Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

These are the absolute BEST cut-out sugar cookies, hands-down! No softening butter, no chilling dough, they bake up super soft with no spreading and keep their shape each and every time. Use your favorite cookie cutters and eat them plain or decorate with an easy buttercream or royal icing. I guarantee you will never need another cut-out cookie recipe again!

Stacks of heart and star shaped plain sugar cookies.

Let’s be honest, here. While cut-out sugar cookies from scratch always sound awesome in theory (the shapes! the icing! the decorations!), they can be daunting both in time required and execution.

Sometimes you need to soften butter, almost always you need to chill the dough… by the time you’re pulling cookies out of the oven, you’re crossing all of your fingers and toes hoping that they didn’t spread and become too brown or crunchy. Because there is absolutely nothing better than a thick, incredibly soft sugar cookie, am I right?!

A couple of years ago when my boys begged to make sugar cookies, I unearthed this recipe that was perfectly suited to baking with kids – you use cold butter, you don’t need to chill the dough, and the cookies were absolutely amazing time and again. It’s the only recipe I’ve used since and am so excited to share it with you today!

Plain and frosted sugar cookies on a cooling rack.

Why this will be your favorite cut-out cookie recipe

Seriously, the buck stops here. These are the best of the best, and here’s why:

  • You don’t need to bring butter to room temperature.
  • You don’t need to chill the cookie dough (but you can!).
  • The cookies bake up super thick and soft (and STAY soft for days after baking!).
  • They do not lose their shape.
  • Absolutely delicious plain (yes, vanilla and butter!) but perfect for decorating, too.
  • They don’t puff up, which makes them a perfect surface for decorating.
  • Freeze exceptionally well.

Cubed butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

How thick to roll your sugar cookies

This is a super key point! To ensure the wonderfully soft sugar cookies of your dreams, you want to roll the dough about ¼-inch thick. This may seem too thick when you are rolling and cutting, but it’s absolutely vital.

If you’ve found your cut-out sugar cookies lose their shape in the past, it could have been due to a few factors (too much butter in the recipe, dough too warm, dough not rolled thick enough, etc.), but I can tell you that this recipe yields absolutely beautiful edges that do not spread if you take care to roll to the appropriate thickness (if rolled too thin then they can spread).

Use a thin metal spatula to carefully transfer your cut-out cookies from the rolling surface to your baking sheets.

If you prefer thinner cookies with a some crispness to the edges, then roll the dough thinner and reduce the baking time a bit.

Sugar cookie dough in a mixing bowl.

Cut-out sugar cookies tips & tools

A quick rundown on my best tips and recommended tools for making successful sugar cookies!

  • Baking sheets: I use my favorite rimmed half-sheet pans. I always, always line with parchment paper, not a silicone baking mat (which I find causes more spread).
  • Marble pastry board: This isn’t necessary, but if you have one, it’s great for keeping sugar cookie dough and pie crust cold!
  • Rolling pin: A simple wooden one is all you need.
  • Flavors: I adore the pure vanilla flavor, but some people like a little bit of almond – I would recommend starting with ¼ teaspoon of almond extract in addition to the vanilla. You can also use things like cake batter extract, lemon, maple, coconut, etc. You can also add a little bit of cinnamon to the cookie dough if you’d like!
  • Cookie cutters: You can use absolutely any, so pick your favorites! I have a mixture of plastic and metal and they all work amazingly well with this recipe. It holds its shape for intricate designs, as well. I always dip mine in flour before cutting for a nice, clean release.
  • Scaling: You can double (or more!) this recipe without issue.
  • Buttercream frosting: If you want to do a simple frosting (with or without sprinkles!), then I recommend my favorite vanilla buttercream.
  • Royal Icing: To do more detailed decorating, see my tutorial on how to decorate cookies with royal icing.
  • Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • Make-Ahead: While I love that you can whip up these cookies immediately, you can mix together the dough, divide in half and form into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You can also freeze the dough (place the wrapped disk in a ziploc freezer bag) for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bring it to almost room temperature, roll out, and proceed with the recipe.
  • Freezing: These cookies freeze exceptionally well! You can freeze them plain or decorated; if decorated, let the icing set before freezing. Store in an airtight container or ziplock freezer bag with parchment paper between the layers. The cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Sugar cookie dough rolled out with hearts and stars cut out.

Ideas for decorating the cookies

More sugar cookie variations

Overhead photo of sugar cookies decorated with buttercream frosting.

If you make these cut out sugar cookies and love them, I would so appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave a rating below. Thank you so much! ❤️️

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Servings 24 to 26 (2½-inch) cookies
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 40 minutes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

The BEST cut-out sugar cookies! No softening butter, no chilling dough, they bake up super soft and never spread. Your new go-to recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1
    cup
    unsalted butter
    (chilled and cubed)
  • 1
    cup
    granulated sugar
  • 1
    egg
  • 2
    teaspoons
    vanilla extract
  • teaspoons
    baking powder
  • ½
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 3
    cups
    all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

  3. Add the egg, vanilla, baking powder, and salt, and mix until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, only mixing until the dough just comes together. Give it a final mix with a rubber spatula, folding and pressing it together, to ensure all of the flour is mixed in.

  5. Separate the dough in half and work with one piece at a time, roll the dough ¼-inch thick. Cut out shapes as desired and place them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch of space between cookies.

  6. Bake until the cookies look set and are slightly firm to the touch but still pale, about 10 to 12 minutes.

  7. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes:

  • A stand mixer is ideal for this recipe; since we are starting with cold butter, the paddle attachment does a good job of beating it into the sugar. A hand mixer tends to send the butter and sugar flying; if all you have is a hand mixer, I recommend using your fingers to smash the cubes of butter into the sugar before starting the mixer to give everything a little headstart.
  • Baking sheets: I use my favorite rimmed half-sheet pans. I always, always line with parchment paper, not a silicone baking mat (which I find causes more spread).
  • Marble pastry board: This isn't necessary, but if you have one, it's great for keeping sugar cookie dough and pie crust cold!
  • Rolling pin: A simple wooden one is all you need.
  • Flavors: I adore the pure vanilla flavor, but some people like a little bit of almond - I would recommend starting with ¼ teaspoon of almond extract in addition to the vanilla. You can also use things like cake batter extract, lemon, maple, coconut, etc. You can also add a little bit of cinnamon to the cookie dough if you'd like!
  • Cookie cutters: You can use absolutely any, so pick your favorites! I have a mixture of plastic and metal and they all work amazingly well with this recipe. It holds its shape for intricate designs, as well.
  • Scaling: You can double (or more!) this recipe without issue.
  • Buttercream frosting: If you want to do a simple frosting (with or without sprinkles!), then I recommend my favorite vanilla buttercream.
  • Royal Icing: To do more detailed decorating, see my tutorial on how to decorate cookies with royal icing.
  • Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • Make-Ahead: While I love that you can whip up these cookies immediately, you can mix together the dough, divide in half and form into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. You can also freeze the dough (place the wrapped disk in a ziploc freezer bag) for up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bring it to almost room temperature, roll out, and proceed with the recipe.
  • Freezing: These cookies freeze exceptionally well! You can freeze them plain or decorated; if decorated, let the icing set before freezing. Store in an airtight container or ziplock freezer bag with parchment paper between the layers. The cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Recipe slightly adapted from Cookies & Cups.

Nutrition:

Calories: 161kcal
Fat: 8g
Saturated fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 27mg
Sodium: 53mg
Potassium: 47mg
Carbohydrates: 20g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 8g
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: 246%
Calcium: 16%
Iron: 1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

[Photography by Dee of One Sarcastic Baker]