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)


187 Responses to “Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies”

  1. ami on January 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    i made these and they are great, chewy, soft and buttery.


  2. Elena on January 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    Very chewy, but they spread out a little too much. I tried to roll them out for use with cookie cutters but the cookies spread too much, leaving the shapes big blobs. I think maybe this recipe is best for round cookies appearance wise. Taste wise they’re great!


  3. Cathe on February 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I was wondering if there was a tip to make perfectly uniform cookies when rolling them out. I’m not into making sugar cookies because I don’t like to roll them out, probably due to the fact that I am very anal about being the right thickness. Is there some sort of kitchen gadget to press/roll cookie dough into to make them all uniform? Thank you in advance for your time in answering my question.

    Cathe Kitchen Gadget (as my husband refers to me)


    • Michelle on February 14th, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      Hi Cathe, You can actually buy these little rubber bands to slide on the ends of your rolling pin so that you can roll the dough to a specific thickness. You can get them at Bed Bath & Beyond.


  4. Diane on February 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Hi Michelle – I am making these for the first time – bought a shirt cookie cutter to make the Steelers jersey cookies. I never measured flour by the oz before and found that each cup was only 4 7/8 oz so now I don’t know if I should add the extra .25 oz, which measured almost half a cup on my digital scale. I don’t want them to spread too much but I don’t want them to not roll out. I am using my old stand by sugar cookie recipe for footballs and helmets but thought I would try this for the shirts.


    • Michelle on February 14th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Hi Diane, If I weigh, I just weigh – I don’t put it into cups and try to compare. For me, that’s the whole point of weighing – it’s consistent every time where when you scoop into measuring cups it can vary each time. I would recommend just weighing and using that amount.


  5. Mireya M. on February 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    These cookie came out fantastic! I made them for Valentine’s Day with red sugar and they were a hit!


  6. Erik on February 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

    I used this recipe to make heart shaped cookies, then decorated them with a version of royal icing. This was one of the easiest sugar cookie doughs to work with, it was so easy to roll out. There were no cracks and the dough was nice and soft. The shapes maintained fairly well too. Two days later, they are still soft and chewy, just the way we like them. I only eyeballed my dough for thickness and I’m pretty sure I only ended up with maybe 1/8″ thick, but I made sure not to overbake them and they turned out just fine. Thanks for the recipe Michelle.


  7. Cristy on March 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I made these today in the roll-in-a-ball form. They spread quite a bit. I will try sticking them in the fridge for a while before baking next time. Also, they were starting to brown around the edges at about 12 minutes. I have an oven thermometer so I know the temperature was correct. Maybe I’ll try to leave them a little thicker too?

    They are cooling now and smell delicious, even if they aren’t “perfect”!


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  9. Cookie Gifts on June 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    “Soft and chewy” are magical words for me, too. As much as I love cookies, a burnt or overcooked one can turn me off. I will be sure to give these sugar cookies a try and see for myself just how amazingly soft and chewy they are.


  10. Andria on June 16, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I am bowing down to you right now. I too have been on the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Thanks to you, I found it! AMAZING!


    • Andria on June 16th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      Well, I switched pages without knowing. This was supposed to be for the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies! But these look good too! :)


  11. Lilly on July 13, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Before you bake it, can you put sprinkles on while they bake?
    The kind of sprinkles that look like colored sugar?


    • Michelle on July 13th, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      I’ve never done it but I don’t see why not. Have fun baking! :)


  12. Lilly on July 13, 2011 at 9:03 pm



  13. Elise on July 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    after they are baked how long will they stay fresh for? how do i store them? I’m planning on making a big batch and want to make them in advance.


    • Michelle on July 20th, 2011 at 10:43 am

      They should be store in an airtight container at room temperature; they can stay fresh for about 3 days like that; if you wrap them individually with plastic wrap, then store them, you’ll get about 5 to 7 days of freshness.


  14. amber on July 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Immediately wanted to try this recipe when I saw it, and I did. I used the roll in a ball form yiu mentioned in the instructions,but they spread out a lot. After reading the comments I think it could be because I didn’t cool the dough before placing it on the cookie sheets, so ill try that next time. What I really can’t seem to figure out is that they didn’t really brown around the edges :( I left them in there even longer too just to see if that would help but it didn’t seem to. They’re cooling now so ill see how they turn out, but any advice would be great!


    • amber on July 29th, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      Nevermind! It was just–as I expected–a mishap with my oven. Turned it off for a bit,put them in again and they turned out great!


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  17. Abigail on October 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Heey, this recipe looks amazing but i dont understan this part

    “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)”

    Ps. I can speak english but i’m not good enough for this. I put it into a traductor but i dont understand :/


    • Lisa Anne on December 2nd, 2011 at 7:42 pm

      It means: make the balls of cookie dough flat by pressing with the bottom of a drinking glass. Just make the balls flat :)


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  20. D on November 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Delicious! My first time ever making sugar cookies on my own and they turned out perfect! I love thick chewy sugar cookies and that’s exactly what these are. Next time I think frosting them would make them even better.


  21. Greer on November 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    What recipe for icing do you recommend.
    Would like to use this for Christmas cut-outs.


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  24. Jamie on December 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    AMAZING! I just made these and to make them a bit more Christmas-y, instead of rolling them in granulated sugar, I rolled them in red and green sugar crystals and they look awesome! Thanks for the awesome recipe!


  25. Kate on December 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    I doubled the the recipe because I need to make quite a bit of cookies. However when I was done mixing the dough…it was very sticky when I was shaping it. Is that typical? I wonder if my mixer was too small to double the recipe and it didn’t mix well enough. I’m freezing it until Saturday when I have to make them…but do you think the dough is ruined? If so, anything to save it when I make them this weekend?

