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These soft, chewy, and sprinkle loaded drop style Christmas sugar cookies are made with only 8 ingredients. No rolling pin or cookie cutters required!

sprinkle sugar cookies

Ditch the rolling pin, toss the cookie cutters, and break out the mixer because today we’re making drop sugar cookies with Christmas sprinkles. These soft-baked cookies are perfect if you want SIMPLE and EASY sugar cookies. (Don’t we all? But don’t worry, we still love you too, sugar cookies!)

Cookie Chemistry

These drop style Christmas sugar cookies are based off of a recipe that’s already published on my blog: Soft-Baked Sprinkle Sugar Cookies. These chewy sugar cookies have always been a favorite, but I often receive questions about the leaveners used. The recipe calls for baking soda and cream of tartar. Let’s work on some cookie chemistry together:

  • Give my article about baking soda vs baking powder a read. As you learn, recipes calling for baking soda must also contain an acid such as sour cream, brown sugar, or buttermilk. The acid reacts with the baking soda to create carbon dioxide, which allows the cookies to rise. Cream of tartar is our acid. I use it because it’s mostly flavorless. It also doesn’t change the texture of the sugar cookies. Baking powder already contains an acid so it doesn’t require any special ingredients.

I decided to rework the recipe and use baking powder instead of baking soda/cream of tartar. When testing cookie recipes, one problem I always face is finding the right amount of leavener. Using too much baking powder leaves a bitter aftertaste. (Which was my problem a few years ago.) Good rule of thumb I learned: use around 1 teaspoon of baking powder per 1 cup of flour. Today you’ll use 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour.

Science is delicious.

Christmas sugar cookie dough with red and green sprinkles in a glass bowl

Sugar cookie dough balls on Silpat baking mat before baking

How to Make Drop Style Christmas Sugar Cookies

These are my drop sugar cookies, but with Christmas sprinkles. The process is super straightforward. Dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another. Sugar cookies get all of their flavor from butter and vanilla, so make sure you’re using the correct forms of each. Unsalted butter is preferred (here’s more on salted butter vs unsalted butter, if you’re curious!) and pure vanilla extract is best. Homemade vanilla extract would be fantastic in these cookies.

Chilling the cookie dough is imperative. These cookies are very buttery and the colder the cookie dough, the less your sugar cookies will over-spread. The cookie dough can get a little hard after 2 hours in the refrigerator, so I recommend rolling the dough into balls before chilling. Here are all of my tips on how to prevent cookies from spreading.

Other good stuff:

  • ONLY 8 INGREDIENTS. The usual suspects: flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, butter, egg, sugar, sprinkles. That’s it. Nothing complicated or strange.
  • EASILY DOUBLED. This recipe yields about 15 large sugar cookies. You can easily double the recipe if you need a larger batch for a big family or cookie exchanges.
  • EXTRA SPRINKLES. There’s room for a mountain of sprinkles in this cookie dough. I even recommend dipping the tops of the cookie dough balls directly in more sprinkles. That’s optional, but rumor has it Santa Claus loves extra sprinkles.
stack of sprinkle Christmas sugar cookies
hands breaking Christmas sugar cookie in half

So soft, chewy, holly, and jolly.

These drop sugar cookies will be a new staple in your cookie repertoire! You might also love my Christmas Cookie Sparkles, which have the most unbelievably unique tangy flavor. Or my Brown Butter Sugar Cookies with a nutty caramelized flavor. All very easy and perfect for your Christmas cookie trays!

Christmas sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles
Christmas sprinkle sugar cookies on a red plate

What is Sally's Cookie Palooza?

Sally’s Cookie Palooza is a tradition since 2013. Every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row. Over the next two weeks, I’m publishing 10 brand new cookie recipes as well as giveaways, the December Baking Challenge, Christmas cookie video tutorials, and so much more. This is the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Sign up for instant updates and you’ll receive a free email alert whenever I publish a new recipe. 🙂

Click to see Sally’s Cookie Palooza over the years!

