These easy drop-style sugar cookies require NO chill time and bake up soft and chewy. Roll them in granulated sugar before baking for a sugary crust, or bake them plain, frost them, add sprinkles… it’s the best and most versatile sugar cookie recipe you’ll find!
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.
How to make drop sugar cookies
I love having a go-to drop sugar cookie recipe because sometimes when the mood strikes for a good sugar cookie, you realllllllly might not want to go through the hassle of rolling out dough, cutting it, etc.
Are you ready to hear how easy these cookies are to make? This is what we do:
Preheat the oven.
Prep the pan (see below).
Whisk together dry ingredients.
Cream butter and sugars.
Add egg and vanilla.
Mix in dry ingredients.
Roll dough into balls.
Roll in sugar.
In case you missed it, the best part is… NO CHILL TIME!
That’s right, they are TRUE drop cookies. Mix together the dough and then bake right away.
I highly, highly recommend using parchment paper to line your baking pans when baking cookies. Greasing cookie sheets will allow excess fat to leach into your cookies, causing them to spread too much and potentially burn on the bottom.
For a brief time, I experimented with silicone baking mats, but over time found that they developed a greasy film that I couldn’t get rid of no matter how many times I washed in soapy water or ran through the dishwasher. It was causing the same issues as greasing the pan would, so I stopped using them and went back to parchment paper.
Sugar cookies vs snickerdoodles
Some think of snickerdoodles as simply drop sugar cookies that have been rolled in cinnamon-sugar, but this oversimplification is far from accurate.
While both cookies have the same basic list of ingredients (butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, and baking powder/soda), there is one key ingredient in snickerdoodles that turns them into something altogether different:
Cream of Tartar
This magical little ingredient is an acid, so its presence gives the cookies that ever-so-slight tangy flavor to make snickerdoodles, well… snickerdoodles.
Keep them soft!
I’m a firm believer that all sugar cookies should be super soft; if you want a hard or crunchy sugar cookie, shortbread cookies are your answer.
A couple of keys to keep those cookies nice and soft:
Brown Sugar – Just a small amount gives the cookies a little extra softness and gives them a chewier texture.
Don’t Overmix – When you add the dry ingredients, only mix until just combined. You can always finish mixing in bits of flour with a rubber spatula.
Don’t Press Down Too Far – When you press the cookies down, make sure they are still ¾-inch thick to keep them from getting too flat (and crunchy!).
Don’t Overbake – Quite possibly the most important tip of all! Keep an eye on the cookies since some ovens can run hot and pull them out when the edges are light brown and the centers look just barely set and still pale.
Even though these are drop cookies, you can still dress them up a bit if you’d like. Some ideas:
Frost them – Instead of rolling the cookies in sugar, skip that step and then slather on your favorite vanilla frosting or cream cheese frosting – tint it different colors if you’d like!
Add sprinkles – Who doesn’t love sprinkles?! Fold in ½ cup of colored sprinkles with a rubber spatula after mixing in the dry ingredients.
Make-ahead, storage, and freezing tips
Make-Ahead – You can prepare the dough and store it, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before scooping and baking.
Storage – Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freezing the Dough – You can roll the dough balls and freeze them for up to 2 months. Bake for an extra minute or so.
Freezing the Cookies – You can freeze the baked cookies for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Thaw at room temperature then enjoy!
If you like these cookies, you’ll love these other recipes:
These easy drop-style sugar cookies require NO chill time and bake up soft and chewy. Roll them in granulated sugar before baking for a sugary crust, or bake them plain, frost them, add sprinkles... it's the best and most versatile sugar cookie recipe you'll find!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and 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.
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. 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).
Bake until the cookies are light brown around the edges and their centers are just set and very lightly colored, 10 to 13 minutes. 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 for up to 5 days.