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Perfect Sugar Cookies

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Sure, chocolate chip is everyone's go-to cookie but some of us in the Delish Kitchen have a secret love (and obsession) with sugar cookies. Whether frosted, sprinkled or eaten plain right out of the oven we can't get enough of these cookies. 

Our recipe is the only one you need. It embodies both form and function: Not only does it taste fantastically buttery with just the right amount of sweetness, it also holds its shape, is perfect for decorating, and will get you sharp, clean edges every time after baking.

Do I have to chill the dough?

Yes. Some sugar cookie recipes online pride themselves on not having to be chilled, but we think letting the dough chill out in the fridge is an essential step—especially when cutting into cute shapes. If you skip this step, the dough will be sticky. Stick doughs are not only difficult to work with, they also tend to spread while baking.

This means that if you skip the chill, you might end up with some cookies that look more like Rorschach tests than reindeer and Christmas trees.

Chilling the dough also helps with rolling out the dough. If you find the dough is too sticky, won't roll evenly, or can't be punched out neatly, let it chill a little longer. Time is the essence of good food.

Can I use a hand or stand mixer?

Absolutely! Using a mixer can help to speed up your prep time. Just be careful to not over whisk your butter and sugar—we want them incorporated evenly but not too fluffy. Fluffy dough means more air, and more air leads to a more brittle cookie.

How thin do I roll the cookies out?

Try not to go too thin! Between 1/4" and 1/8" thickness is perfect. If you go too thin you'll end up with crunchier cookies that might get too toasty with our cooking times. We recommend erring on the side of thicker cookies rather than thin. Thicker cookie dough is also easier to pick up and transfer without losing their shape!  We love that these sugar cookies are on the softer side.

Can I make the dough ahead?

Yes—up to 3 days in advance for best taste and color. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake. The longer the dough sits, the darker it will become due to oxidation.

Before rolling and cutting the dough into shapes, let the dough soften a little so that the dough doesn't crack too much when the cutter comes down. If the dough gets too soft, slide it back in the freezer for a few minutes to let it firm up a little more again before proceeding.

Freezing uncut dough

After mixing, divide the dough evenly and shape each half into a flat disk about an inch thick. Wrap the dough pieces with a few layers of plastic wrap, and put them in a gallon zip top freezer bag. Lay flat to freeze. Thaw unwrapped at room temperature for 30 minutes on a lightly floured surface.

Freezing dough cutouts

After cutting your shapes, place them in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm. In an airtight container, create layers of the cutouts, separating each layer with parchment paper. To thaw, transfer frozen cutouts to a baking sheet and let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.

Freezing decorated cookies

The cookies can be frozen after they are completely baked and decorated using the same method that you would use to freeze the cutouts. Be sure to add all of the decorations at once so that the frosting doesn't harden before they're all set.

Do I really need to freeze the dough for 10 minutes before baking?

No, this step isn't essential. But if you want perfect lines on your shapes, this will help get you there.

How do I know when they're ready to take out of the oven?

We always recommend checking the cookies at 8 minutes to see how golden they are (oven temperatures can vary). Once the edges are golden, the cookies are ready. The tops should still be a little soft!

Do I need special tools to decorate the cookies?

Absolutely not! Don't have an offset spatula? Use a butter knife! Don't have a piping bag? Use a plastic bag and one of the corners off! You'll be surprised with the amazing designs you can make with stuff you already have lying around the house.

What's the best recipe for icing sugar cookies?

This is the perfect Sugar Cookie Icing. (Our favorite buttercream for frosting is below!) Or, if you'd prefer to have a naked cookie, you might want to check out these brown butter fennel cookies or these super easy and cute melted snowman cookies!

Tried this recipe? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Save Recipe
Cal/Serv: 338
Yields: 2 dozen
Prep Time: 0 hours 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hour 45 mins
For the cookie dough
3 c.

all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

1 tsp.

baking powder

1/2 tsp.

kosher salt

1 c.

(2 sticks) butter, softened

1 c.

granulated sugar


large egg

1 tsp.

pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp.


For the buttercream frosting
1 c.

(2 sticks) butter, softened

5 c.

powdered sugar

1/4 c.

heavy cream

1/2 tsp.

pure almond extract

1/4 tsp.

kosher salt

Food coloring 

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  2. In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in color. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until combined, then add flour mixture gradually until totally combined.
  3. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  4. When ready to roll, preheat oven to 350º and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out dough until 1/8” thick. Cut out shapes and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Freeze 10 minutes (so your shapes hold while baking!).
  5. Meanwhile, make frosting: In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter until smooth, then add powdered sugar and beat until no lumps remain. Add cream, almond extract, and salt and beat until combined.
  6. Bake cookies until edges are lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. 
  7. Let cool, then frost and decorate as desired.

Nutrition (per serving): 338 calories, 2 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 33 g sugar, 17 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 210 mg sodium

Bryce Johnson
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