Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookie recipes haunt me in the same sort of fashion that chocolate chip cookie recipes used to. If I saw a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I had to try it. No ifs, ands or buts. What if I didn’t and I missed out on quite possibly the best chocolate chip cookies ever? That was not a risk I was willing to take. Luckily almost two years ago I did find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. Surely you’ve heard me talk about the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies that have transformed my life?  Well, sugar cookie recipes invoke the same anxiety for me. I can’t let one slip by lest I squander an opportunity to find The One. So when I was flipping through my Baking Illustrated I almost fell off my chair when I realized that I had yet to try the soft and chewy (those words are like magic for me) sugar cookies in the book. Off to the kitchen I went!

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

These cookies are flat-out fantastic. It is not often that I eat a plain sugar cookie without any type of icing, and these were delicious in every way a sugar cookie should be. Soft, chewy, buttery and sweet, these are the essence of what every sugar cookie aspires to become. Rolling them in sugar prior to baking allows them to create a nice sugary crust in the oven, that gives way to buttery softness when you bite into them.

And I know the next thing you want to know is – can I use this recipe for cut-out cookies? Why yes, yes you can! I was not about to bake sugar cookies and not test out their cut-out-cookie worthiness. And so, with half of the dough I did a cut-out test. The cookies held their shape very nicely and even after cooling and a couple of days in a storage container, they still had the soft chewiness that I love about sugar cookies.

How to Adapt for Cut-Out Cookies:

  • Prepare the dough as directed through Step #2 in the directions below.
  • Shape the dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (You can refrigerate up to 2 days, or freeze it and take it out and put in the refrigerator about 12 hours before you plan to bake.)
  • Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
  • Flour the counter, the dough and a rolling pin and roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Dip a cookie cutter in flour and cut out your cookies, placing them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Refrigerate the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Bake for 8-9 minutes until edges are just ready to turn the slightest bit light brown (you really don’t want much coloring at all on these cookies), rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through baking.
  • Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.
In comparison to what has become my standard sugar cookie recipe for the last year or so, I would say that these definitely held their shape better and didn’t spread as much, and stayed softer longer, which I attribute to the addition of a small amount of brown sugar in the dough.

So, if you want plain sugar cookies, these are amazing. And if you want to make cut-out cookies? Also amazing. You can’t go wrong, period.

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

One year ago: Pigu (Italian Gougeres)
Two years ago: Cheddar Corn Chowder

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Yield: About 24 cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-18 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling dough
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. Cream the butter, the 1 cup granulated sugar, and the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.

3. Place the ½ cup sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl. Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Dip your hands in the water and shake off any excess (this will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and ensure that the sugar sticks to the dough). Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball between moistened palms, roll the ball in the sugar, and then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, moistening your hands as necessary and spacing the balls about 2 inches apart (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Butter the bottom of a drinking glass and then dip the bottom of the glass in the remaining sugar. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of the glass until they are about ¾ inch thick, dipping the glass in sugar as necessary to prevent sticking (after every 2 or 3 cookies).

4. Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and their center are just set and very lightly colored, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 3 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

(Recipe from Baking Illustrated)

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181 Responses to “Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies”

Comment Pages 1 2 3
  1. roxan on April 22, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I wish I could stack up these cookies and eat them one by one until they are all gone!

    Reply

  2. Pamela on April 22, 2010 at 2:45 am

    These look amazing! I am going to try them! My aunt sent me your link and I will definitely start reading!

    Reply

  3. Wei-Wei on April 22, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Mmmmmmm looks delicious! I’ve always thought of sugar cookies as thin and crispy and simply a vehicle for decoration, but these look divine! I bet there could be so many variations you could think of for these… I’m thinking lemon juice and zest right now… ;D

    I love your blog! It’s so beautiful and everything you post is always so yummy looking. :D

    Wei-Wei

    Reply

  4. Kathy @ The Sugar Queen on April 22, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I’m with you – I like soft and chewy sugar cookies, too. They look delicious!

