These sugar cookies are perfectly soft, thick, and chewy, and frosted with the best vanilla frosting. You will want to make them all the time, for all occasions, and not just for the holidays.
I got the recipe for these sugar cookies from my mother in law Sandi. My husband grew up with these cookies for holidays, birthdays, and other random events. And of course now I’m passing that tradition on to my children. I’ve made them for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, you name it.
These sugar cookies are the best of the best, they are always soft. If you bake them just right at 7 or 8 minutes, they are perfectly soft straight out of the oven, one hour later, and even a few days later.
We love sugar cookies, and this recipe is my favorite – though sometimes I love our copycat swig sugar cookies too. These sugar cookies are better for cutting into cute shapes than those though.
You can make them into cute dinosaurs, heart cookies for Valentine’s Day to show your loved ones how much you care, or decorated as Christmas trees with royal icing. Or just circles, because all you care about is making delicious sugar cookies.
What do you need to make the best sugar cookies?
This is a quick overview of the ingredients you’ll need for this Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe. Specific measurements and full recipe instructions are in the printable recipe card below.
- butter – unsalted and softened. It’s in the cookies and the icing and gives them both a delicious buttery flavor.
- granulated sugar – this makes the cookies nice and sweet
- eggs – the eggs bind all the ingredients together
- milk – a little milk to hold the cookie dough together and the frosting too
- vanilla extract – for flavor
- all purpose flour – holds everything together and is what makes cookie dough, and cookies
- baking powder – for lift, this keeps the cookies from being too dense, and makes them soft and light.
- salt – to counter balance the flavor, and bring out the sweetness
- powdered sugar – for the frosting of the cookies of course.
That’s all you need. I bet you have all the things you need in your cupboards and pantry right now. Which means you can join me in baking sugar cookies today!
How to make the best Sugar Cookies?
It’s really easy to make these sugar cookies.
First you’ll mix together the butter and sugar, I like to let me stand mixer run for a couple minutes to really help the sugar dissolve. Then add in the eggs, milk, and vanilla, and stir it all up.
In another bowl you’ll sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then slowly pour them into the wet ingredients, while stirring it all together. Scoop the dough up into a ball, and wrap it up in plastic wrap, or a ziplock bag and stick it in the fridge for at least 2 hours to chill.
Separate out about half of the dough, and dust the counter lightly with flour (you can also use powdered sugar if you want to add a little extra sweetness). Roll the cookie dough out until it’s about 1/2 inch thick (You can make them about 3/4 of an inch thick if you want them even thicker, but they may spread and lose their shape more). Then cut the cookies into whatever shapes you want, whether that’s hearts, pumpkins, bears, or circles. Place the cookies on a greased cookie sheet, or one lined with a nonstick liner, about 1 to 2 inches apart.
Once the pan is full of cookies, bake them up until they are just barely done on the tops, and the edges are just barely golden.
Roll up and extra cookie dough scraps, and bring the remaining dough out of the fridge to add it in until all the cookies are baked.
Let them cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, which helps them to hold their shape – they’re so soft they’ll crumble otherwise, and helps them finish up baking. Then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
How to make vanilla frosting?
In a large bowl (preferably a stand mixer) add butter and mix it till it’s soft. Add in the vanilla extract, milk, and powdered sugar and mix all together till it’s so soft and creamy and smooth.
Add in food coloring as desired.
Frost your cookies when they are cooled and decorate with sprinkles, jimmies, nonpareils, etc. as desired.
Let the frosting sit until it’s a bit more set. Then store the cookies in an airtight container. You can layer the cookies with parchment paper.
How to store sugar cookies?
These sugar cookies are topped with a frosting that hardens some within a couple hours. This means they can be stacked a little but will slightly smoosh if they are stacked too thick. I recommend letting them cure at room temperature for a couple hours after frosting.
Then store them in an airtight container, with parchment paper between the layers of cookies. If you care about the decorations for serving them to neighbors, co-workers, or serving at a party, I recommend only stacking two layers together to prevent too much heavy weight from squishing them.
The cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 or 5 days. I prefer them on say 2 or 3, even over the first day.
Tips for making the best sugar cookies:
- You need to chill the dough! Otherwise the cookies will spread out to much and won’t keep their shape at all.
- If you want your cookies lines/shapes to be extra crisp, chill the cookies again after you have cut them out into their shapes. Place them on a baking pan and put the whole pan in the fridge for another 10 minutes.
- Sift the powdered sugar in the frosting to keep it from clumping, and to keep your frosting extra smooth.
- To help with sprinkle clean up when decorating the cookies. Keep the cookies on the cooling rack and set it on top of a baking sheet. Then any extra sprinkles will fall right down on the baking sheet, instead of on the counter, or your floor.
- The cookies should stay good stored in an airtight container for about 5 days.
These sugar cookies are so delicious. They’re the best sugar cookies ever, and I think you’ll agree! They’re so soft, tasty, and perfect decorated however you like, for all the different occasions.
They’re also so fun to let the kids help with. They can pick out the cookie cutters you use, the frosting color, and of course help with the decorating. Especially if you let them top the cookies with extra sprinkles ;).
More Sugar Cookie Recipes?
- Sugar Cookie Bars
- Sugar Cookies for Two
- Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies
- Edible Sugar Cookie Dough
- Giant Sugar Cookie Cake
- Soda Shop Style Sugar Cookies
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- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2/3 cup butter (softened)
- 2 eggs
- 2 TBS milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Vanilla Frosting:
- 1 TBS vanilla
- 4 TBS butter (softened)
- 2-4 TBS milk (more or less as needed)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 6 drops food coloring (optional)
For the Cookies:
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, until fully mixed.
- Add in the eggs, milk and vanilla and stir until completely mixed.
- In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Slowly pour the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients, while stirring.
- Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball, and cover with plastic wrap, or put it in a ziplock bag. Place the dough in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
- After the dough has been chilled, lightly grease a cookie sheet, or two, or line them with a nonstick liner.
- Lightly flour your counter tops and roll out part of the dough (keep the rest in the fridge to keep it cold). Roll the dough out to be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Cut your dough into desired shapes (if you don't have cookie cutters, use the top of a glass for round cookies.
- Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
- Fill the baking pan with as many cookies as possible, and place the pan in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. (If you want the cookies to have the best shape, it's best to chill, if you're okay with a little spread you can skip this)
- Re roll the trimmings and the remaining dough and continue to cut as many as needed.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake the cookies for about 7 to 8 minutes until they turn a very light golden color, and the tops are just set.
- Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the pan for about 5 to 10 minutes, as they'll keep cooking on a pan.
- Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack, and allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting.
For the Frosting:
- Cream your butter in a large bowl. (A stand mixer with a whisk, or hand mixer is best)
- Add in the vanilla extract, milk, and powdered sugar. Start with 2 TBS of milk, and add more as needed.
- Add more powdered sugar to make the frosting thicker, or add more milk to make the frosting thinner. Whip the frosting at high speed to make it nice and fluffy.
- Add about 6 drops of desired food coloring, or separate frosting into bowls and make multiple colors.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the top of your cooled cookies. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
These sugar cookies were first posted on December 3, 2012. The photos and post were updated for clarity on December 16, 2022.