How to make the most amazing sugar cookies that truly hold their shape! Soft and tender cookies that taste like a cross between a sugar cookie and shortbread, with perfectly defined and slightly crisp edges!
Perfect for any holiday cookie tray, and so easy to make! With several different prep options, you’ll find one that fits your baking timeline, and your tastes. We love holiday sweets like my Crockpot Candy and this is one of my Desserts you’ll definitely want in your dinner rotation!
SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE
Cut-out sugar cookies are the quintessential holiday cookie. You’ll find them on all most all dessert trays and in every cookie exchange… not to mention, Santa enjoys them as well!
I don’t know about you, but in the past I’ve tried numerous sugar cookie recipes and none of them were perfect. They never held their shape and the edges were soft and sloppy. If you’re going to all the trouble of rolling out dough and cutting it into shapes, you want them to actually look like the cookie cutter shape right?
That all changed a few years back when I found this recipe from Allie over at Baking a Moment. She makes some fantastic desserts, and her sugar cookie recipe is phenomenal!
Over the years I’ve made a few minor tweaks based on my preferences, which is what I’m sharing with you today… but I wanted to give major props to Allie, as the base is her amazing recipe.
HOW TO MAKE
- Mix up the dough – a stand mixer is very helpful here
- Roll out the dough into a thin disc
- Cut out desired shapes – can re-roll scraps to get more cookies if desired
- Chill for a few minutes – not required, see recipe notes section at the end of this post
- Bake and cool
- Decorate as desired
- Use cold butter – this severely cuts down the chilling time from several hours, down to about 15 minutes. Alternately, you can omit the chilling all together, although it’s not my preferred method.
- Cornstarch instead of baking powder – this is Allie’s secret, and it’s genius! Baking powder is a leavening agent that helps food rise and spread, which is great for biscuits, but not so much for sugar cookies. Omitting the baking powder can leave cookies tough and crumbly, but with the addition of the cornstarch, you don’t have to worry about that! Cookies stay soft and buttery.
- Cookies may not look “done” – cut out sugar cookies won’t be golden brown like other cookie varieties, they’ll just be set on the edges and are verrrrry lightly golden on the bottom. Don’t worry, they’ll keep cooking as the rest on the cookie sheet.
- Almond – not a vanilla fan? Almond flavoring tends to be pretty strong, so omit the vanilla and replace with 1 tsp almond extract or paste.
- Almond/Vanilla – why not have both? Try 1 tsp each of vanilla and almond.
- Orange – Try adding a bit of orange zest to your cookie dough for a fun twist.
MAKING SUGAR COOKIES AHEAD OF TIME
The great thing about cut-out sugar cookies is that they’re great to make ahead of time and they store really well.
To save time, I like to bake my sugar cookies, cool them completely, then store on the counter in an airtight container.
That way I can decorate them another day.
Decorated and undecorated cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 weeks.
Undecorated baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Unbaked cookie dough shapes can be frozen for 1-2 months.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT USED IN THIS RECIPE
- Stand Mixer – not required, but recommended for this recipe as the dough is very stiff.
- Rolling Pin with Rings – this adjustable rolling pin takes all the guesswork out of how thick the dough is.
- Baking Sheets – I love the large size and how sturdy these pans are.
- Parchment Paper – no cutting required, these sheets fit perfectly in the baking sheets above.
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- 1 cup unsalted butter cold
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste vanilla extract can be substituted
- 3 - 4 cups all-purpose flour (this will vary from kitchen to kitchen)
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and sugar and cream on MED speed until smooth and well combined. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add vanilla and mix.
- To a mixing bowl, add dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch and salt), and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture, starting with 3 cups, and mix on MED LOW speed.
- Let mix for 3-5 minutes, and you'll see the dough go from a crumbly mess to pulling itself into a ball that pulls away from the sides of the mixer bowl.
- Turn out the dough onto work surface and roll dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Flouring the work surface and rolling pin is helpful, as is rolling dough out between 2 pieces of wax or parchment paper.
- Cut into shapes and place cut out dough pieces on prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
- Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes, or until edges appear set. Cookies won't be golden on the top.
- Remove from oven and let cookies sit on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
- Decorate if desired.
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NO CHILLING OPTIONI find I get the best results when combining the cold butter with the short 15 minute chill time, but if you prefer to not chill at all, you can do that.
- Make sure the butter you're using is extremely cold, and work quickly so it doesn't soften on you.
- If possible, chill your rolling pin, so it'll keep the dough cold as you're rolling it.