    Reply

  5. Emily on April 22, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I made about 17 batches of these around Christmas this year. You’re right – these are just about perfect. Did you use ATK’s ‘reverse creaming’ method? I think it helps.

    Reply

  6. Maria on April 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Soft and chewy-these look perfect!

    Reply

  7. Jenny Flake on April 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Mmmmm!! Love a good sugar cookie!

    Reply

  8. Bonnie on April 22, 2010 at 9:58 am

    I can never get enought of great sugar cookies. They are so versatile.

    Reply

  9. Sarah from 20somethingcupcakes on April 22, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I MUST make these. I’m trying to “be good” for the next 6 weeks or so, so I’m not sure how I can wait that long – but there’s nothing better than the perfect sugar cookie. I might just have to treat myself. xxSAS

    Reply

  10. Jeanne on April 22, 2010 at 10:18 am

    These look so good! I’m still searching for the perfect chewy sugar cookie recipe, so I’ll have to try these soon!

    Reply

  11. Tina from PA on April 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    WOW.. These look gooood!! Soft and Chewy , is what I’m all about when it comes to any cookie! Gonna try real soon . Thank You for sharing another great recipe.

    Reply

  12. Tracy on April 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I love a good sugar cookie!

    Reply

  13. Jen @ How To: Simplify on April 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Chewy cookies are the best! I could probably eat that whole stack in one sitting!

    Reply

  14. Lisa @ The Cooking Bride on April 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Okay, making these. Apparently I have the same problem as you. That and my last batch of sugar cookies weren’t that great, so I’m still on the search for a great recipe.

    Reply

  15. LilSis on April 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    If I had my choice of cookies, this would be it! I love soft and chewy and no chocolate!

    Reply

  16. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on April 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I love chewy cookies, and most sugar cookie recipes don’t fall into that category. I will have to give this recipe a try!

    Reply

  17. Emily Ziegler on April 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    They look absolutely delectable!

    Reply

  18. Cookin' Canuck on April 22, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    How I love chewy sugar cookies. It looks as though you have found the perfect recipe!

    Reply

  19. Fuji Mama on April 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    OOooh, I love a good soft and chewy sugar cookie!!

    Reply

  20. Niki on April 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Sugar cookies should always be soft and chewy!!! Yay!

    Reply

  21. Heather on April 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Are these okay for icing/decorating?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 23rd, 2010 at 11:07 am

      Hi Heather,

      Yep! You can definitely use these for icing/decorating. I decorated quite a few batches, and they are just perfect for it.

      Reply

  22. Maggy @ Three Many Cooks on April 23, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Soft and chewy – just the right combination for me. These look delicious!

    Reply

  23. Lori from www.lemonsandlavender.com on April 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I love a softer sugar cookie. The ones that snap when you bite or break them are not as appealing. But these sound so yummy! My go-to sugar cookie recipe has confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated sugar, which has satisfied me thus far. But I am going to give your babies a whirl very soon! Great photos too!

    Reply

  24. Abbey on April 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Look delish. I tried Cooks Illustrated brown sugar cookies and i must have done somethign wrong but they were flat as could be . But I will have to try yours. Wonder if you could make a tart crust out of it?

    Reply

  25. Esti on April 24, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Looks amazing!! I’m curious, though, if I can make them with oil instead of butter? I really don’t like baking with butter…

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 26th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Esti,

      I personally would never substitute oil for butter in a recipe like this, as the butter flavor is really pronounced, as it should be in a good sugar cookie. I hope you’ll give them a shot!

      Reply

  26. Ana Maria on April 25, 2010 at 11:05 am

    …Great recipe; my family loved them, specially my 6 yr old nephew(he did a little happy dance after tasting them for the first time)…and I don’t know why, but cookies taste even better the next day…

    Reply

  27. Family Spice on April 26, 2010 at 10:40 am

    There is something extraordinary about a simple sugar cookie! I love trying different versions, so I will bookmark this one.