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sprinkle sugar cookies

Drop Style Christmas Sugar Cookies

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 20 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These soft, chewy, and sprinkle loaded drop style Christmas sugar cookies are made with only 8 ingredients. No rolling pin or cookie cutters required! Make sure you chill the cookie dough for at least 2 hours before baking.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (80g) sprinkles, plus more for topping*

Instructions

  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 granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until creamed, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla extract 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. Beat in 1/2 cup of sprinkles. Dough will be thick and sticky. Scoop large sections of dough (about 2 Tablespoons of dough each) and roll into balls. For extra sprinkle goodness, lightly dip the tops of the cookie dough balls in more sprinkles. Place dough balls onto a large plate or lined baking sheet.
  4. Cover and chill the cookie dough balls in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (and up to 4 days).
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  6. Arrange chilled cookie dough balls 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will look very soft.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can make the cookie dough, roll into balls, and chill the dough balls in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. (See note about cookie dough chilling.) Cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Read my tips and tricks on how to freeze cookie dough.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Measuring CupsBaking Sheet | Silpat Baking Mat | Cooling Rack | Red & Green Sprinkles
  3. Sprinkles: Any sprinkles are great, but I recommend avoiding nonpareils (the little balls) as they tend to bleed their color in cookie dough and cake batter.
  4. Dough Chilling: Chilling the cookie dough is imperative. These cookies are very buttery and the colder the cookie dough, the less your sugar cookies will over-spread. The cookie dough can get a little hard after 2 hours in the refrigerator, so I recommend rolling the dough into balls before chilling. Here are all of my tips on how to prevent cookies from spreading.

Keywords: drop style Christmas sugar cookies

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. So beautiful and festive!
    Two questions: do the sprinkles give off a flavor (there are so many) and where do you find the beautiful display plates? I notice a lot of the same style only different colors.

    1. Thanks Susie! (1) No the sprinkles don’t really have a flavor. (2) I have this plate in several colors, you’re right! It’s the pioneer woman line that I found at Walmart.

  2. So it looks like the only difference from the funfetti cookie receipe is that there is no additional baking soda/cream of tartar. Does this make this sugar cookie harder/crunchier? I like the softness of the funfetti cookie but would love to try this one, too.

  3. Sugar cookies are my fav!!!! How is the taste of these compared to your funfetti sugar cookie recipe? Those have always been my favorite and wondered how they compared!

  4. Hi Sally! COULD these cookies be rolled out or will the dough be too difficult to roll and cut? Looking for a festive cut out recipe!! Thanks!

  5. Hey Sally! Love your blog and all your recipes!
    I’ve made your funfetti cookies often and see that the cornstarch is not included in this recipe. Is that also related to the baking soda/ cream of tartar change?
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Emily! That’s a great question. Cornstarch isn’t actually in my basic drop sugar cookie recipe, but it’s in this one. You can definitely add some for extra softness but these do not really need it. They are SO SOFT as it is 🙂

  6. Hi Sally, I really appreciate all the thought and effort you put into your blog and recipes; I often land here because you’ve shown up on Foodgawker, which I browse daily when I have down time. I have a question about your description of the role of cream of tartar. While I understand and agree with your explanation of the chemistry of leavening agents, you also said that cream of tartar is “flavorless.” I am curious about the range of your experience baking with cream of tartar, because it does in fact add a unique tang to cookie dough and is what makes a snickerdoodle a snickerdoodle and not just a sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon and sugar. I’m guessing that it might play a similar role in this recipe, providing a little background interest beyond just butter and vanilla; I might have to do some fiddling and see…

    1. Hi Laurie! Thank you so much for visiting and reading my blog recipes. Cream of tartar is mostly flavorless, but I agree that it lends a tang to some recipes especially snickerdoodles. In the sugar cookie recipe, however, the flavor is mostly undetected so there is no flavor loss when swapping it + the baking soda out for baking powder. I hope this clears up the confusion. Sorry about that!

