Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Tips on how to make the best cut out sugar cookies. Buttery and lightly sweet, this cookie dough holds its shape when you bake it. Perfect for Christmas cookies and other holiday shapes. If you love sugar cookies, see all of our recipes here.

sugar cookies with frosting

Cut Out Sugar Cookies Recipe

Cut out sugar cookies aren’t just for Christmas. Yes, rolled cookies are fun at Christmas time with the stocking, tree and bell shapes, but they can be just as festive in the spring with flowers, sunshines and bird shapes. This is the best sugar cookie recipe we’ve found. I’ve been making it for years because it is so easy. Only 6 ingredients. A simple, lightly sweet buttery flavor. The cookies remind me of shortbread and I could eat a whole tray of them without any frosting. Although we know that frosting the cookies is often the part we have most fun with!

How to Make Sugar Cookies

  • The first step in making sugar cookies is to gather the ingredients. Flour, salt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and butter. These are all staples you probably have in your pantry. The butter should be stick butter, not tub butter…and not margarine! Use 100% real butter sticks. Be sure the butter is completely at room temperature so that it mixes in well. I would let the butter sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before mixing the cookies. And if you have to soften it in the microwave, be sure not to melt it.
  • Mix the ingredients together using a stand mixer or hand mixer. This will help ensure the ingredients get mixed completely.
  • The next step can go one of two ways. You can chill then dough, then roll it, or you can roll the dough, then chill it. A key step to perfect cookies is to chill the dough and the dough will be much easier to roll before you chill it. Rolling the dough first is by far the easiest way to do it. Divide the dough in two balls, roll each out, then stack the dough sheets with parchment paper or wax paper between and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • If you need to chill the dough before rolling, gather the dough into a ball and flatten it slightly into a disc, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Use your favorite shapes to cut the cookies and place them on a non-stick baking sheet. Bake them for about 12 minutes, but watch them closely. You don’t want them to brown at all. This will ensure you cookies stay nice and soft!
  • Move the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

shortbread cutout cookie recipe

Cut Out Cookies that Hold Their Shape

There are three important things to remember in order to get sugar cookies to hold their shape.

  1. Use real butter. No substitutes! I usually use salted butter because that’s what I keep on hand. For even better results, use a high fat European butter.
  2. Be sure that you’ve mixed the ingredients fully. If there are pockets of butter, you’ll find them to melt during baking and cause the cookies to spread. Make sure the butter is softened and mix the dough really well.
  3. Refrigerate the dough. It’s sometimes a pain to wait for dough to chill, but it greatly helps sugar cookies keep their shape.

Freeze Sugar Cookies

This cookie recipe freezes really well. You can make these cookies up to a month in advance, wrap the cookies well and freeze them. Be sure to place parchment paper between the cookie layers. The cookies are soft and may stick together if you don’t.

Allow the cookies to defrost completely before you unwrap them. Doing this will help the moisture to stay in the cookies and not become dry.

Read all about how to freeze cookie dough here.

Sugar Cookie Icing

This cookie recipe holds several different types of frosting really well. They make a great base for fancier, royal icing cookies. If you need a royal icing recipe, try this one. We’ve used it before and it works well!

If you want something simpler, you can use a powdered sugar frosting like we used here. You can thin this recipe as much as you’d like and spoon it on gently to spread it. The color stays vibrant and the frosting stays soft.

If you’re looking for a fluffy sugar cookie frosting, try our vanilla buttercream recipe. You can pipe this in swirls on the cookies or use a knife to spread it and then top with sprinkles.

how to make cut out sugar cookiesOther Sugar Cookie Recipes

Tools to Make Sugar Cookies

  • Silpat: For all of your non-stick, cookie-making needs. This is in the top 3 must-have kitchen tools. I don’t know what I’d do without them!
  • Baking Sheet: I like to use flat baking sheets for easy removing baked goods easily.
  • Pastry Mat: This silicone mat keeps your cupboard clean and makes rolling out pastries so easy.
  • Cookie Plate Set: Display your homemade cookies in style. Everyone thinks this cookie plate is so cute!
easy sugar cookie recipe
easy sugar cookie recipe

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

4.82 from 69 votes
Tips on how to make the best cut out sugar cookies. Buttery and lightly sweet, this cookie dough holds its shape when you bake it. Perfect for Christmas cookies and other holiday shapes.
Servings 36
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chilling Time 1 hour
Total Time 37 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups salted butter* (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt with a wire whisk.
  • In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until mixed well.
  • 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.**
  • 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.

