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

4.84 from 66 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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Julie
2 years ago

5 stars
Just made these cookies for a graduation party. Perfect once again! This is a great recipe and totally foolproof if you follow the directions.

Doris Arrington
1 year ago

5 stars
Thank you for this awesome easy recipe. I baked up a batch for a virtual baby shower party. I plan to put them in the mail for guest as party favors. I am excited about decorating them. I love the taste I did one batch with additional almond flavor and the other batch with lemon. They held their shape well.

Lauren Matijevich
1 year ago

Hi! Can I freeze the dough before baking the cookies? Just realized I totally should have cut this in half, oops!

Josh
1 year ago

5 stars
These really are top of the line. I’ve used this recipe several years in a row, creating very detailed cuts in the cookie shapes, and have been very impressed. Worth noting, I measured the flour and sugar in grams, not cups. Works perfect every time.

Jane Gephart
1 year ago

5 stars
Fabulous!! I made exactly as written, chilling the dough after cutting. Made cute little handprint cookies for my grandkids to decorate for Thanksgiving! (They are going to paint the “fingers” with frosting, to look like a turkey!) Will deliver a package of cookies and little tubs of bright frosting to each one’s home, due to pandemic. A fun recipe for trying this fun idea during this difficult time!

Channa
1 year ago

Thank you so much for this recipe! They turned out absolutely perfect! Followed the exact recipe. First time making sugar cookies and it was so simple!
Wish I could add a picture of them!

Carlina
1 year ago

4 stars
I think recipe would’ve been perfect if I had rolled out the dough a little bit thicker. The recipe says the dough sheets should be 3/8 inch, and I would definitely recommend abiding by that!! Mine were too thin (About 1/4 inch) and they turned into a pool of one giant cookie in the oven. But the few cookies that were close to 1/2 inch held their shape better.

Jill
1 year ago

2 stars
Although a delicious recipe, I found the dough very hard to work and it stuck to the cookie cutters. Very disappointed!

Kathy
1 year ago

The recipe says 1 1/2 cups of butter but in the video you use 1 1/2 sticks, which is 3/4 cup. Can you tell me which it is before I try it?

Melissa
1 year ago

5 stars
Great cookie recipe! The dough stood up to my three little ones making cut out cookies! Also, tasted delicious. Thank you!

Lanette DeFord
1 year ago

5 stars
This is, without a doubt, the best sugar cookies I have ever had in my entire life. Everyone is just amazed at how good they taste. Followed the recipe EXACTLY. 10/10

Rebecca
1 year ago

5 stars
Amazing! I haven’t even iced them and I can’t stop eating them.

Devon Vida
1 year ago

5 stars
Th

Devon Vida
1 year ago

5 stars
These turn out perfectly. You have to cream the heck out of your butter and cut them out cold…they keep their shape and arent super sweet so frosting or big sugar is perfect.

Jackie Schedin
1 year ago

I made the dough last night and refrigerated it overnight. The dough seems really hard to roll out. Do you want recommend letting it stay out at room temp for a certain amount of time?