    Reply

  28. Meghan on April 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    So glad to see this post! And thank you for answering the question as to whether these work for cut-out cookies. Seriously every time I make cut-out cookies I try a new recipe to see if it beats the one before. I have a feeling that will stop with this recipe!

    Reply

  29. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) on April 27, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I have the exact same problem!! I am always on the look-out for the best. I’m thankful to people like you who introduce me to cookies like these for the very same reason!! Delicious looking thangs, I must say!

    Reply

  30. Heather I. on April 28, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Yay, a chewy sugar cookie! Mine have been turning out too crispy lately. Can’t wait to try this!

    Reply

  31. joyce on April 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    I’m going to have to try these. My problem with baking is the wait time because I don’t make cookies until I want to eat them and then I never let them chill so they always melt in the oven, lol.
    -pleasefeedme.wordpress.com

    Reply

  32. Leila on April 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I’m not really a baker but you’re site has inspired me and this is my first recipe from your site. They turned out sooo yum! Will be trying out more recipes from here, you have been bookmarked :) now maybe my son|(17 months) will grown up thinking ‘mom’ is a good baker lol.

    Reply

  33. Mary on May 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Hey thanks for sharing! I was really wanting to love these as they look awesome. Unfortunately, this cookie dough didn’t work out too well for me. I had trouble rolling it, cutting it, and even baking it (kept coming out too overdone or too underdone). Would require a lot of trial & error on my part, which I don’t have time for. I have been using your “All Occasion Sugar Cookies” for awhile now, and have always loved them and had great results! I think I will stick with those for now! Love your blog!

    Reply

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  35. Samantha on June 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I have to tell you that these are by far the BEST sugar cookies I have ever had! I have made them for my family, my boyfriends family (whose mother is an avid baker), and my friends birthday party and all I have heard is how much everyone loves these cookies.

    Reply

    • Michelle on June 18th, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Samantha,

      Woo! So happy to hear that so many of your family and friends have enjoyed these cookies! They are certainly a winner.

      Reply

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  37. Jess on September 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Hello
    I just made these and they are wonderful. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

    Reply

  38. Julie on September 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve made these several times, and they are just the best-tasting sugar cookie, ever.

    However, mine don’t look like yours and I’m wondering why. Mine come out wrinkly and a little sunken on the tops, not “smooth” and uniform. They look fine when they are baking, and when they come out of the oven, but seem to “deflate” after they cool. Any thoughts on what I may be doing wrong?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 15th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

      Hi Julie, Hmm deflating sugar cookies…Sometimes when the dough isn’t completely chilled before being baked it can spread a little. Try refrigerating the baking sheet (with the cookies on it) for about 20 minutes before baking and see if that helps. So glad you’ve been enjoying them anyway though!

      Reply

  39. Tykisha Pulliam on September 26, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I just finished making a batch of these cookies and they are simply divine. I just love your website…it’s my new best friend!

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 28th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

      Yay for BFF’s! So happy to hear you love these Tykisha!

      Reply

  40. Joelle on October 24, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I’m planning to make a large batch of these cookies (about 200!) and would really like to make the dough in advance. How long can I freeze it?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 24th, 2010 at 7:22 pm

      Hi Joelle, You can freeze it up to a month in advance. Have fun with the cookies!

      Reply

  41. Teresa on October 30, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Sugar cookies are my husband”s favorite but I could never outdo grocery store bakery cookies – until now! He loooooved them! He said he never had better. I am trying the Chocolate chip recipe next :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 1st, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Yay so happy your hubby loved them! You will love those chocolate chip cookies!

      Reply

  42. Kristi Canny on November 3, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I have made this recipe a few times and tonight I made 4 batches of it. Some of the cookies spread and lost their shape. The dough had been refrigerated and each baking sheet had been cooled. What could I have done wrong? I have used recipe before with no problems and gotten a lot compliments. Please help!! :-)

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 8th, 2010 at 9:47 pm

      Hi Kristi, Sometimes I find if I roll out the scraps a few too many times, those batches can tend to spread a bit. Perhaps that could have happened?

