I have spent years and years searching for how to make cut out sugar cookies that are still soft and delicious. This recipe is the grand prize winner and I’m a stitch embarrassed where it comes from.
Watch Us Make Them!
I have searched for the best sugar cookie recipe since I got married, which is 15 years ago now. That’s a really long time and it’s ridiculous how many failed sugar cookie attempts I’ve had.
I’ve learned a few things along the way and I definitely think that you should hear about them. But the first is where the winning recipe has come from.
The BEST Sugar Cookie Recipe for Cut Out Sugar Cookies
I hit a point in my recipe search where I thought that the best cut out sugar cookies recipe might never be found. It had become elusive. I went ahead and reached out to our readers and you all gave me even more recipes to try, which I did and was closer than ever before. Until my mom texted me.
“Why haven’t you tried my recipe?”
My mom is gentle and kind, and most of all she is humble, but all of that aside she happens to be an amazing cook as well.
I Remember Thin Cookies
I remember my mom making sugar cookies with me a few times growing up but they were always thin. What I didn’t remember is that I was the one doing the rolling. And because all I remembered was thin cookies, which I don’t like as much as thick, I assumed it was the recipe and never asked for it.
The Final Attempt
I made her recipe again, yes skipping the cream just in case, which now I will occasionally use a tablespoon as needed, but sure enough, these were the BEST sugar cookies!
Roll them out as thick or as thin as you’d like.
Sugar Cookie Issues
You know those sugar cookies that look so delicious, but leave that bitter, weird after-taste?
These are not those cookies!
Or what about those sugar cookies that are crisp and crumbly?
These are not those cookies!
These are soft, and sweet, and oh-so-delicious!
Oh but there still remains one problem, the sugar cookies that are perfectly soft and yummy but do not retain their shape at all.
These are not those cookies!!
How to Make Sugar Cookies
One of the most important steps to making perfectly soft sugar cookies is to take your time in mixing the butter and sugar. You see, as the butter and sugar the structure changes, more air enters and you achieve a lighter, fluffier cookie.
The Secret to a More Flavorful Sugar Cookie
While most recipes call for anywhere between a dash to a heavy hand of vanilla I believe all are incorrect.
In testing dozens upon dozens of sugar cookie recipes I found the same thing happening in each, a boring flavor.
That’s the secret! It completely changes the flavor of the cookie without taking away from it’s sweet, gently profile. A combination of both vanilla and almond extract is key to the success of the cookie.
To Cream or Not to Cream
Mom’s recipe calls for a little heavy cream, but you don’t have to add it. If you do choose to add it make sure you start with just a tablespoon and smash the dough together with your hands as too much cream will in fact make a thinner cookie.
The reason you might want to add it is that it is a stitch easier to roll out with a little more moisture. But if you’re patient, you can roll the dough slowly and it’s perfect.
Can Sugar Cookie Dough Be Frozen?
Sugar cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Form dough into a ball and freeze in a heavy duty freezer bag.
Or, roll dough out and cut into shapes.
Freeze in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
Once frozen, transfer cookies to a heavy duty freezer bag.
Sugar cookie dough should be thawed in the refrigerator before baking.
How Long Will Sugar Cookies Keep?
Store sugar cookies in an air tight container in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard.
Sugar cookies will keep for up to 3 weeks.
Can You Use Margarine Instead Of Butter In Sugar Cookies?
You can substitute stick margarine for the butter in a cookie recipe.
But, margarine may affect the spread and texture of the final result.
More COOKIE RECIPES You’re Going to Love:
- Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies
- Chocolate Reese’s Pieces Cookies
- NY Times BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
- Cinnamon Roll Cookies
- Soft Gingerbread Cookies
- Glazed Lemon Cookies
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Million Dollar Cookies
- Thick Snickerdoodle Cookies
- Nutella and Dulce de Leche Stuffed Cookies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Lemon Drop Cookies
- Copycat Swig Sugar Cookies
- Cowboy Cookies
- Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
- All our COOKIE RECIPES here!
For the Cookies
- 1 Cup Butter, unsalted, softened
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Egg, large
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 3/4 Teaspoon Almond extract
- 3 Cups Flour
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1-2 Tablespoons Cream, optional
For the Icing
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
- 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Food coloring of choice
- Mix the softened (not melted) butter with the sugar for 1 1/2 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla, almond and egg and beat again.
- Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Dough is soft and crumbly, but should ball up as you grab it and press it to form the ball. Wrap tightly in saran wrap to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes. If it needs to rest longer you will need to let it sit on the counter to soften from the chill of the fridge.
- Roll to 1/2 -inch thick (whatever you like) over a very, very light dusting of powdered sugar, never flour as it weighs the dough down.
- Cut into shapes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes.
- Cookies will not be brown, if you like them soft. If you like them crisp, then let the edges brown just slightly.
- In a bowl, add the powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla. Mix together until smooth, shiny.
- Frost cookies using a piping bag and small tip.
This is a really good recipe. I’m always looking for a good cutout recipe and is great. Love the frosting too. I usually fail at making my own frosting, but this turned out so well. Thank you for sharing!
Love to hear this! Thank you Kelly!
I absolutely love this sugar cookie recipe, but for summer events, can you sub Lemon Extract for the Almond Extract?
Absolutely! Love that idea!
Best sugar cookie recipe yet! My son and I are always making sugar cookies, and I haven’t found the right one just yet, until now! We found some delicious ones, but they were so much work and so time consuming. This one is simple, quick, and tastes amazing! Thank you for this delicious recipe.
You have made my day Erica! Seriously! Thank you so much!
Hi my cookies went flat and lost shape what am I doing wrong?
Hello! A few things can be going on when sugar cookies go flat and lose their shape. These are all possibilities: oven temperature is too low, using parchment paper helps prevent spreading, light pans rather than dark pans, fresh baking powder, not enough flour or too much butter, butter was too soft, didn’t beat butter and sugar long enough, chilling dough before rolling. I hope one of these helps! They shouldn’t spread much at all and hold their shape perfectly.
Can the dough be frozen
Yes absolutely! It can be frozen before cutting out the cookies or after.
I can’t use almond extract due to an allergy – have you ever tried lemon? Thanks! Can’t wait to try these!
Hi Janine! You could totally try lemon or just omit the extract completely.
How long with these cookies last when stored in the refrigerator?
Hi Erin! Great question! They will be great unfrosted in fridge for up to a week. If you frost them, I would say only 2-3 days.
This recipe is similar to a Valentine linzer type sandwich cookie I make. They are not only beautiful but delicious as well! Hate pretty cookies that sacrifice taste for looks. I’m sure these are scrumptious☺
They are sooooo good! We have a linzer cooker post scheduled in the next few days!
Debbie B Stevenson
This recipe looks amazing, so I’m gonna try it out for Valentine’s Day. But can you please tell me what kind of flour you used?? All purpose, or self rising?
Thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes you share! 🙂
Thank you Debbie! Just good ol’ all purpose flour!
Do you add the cream, when adding the vanilla, almond and egg or mix it in by hand at the end?
I mix it in by hand at the end only if I feel like the dough needs it.
They look yummy! What is your royal icing recipe for these?!?!
I just added it into the recipe card. Sorry about that! Enjoy! And thanks for the support!
Do you have a good icing recipe?
Hi Erin! I just added it to the recipe card. So sorry about that! Enjoy!
What can I use instead of Corn syrup? I don’t have that in my pantry and wish to make these now. Thank you!
You can omit the corn syrup from the icing but you made need to add a little more powdered sugar to thicken it. The icing also won’t be shiny like it shows in the pictures. Enjoy!
Where can I find your frosting recipe for these cookies? I would like to try it too!
I just added it to the recipe card! Sorry about that! Enjoy!
Jackie Dodd Mallory
These look perfect! And like you, I’ve made so many “almost perfect” recipes. This is for sure my new go to!
Yay! Give them a try and let us know if they come out perfect for you!
Thank you very much!!!!
I am gonna try this recipe for my daughters class for v-day gifts!!! I was wondering how you made the icing??
Hi Meghan! I just added the recipe to the recipe card. Sorry about that! Enjoy!
The puzzle cookie is an adorable way to say Thank You! Love sugar cookies!
this is the recipe I use. Love it!
Haha! Ugly cookie, but delicious!
this puzzle cookie was delicious. it is now our turn to say thank you.