    Thank You!!


    • Elena on December 19th, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      I double the recipe all the time! Sometimes it is stickier because it takes longer to mix more ingredients, and the extra mixing causes the dough to warm and thus get stickier than usual. Don’t worry, you’re cookies will be perfect! :)


    • Michelle on December 20th, 2011 at 12:46 am

      Hi Kate, I also double the recipe very often. I don’t think it’s ruined at all. Just make sure you generously flour the counter and the dough when you roll it out. You should be fine!


  26. Katie on December 19, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    This is the easiest sugar cookie dough I have ever worked with! It rolled out beautifully, cut cleanly (no tearing) and baked up perfect! The true test will be my coworkers devouring them :)


  27. Pam on December 23, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Has anyone made these in a high altitude area. I live in Colorado at 7,500 feet above sea level and was wondering if there were any changes that I need to make to ensure they come out well.


  28. Kelly Klapkowski on January 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    well i made these cookies and they are cooling right now……………………. delicious!
    I think i used to much sugar when rolling them and using the glass to flatten but non the less very good and light and everything this page claims to be.


  29. Victoria on January 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I just wanted to let you know I made these with the royal icing and they are sooo great!! Delicious. I also shared this on my blog today:


  30. Angela on March 31, 2012 at 12:28 am

    These are SO GOOD. I’m usually a soft sugar cookie fan, soft and frosted even better, but these are amazing! They’re crunchy around the edges, soft in the middle, and the sugar crust is incredible. I added an extra step by adding a little extra sugar to the tops of the cookies and spreading the sugar across the top with my fingertips, and it just made that sugar crust even better. On some of them, the sugar crust even cracked a little. TO DIE FOR!


  31. Mary on April 6, 2012 at 10:13 am

    These cookies were so soft and so good. Perfect recipe!


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  33. Danielle on May 5, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Can this cookie dough be refrigerated or frozen?


    • Michelle on May 7th, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Hi Danielle, Yes, both! You can refrigerate it up to 2 days, or freeze it for up to a month.


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  36. mahoots on May 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    i tried them today but ddnt turn out well….the dough wasn’t thick enough i guess :( :( :(


  37. Rosanne on July 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for another fabulous recipe! Love how soft and chewy these cookies are! I made them as regular sugar cookies and as cut-outs and both ways worked great! Instead of rolling them in white sugar, I rolled them in sprinkles and they were so fun and colorful – a big hit!


  38. Sami on July 9, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Wow! These cookies were awesome! I have been craving a good sugar cookie, and this met my expectations. I personally am handicapped when it comes baking cookies, so my sister made these. These cookies were delicious!


  39. kit on July 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I love these! My only qualm is that you list the butter in sticks. In my ountry (canada) stick butter isn’t prevalent. I counted out all the tablespoons before realizing that 1 stick i 1/2 a cup, so 2 is one cup!


  40. anna on August 11, 2012 at 12:05 am

    love these there as close to the kroger sugar cookies i guess ill get but hubby really likes but say they taste a little to floury what can i do to prevent this i roll dough in less flour but didnt change much but chewwy and soft and great taste i use a gas oven so would that change any thing the time or etc.


  41. kat on August 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I made these today. Though they taste awesome, they don’t look as nice as yours. Mine spread a bit more than I was expecting (I did the ball rolled in sugar method).
    I did not chill the dough before I baked it so that probably had something to do with the spreading.
    But, I also used a Silpat sheet rather than parchment. Would the Silpat cause additional spreading?

    Thanks for the recipe, they taste great!


    • Michelle on August 18th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Kat, Not chilling the dough would definitely have caused them to spread a bit more.


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  43. Alyssa on August 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I used Splenda sugar instead of the actual thing and my cookies turned out different. Very dry, like so dry they made you choke. They also stayed in the clump ball shape i rolled then into, no spreading whatsoever. The taste was phenomenal though, but that’s not the point. Don’t substitute ingredients and it’ll be prefect. 


  44. m on September 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Oh my goodness, this recipe is phenomenol!!!
    So tasty, buttery, soft, delicious, and they had an amazing flavor, even with all the substitutions i made:
    1 cup white whole wheat flour + 1 cup all purpose
    reduced sugar to 2/3 cup
    used 3/4 cup smart balance spread + 3 Tbsp applesauce
    And I mixed it all up using my electric hand mixer since I don’t have a stand mixer. Sooo delicious, and only 95 calories for a batch of 26 cookies using my variations.
    I can only imagine how delicious they are if you don’t make any substitions…..make these NOW!!!!!


  45. Julie on September 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Any tips on softening refrigerated butter in a time crunch?


    • Michelle on October 5th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      Hi Julie, I unwrap the butter and cut it into smaller pieces, put it on a plate and microwave for 5 seconds. If it’s still cold/hard, then I’ll do another 5-second spin. Just don’t let it get too soft where it’s on the verge of melted.


  46. Carrie on September 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Wow, these were very good. The first batch disappeared quickly. Definitely a repeat in our kitchen. They sat in the fridge for about four house while I was fixing Sunday dinner. Turned out just like your picture. I added fresh nutmeg and only had to bake them for 12 min. in my oven.

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. Next will be your Italian Wedding Soup this week. Still looking for one that was like the one served at our wedding 31 years ago.



  47. Carrie on September 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Oops, meant four hours. lol!


  48. Caroline on October 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    What do you use to roll and cut your cookies on, silicone mat, counter, etc..? Thank you very much!


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  50. Isabelle on October 21, 2012 at 2:35 am

    BEST cookies I’ve ever made!!! try these if you want everyone begging for your recipe! If I could literally eat the entire batch


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