  7. HI Sally, what a festive looking cookie! Do you think I could reduce the size of the cookies without any adverse side affects? I am planning for an event where I want to provide cookies for 30-50 volunteers and I would rather have have a bunch of smaller cookies than a few big cookies, to help spread the cookie love to everyone!

    1. Hi Christina! Yes, you can definitely reduce the size of the cookie. I recommend 1 Tbsp size cookie dough balls. Bake time will be similar, maybe a minute shorter.

  8. Hey Sally! Just made these and they are so delicious! I do have a question though, all of my cookie edges are split! What can I do to prevent that? I rolled them and chilled them for about 12 hours and then put them in a preheated oven. What am I doing wrong? Please help! Thank you!

    1. Hi Danielle! I’m so happy you tried these drop sugar cookies already. Did you press the cookies down at all with a spoon or anything to help them spread? When I do that, I notice the edges crack a little. If you try them again and notice the edges cracking, try bringing them back together with your fingers while the cookies are still warm.

  9. Hello
    Can I used vanilla paste to replace the extract and would it be the same measurement?

    1. You can definitely use that instead! I recommend using 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.

  10. Hi Sally!

    I made these last night and they did not turn out as you pictured (flat, soft and chewy). Instead they stayed in their ‘ball shape’. Any suggestions? Perhaps I should let them sit out on the counter for a bit before I bake them?

    1. Hi Amanda! Maybe flour was over-measured? Make sure you are spooning and leveling. Letting them come to room temperature before baking will help them spread more.

      1. Hi Sally, I am in the process of baking these cookies. First batch turned out more like balls. I followed directions as written and I always level off the flour so I know there is not too much. I refrigerated the balls for about 24 hours beforehand. I just noticed in your reply to Amanda that they should come to room temperature first. I did not see that in the recipe. Did I miss something? I’m going to let the rest of the balls warm to room temp before I bake any more of this batch and see what happens.

      2. Hi Sue, It’s usually not necessary to let the dough come to room temperature, but if your first batch in the oven didn’t spread then doing so can certainly help!

  11. This may be a dumb question but can I make the cookies smaller? I really don’t want large cookies. I love the recipe from last year of the cookies with cream cheese that are rolled in the colored sugar. I’ll be making those every year. They are great with coffee!

    1. Hi Jo Ann, no such thing as a dumb question! Yes, you can make these smaller! You might have to adjust your bake time to be less depending on how tiny your cookies are 🙂

  12. Science IS delicious! I made these cookies last night and they came out exactly like your pictures. And my husband LOVED them. This will be a new go-to for Christmas as well as other gatherings (I’ll be buying birthday sprinkles). Sooo delicious, and just looking at them makes me happy! Thank you, Sally!

  13. I made these today and good gracious , they are mighty fine! For those wondering, colored sugar sprinkles will turn your batter a different color! I ended up with a perfect tasting pinkish cookie with red and green sugar sprinkles! Oops!

  14. Could I omit the sprinkles and keep everything else as is or do I need to make any changes?
    Thanks for all the great recipes! I’ve loved every one I’ve tried!

    1. Hi Maryann! Yes, definitely! You can leave out the sprinkles. No changes to the recipe needed.

  15. Sally just made these cookies this morning. Loved them. They looked so pretty with the sprinkes, I had to try them as I have Loved sprinkles since as was a child and still do even though I am now 58.

  16. Hi Sally I love this recipe! I have a question about freezing the dough. Is it best to roll the tops of the dough balls in the extra sprinkles before freezing or after freezing right before baking? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren! Either way is fine, but I recommend adding sprinkles on top of the cookie dough balls BEFORE… just in case the sprinkles won’t stick to the frozen dough balls.

  17. I grew up with these cookies as a family recipe, only the original recipe of my childhood calls for vegetable shortening instead of butter. But butter is so much better! I never thought of using butter till I saw this recipe. The cookies are just awesome. So tender, yet crisp, they really do melt in your mouth. I flatten mine with the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar rather than with a fork. It produces perfectly smooth, gorgeous cookies. These guys are too fragile to frost (if you did manage to spread frosting on without breaking them, they would absorb the moisture from the frosting and turn unappetizingly soggy) but colored sugar sprinkles is an option.

