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


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


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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180 Responses to “Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies”

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  1. Tracey on November 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I am planning to make these to put in goodie bags for my son’s birthday party next week. I’d like to make them ahead of time, to give me time to make sure they turn out ok and also to have them ready to go. Can you tell me the best way to make them in advance? Can they be frozen once they are decorated? Before they are decorated but after they are baked? Freeze the dough? Don’t freeze, but refrigerate? Just not sure how to plan ahead. Thanks!


    • Michelle on November 13th, 2012 at 11:49 pm

      Hi Tracey, Pretty much, yes to everything ;-) You can freeze them decorated, freeze them undecorated, or freeze the dough. You could make the dough 1-2 days ahead and refrigerate. You didn’t mention if you would be decorating with just a buttercream or using royal icing. If you are decorating with royal icing, here is a great post about freezing and thawing decorated sugar cookies:


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  3. jennifer on November 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Oh my goodness ! The BEST homemade sugar cookie ever ! Thank you so much!


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  7. jm on December 23, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    The cookies were dry and crunchy, not soft and chewy!
    Maybe cooking at lower heat would work.
    Sorry browneyed, this recipe did not turn out well.


  8. Mimi on December 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I made these for Christmas cookies and just added a little colored sugar glitter after pressing them down. They are soooo gooood….perfect sugar cookies and I’m sure anyone would love them.


  9. KATIE PENNINGTON on January 18, 2013 at 10:29 pm





    • Michelle on January 19th, 2013 at 11:45 am

      Hi Katie, You are more than welcome to post on your blog with your own photos and experience, as long as you provide a link back, as you had mentioned. So glad you enjoyed these!


  10. Sharon on January 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    can you make these cookies and use cookie cutters with them? :)


    • Michelle on January 24th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Sharon, Yes, there are instructions in the blog post above about how to adapt this recipe to be used with cookie cutters.


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  12. Kristen on January 25, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Michelle! I’m so excited to try this recipe- I want to send these to my boyfriend for V-day! I’ve never mailed any baked goods though so I am concerned on the best way to do it.. any suggestions?? I saw that the cookies can be frozen after being decorated so I am wondering if I should ship them frozen (priority mail would get there in 2 days). Thanks for your help!


    • Michelle on January 25th, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Kristen, Yes, you could definitely ship them frozen.


  13. Jenuine Poetess on January 30, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Mmm…these *are* delicious and work quite well as a gluten free version substituting regular wheat flour with Namaste All Purpose Gluten Free flour blend. Yay! So excited to find a perfect sugar cookie that translates well to GF. Thank you :)


  14. Rieneke on February 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Made these cookies today, I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract, and they turned out lovely. Thx for this recipe !


  15. Claire on March 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I loved the recipe — Hate the font — Please make it bigger on the recipe — or able to copy it — so that I may change to a font that I can read while cooking.


  16. Alissa on March 20, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Very delicious! For cutouts, though, just remember that they rise! I made the mistake of using stamped cutouts and the lettering could barely be seen. But the plain shapes came out beautifully and taste GREAT with royal icing!


  17. AnneMarie on March 29, 2013 at 12:59 am

    I just made these and 375 was WAY to high. The bottoms burned while the middle was still doughy – that was the first batch. The 2nd turned out MUCH better at 350 for like 10 mins. much more even baking. soooo yummy.(:


  18. Sue on April 17, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    I made these yesterday, and they were a total disaster. Everything seemed to be going well. The dough was sticky, but wetting my hands helped handle it. I even put the baking trays in the fridge while I waited for the oven to get to temperature, since I live in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and it was really hot that day. I peeked into the oven at about the five-minute mark, and they looked good. The next time I looked in, the cookies had spread all over the entire pan. I had to throw them away. :-(


  19. Karen on April 23, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    These look great! I have been looking for a chewy sugar cookie for some time now. Do you think these will work with some cocoa (subbing for a bit of flour)? I’m on a mission to do a sugar swirl caramel stuffed cookie. I love your site and would love to hear your thoughts!


    • Michelle on April 24th, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Hi Karen, I haven’t done it, so I’m not sure how it would turn out, but you could certainly give it a try. Let me know how it goes!


