Chocolate Cut Out Sugar Cookies

We took our best sugar cookie recipe and added chocolate! These chocolate cut out sugar cookies hold their shape perfectly. Decorate for any holiday!

This past Christmas season you all LOVED our cut out cookie recipe. That recipe was viewed a quarter of a million times just during the holiday season. It gets rave reviews!

We decided to take those popular sugar cookies and turn them into a chocolate sugar cookie. A cookie that will keep its shape beautifully, just like the other cookies you know and love.

stack of cookies

Swapping Flour for Cocoa Powder in Recipes

If you have a recipe with no cocoa powder and want to make a chocolate version of that same thing, it can get tricky. Cocoa powder can absorb more liquid than traditional flour, which can leave you with a dry cookie if you aren’t careful.

When developing recipe, you just have to test, test, test. Sometimes over and over again. We found that 3 ¼ cups of all purpose flour and 2/3 cup cocoa powder gave us the perfect texture. A cookie that was still soft but had great flavor.

Dark Cocoa Powder vs. Regular Cocoa Powder

It can be tricky to know exactly what type of cocoa powder to buy. Dutch process cocoa powder tends to be darker than natural processed cocoa powder. It leaves your cookies darker, but also generally has a lower starch content which means your cookies and other baked goods will be fudgier. Which is a good thing!

We tested this recipe with The Cocoa Trader black cocoa powder, Hershey natural processed cocoa powder and a mixture of the two.

The winner? We loved mixing the black and natural cocoa powder together. They had a great chocolate flavor plus a beautiful dark chocolate appearance.

The lighter cookies in the picture are natural processed cocoa powder, the darker cookies are a mixture of black (dutch processed) and natural cocoa powder.

chocolate cut out cookies

Tools to Make Rolled Cookies

  • Silpat: This is in the top 3 must-have kitchen tools. It gives you perfectly baked cookies, every time. I don’t know what I’d do without them!
  • Baking Sheet: I like to use flat baking sheets without edges because they are good for easily removing baked goods.
  • Rolling Pin: We like this rolling pin that is covered in silicone. It helps prevent the dough from sticking.
  • Pastry Mat: Rolling cookies can be a messy job. This silicone mat keeps your cupboard clean and makes rolling out cookies so easy.
  • Cookie Plate Set: Because cookies need a pretty place to sit!

How to Make Chocolate Cut Out Cookies

Although these cookies only have a a few ingredients and are easy to make, they do take time to chill the dough, roll out and cut out. You’ll want to plan ahead if you want to make these so you have enough time to give them.

It is best to use a stand mixer to make this dough. With cut out cookies, you want to make sure the butter and sugar are completely creamed. If there are clumps of butter, the cookies will spread. The stand mixer allows you to easily do this!

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt with a wire whisk. **Be sure to spoon the flour and cocoa powder into the measuring cups, then level with a knife. This helps you not pack the flour too tightly so that your cookies are dry.** If the flour or cocoa powder looks “clump”, run the mixture through a sifter so it blends easily.
  • In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until mixed well. You want this mixture to be smooth with no butter lumps so the cookies bake evenly.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture.
  • Mix just until combined, being careful not to overmix.
bowl of cookie dough

Refrigerate Cookie Dough

The most important step in making cut out cookies is to refrigerate the dough. We do this twice: once before we roll the dough and once after we cut out the cookies. If you want your cookies to hold shape, refrigerate the dough!

If you only want to do one refrigeration, do it after you roll out and cut out the cookie dough. Refrigerate for at least an hour after you have the shapes.

It’s just a matter of preference. Find out which works best for you!

How to Roll Cookie Dough

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 3/8″ thick. Use cookie cutters and cut as many shapes as possible, re-rolling the dough scraps and cutting again.

Try to roll out your dough as evenly as possible. This will help your cookies bake evenly.

Note: The more you reroll your dough, the more little bits of flour you’ll add to the dough, so we try to do this as little as possible so that our cookies aren’t dry.

ball of cookie dough

How to Prevent Cookie Dough from Sticking to Rolling Pin

There are a few things you can do to prevent your cookie dough from sticking:

  • Roll out the dough on a silicone pastry mat. It peels off nicely!
  • Lightly flour the pastry mat and also lightly flour the top of the cookies. You don’t want to add too much flour, but you will need to add some. You can also dust it with cocoa powder so doesn’t leave a white film on the cookies.
  • Roll the dough between pieces of parchment paper or wax paper. Parchment paper is stronger than wax paper so it won’t rip as easily. If you do this, you shouldn’t have to add flour.

How thick to roll sugar cookie dough?

