How to make sugar cookies

Sure, chocolate chip is everyone’s go-to cookie but some of us in the Delish Kitchen have a secret love (and obsession) with sugar cookies. Whether frosted, sprinkled or eaten plain right out of the oven we can’t get enough of these cookies.

Our recipe is the only one you need. It embodies both form and function: Not only does it taste fantastically buttery with just the right amount of sweetness, it also holds its shape, is perfect for decorating, and will get you sharp, clean edges every time after baking.

Do I have to chill the dough?

Yes. Some sugar cookie recipes online pride themselves on not having to be chilled, but we think letting the dough chill out in the fridge is an essential step—especially when cutting into cute shapes. If you skip this step, the dough will be sticky. Stick doughs are not only difficult to work with, they also tend to spread while baking.

This means that if you skip the chill, you might end up with some cookies that look more like Rorschach tests than reindeer and Christmas trees.

Chilling the dough also helps with rolling out the dough. If you find the dough is too sticky, won’t roll evenly, or can’t be punched out neatly, let it chill a little longer. Time is the essence of good food.

Can I use a hand or stand mixer?

Absolutely! Using a mixer can help to speed up your prep time. Just be careful to not over whisk your butter and sugar—we want them incorporated evenly but not too fluffy. Fluffy dough means more air, and more air leads to a more brittle cookie.

How thin do I roll the cookies out?

Try not to go too thin! Between 1/4″ and 1/8″ thickness is perfect. If you go too thin you’ll end up with crunchier cookies that might get too toasty with our cooking times. We recommend erring on the side of thicker cookies rather than thin. Thicker cookie dough is also easier to pick up and transfer without losing their shape! We love that these sugar cookies are on the softer side.

Can I make the dough ahead?

Yes—up to three days in advance for best taste and color. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake. The longer the dough sits, the darker it will become due to oxidation.

Before rolling and cutting the dough into shapes, let the dough soften a little so that the dough doesn’t crack too much when the cutter comes down. If the dough gets too soft, slide it back in the freezer for a few minutes to let it firm up a little more again before proceeding.

Do I really need to freeze the dough for 10 minutes before baking?

No, this step isn’t essential. But if you want perfect lines on your shapes, this will help get you there.

How do I know when they’re ready to take out of the oven?

We always recommend checking the cookies at 8 minutes to see how golden they are (oven temperatures can vary). Once the edges are golden, the cookies are ready. The tops should still be a little soft!

Do I need special tools to decorate the cookies?

Absolutely not! Don’t have an offset spatula? Use a butter knife! Don’t have a piping bag? Use a plastic bag and one of the corners off! You’ll be surprised with the amazing designs you can make with stuff you already have lying around the house.

What’s the best recipe for icing sugar cookies?

This is the perfect Sugar Cookie Icing. (Our favorite buttercream for frosting is below!) Or, if you’d prefer to have a naked cookie, you might want to check out these brown butter fennel cookies too.

Tried this recipe? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: The introduction to this recipe was updated on September 23, 2021 to include more information about the dish.

Easy sugar cookies are the perfect cookie for any time of year. We’ll show you how to make sugar cookies from scratch so you can always have them on hand. We’ll also share our best sugar cookie icing recipe, which you can use to make your most beautiful decorated sugar cookies ever.

Sugar cookies are a classic cookie recipe for Christmas and year-round. Use this guide to learn how to make sugar cookies that strike the balance between chewy and crispy. It's sure to become your new favorite easy sugar cookie recipe.

Easy to Make Sugar Cookies

Whether you like soft sugar cookies or crisp sugar cookies, we think you’ll find that our just-right recipe makes the most perfect sugar cookies of all: They strike an irresistible balance between chewy and crispy.

How to Make Sugar Cookies — Step 1: Mixing The Dough

Here’s a dough recipe for semisoft sugar cookies. This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies.

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300ºF. In a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat mixture until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.

How to Make Sugar Cookies – Step 2: Shape and Bake

Using your hands or a cookie scoop, shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are set; do not let edges brown. Cool cookies 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool.

TIP: Love soft sugar cookies? One secret to keeping them tender is not to overbake. Baking sugar cookies too long turns your semisoft sugar cookies into crisp sugar cookies fast.

Sugar Cookie Icing

Tender, sweet sugar cookies make canvases for flavor artistry. Add dashes of new flavors—spices, citrus zest, or extracts—to the dough to make your cookies distinct.