  20. Helen on May 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    They look delicious! I have a question, though. Can I replace the normal sugar with Splenda? Will it taste the same, or would it change completely?


    • Michelle on May 3rd, 2013 at 10:55 am

      Hi Helen, I’ve never used Splenda or a sugar substitute, so I can’t really say if they would taste the same or if the texture would be different. If you try it, be sure to come back and share your feedback!


      • Helen on May 12th, 2013 at 1:46 pm

        Thanks, Michelle! I’ll try them at home and see how they turn out


  21. Mia on June 2, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I made it yesterday, and I loved it…I made 24 pcs. of it. it is really easy to make that beginners (like me) can do.. :D I like the it’s softness and chewiness.. Thank you very much for the recipe :D


  22. Amber on June 18, 2013 at 8:53 am

    i baked these cookies thinking they would be soft and chewy. I did exactly what the recipe called for – baked for 15 minutes and they were burnt and horrible.

    luckily I still had some batter left so I did the next and took 5 minutes off the time – they were still hard and crunchy.

    disappointed – I have tried other recipes for soft chewy sugar cookies that were way way better


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  25. Tasha on December 4, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    How long will these stay fresh?


  26. Danielle on December 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Sorry to say that these did not turn out well for me as cutout cookies. I am an experienced baker and followed the directions to a “T”. These spread, were a little greasy to me, and did not have much flavor. Either edges too done or middles too soft. Just wasn’t the recipe for me.


  27. Casey on December 23, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I just made these cookies tonight, and they are very delicious! I slightly undervalued them and they are just incredible.


    • Casey on December 23rd, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      I meant to say underbaked! Not undervalued. Ha! Like the person above me, I did notice that the edges turned brown quickly before the rest of the cookie finished baking. But to mitigate that, I baked them for about 12-13 minutes total, and they turned out good.


  28. Dell on December 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Im making these cookies and i sifted the 2 cups of flour thinkn it would be the same result but the dough is still soft what should i do ?!?! Help


  29. Christina on December 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Your measurements are off. 2 cups is 16 oz not 10 oz. And 1 C is 8 oz not 7oz. I did the correct measurements and its too much flour.


    • Michelle on December 25th, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      Christina, My original measurements are correct. Unfortunately, it’s a widely held misconception that 8 ounces = 1 cup for every single ingredient. For liquid measurements, yes. However, solid ingredients have a wide range of volumes, therefore 1 cup of flour, for instance, will not weight the same as 1 cup of sugar. Please consult this ingredient weight chart for more information: I am not surprised that using 16 ounces of flour in a recipe that called for 2 cups resulted in way, way too much flour for this recipe.


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  31. Shannon on January 15, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Yum. Just ate one hot out of the oven. I’m going to put buttercream frosting on them.


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  33. Jasmine on February 13, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Refrigerate with cookies too or only baking sheet?


  34. Jasminee on February 13, 2014 at 5:35 am

    should i refrigerate cookies with baking sheet or only the baking sheet before baking?


    • Michelle on February 13th, 2014 at 9:46 am

      Hi Jasminee, If you are doing the cut-outs, refrigerate the baking sheet with the cookies on it.


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  37. kake on April 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I just made these cookies and very yum! I used a small ice cream scoop and got 4batches. SInce they were small size I baked them only $13minutes.


  38. Cebrin on April 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    I just baked these and they turned out perfectly! I am having a difficult time describing the texture on the outside – sort of a crinkle-like crunchy sweet outside with a chewy inside. Quite tasty. My husband said that he doesn’t like sugar cookies but these were very good. Thanks for posting the recipe!


  39. QueenEsther on May 20, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Just made these…absolutely delicious. They literally melted in my mouth. Made full batch and I am freezing half of the dough, since I am on a diet and all…tee hee.


  40. Noelle on May 26, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Hello!! I’ve been looking for a great recipe for cut-out sugar cookies and I’m wondering if these cookies are just right and not super duper sweet that if I decorate it with royal icing, the sweetness would be alright? Thanks a lot :)


    • Michelle on May 26th, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Hi Noelle, Yes, these are the cookies that I use a base for decorating with royal icing.


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