Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Cut-Out sugar cookies are the quintessential Christmas cookie! We consider this the perfect sugar cookie recipe. Absolute perfection. Tender, buttery and won’t spread when baking.

Decorated cut-out sugar cookies on red plate.
Decorated cut out sugar cookies on a dark background.

Why You’ll Love These

  • These Christmas sugar cookies have slightly crisp edges and soft centers.
  • Fabulous buttery flavor!
  • Cut out sugar cookies that hold their shape!
  • It’s the best sugar cookie recipe for decorating because of the flat surface.
  • A great icing that hardens with a beautiful shine!

This easy sugar cookie recipe has been posted before, but I decided they needed an update. The previous pictures did not do this recipe justice.

Looking for more Christmas cookie ideas? Try our Italian butterball cookies, thumbprint cookies, old fashioned molasses cookies, and classic shortbread cookies.

Ingredients for cut out sugar cookie recipe on a dark background.

How to Make Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Beat the room-temperature butter and sugar together in a large bowl of an electric stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add egg and heavy cream and beat to combine. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Beat until the mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Divide the dough in half, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours. I normally refrigerate overnight.

Sugar cookie dough cut out with cookie cutters placed on dough.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Dust a large surface with confectioners’ sugar or use floured surface.

Using a rolling pin, roll the sugar cookie dough out and cut it into desired shapes. I suggest a counter or heavy wood board for dough rolling and cutting.

Chilling the dough makes it very cold and stiff. If using a pastry mat for rolling out the cookie dough, place a damp kitchen towel under it to keep it from sliding around.

Decorated cut-out sugar cookies on a baking sheet.

Place the cut-out sugar cookies on the parchment-lined baking sheet about 1″ apart. They do not spread, and they hold their shape perfectly.

Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes or until they are just beginning to turn golden around the edges. The bake time can differ, so watch closely.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.

Decorate as desired.

An ugly decorated cut out sugar cookie.

The cookie pictured above is why my husband is not allowed to decorate anymore.  Yes, that’s a toothpick stabbed in the poor little guy’s tummy.

  • Confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
  • Vanilla extract – Adds a flavor boost.
  • Light corn syrup – This helps the icing to dry firm.
  • Milk – This is used to make the desired consistency of the icing.

To make the sugar cookie frosting. Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, corn syrup, milk, and salt in a medium bowl, until smooth.

Separate the icing into small bowls or piping bags and add your desired gel food coloring.

This icing dries perfectly, just like royal icing. Usually, royal icing recipes use beaten egg whites and powdered sugar.

We have used color decorating sugar some years, and some years we decorate with icing.

Decorated cut-out sugar cookies on a dark surface.

Aren’t they pretty for amateurs? I think we did an all-right job this year. My husband excluded! (Husband edit: I did a GREAT JOB!!)

Cut out sugar cookies on red plate.

We love this recipe, and hopefully, Santa will enjoy these Christmas sugar cookies when he arrives this year!

How to Keep Sugar Cookies From Spreading

I’ve never had these cut out cookies spread. With that said, be sure to follow the tips below.

Chill the Dough – Chilling the dough is a crucial step to keeping the shape of sugar cookies.

Don’t Overmix – Overmixing can add excess air to the dough, causing the cookies to collapse and spread during baking.

Line the Baking Sheets – Using cooking spray, greasing with butter, or shortening the baking sheet creates a slick surface causing the cookies to spread. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Cool Baking Sheets – Always use a cool baking sheet. You never want to place cookie dough on a warm or hot baking sheet.

Tips

  • Measure the flour correctly. Aerate, spoon, and swoop level.
  • Use room temperature egg and butter.
  • For the best-tasting cookie, use pure vanilla extract, not imitation.
  • Chill the sugar cookie dough. It’s a must for this recipe! You want the cookies to hold their shape.
  • Dip the cookie cutters in powdered sugar before cutting. This makes the dough release easier.
  • Be sure to only roll the dough out to 1/8 inch – 1/4 inch, any thinner, and they can burn or be too crispy. We roll it out 1/4 inch thick because we like a thicker, softer cookie.
  • Place the icing in a piping bag or ziplock bag and snip off one corner. This makes icing the cookies much easier.

Variations

  • Use almond extract in place of the vanilla extract.
  • Decorate with colored sugar or sprinkles on the icing or on the cookies before baking.
  • Use red hot cinnamon candies or mini chocolate chips.

FAQs

What causes sugar cookies to spread?

The fat from the butter melts while baking. This is why you need to chill the dough, the butter resolidifies. Then the butter will melt slower while baking and keep the cookies from spreading.
Also, using parchment paper instead of greasing the baking sheet helps prevent them from spreading.

Can you re-roll the sugar cookie dough?

Yes. I reroll until all the dough is used. But after about 2 rollings, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate to chill it again.

How do you know when sugar cookies are done?

The edges will be set and the bottoms just barely golden.

How thick should cut out sugar cookies be?

I recommend 1/4 inch thickness. This gives the perfect size and texture to this cut out sugar cookie recipe.

Storing

Allow frosted or iced cookies to be fully set up, then store them in an airtight container or bag for 2 to 3 weeks.

Freezing

Unfrosted cookies will freeze well for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe, air-tight container or resealable bag.
Or you can freeze the dough disc for up to 2 months. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with cutting and baking.
You can also cut the cookie dough shapes, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and freeze them until hard. Then place the frozen unbaked cookies in a freezer-safe bag or container.

Can you freeze frosted sugar cookies?

Yes. Let the icing set up completely before placing them in a freezer-safe container. Just be aware that the quality of the frosting and decorations will probably not be as good once they are thawed.

Decorated cut-out sugar cookies on red plate.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies Recipe

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies – The perfect tender, buttery, no spread cookie.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cookie, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cut-out, sugar cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 24
Calories: 194kcal
Author: Don’t Sweat The Recipe

Ingredients
 

Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg beaten, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Powdered sugar for rolling out the dough

Sugar Cookie Icing

  • cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons milk or water
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

  • Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    3 cups all-purpose flour, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color.
    1 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Add egg and heavy cream and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.
    1 large egg, 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar.
    Powdered sugar
  • Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to ¼-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. (If dough has warmed during rolling, place a cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill.)
  • Cut into the desired shapes, place at least 1-inch apart on parchment/silicone lined baking sheet. Decorate with colored sugars (if desired) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges. Let sit on baking sheet for about 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.
  • Icing:
  • In a medium bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, corn syrup, milk and salt until smooth.
    1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon light corn syrup, 3 tablespoons milk, pinch of salt
  • It should be quite thick. If it is too thick, add ½ tablespoon more milk. If it is much too thin, add 1 more tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar. If you drizzle a little of the icing with the whisk, the ribbon of icing will hold for a few seconds before melting back into the icing. That is when you know it’s the right consistency and is ready to use.

Notes

The number of cookies yielded will depend on the size of your cookie cutters.
I reroll until all the dough is used. But after about 2 rollings, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate to chill it again.
Storing – Allow frosted or iced cookies to be fully set up, then store them in an airtight container or bag for 2 to 3 weeks.
Freezing – Unfrosted cookies will freeze well for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe, air-tight container or resealable bag.
Or you can freeze the dough disc for up to 2 months. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with cutting and baking.
You can also cut the cookie dough shapes, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and freeze them until hard. Then place the frozen unbaked cookies in a freezer-safe bag or container.
You can also freeze decorated (frosted) sugar cookies. Just be aware that the quality of the frosting and decorations will probably not be as good once they are thawed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 30mg | Sodium: 55mg | Potassium: 37mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 261IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

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