You can also top your sugar cookies with sugar cookie icing. And, if desired, add sprinkles, nuts, and other decorations on top of the icing.

How to make sugar cookies

If you have been wondering how to How to Make Sugar Cookies from Scratch, you are in luck! I just so happen to feel like talking about how to make the perfect sugar cookies. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to buy pre-made cookie mix, homemade is hands down the best way to go here!

How to make sugar cookies

Learning how to Make Sugar Cookies from Scratch is really great to keep in your kitchen know-how arsenal. As a parent, I have needed to make sugar cookies more times than I count and I like being able to just whip up a batch and not have to buy them. My kids love it when they can smell those soft, tasty cookies baking too!

Figuring out how to Make Sugar Cookies from Scratch, while keeping them soft is the trick though and I have figured it out, my friends! The trick is to make sure to always pull the cookies out of the oven about 2 minutes early. You do not want to overbake them. Here’s a little trick I learned: do not let the edges get brown, once they have gotten brown, you have cooked them too long and they will no longer be soft.

INGREDIENTS OF HOW TO MAKE SUGAR COOKIES FROM SCRATCH

How to make sugar cookies

  • Flour
  • baking powder
  • unsalted butter
  • Sugar
  • Egg
  • vanilla extract

VARIATIONS TO HOW TO MAKE SUGAR COOKIES FROM SCRATCH

  • For a brighter color, use clear vanilla extract.
  • Add icing or any toppings you wish, or you can serve them as is.
  • Grab your favorite cookie cutters to create fun shaped cookies, kids of all ages will love.

HOW TO MAKE HOW TO MAKE SUGAR COOKIES FROM SCRATCH

How to make sugar cookies

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl (I use my kitchen aid mixer) mix together sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

How to make sugar cookies

Mix egg until well combined to the egg mixture.

Next add in vanilla until combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together flour and baking powder.

Add a cup at a time to the egg mixture and combine until you get one ball of dough.

How to make sugar cookies

On a lightly floured surface knead your dough for 1-2 minutes.

How to make sugar cookies

Place in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes. You are looking to chill the dough so it’s easier to work with.

How to make sugar cookies

Once the dough has chilled place the ball of dough on a lightly floured sheet of wax paper.

How to make sugar cookies

Place another piece of wax paper over the top of the dough and begin to roll out to be about ¼″ thick.

Using your cookie cutter cut out your shapes and place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 6-8 minutes, the center will be a tad bit soft/doughy. Remove from oven and let stand on baking sheet so the cookie hardens.

Basic, but never boring, the tender, buttery sugar cookie has an invitation to almost any celebration. This classic rendition can be a blank canvas for festive shapes and designs, or a vessel for bold flavors. Master it, and almond-flecked linzers, spicy ginger-molasses rounds or sweet, salty chocolate-hazelnut sablés are all at hand. We’ll teach you how to make these treats, and how to prepare beautifully smooth royal icing for decorating with sprinkles, paint or anything your heart desires.

Equipment

An electric mixer. Or better yet, a stand mixer. Some recipes say you can make sugar cookie dough by hand, but those recipes are wrong (or, at the very least, not as good). You need a mixer’s force to properly cream together the butter and sugar, creating a light and fluffy dough.

Parchment paper and a rolling pin. Parchment is indispensable in preventing sticking when rolling out dough. Don’t own a rolling pin? You can always use an unopened wine bottle.

Standard rimmed half-sheet pans (13 by 18 inches). Plural. If you only have one, pick up another. You’ll want to bake as many cookies as possible at once, and the rim helps prevent cookies from sliding when pulling them from the oven.

Any sort of cookie cutters you fancy. Circles, squares, snowflakes, gingerbread people, stars, dreidels, reindeer: You name it. A jar or glass works in a pinch.

Wirecutter, a product recommendations website owned by The New York Times Company, has tips on the best tools for holiday cookie baking.

Sugar Cookies

  • Yield 4 1/2 dozen cookies
  • Time 1 1/2 hours, plus 2 hours' chilling

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Everyone needs a good sugar cookie recipe. If you can master the very simple technique behind this one dough, you have several variations at your disposal, most likely without a trip to the grocery store.