As we mentioned above, we roll out sugar cookie dough to about 3/8″ thick. For thicker, soft cookies, roll up to 1/4″ thick. If you are looking for crisper cookies, roll them thinner. Just make sure you roll them evenly so they bake evenly.

rolled out chocolate sugar cookie dough with heart cutouts

How do you get sugar cookies to hold their shape?

We often get asked, “Why do my cut out cookies spread?”. For many cut out cookies, the baking soda and/or baking powder can make your cookies spread. This cookie recipe doesn’t have those leavening agents. But some are still having problems.This can happen for several reasons. We’d love to be in the kitchen with you to help you troubleshoot, but since we can’t be, consider these:

  • Use 100% butter. A higher fat European butter works AMAZINGLY in sugar cookies, but even if you don’t buy that, use real butter. Not margarine. (Side note…we usually bake with salted butter.)
  • Measure the butter and sugar carefully. Too much butter and sugar can cause the cookies to spread.
  • Cream the butter and sugar really well. You don’t want any butter lumps! Scrape the sides of the bowl several times during creaming.
  • CHILL THE DOUGH. Seriously. We’ve already gone over this but it is the most important tip!
  • Bake the cookies on parchment paper or a silpat. Don’t grease the cookie sheet. Just use one of these two items to bake your cookies on.
  • Don’t put unbaked cookies on a warm cookie sheet. This will cause the butter to start to melt before it even gets in the oven. Cookie sheets should be at room temperature or even cooler than that.
unbaked cookie hearts
stack of chocolate cookies
stack of chocolate cookies

Chocolate Cut Out Sugar Cookies

5 from 1 vote
We took our best sugar cookie recipe and added chocolate! These chocolate cut out sugar cookies hold their shape perfectly. Decorate for any holiday!
Servings 36
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours

Ingredients
 

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour 422 grams
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 79 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 grams
  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter (softened) 12 ounces
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar 300 grams
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla 10 grams

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt with a wire whisk. **Be sure to spoon the flour and cocoa powder into the measuring cups, then level with a knife. This helps you not pack the flour too tightly so that your cookies are dry.**
  • In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until mixed well. You want this mixture to be smooth with no butter lumps so the cookies bake evenly.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture.
  • Mix just until combined, being careful not to overmix.
  • Divide the dough in half, gently flatten the ball into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour.** See notes below.
  • On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 3/8″ thick. Use cookie cutters and cut as many shapes as possible, re-rolling the dough scraps and cutting again.
  • Place the shapes on a non-stick baking sheet.
  • Refrigerate the cookie dough for another hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Bake the cookies for 12-13 minutes, pulling the cookies out just before they start to brown.
  • Allow the cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes, then transfer them to a flat surface to cool.
  • Once the cookies are cooled, decorate as desired.

Notes

*The amount of cookies you get will greatly depend on how thick you roll the dough and how large your cookie cutter is. I’d say you’ll get anywhere from 3-5 dozen cookies with this recipe depending on those factors.
**Looking for an easier way to roll the dough? Roll out the dough before you refrigerate it. *It can sometimes be more sticky this way, especially if your butter was really soft.** Stack the rolled out sheets with wax paper or parchment paper between them. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then cut into shapes.
***The calories shown are based on the recipe making 36 cookies, with 1 serving being 1 unfrosted cookie. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate.

Nutrition

Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 105mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 253IU | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 150
Keyword best sugar cookies, chocolate cookies, cut out cookies, rolled sugar cookies

Common Questions

How long do you let sugar cookies cool before frosting?

Sugar cookies should be completely cool before you frost them. If they aren’t, the frosting will not be smooth because the cookie will shift and tighten as it cools. The frosting will also run off a warm cookie!
Allow the cookies to cool for at least 2 hours. But they should be totally cooled before frosting.

How long do sugar cookies last?

Sugar cookies keep really well! Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week. If you are going to have them longer than that, freeze them.

Can you freeze cut out cookies?

Yes! Sugar cookies freeze well. Because they take awhile to make, we often make the cookies before we want to decorate them. Layer them in an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers. Cover and freeze for up to 2 months.

Is it better to freeze cookies with or without frosting?

You can freeze cookies either way. If you are using frosting that hardens to the touch (royal icing), then you can freeze the cookies by stacking with parchment paper between layers. If the frosting is softer, you might find the frosting sticking when you defrost the cookies.

How do you defrost cookies so they don’t dry out?

Remove the cookies from the freezer. Allow them to sit at room temperature (or in the refrigerator) until they are completely defrosted. This will help prevent the cookies from drying out, and it will also help condensation from forming inside the container which could lead to soggy cookies or the frosting getting ruined.

cookie hearts

Other Sugar Cookie Recipes

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Saroj
2 years ago

I’m enjoying ur reciepies

Pat
2 years ago

Can I make vanilla using this recipe?