Say hello to your new go-to sugar cookie recipe! This no chill, no spread homemade sugar cookie recipe makes soft and deliciously buttery cut out sugar cookies that hold their shape when baked, so they're perfect for decorating for Christmas or any holiday (or just because!). The recipe also includes a simple vanilla icing for decorating.
I've been baking sugar cookies for years, and this recipe is always my go to. (In fact, it's the same sugar cookie dough that I use for my Valentine heart sugar cookie sandwiches.) Sugar cookies should be beautiful, sure... but what's the point if they don't taste good? This recipe is super quick and easy, but we're not taking any shortcuts on flavor. Soft and buttery sugar cookies that taste delicious and actually hold their shape when baked? Yes please!
The Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
I can go on and on about why I love this recipe, so here's a whole list of reasons why it's the best for baking homemade cut out sugar cookies.
- First and foremost, they taste delicious and have a sweet, buttery flavor. It doesn't matter how pretty they look; if sugar cookies don't taste delicious, they're not worth our time!
- These sugar cookies don't spread in the oven. The dough holds its shape when baked, so you'll have beautiful cookie cut outs for decorating.
- This sugar cookie dough is seriously quick and easy to make. It all comes together in the food processor in less than 30 minutes.
- No dough chilling! Chilling the dough isn't necessary for this recipe, which means it takes even less time to whip up a batch.
- No waiting for the butter to soften. This recipe calls for cold - not room temperature - butter, so you don't have to remember to take the butter out of the fridge before baking.
Sugar Cookies that Hold Their Shape (and How to Keep Sugar Cookies from Spreading When Baking)
If you trust the recipe but your sugar cookies are still spreading, here are some troubleshooting tips:
- If your oven isn't hot enough, the cookies will need more time to bake, which increases the risk that they'll spread. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is the temperature is accurate.
- Baking the cookies on baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper also helps to minimize cookie spread.
- Too-thick cookies are more likely to spread when baked, so be sure you're rolling out your cookie dough to the thickness specified in the recipe before cutting and baking your cookies.
- Last but certainly not least, be sure that you're measuring your ingredients accurately and adding the correct amount of each ingredient to the recipe. This post about how to measure ingredients for baking can help!
How to Make Cut Out Sugar Cookies from Scratch
- Make the cookie dough. Combine flour, granulated sugar, confectioners sugar, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a food processor. Add cold butter to the food processor and blend until the dough resembles coarse meal. Mix together an egg and vanilla extract. Add the mixture to the food processor, blending until the dough comes together.
- Roll and cut the cookies. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut cookies using any cookie cutter shapes you like (you'll get about 24 cookies if using 3 to 4 inch cookie cutters), then transfer the cookie cutouts to a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
- Bake the cookies at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool completely on the baking sheet atop a wire rack.
- Make the simple vanilla icing by whisking confectioners sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together until the mixture is smooth. The mixture should slowly drip, but not run, when poured from a spoon. If the mixture is too runny, add a little bit more sugar. If it’s too thick, add a little bit more milk.
- Decorate the cookies! When the cookies have cooled completely, it's time to decorate. Spoon the icing into a piping bag or a plastic squeeze bottle and pipe the icing onto the cookies.
How Thick Should Cut Out Sugar Cookies Be?
Sugar cookie dough should be rolled to ¼ inch before cutting and baking. This is the ideal thickness for a soft sugar cookie that is still thick enough to be sturdy for decorating.
How to Decorate Cut Out Sugar Cookies
The great thing about sugar cookies is that you can cut them into any shape you want and decorate them any way you like! This recipe uses a simple vanilla icing that tastes delicious and dries firm but not hard. You can also decorate the cookies using royal icing, buttercream frosting, or sprinkles. You can even use frosting to create sugar cookie sandwiches, like I did with my Valentine Heart Sugar Cookies!
These sugar cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Be careful when stacking decorated cookies and be sure to let the icing set before stacking. Once set, the icing is firm but not rock-solid and may become slightly squished when cookies are stacked.
These cookies also freeze well and can be frozen, stored in an airtight container, for up to 3 months. Check out my post all about freezing cookie dough and cookies for more information.
More Christmas Cookie Recipes
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Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- food processor
- Rolling Pin
- Piping bag and tip
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup confectioners' sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 12 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter cold
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons milk
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper and set aside.
Make the sugar cookie dough.
- Place the flour, both sugars, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a food processor and process just until mixed.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and distribute over the flour mixture. Process until the dough resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds.
- Stir the egg and vanilla together in a cup. With the processor running on low speed, pour the egg mixture through the feed tube and process until the dough comes together, about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Remove the dough from the processor, place it on a clean surface, and knead it for several seconds, until no dry bits remain and the dough is cohesive throughout.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut cookies using any cookie cutter shapes you like. Transfer the cookie cutouts to the prepared baking sheets using a spatula.
Bake the cookies.
- Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. You'll know the cookies are finished baking when they're no longer shiny and become lightly golden. Let cookies cool completely on the baking sheet atop a wire rack.
Make the vanilla icing.
- Whisk the icing ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl until the mixture is smooth. The mixture should slowly drip, but not run, when poured from a spoon. If the mixture is too runny, add a little bit more sugar. If it’s too thick, add a little bit more milk.
Decorate the cookies.
- When the cookies have cooled completely, get ready to decorate. Spoon the icing into a piping bag or a plastic squeeze bottle and pipe the icing onto the cookies.