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups/510 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups/340 grams unsalted butter (3 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups/250 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Frosting, glaze or royal icing
  • Edible glitter or food-grade luster dust

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium-high until the mixture is light, fluffy and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl, and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat until everything is well combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Add dry ingredients all at once, and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
  4. Scrape dough out of bowl and divide it in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, patting into a 1-inch-thick disk. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.
  5. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out dough, one disk at a time, on lightly floured parchment paper or work surface until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Create shapes, using a lightly floured cookie cutter. (Alternatively, using a knife, cut the dough into squares, rectangles or diamonds.) If at any point the dough becomes too soft to cut and cleanly remove from parchment paper, slide it onto a cookie sheet and chill for a few minutes in the freezer or refrigerator. Gather any dough scraps and combine them into a disk. Roll and repeat the cookie-cutting process, chilling as necessary.
  6. Place shapes onto parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart and bake until cookie edges are lightly browned with sandy, pale centers, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Cool the cookies on a rack, if you have one. Otherwise, let them cool on the pan. Decorate with a glaze, royal icing, frosting, glitter, food-grade luster dust or whatever you’d like. Don’t forget the sprinkles.
  • Cookie dough can be made 5 days ahead and refrigerated. Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead, wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature.

Tips for Rolling Dough & Cutting Shapes

For the best cookies, getting the proper thickness is key. Too thin, and the cookies will turn into crackers. Too thick, and they’ll be doughy. Here are tips to help you roll the dough to just the right depth, and to cut cookies that will give you a world of decorating options.

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

• First, make some space. Rolling out dough takes up a bit of space, so clear off those countertops before you begin.

• Use parchment paper for rolling for best results (though a well-floured work surface will also work). To roll out the dough, you’ll want to lightly dust a large piece of parchment paper with flour. Roll out the dough until it starts to stick a bit to the parchment, then lightly dust the top of the dough with a bit more flour and cover it with another piece of parchment. Flip the whole thing over, peeling off the bottom piece (and saving it so you can repeat this process).

• Keep an eye on the thickness of the dough. You want it to be about the thickness of a graham cracker, or, if you have a ruler handy, no thinner than an eighth of an inch. Don’t worry about making it a perfect circle or rectangle.

• Cold is best. Regardless of the shape you’re cutting out, or the method you’re using (by hand, with a cutter, glass jar), you’ll want the dough to be chilled. If it gets too warm and flimsy, it’ll be challenging to cut out clean shapes and move. Put the dough back into the fridge to firm up if it starts to soften.

A cute cutter does not always make a cute cookie. No matter how appealing the wide range of cutters may be, there are some that don’t actually make great cookies. In particular, avoid shapes with small, delicate features. Those smaller parts of dough are doomed to tragedy: getting stuck in the cutters, burning before the rest of the cookie is baked through, or just breaking off. And they’re challenging to decorate.

Broad cookies make better canvases. Shapes with a lot of surface area (circles, triangles, diamonds, stars) yield the greatest success. They bake more evenly and offer multiple decorating options.

Karsten Moran for The New York Times

• No cookie cutters? A wide-mouth glass jar or cup will do the trick. Or use a knife to cut diamonds (as seen above), squares or rectangles.

• Cut as many cookies as you can. When it’s time to cut, dip the cutters in flour to prevent sticking, and cut the shapes as close to one another as possible to maximize your dough.

• But don’t go too far. Gather any scraps and reroll the dough, but no more than twice. After that, the dough will become overworked and tough.

How to make sugar cookies

Sugar cookies often look prettier than they taste. Now that’s not right. With cookie season well under way (and almost over!), follow our tips to ensure your sugar cookies are beautiful inside and out.

Don’t Use Too Much Flour

Texture is an important factor in taste. When your sugar cookie is dry and chalky, it’s because you used too much flour. Be more sparing when you flour your rolling pin and countertop or pastry cloth. And for added moisture, brush the tops of the cookies with buttermilk before baking. It’s a good idea to do that when you’re adding sprinkles, and not icing, to the top of the cookies to help them adhere too.

Don’t Use Melted Butter

If you forget to take out the butter and let it soften for an hour before beginning and now you’re short on time, well, we understand. But in your rush, don’t melt the butter in the microwave until it (accidentally!) turns to liquid. That’ll make your cookies greasy. Chop your butter up into tiny pieces to speed up the softening time. Another trick: grate the butter.

Refrigerate Your Cookie Dough Before You Roll It Out

Refrigerating the cookie dough before baking does a lot to improve the flavor and texture too.