      Reply

  43. Erik on November 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

    So, is this now your go-to Sugar Cookie recipe? I see you have more than one listed on your site (including one by Dorie Greenspan). With Christmas coming soon, my thoughts are turning to frosted sugar cookies and I still haven’t found the recipe that I’m happy with. Since I’m a fan of the folks at Cook’s Illustrated, I’ll have to give this recipe a try – I have Baking Illustrated, but I never thought to try this recipe. Just curious, have you ever tried rolling these in cinnamon-sugar to make Snickerdoodles? I’m still on the lookout for the perfect Snickerdoodle too, and I wonder if this might be an option.

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 10th, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Erik, Yes, this is now my go-to sugar cookie recipe. I really need to make note of that on the other recipes! I haven’t tried making these into snickerdoodles, but I do have an absolute favorite snickerdoodle recipe:

      http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2009/07/08/snickerdoodles/

      If you try snickerdoodles with this recipe, let me know how you like them!

      Reply

  44. patti on November 17, 2010 at 8:58 am

    i made these this morning, and have some tips. the best results were on a light pan lined with parchment paper. the dark pan lined with parchment made the edges a bit too brown and crunchy, and the dark pan with spray instead of parchment made them spread out way too much, and the edges got REALLY brown and crunchy. i am going to ice and decorate them and send them to school for my sons b-day party cookies to have in class. :) he is very excited!

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 18th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      Hi Patti, thanks for your tips! I’m definitely a big advocate of parchment paper, it’s awesome! Happy birthday to your son! :)

      Reply

  45. Lisa on December 10, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Michelle…you KNOW I’m a huge fan of yours (also the Red Sox, Celts & Pats!) and I followed your instructions about making these for cutouts but they did NOT work for me! They were tasty but once the dough softened (which was quickly), I had to use a lot more flour and then I did the refrigeration for 15 mins so they would set but they still spread way too much…so much that some didn’t look like the cutter I used. I’m so disappointed! I’m due to go to my brother’s with lots of cookies for the kids to decorate on Saturday and tomorrow night, I’ll have to make more cookies. I admit that my cutters are kind of large so I only got about 1 1/2 doz per batch. My son wanted to use a small cutter that he got as a present and surprisingly, the tiny ones kept their shape but I don’t want all pigs from Toy Story! LOL I had done 4 batches and then froze them for baking tonight so I guess for the remaining 2, I’ll just roll them at a later date in sugar and just make regular cookies. Should I try your other recipe? I’m now desperate!

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 10th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

      Hi Lisa, I’m so sorry you didn’t have luck with these. I do have two other sugar cookies on the site, but I have found that this recipe specifically held shapes infinitely better than either of the other two. It’s my go-to recipe for decorated sugar cookies (which I make tons and tons of). The only thing I can think of is that maybe the dough wasn’t rolled out quite thin enough? If it’s too thick sometimes it can spread more. Just a thought. In any case, so sorry these didn’t work out for you! :(

      Reply

      • Pearl on December 20th, 2011 at 10:13 pm

        Mine didn’t turn out well for cut out either, the dough went really soft really fast. like in 10 mins. i couldn’t roll it out properly. Any suggestions? I need these on Saturday.

        Thanks!

        Reply

        • Michelle on December 22nd, 2011 at 12:34 am

          I would recommend chilling the dough if you are having trouble, and making sure your surface is well-floured. If the dough is ridiculously soft, the butter may be too warm, in which case the refrigerator will help.

          Reply

  46. Danielle on December 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Amazing cookie recipe! I made these tonight and my family LOVED them! Thanks!

    Reply

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  48. Jennifer Duncan on December 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I just discovered your blog 2 nights ago. EVERY one of my Christmas cookies are made from YOUR recipes!! They have all come out divine! Thanks for such a fun and delicous blog to follow. Can’t wait to make some more goodies after the holidays :)

    Reply

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  50. Brynn on January 3, 2011 at 7:48 am

    BEST sugar cookies I have ever had. Thank you so much for this recipe! I will always and forever keep this!

    Reply

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