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Like our regular sugar cookies, these chocolate sugar cookies are soft and thick with crisp edges. But the best part of all is that they’re chocolate flavored, which is always a nice change from the classic vanilla version you’re used to. Use cookie cutters to cut this chocolate dough into shapes and after baking and cooling, you can decorate them with royal icing or this super easy cookie icing.

heart and star chocolate sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and sprinkles

It’s taken me a while to perfect this chocolate sugar cookie recipe. And, bakers, you know I only bring you the best when it comes to sugar cookies. (I swear on sprinkles.) Not only are today’s cookies the perfect balance of chocolate and buttery goodness, they’re incredibly simple to make. Enjoy decorating, wrapping, gifting, and, of course… devouring!

By the way, you can use this exact dough when making my Halloween cookies, these reader-favorite homemade thin mint cookies, and our Christmas-ready peppermint bark cookies. This is a very versatile dough!

Tell Me About these Chocolate Sugar Cookies

  • Texture: When rolled thick enough and not over-baked, the cookies are soft and thick with slightly crisp edges.
  • Flavor: Both chocolate and buttery flavors are front and center, reminding you of homemade brownies. Both icing options are certainly sweet, but they pair wonderfully with the cookie’s deep chocolate flavor.
  • Ease: This is an easy recipe, so my team and I categorize it under our beginner baking recipes. Even if you’ve never made cookie cutter cookies before, this is a great place to start. You only need 8 ingredients for the cookie dough and the steps are ordered in such a way to make rolling and shaping EASIER.
  • Time: Set aside a few hours for these because the dough does need to chill – we recommend leaving an afternoon for baking and decorating fun. You can also make these ahead of time if it’s easier (see Note).
star chocolate sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and sprinkles

Why This Chocolate Sugar Cookie Recipe Works

This sugar cookie dough holds its shape wonderfully in the oven. Here are a few of our tips to help you produce the best chocolate sugar cookies each and every time:

  1. Roll out the dough before chilling. After testing this recipe, we discovered that it’s more effective to chill the cookie dough *after* rolling it out– just as we do when making regular sugar cookies. So, once you have your dough prepared,  divide it into two equal halves, and roll out each portion before chilling them in the refrigerator. This will ensure the cookies hold their shape.
  2. One little trick: Roll out the cookie dough directly on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper so you can easily transfer it to 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.
  3. Another success tip: Instead of dusting your hands and work surface with flour like you usually do when handling/working with dough, use cocoa powder– an ingredient you need for the dough anyway! Flour is completely tasteless, so might as well use cocoa powder for extra chocolate flavor, right?

By the way, if you’re looking for a drop-style chocolate cookie recipe, you’ll love these double chocolate chip cookies.

ingredients for chocolate sugar cookies

Choosing the Right Ingredients: Natural Cocoa Powder or Dutch-Process?

This is a very basic recipe using simple ingredients and we can guarantee that you probably have most of them in your kitchen this very second. Adapted from our original sugar cookies, it’s the cocoa powder which adds that powerful chocolate flavor. But which one should you use – natural cocoa powder or dutch-process?

If you’re not sure about the difference between the 2 and are interested, you can read more on my dutch-process vs natural cocoa powder page. Though dutch-process is typically what you would use when paired with baking powder, for this cookie recipe– and actually for these brownie cookies too– it’s okay to use either dutch-process or natural cocoa powder

So choose whichever cocoa powder you like best! We suggest a high quality, incredibly tasty cocoa powder like Hershey’s Special Dark or Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened cocoa.

2 discs of chocolate sugar cookie dough

Overview: How to Make Chocolate Sugar Cookies

The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it quickly so you understand each step before we get started. 

  • Whisk dry ingredients together. This includes flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  • Work on the wet ingredients. Creamed butter and sugar are the base of this cookie dough. You also need 1 egg and some vanilla extract.
  • Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Combine to form the chocolate dough.
  • Divide the dough in 2 equal parts.  I divide the dough in half before rolling it out because smaller sections of dough are simply more manageable. Roll out each part to ¼-inch thickness.
  • Chill the rolled-out dough for 1-2 hours. To prevent the cookies from over-spreading, the cookie dough must chill in the refrigerator. 
  • Cut dough 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, sunflower, leaf, and a pumpkin
  • Bake + cool the cookies. 
  • Make the icing & decorate. See next section– lots of fun ways!
chocolate sugar cookie dough rolled out with a star cookie cutter

Chocolate Sugar Cookies Icing

We have two icing recipes on this website and you can choose whichever based on your skill level and decorating needs.