“Chilling cookie dough before baking solidifies the fat in the cookies,” according to PJ Hamel, a baker for King Arthur Flour. “As the cookies bake, the fat in the chilled cookie dough takes longer to melt than room-temperature fat. And the longer the fat remains solid, the less cookies spread.”

And you can enjoy their taste more easily when the cookies are not blended into each other en masse. Because they’re thicker (1/4 inch is ideal), the cookies are chewier. The longer you refrigerate the dough, the more pronounced the flavor will be. But 30 minutes is a good minimum.

How to make sugar cookies

Farberware Classic Wood Rolling Pin, $8.24 on Amazon

At the same time, chilling the dough dries out the cookie dough, which concentrates the flavors even more. It’s like the difference between watered-down lemonade and lemonade with less water, Hamel says. Also, letting the dough rest breaks the flour down into its component parts, including simple carbohydrates (ie: sugar). More sugar means more sweetness.

However, there are bakers who swear that chilling the dough ruins their cookies. So there’s that. We recommend trying two batches. If you like the way the first batch turns out, no need to try the other way—at least if you’re pressed for time.

Don’t Overbake

Take your sugar cookies out of the oven before the edges turn golden. It’s not like chocolate chip cookies or other kinds. To ensure your cookies have that satisfying chew to them, stop baking them earlier. Otherwise, they’ll be hard.

Don’t Skimp on the Vanilla

Use real vanilla extract, not the imitation kind, which can bake out a bit. If perfectly buttery, soft, chewy, sweet, vanilla cookies aren’t enough for you, then add some lemon or orange zest. Do a dab of almond extract. That’ll do the trick.

Don’t Use Royal Icing

Cut It Out These Cookie Cutters Are Festive AF Oh, that foul, tooth-cracking, absolutely beautifully piped icing. Bakers everywhere recommend royal icing because its hard texture makes it the perfect base for decorating cutesy pictures on your sugar cookies. Beaten egg whites plus lemon juice make our Royal Icing recipe taste better than others, but some of us still wish it was whipped and creamy-sweet like buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

“Personally, I like my cookies to look pretty and taste yummy, and not have to worry about cracking a tooth on the cement-like hardness you’ll find with royal icing,” says Ashley Whitmore, cookbook author and founder of the blog, Kitchen Meets Girl.

Royal icing calls for powdered sugar and meringue powder, or sometimes beaten egg whites instead of meringue powder, if you’re going to the root of the recipe. Whitmore’s alternative uses corn syrup, almond extract, and whole milk along with that powdered sugar. She whisks up a runny frosting, then separates a bit of it and adds more powdered sugar to that smaller amount to make a thicker icing. That thicker icing becomes the dam that she pipes along the cookie’s border. Inside, goes the thinner, more runny frosting. About 15 minutes in the freezer will harden it enough to decorate on top. But it won’t harden as much as royal icing. And we like that.

Some people feel this kind of icing is too sweet. If that’s the case for you, consider a fusion of meringue-buttercream to find middle ground between hard and soft. Plus, shoot for a flavor you’re excited about. By all means, if you don’t care about creating perfect little candy canes, Santas, or Christmas trees on top of your cookies, go for taste and texture and do buttercream all the way.

To an outsider, sugar cookies seem so simple. Ha. We know better. You may have to experiment and tweak your ingredients, measurements, and techniques to find the perfect cookie for you. Everyone’s oven is different, just like everyone’s palate isn’t uniform either.

Sugar Cookie Recipes

Check out some of our sugar cookie recipes to see how they can vary.

Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies

How to make sugar cookies

This is a pretty standard recipe for sugar cookies, with a two-hour minimum refrigeration time for the dough. Get our Classic Christmas Sugar Cookies recipe.

Dorie Greenspan’s Sablés

How to make sugar cookies

The cookie queen has spoken on this topic, of course. She uses part powdered sugar and part granulated sugar, and the egg yolks only. Get our Dorie Greenspan’s Sablés recipe.

Crackly Sugar Cookies

How to make sugar cookies

These cookies aren’t meant to be cut into cute shapes. The cream of tartar and baking soda mean to crack them wide open. You also roll them in sugar. They’re good that way. Get our Crackly Sugar Cookies recipe.

Icebox Sugar Cookies

How to make sugar cookies

This recipe is the simplest of them all. No separating eggs. No buying cream of tartar for this one recipe and never using it again. No cookie-cutter issues. You can even freeze the log of dough for a month. Then slice and bake. Get our Icebox Sugar Cookies recipe.

