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These sugar cookies are soft, thick, buttery and best of all…hold their shape. With minimal chilling time, you’ll have a batch of sugar cookies ready to decorate in no time.
Tips for the Best Sugar Cookies
- Use cold or chilled butter. Normally, I use room temperature butter but for these sugar cookies it is important to use cold or chilled butter (chopped into cubes) to keep the dough from spreading.
- Freeze the cut out dough. After cutting out the dough with cookie cutters, freeze the dough for 5-10 minutes. This will also ensure the shape holds.
- Cornstarch! I’ve talked about using cornstarch in my chocolate chip cookies to keep the cookie soft and tender. It also works in this recipe but helps retain the shape of your cut out as well.
How to Get a No-Spread Cookie
- Keep the dough cold – Use cold butter when preparing the dough and roll it out before chilling.
- Chilling Time – After cutting out the shapes, pop them on some parchment paper and put them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. I usually do this while I’m preheating the oven.
- Thickness – Roll the dough out evenly to 1/4″ thickness. Any thicker and the cookies start to spread. Yes, they seem thick but that’s what makes them soft and chewy. You don’t want dry crispy sugar cookies. If you want an even chewier sugar cookie, check out my sugar cookie bars.
How to Make Sugar Cookies
- Make the dough. Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch) and set aside. Cream the butter (cold, cubed butter) and sugar together for 2 minutes. Add the egg and extract. I like to use almond extract for these but you can use vanilla if you prefer it. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until combined. The dough will be crumbly.
- Roll out the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press the dough together careful not to over work the dough and heat the butter up. Roll the dough out to a 1/4″ thick.
- Cut into shapes. Using your cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes and place on parchment paper.
- Freeze the dough. Freeze the dough for 5-10 minutes while preheating the oven.
- Bake & cool. These cookies take about 9-11 minutes to bake. Once they bake, transfer to a cooling rack.
- Decorate. See below for some ideas of how to decorate.
Tools for Making & Decorating Sugar Cookies
Here are a few of the things I use to make and decorate my sugar cookies:
- Marble Rolling Pin – The heavy marble pin helps roll out the dough smoothly, evenly and most importantly keeps the dough cold.
- Wilton Cookie Sheet Pans
- Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter – Any cookie cutters will work but I like the 2.75″ or 3″ size. They bake well and are not too small to decorate.
- Petal Icing Tip #104 – This tip makes the slanted wiggly lines.
- Round Star Icing Tip #18 – This can be used to make the star shapes or swirls.
- Star Icing Tip #21 – Another star tip that can be used to make slightly larger stars or swirls.
Buttercream Instead of Royal Icing
My friend over at All Projects Great & Small and I bonded over our hate for decorated sugar cookies. We both went on a sugar cookie decorating frenzy trying to master the art of royal icing. In the end, we decided it was for the birds. Those intricate royal icing cookies…now I know why they charge $5 per cookie. They are worth every penny and probably much more.
So for now, I forget about the royal icing and just simply use my buttercream icing. I quite like the simplicity of the buttercream on the sugar cookie and it tastes delicious.
Here are a few ideas to decorate with buttercream icing. After baking the Christmas cookies, I added cornstarch to my recipe and kept the cookies to 1/4″ thickness. You can really tell the difference in the sharpness of the edges.
How Many Cookies Does this Make?
- With a 2.5″ cookie cutter, this recipe yields about 28 cookies.
- With a 4″ cookie cutter, this recipe yields about 18 cookies.
If you like this cookie recipe, you may like these recipes:
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Rolo Cookies
- Sugar Cookie Bars
- Oatmeal Cream Pies
- Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Monster Cookies
- Strawberries and Cream Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
- 3 cups flour (385 g)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 sticks cold cubed butter (226 g)
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (90 g)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (95 g)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (use 1 tsp if you use vanilla)
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch) and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, add the butter (cold, cubed butter) and sugar. Cream on low speed (2) for 2 minutes then increase the mixer to medium speed (4) for 1 minute.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Add the egg and extract. Mix on low speed (2) until incorporated (1-2 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- On low speed (2) slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Mix for 1-2 minutes until the dough incorporates all of the dry ingredients. The dough will be slightly crumbly.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press the dough together careful not to over work the dough and heat the butter up. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 1/4" thick.
- Using your cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes and place on parchment paper in the freezer for 10 minutes. You want the cookie dough shapes to be somewhat frozen when you put them into the oven. This will help them hold their shape.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes. If you see any golden brown around the edges, it is time to pull them out. You do not want to overbake the cookies. Transfer them to a cooling rack immediately.