  18. I made these sugar cookies this afternoon. Different recipe from what I am used to but they were awesome, this recipe is my new sugar cookie recipe! Yesterday I made the chocolate kiss cookies from your cookbook, oh so good. My husband has eaten (snuck) so many I have to make another batch tomorrow morning for Christmas Day 😉
    Thank you!

  19. These turned out perfectly! They are delicious. I made these with my 12 year old for Christmas, and she asked why we chilled the dough. I was actually able to answer her now that I know why for this particular recipe. I have learned so much from your recipes and website. Thank you and merry Christmas.

  20. Hi! If I am interested in making a sprinkle sugar cookie and had to decided between this recipe and the Soft Baked Funfetti Sugar Cookies, which would you recommend? I have ingredients to make both (cream of tartar, baking soda, and baking powder) but didn’t know if there was a difference in the outcome. I’m looking for a squishy, chewy cookie.

    1. Hi Shriya! The outcome, flavor, and texture is pretty much the same between both. 🙂

  21. Hi Sally,

    So I just made these cookies which, I know. Weird. It’s May. But my family isn’t too big a fan of sweet so I always reduce sugar, so I omitted the sprinkles and just made them regular drop cookies. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I modified this recipe to make giant drop cookies (divided the batter into 6 pieces), and they turned out amazing! And they tasted good too! I just did a little less than 1 1/2 tsps baking powder, added 1 1/4 tsps cornstarch, and chilled for half an hour. Oh, I also increased the baketime to 22 minutes. Other than that, everything else was the same. They really didn’t spread much, but puffed up and were very light! I would definitely make these again!

    P.S. I’d love to include a picture. Is there any way to get it to you?

    1. What a great idea, Alice! I’m so glad they turned out well! You can certainly email me a picture, post one to my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram!

  22. These cookies are one of the best I have had. This is my go to cookies to bring to any potluck. Extremely easy and fool proof!

  23. I love this recipe, it’s been a total win time & time again but trying to change it up for my aunts dietary restrictions & wondering if I can sub coconut oil for butter?

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy this recipe so much! I haven’t tested this recipe with coconut oil so I’m unsure of what other changes would need to be made to the ingredients. Let me know if you try it!

      1. I subbed out the butter for coconut oil (1:1) & it worked! Very moist cookie

  24. Hi Sally! I am thinking about making this recipe for my son’s Christmas Fair at school. We have been asked to prepare 1 kilo packages of the goodies we make. In this case, what is the average yield weight? Do I need to double the recipe?

    Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Eleni, This recipe makes about 15-16 large cookies but I’m unsure how much they weigh. You can double the recipe if needed.

  25. Hi Sally,
    I just signed up to start getting your emails. Love your recipes! I tried these cookies, easy and delicious. I do have one question, why did mine never get brown around the edges at all? I baked for 12-13 minutes then took them out because I was afraid of overbaking them. Thanks!

    1. Hi Kristi! You may want to double check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer OR simply bake the cookies for an extra minute or two. As long as the edges are set and the cookies set up as they cool, you’re fine!

  26. If I only have salted butter on hand do you think it would be ok to just omit the 1/4 tsp of salt and use the salted butter? I don’t live close to a grocery store and have all the other ingredients on hand. 🙁

    1. Hi Cathy! You can simply use salted butter for these sugar cookies with no other changes to the recipe. Cookies are sweet with either unsalted or salted (plus the added salt).

  27. Hi Sally,

    I’m looking for the sugar cookie recipe I made last year. It has no sprinkles, but you roll the dough balls in sugar before baking. Can I use this recipe?

    Thanks

  28. Any idea if this would be possible with crushed candy canes? The store was all out of Christmas sprinkles 🙁

      1. I tried it and they turned out delicious without spreading too much!! Thanks so much!

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