Bubbe’s Sugar Cookies

This Jewish grandma uses egg whites instead of the egg yolks like Greenspan does. And a few kosher ingredients too. Sprinkles instead of icing go on top here. Get Bubbe’s Sugar Cookies recipe.

For additional tips, tricks, and recipes, see our Ultimate Guide to Holiday Cookie Baking, and visit our Holiday Headquarters for more.

How to make sugar cookies

Light and tender sugar cookies that are frosted and melt in your mouth from the buttery sweet flavor. Learn how to make sugar cookies that are so easy to work with.

Roll out sugar cookies are so fun to make around the holidays. Whether it is a classic heart for Valentine’s day or candy canes and Christmas trees for a Christmas cookie. This recipe here works for any and every occasion.

🍪 Why This Is The Recipe I Always Use

  • These are the perfect cookie cutter sugar cookies as they hold their shape nicely
  • Easy steps to get that soft and flaky cookie dough
  • Mix, roll, chill, bake
  • Simple ingredients
  • Freezer friendly cookies

🥣 Main Ingredients

How to make sugar cookies

Flour & Powdered Sugar – The combination of the two offer the sugar cookies to have a light and fluffy texture.

Butter – You don’t want to reach for margarine, butter is the only way to go with this sugar cookie recipe. You get that golden buttery taste.

More Sugar Cookie Ingredients – Eggs, cream of tartar, baking soda, vanilla and almond extract!

🥄 How to Make

Start by creaming your softened butter, egg, and then slowly mix in the powdered sugar, flour, salt, cream of tartar, vanilla, almond and baking soda.

How to make sugar cookies

Once the dough is formed make sure to scrape down the sides. Then wrap up the dough and place in the fridge for 2 hours.

I prefer to roll the dough out when it is warm, cover in plastic wrap on a baking tray and refrigerate that way. It is SO much easier to just cookie cut the flat chilled dough.

How to make sugar cookies

When the dough has been chilled you can then roll out the dough, use your cookie cutters and create shaped cookies.

Lay on a greased pan or lined with a silicone baking mat, and bake as directed. Then place on a cooling rack to cool.

How to make sugar cookies

After the cookies are cooled, then frost with your favorite frosting!

Trick To Refrigerating The Cookie Dough

Like I mentioned above, I split my cookie dough into two sections. Roll out the dough into a flat section. Place it on a silicone mat baking sheet, and repeat.

Then I stack both cookie sheets on top of each other, cover well and store in in the fridge. Then when I go to using the cookies cutters, I simply get to work cutting.

The dough is harder to work with when chilled is why I pre-roll it.

How to make sugar cookies

What Thickness Do I Want Sugar Cookie Dough

I aim to do 1/4 inch thick or slightly less. If you want that soft tender cookie this is the best thickness. No need to get out a measuring stick, simply eyeball it the best you can.

📌 Expert Tips

Freezing Cookies | You can easily freeze the pre-cooked and frosted cookies for up to three months.

Or you can freeze the raw dough. Whether you freeze it in a ball or rolled out on a baking sheet. Either route works for this cookie dough.

To Frost Or Not To Frost | The choice is yours in terms of frosting the cookies. If you don’t want to frost the cookies you can add a colored sugar on top of the dough before baking if you don’t want a frosted cookie.

Storing | If you don’t use a buttercream or cream cheese style frosting you can store your cookies on the counter. If your frosting is a buttercream style it will need to have the cookies be refrigerated to keep the frosting from going bad.

Rolling Dough Tip | I like to put the dough between two layers of wax paper. This will keep the rolling pin clean and keep your cookie dough right where you want it, without sticking.

Sugar Cookie Baking Tools

👩‍🍳 Recipe FAQs

To keep the sugar cookies soft, you will want to store the cooled cookies in an airtight container. One trick many use, is putting a slice of bread in the container. The soft bread will help extend the shelf life of the sugar cookies.

Chilled dough is key to having sugar cookies that hold their shape. Another factor is making sure your cookie dough is measured and mixed according to the recipe.

Make sure you don’t overcook the sugar cookies. If you allow them to cook too long you will end up with a crunchy sugar cookie. Pull them out when they are pale in color and don’t allow them to turn golden on top like other cookies.