1. Royal Icing: I have a separate post for royal icing where you can find many FAQs, make-ahead instructions, and a video tutorial. It’s simply too much to include here and I don’t want to leave anything out, so hop over to that printable recipe to learn how to make it. This icing is ideal for intermediate or advanced cookie decorators. Here’s why we love it:

  • Meringue Powder. Traditional royal icing recipes use raw egg whites, but we prefer shelf-stable meringue powder. You’ll get the same consistency as egg whites, and it dries on the cookies within 1-2 hours. You can find meringue powder in most baking aisles, craft stores, or online.
  • Softer is better. Royal icing can harden into a cement-like texture, but our recipe is on the softer side and still sets perfectly on the cookie. 

2. Easy Glaze Icing. Another option is this easy cookie icing, which I usually halve and use on these Christmas sugar cookies. (No need to halve the recipe, especially if you want extra icing for decorating.) This glaze-style icing is great for beginners and much easier than royal icing because you don’t need an electric mixer or the perfect icing consistency for success. It isn’t as sturdy as royal icing, though, so you don’t have the ability for piping sharp detail and designs. It also takes a good 24 hours to dry.

The pictured chocolate sugar cookie hearts are decorated with royal icing using Wilton piping tip #4. If you’re not into piping tips, you can just dunk the tops of the cookies into the icing like we do with mini animal cracker cookies. Dunking is a fun option if you’re baking with kids!

heart chocolate sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and sprinkles

More Favorite Cookie Recipes

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heart and star chocolate sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and sprinkles

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes (plus icing setting time)
  • Yield: 24 3-4 inch cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

If you love chocolate, try flavorful chocolate sugar cookies instead of regular sugar cookies. This is an easy recipe and they’re so fun to decorate! Chilling is the most important step, so don’t skip it.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (62g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (or dutch process), plus more as needed for rolling and work surface
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks or 172g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Decorating


Instructions

  1. Make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, 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 and vanilla 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 soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour.
  4. Roll the dough: Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Dust 2 large pieces of parchment paper or 2 silicone baking mats with cocoa powder (or flour). Place a dough half on each. With a rolling pin lightly dusted with cocoa powder (or flour), roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more cocoa powder/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. Chill the dough: Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with cocoa powder or 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. Preheat oven & shape cookies: 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. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough, using more cocoa powder or flour to lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin, and continue cutting the dough until all is used. Work quickly so the dough doesn’t become too warm or soft. If it does, stop what you’re doing and place any unused dough back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to stiffen up again. Repeat cutting into shapes with 2nd half 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. Bake & cool: Arrange shaped cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until edges are set. 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 and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
  8. Make either icing: Prepare the royal icing or easy glaze icing and decorate the cooled cookies however you’d like. Add sprinkles on top of the icing if desired.
  9. Let icing dry/set: Royal icing dries in about 2 hours and easy glaze icing dries in 24 hours. No need to cover the decorated cookies as you wait for the icing to set. If it’s helpful, transfer cookies to a baking sheet and place them in the refrigerator to help slightly speed up the icing setting.
  10. 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.

Notes

  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 2, 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 3, then chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before cutting into shapes and baking.
  2. Icing: Use royal icing or my easy glaze icing. See post above to read about the differences.

Keywords: chocolate sugar cookies

Here’s the recipe for regular sugar cookies. You can’t go wrong with them!

stack of decorated heart sugar cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Again, thank you, this recipe is absolutely perfect and what a fun option to the traditional flavor of cut outs! The only thing I do different is after mixing the dough I cut my cookies out (it’s easier for me when the dough is soft) then I chill them. LOVE and so does everyone else! 8500ft no recipe changes 10-11 minutes depending on thickness

  2. Would this recipe be ok for making sandwich cookies?
    Like some sort of homemade Oreo?

    Thank you

      1. I have a question before making it would it be possible to use mini chocolate chips in it to add an extra boasting about of chocolate? Thanks

  3. These cookies are delicious! We like the way the dark chocolate balances the royal icing (which was also your recipe and worked out great). I have not ever chilled the rolled dough before cutting out cookies but will always do this method- no spreading, my bears looked like bears. Have never used royal icing to make “artsy” cookies and I am so pleased how they turned out. Thanks for all the tips!

