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.
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).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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 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!
More Favorite Cookie Recipes
- Drop Sugar Cookies (no cookie cutters needed)
- Brownie Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Cookies (the classic & the favorite!)
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cookies
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.
- 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
- Make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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!