How to make sugar cookies

Check Out More Cookies

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How to make sugar cookies

If you’re wondering how to make homemade sugar cookies for your next upcoming party or celebration, you’ve come to the right place! From the tools you need to get started to some helpful projects to try for birthdays and holidays, this guide on How to Make Sugar Cookies will turn you into a cookie pro in no time!

How to make sugar cookies

Tools You’ll Need

Making sugar cookies is easy when you have the right tools for the job! Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to get started.

  • Cookie Sheet (or two!): Having at least two cookie sheets will make it easier to swap cookies in and out of the oven, since you can be prepping one pan as another pan bakes! We suggest this Recipe Right cookie sheetfor every day baking or you can use the Mega Baking Sheet for those bigger Christmas batches!

Rolling Out Your Cookie Dough

Before you start rolling out your dough, make sure to dust your work surface with flour. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. While you’re at it, have a little bowl of flour on the side, since you’ll be using quite a bit of it to dust your dough and your tools…and be sure to wear an apron because flour has the tendency to get everywhere!

For easy rolling, divide your dough into two portions. Set one portion aside and place the other on your floured surface, using your hands to lightly shape the dough into a flat disk.

Sprinkle your rolling pin and the top of your dough with flour, then start rolling! Starting from the center and moving the rolling pin outwards, roll your dough until it’s about 1/8 in. thick, giving the dough a quarter turn every so often to prevent sticking. Continue flouring your surface and tools as necessary.

How to make sugar cookies

Cutting and Baking Your Cookies

Once your dough is about 1/8 in. thick, you’re ready to start cutting. We suggest dipping your cutter in flour between almost every cut. This will not only prevent the dough from sticking to your cutter, but the flour on the edges of the cookie will help seal it, which will help your cookies keep their shape in the oven.

To easily transport your cookies to the baking sheet, start by removing all the dough scraps from around your cookie. This will make it much easier to remove the cookies from your work surface. Using a cookie spatula (we like the Really Big Mega Spatula for this job!), simply lift your cookies from the work surface and transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 to 1½ in. apart.

If one of your cookies tears during transport, no biggie. Throw it back in the bowl and re-roll it with the scraps!

Bake your cookies in a 350 degree oven for about 8 to 11 minutes, or just until the edges are light golden brown. As your first batch bakes, you can re-roll the scraps and start preparing the second pan to go into the oven. Keep in mind that the more you re-work the dough, the tougher it will get – so try to only re-roll scraps once.

Repeat with the second ball of dough.

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies

Now comes the fun part – decorating! The most important step here is to make sure your cookies are completely cool before icing them, otherwise the heat from the cookie may melt the icing.

How to Make Sugar Cookie Icing

Traditionally roll-out sugar cookies are decorated using royal icing, but you can also use buttercream frosting or even fondant to add cute decorations to your treats.

Royal Icing is made using Meringue Powder, powdered sugar and water. It is great for outlining and flooding your cookies and it dries hard, so your cookies won’t get damaged during transport or storage.

Buttercream frosting is also a tasty option, especially for kids! It’s easy to color, pipe and top with sprinkles and other decorations. When storing cookies topped with buttercream, lay them flat in a single layer so you don’t smudge your designs.

For more tips and tricks on how to work with royal icing, check out How to Decorate Cookies Like a Pro.

Common Substitutions for Homemade Sugar Cookies

Have you ever wondered how to make sugar cookies from scratch only to discover you’re missing a few ingredients? We’ve all been there!

No need to scrap that recipe! In most cases, there’s a substitute you can use for everything from baking powder to eggs. While these swaps may change the taste, texture and appearance of your food, there’s no denying they can help save the day if you’re short on a necessary ingredient.

From brown sugar to baking powder, eggs to butter, our Common Substitutions for Baking and Cooking article will help you satisfy your cookie craving no matter what is (or isn’t!) in your pantry!

How Long do Sugar Cookies Last?

If your cookies are baked and decorated, they’ll last at room temperature for about a week. Store them in an airtight container to prevent moisture from ruining your decorations.

Can You Freeze Sugar Cookies?

Absolutely, so long as they’re not decorated. You can bake and cool your cookies ahead of time, then store them in the freezer until you’re ready to decorate.

For best results, layer undecorated baked cookies in an airtight container or freezer bag with parchment paper or waxed paper in between the layers. Stored this way, your cookies can remain in the freezer for up to 4 months.

When you’re ready to decorate, let your cookies come to room temperature before icing with buttercream or royal icing.