  4. Wow. Only just rolled out the dough but dang that dough is delicious! Can’t wait to include these cookies in my galentine’s day drop offs!

  5. Baked these cookies for Valentine’s Day
    Beautiful recipe. I have two sizes of heart shaped cookie cutters.
    They cut easily and their shape was maintained after baking
    Followed the directions.
    A definite keeper. Everyone really enjoyed it.
    I did not use icing. Just topped the cookie with a few grains of course sugar prior to baking.
    Thank you very much

  6. These cookies taste delicious, but we baked them at the recommended 10 minutes and they are quite hard.

  7. Well, the texture and flavor were so absolutely off putting, that I decided that I will never make these again. I actually threw them away. I would not recommend this recipe.

  8. Sally strikes again! Chocolate roll-out cookies will be my new go-to when decorating cookies for birthdays and holidays. Plain sugar cookies are just too plain! I mixed the royal icing with mint extract, sine chocolate mint is one of my favorite flavor pairings.

    A couple of tips:
    Definitely chill the dough– not once, but twice. Chill the dough on the baking sheet after you roll it out, and then put the baking sheet back in the fridge for ~10 minutes after you’ve cut the cookies out, just before you pop it in the oven. Chilling the cut-outs is crucial, I have found, to perfectly flat cookie shapes so you can decorate them easier!

    I also suggest using Sally’s “easy royal icing” recipe with the merengue powder (yum) but I highly prefer to put the royal icing in squeeze bottles instead of piping bags. I have 6 bottles with the squeeze tips cut to various sizes so I have many options for flooding and borders/writing.

    Also, that royal icing recipe that she links to was enough for me to decorate about standard size cookies and then some.

  9. I live for chocolate so I was very excited to try these but mine lost their shape…what did I do wrong? I really did follow the recipe to the letter and I’m no novice at biscuit making. My bunnies grew in size to monsters! I have tried lots of bakes from this site and they have been reliably delicious!

    1. Hi Sarah, thank you so much for giving these cookies a try! How long did you let the dough chill for? Chilling longer is almost always the answer to prevent spreading. These cookie baking tips may help as well.

  10. I don’t have the room to chill them rolled out in a baking sheet. Is there another way to chill them?

    1. Hi Awar, you can chill the dough, roll it out, cut the cookie shapes, then chill the cookies again before baking. Rolling out the chilled dough may be a little difficult. Let us know how it goes!

  11. If I roll them out to 3/8 inch thickness (green disk on rolling pin), how long do you think they will need to bake? I have to make them thicker to survive intact while being shipped to the grandkids in Alaska. Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Robyn! We’re not exactly sure how long they’ll take, so keep an eye on them in the oven. They’ll be done when lightly brown on the edges. Happy baking!

      1. It’s definitely harder to tell when chocolate sugar cookies are done baking. They’ll likely only need an extra minute or so. Let us know how they go!

    2. Hi Robyn
      Did you narrow down the time for 3/8”? I probably won’t receive an answer before I try, but I thought I would ask anyway.

  12. These cookies were a big hit! The recipe is definitely a keeper! No spreading, and they taste delicious 🙂 I baked mine for 12 minutes and they were perfect! (They were a bit under-baked for my taste after 10 minutes…but I make my cookies thicker)

  13. I had a really difficult time with this dough. I’ve never done chocolate ones before, just regular sugar cookies. The dough tasted great, it was just hard to work with. Very sticky, I followed the instructions and weighed all my ingredients. I had to add flour in and douse my cutter in flour and even then I had trouble.

    1. Same here! I’ve made this recipe and the regular sugar cookies several times now, and for some reason I had sooooo much trouble with the dough this time—especially the plain sugar cookie dough. I don’t know if it was the type of butter I used, the egg, what…?! Not giving up. They still turned out delicious.

    2. I had the same issue with the regular sugar cookies but I did see she say in that recipe to add flour until the consistency seems right. I added quite a bit more flour and it came out amazing. I think it might be the butter, it might be more sticky and hard to work with if it’s a hot day and the butter is softer.

