn Garcia

    1. Hi Carolyn, If you don’t want to use meringue powder or eggs you can make my easy glaze icing recipe. This icing is easier to make, but it’s thinner than royal icing and doesn’t provide the same sharp detail that royal icing decorations do. You can find the recipe in this post:

  18. Hi Sally!
    I was wondering if this dough can work to bake big numbers for a cream tart cake. If yes, won’t it get soggy quickly with the whipped cream filling? Thank you!

    1. My first thought would be to use the sugar cookie crust that I use in my fruit pizza. It’s similar to this sugar cookie dough but works well as a “crust” for cream toppings:
      I recommend topping it the same day you serve it.

  19. Carolyn Garcia says:

    Hi Sally, Carolyn Garcia here I wanted to thank you for your reply, I really appreciate it. Your site is the best I found for any recipes ( of all kinds ) I have been sticking to this site for a long time now. Keep them coming Sally you are doing a great job. Thanks again and have a wonderful night. Carolyn Garcia.

    1. So sweet, thank you Carolyn!

  20. Love, love, love this recipe! It’s perfect! The cookies hold their shape after baking and taste delicious! Thank you so much for sharing it!

    1. I love reading this, Shari! Thank you so much for your positive feedback 🙂

    2. Hey! I was wondering if I could use gluten free flour for this recipie and if any changes needed to be made to the other ingredients because of it. Thanks!

      1. I have not tested these cookies with GF flour but let me know if you do!

  21. I LOVE this recipe. I’d like to add lemon flavor to my next batch. How much lemon zest should I use?

    1. Hi Vonnie! See recipe note about lemon flavor.

  22. Daniella Martin says:

    What is the serving size?

    1. I would say 1-2 cookies, depending how much you’re craving a sugar cookie!

  23. Whitney Adshead says:

    Thank you SO much for putting the “grams” conversion next to everything Sally!!! Love from an American living in the U.K.

    1. You are welcome, Whitney!

  24. This is the same recipe as I have, except Sally adds baking powder. I will try that next time I make cut-out cookies. To make cutting the cookies out REALLY easy, and quick, instead of refrigerating them, I roll my dough between 2 sheets of parchment, (then your rolling pin doesn’t even have to be cleaned!), place the parchment/dough on a cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. The cookie dough is not frozen solid, but really well chilled so that it is stiff when you cut the cookies out, and they don’t stretch or get misshapen. I don’t even flour my cookie cutters, so the dough usually sticks inside the cookie cutter. Just give it a gentle push to get it out and onto the cookie sheet. Since the dough is almost frozen, even if it stays on your counter, you can just lift it up and place it on the cookie sheet. It will keep its shape, no problems!

  25. Hands down the best sugar cookie recipe.
    I do cheat and refrigerate, then soften and roll.

  26. I was so surprised at how perfect my cookie shapes came out! I was even more surprised how soft they actually were, even though they felt hard enough to put icing on and decorate! Perfect flavor. Every single cookie I made got devoured! I never review recipes, but I really liked this one.

  27. Hi Sally! Want to say firstly that I love your site and you are my go-to for recipes! I made this dough tonight and it seemed great.. but while trying to roll it out, it kept breaking apart. It does not seem too dry at all.. truly stumped me. I followed the recipe exactly. Help? 🙂

    1. Hmm. Usually when dough cracks, it’s too try. I wonder if yours was too warm/too moist? Refrigerating it for a few minutes would definitely help!

  28. I plan on making this recipe next week. As far as the icing goes, what makes these two different from store bought icing? I’m baking cookies for my baby shower and while I love to bake, I’d like to take some of the stress away.

    1. Hi Abby! You can definitely use store-bought icing if that makes things easier.

  29. I don’t make sugar cookies often, but when I do, I use this recipe! It’s very informative for the novice sugar cookie maker, but if you do have a question Sally is great when it comes to responding to a lot of questions.mThanks for a great recipe!

1 4 5 6 7 8 23

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

With kitchen-tested quality recipes and step-by-step tutorials, my goal is to give you the confidence to bake and cook from scratch.

Sally's signature

Recipes You’ll Love



Join the community on the 1st of every month as we tackle a new challenge recipe.Review Sally's Baking Challenge FAQ page if you have any questions.

View More

A tradition since 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row!

View More

The first week of every November is all about Thanksgiving Pies.

View More

My Cookbooks

Sally's Cookbooks

About Sally

Welcome to my Kitchen!

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