Can You Freeze Sugar Cookie Dough?

Yes, you can freeze cookie dough. Simply form the dough into a ball, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place it in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to roll and bake your dough, let it thaw completely in the fridge overnight. Bring it to room temperature, then roll, cut and bake.

How Long Does Sugar Cookie Dough Last in the Fridge?

If you’ll be using your dough within the week, you can store it in the fridge instead of the freezer. Form the dough into a ball, then wrap it with plastic wrap. Place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Can You Freeze Decorated Sugar Cookies?

We don’t suggest freezing decorated sugar cookies. If your cookies are topped with royal icing, the moisture from the freezer could cause your icing to weep or melt, ruining your hard work!

If your cookies are decorated, we suggest storing them in an airtight container at room temperature. They should stay fresh for about a week.

Ready to go cookie crazy? Here are a few of our favorite cookie projects using this delicious roll-out cookie dough recipe:

Don’t let decorating sugar cookies feel daunting. Here’s how the pros do it.

Decorating sugar cookies always seems like a good idea, but they never quite turn out like the ones baked by the professionals. Even if you've mastered your sugar cookie dough, things can get tricky when the icing is ready to apply. Follow these tips—which span from icing to delivery—to decorate the best sugar cookies of all time, and get ready for Christmas cookie success.

What You’ll Need:

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies:

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1 Customize Your Icing

Royal icing (a mixture of powdered sugar and egg whites) is what gives bakery-made cookies their professional sheen. The best part? You don’t have to follow an exact recipe, says Chris Hanmer, chef and owner of CH Patisserie in Sioux Falls, S.D., and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts: “The icing will tell you what it’s doing. If it’s too liquidy, add powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add milk or water.” Add acid (in the form of lemon juice or cream of tartar) to help the icing dry more quickly, and experiment with different colors using gel paste coloring.

2 Prep Your Piping Bag

Reusable pastry bags are a smart sustainable choice if you think you’ll be decorating cookies for years to come. But you can also find disposable plastic pastry bags for easy cleanup (especially useful if you’re tinting your icing in several different colors). Pastry tips and a coupler make the easiest work of decorating and give you pretty and precise results. If Instagram-worthy cookies are what you’re after, make the investment in a set (we like this one from Ateco).

If you don’t have a piping bag, use a squeeze bottle or create a “cornet,” which involves rolling parchment paper into a cone and snipping the tip to the size of your liking.

When it comes time to fill, don’t be tempted to put your entire batch of icing in the pastry bag at once. You should be able to twist the back end of the bag so the icing stays securely inside and doesn’t sneak out the back. You can always refill the bag.

3 ‘Flood’ Icing for Full Coverage

If you’d like an icing base for your cookies to either add sprinkles or a colorful design, The first step in decorating is to apply the icing, which involves piping the border with a piping bag, then filling in the center. Jen Yee, head of the pastry program at Lafayette in New York City, recommends making two consistencies of royal icing, one for each step. “You want a firm icing for the border, and a looser one to fill or ‘flood’ in the border, which can be done by adding a touch of water to your ‘flooding’ icing,” she says. You can use a piping bag, an offset spatula, or a paring knife to frost the center, and toothpicks can help to make designs, spread icing into detailed corners, and pick up mistakes.

4 Pipe Designs

For icing designs, keep the tip slightly above the cookie and let the icing fall into place, rather than drag it along the edge. Only pick up the tip when you want to change direction. But don’t stress: simple dots and lines can be a chic addition to any cookie (and easier for beginners).

And don’t stress too much about achieving perfection, she says: “Be patient and have fun! They’re cookies, so do yourself a favor and don’t take the icing too seriously.”

5 Add Sprinkles

Quickly add the sprinkles while the icing is still wet and tacky—within two minutes of frosting. Though the surface of the icing will feel dry after about 10 minutes, it’s important to let it fully harden for about four hours.

Tips for Transporting Sugar Cookies

If you're planning on transporting or packing the finished cookies for shipping, choose to bake rounder, less complicated shapes. "Snowmen will ship a lot better than snowflakes," Hanmer says.

In terms of packing them up, place the cookies in flattened paper muffin cups to keep them separated, and use tissue or crinkle paper as padding, Yee suggests. And though it may seem counterintuitive, load in as many as you can. "The more you can carefully pack into a container and the less that they move, the better," Hanmer says.