  14. I have made these three times now and they are really good. In SA we don’t get all purpose flour- used 1 1/2 cups cake flour which is 210 g.
    Loved the tip of rolling out before refrigerating. Works really well.
    Only problem is you cant stop eating them.

  15. These are awesome. I like using this recipe for Halloween cut out cookies every year.

  16. Any recipes I’ve tried from your site have been very good so I’m using this one today – except I’m pairing it with your white sugar cookie and putting them together to make pinwheels. Fingers crossed that they pair well and raise evenly in baking. I’m hoping to get the grand-kiddies munch of approval!

  17. Can I use self raising flour with this recipe – I do not like the taste of baking powder….. ‍♀️

    1. Hi Genesis, by rotate you can simply rotate the pan 180-degrees. This is so if your oven has certain hot spots, all of the cookies will be evenly baked.

  18. These are delicious and have a perfect crumb/texture – not crumbly or too soft either. I used Hershey’s Special Dark Dutched cocoa and the chocolate flavor is amazing. We used Halloween-themed cutters and they held their shape beautifully, no spread at all. I agree that chilling the rolled-out dough before cutting and baking is key.

  19. No need to make a sticky mess on the counter with cocoa powder. After chilling, cut dough in two sections. Place one half between two pieces of wax paper and roll out. I smooth the top of dough with a fondant smoother. Freeze about 10 minutes, remove top layer of wax paper then cut out. Keeps the rolling pin clean and cookie cutters easier to wash off. Cookies won’t lose shape while baking. Chocolate lovers sugar cookies.

  20. This was my daughter’s and my first time attempting cookie cutter cookies! We did these and the gingerbread cookies. Your instructions and detail was just what we needed both sets of cookies turned out great lookin and delicious! Best of all we had so much fun making them! Definitely a new family tradition!!!

  21. This tastes amazing!! Followed everything to a T… another perfect recipe. Won’t even try another chocolate sugar cookie recipe.

  22. These are perfect cookies. I used butter cream frosting on them this time but in the past, I just used sprinkles. They taste great without either though. Great chocolate flavor.

  23. I’ve tried your regular sugar cookie recipe and they turned out great, I like the idea of the chocolate sugar cookies for more flavor but was wanting to also add raspberry. Would I be able to add the amount that you did for the raspberry sugar cookie recipe or would the dry ingredients need to be adjusted so the dough is not to dry?

    1. Hi Justin, the ingredients would need to be adjusted since the raspberry powder works as a day ingredient. Let us know what you try!

  24. I made this recipe and the cookies tasted chalkie (not good) and were dry. What brand of cocoa powder do you use?

    1. Hi Nancy! Cocoa powder can be a very bitter ingredient depending on the brand. We like using Hershey’s natural cocoa powder in this cookie recipe. Also make sure to spoon and level (or use a kitchen scale) to measure your dry ingredients to avoid packing too much in.

  25. My kids have labeled these Brownie Cookies because they taste like the perfect combination of a cut out and a brownie. They were so easy to make and very sturdy like your gingerbready cookie recipe. We used the easy glaze and just did a quick drizzle over the top. This is a great addition to my cut out cookie rotation.

  26. Made these chocolate sugar cookies today. Wow what a treat! They came out perfect! Your recipes help me be the best baker I can be. Thanks again for another great recipe!

  27. This is the second time I made these cookies (first time was for Halloween). Followed the directions for rolling and chilling, and the dough was easy to work with. I used my new rolling pin with the disks to get the even thickness—worked perfectly! Because I had leftover royal icing when I made half the recipe, I cut it to one-third and it was the perfect amount. It was late so I didn’t pipe then flood but spread the icing and used sprinkles or a toothpick dipped in gel colors to make designs. So mine were not as pretty as Sally’s, but my grandkids will be thrilled nonetheless!

  28. I was literally afraid to try these but the reviews were so good I gave it a whirl. I did not refrigerate the dough and they still came out like a DREAM! I am SO excited to have an easy chocolate cut out cookie recipe to use forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. My cookies came out perfectly, and my husband and kids raved about them! They’re amazing, taste like a brownie, roll out beautifully and bake up just right. I followed the suggestion of a previous commenter, and cut them out before chilling them. I put them in the freezer on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes before baking them and they didn’t spread at all in the oven. I frosted some, but left others plain…I honestly prefer them that way. Yum! Thanks so much for such a delicious cookie recipe!

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