Video

Notes

*The butter should be stick butter, not tub butter...and not margarine! Use 100% real butter sticks. And make sure the butter is at room temperature, not fully softened or melted at all. The butter should just give slightly when you press into the stick of butter.
*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. 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: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 104mg | Potassium: 20mg | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 250IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Author Julie Clark
Course Cookies
Cuisine American
Calories 155
Keyword best sugar cookies, christmas cookies, cut out cookies, rolled cookies

Tips on how to make the best cut out sugar cookies. Buttery and lightly sweet, this cookie dough holds its shape when you bake it. Perfect for Christmas cookies and other holiday shapes.

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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Sandra
4 years ago

5 stars
This recipe is great! The cookies come out soft, but not too soft. Perfect for decorating. Great tip about rolling out the dough before refrigerating! Don’t know why I never thought of it before.

Anonymous
3 years ago

5 stars
Great taste and easy to work with.

Megan Fowler
3 years ago

5 stars
I’m about to make my third batch of these cookies and I have gotten SO many compliments on them, even from my mom who has been making Christmas sugar cookies for years (which is what I’m using the recipe for). They are such a nice, soft texture that holds their shape well.

Sara
3 years ago

5 stars
Hi this recipe sounds great but I have concerns with the cookies sticking together since they are on the soft side….. Any suggestions … Thanks in advance!!!

Kimberly Hill
3 years ago

5 stars
This is my new go-to recipe for Christmas cookies!! I’ve tried numerous recipes and they either didn’t hold their shape or they didn’t have the taste or texture I was looking for. These held their shape perfectly, no spread at all, and they taste wonderful. They are not overly sweet and are the perfect texture for decorating. This recipe is a home-run in my book!!

Eileen Howard
3 years ago

First time trying this cookie When cut out do I put back in fridge? Or are you referring to the scraps to go back in fridge. #9 on the recipe.

Mike
3 years ago

5 stars
Fantastic recipe!

Patti O’Rourke
3 years ago

Trying out this recipe. It calls for salted butter. Any particular brand of salted butter and I am used to baking with unsalted butter because the salt content can vary from brand to brand. Would adding an extra quarter teaspoon of salt suffice if I used unsalted butter? Curious as I bought tons of unsalted butter for my other cookies and confections for the season.

Joy
3 years ago

I was skeptical about this recipe considering the facts that it had so few ingredients and it lacked a couple of traditional sugar cookie ingredients. But these were a breeze to roll out, they held their shape, and the best part was that they were soft and delicious. Bake as directed because it’s hard to tell when these are done. If you wait until the edges brown you may lose the softness that these cookies have. To test doneness I just touched the top of one and if it was no longer doughy, I pulled them out. This one is… Read more »

Amelia Romero
3 years ago

5 stars
Hi I made the cookies according to your recipe but my dough was too sticky, endedup putting I cup of flour more. They came out great. But then i looked at the video and you show putting 1 1/2 sticks of butter which is NOT 1 1/2 cups, that is 3/4 cup is of butter. This is a huge difference. I believe it’sa typo in your recipe. My cookies were not like shortbread but instead like regular sugar cookie. I did like your written recipe, have to yet your video one.

Sharon
3 years ago

Can this cookie be made with a hand mixer? If so are there any other adaptations that need to be made?

Genevieve
3 years ago

5 stars
These were the best sugar cookies I have ever made! (I’ve tried quite a few recipes over the years). They held their shape very well while baking- and they tasted soo good! 5 stars for texture, flavor and ease of making.

Tal Taylor
3 years ago

5 stars
This recipe is amazing! I needed 32 heart shaped sugar cookies for my sons class to decorate tomorrow, and every grocery store I could get to, was out!
I didn’t think I would be able to make them good enough for decorating…. Boy was I wrong! This recipe was so clear and easy to follow, and the cookies came out AMAZING! They look exactly like the store bought, but they taste 10 times better!!! I even went nuts and made a bunch of other designs for home:) A million thanks for sharing!

Brittany
3 years ago

5 stars
Best cut out sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever used. Cookies were flawless, and so easy! Seemingly fool-proof. Thanks so much, I’ve already copied this recipe into my recipe journal!

Anonymous
3 years ago

Making cookies now and wondering if I could leave the rolled dough in the fridge until tomorrow and then use cookie cutters or would the dough dry out too much?

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