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Easy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

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No dough chilling necessary for these soft cut-out sugar cookies that are perfect for decorating with simple sugar cookie icing and/or sprinkles. Crisp edges, soft centers, and completely customizable in flavor and shape!

cut out sugar cookies in the shapes of stars with yellow sprinkles

Here’s the thing– I don’t normally give my recipe titles adjectives or superlatives because obviously I would never bring you “the worst” or “the least lackluster” recipe of any kind. It’s just kind of assumed I’m bringing you the best of the best.

That being said, the fact that I titled this recipe easy sugar cookies should help you realize how much I want to emphasize the ease of this recipe. To help you understand that these are the best sugar cookies. That this is, in fact, a recipe for cookies that work with cookie cutters (not all of them do!).

It took me a long time to develop a recipe for cut-out sugar cookies that I could stand behind 100%. And I tried so many.

cut-out sugar cookies with icing and nonpareil sprinkles

There were plenty of recipes that made cookies that had great taste, but too many of the doughs were a mess to roll out, a lot of cookies spread too much in the oven, and overall, most were just too finicky to share with my readers who have come to expect simple, straightforward recipes from me.

So that’s what I’m sharing with you here. And I’m super excited about this recipe for sugar cookie cut-outs for several reasons:

•The recipe is simple. There are no fancy ingredients, and nothing weird or special. Just honest-to-goodness ingredients.
•The recipe is completely customizable. I prefer my sugar cookies with a combination of almond and vanilla extracts, but you can certainly use whatever kind of extract you prefer. A citrus extract would definitely be a wonderful version. Oh oh oh! Or make your cut out sugar cookies with lemon zest and really take it up a notch! Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself…
•These cookies hardly spread in the oven, producing clean, sharp edges. I’ll go a little more into detail about how to preserve that perfect cookie cutout characteristic in the recipe.
•My favorite favorite favorite part about this recipe: the dough DOES NOT NEED TO BE CHILLED.

cut-out cookies in the shape of stars

I hope that you are as excited as I am about these cookies! Over the years I have actually had people call this the best cut out sugar cookie recipe in the world. I meannn, if that doesn’t convince you to make them, perhaps my step-by-step photos and simple instructions will help!

Let’s get rolling!

HOW TO MAKE SUGAR COOKIES

First, start by tossing together 2 and ½ cups of flour, some baking powder, and some salt. The recipe calls for up to 3 cups + 2 Tablespoons of flour, but do not start with this much (we’ll talk about why). Once that’s all mixed, set it aside.

In a measuring cup or small bowl with a spout, beat the egg and flavoring/extract of your choosing. I like vanilla extract and almond extract, but the combination is totally up to you. If you want to change it up, I still suggest using that 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to set a base flavor. Set this mixture aside.

Next, cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. We’re using powdered sugar because it keeps things drier than using granulated sugar.

creamed butter and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl

Add the egg mixture to the creamed butter and powdered sugar and beat on high until completely incorporated, scraping down sides as necessary.

With your mixer set to low, add the flour mixture to wet ingredients little by little, allowing dough to come together after each addition.

After you have added all 2 and ½ cups of flour (plus baking powder and salt) to the bowl, most of the dough should stick to your beaters or paddle.

cut-out sugar cookie dough on the paddle of a mixer

Test dough consistency by touching it with your fingers. It should be slightly tacky, but not sticky. It should remind you of Play-Doh.

If it is too sticky, add ¼ cup of flour at a time until you reach 3 total cups of flour (two additions). Occasionally, I will need a tad more flour, but do not exceed 3 cups + 2 Tablespoons flour. Too much flour yields denser cookies that are likely to spread, and we want these to stay soft.

cut-out sugar cookie dough in a bowl

When your dough is the right consistency, gather it into a ball and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

While it is resting, preheat the oven with plenty of time for it to come to temperature. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Prepare a rolling surface by dusting it lightly with powdered sugar (working too much flour into dough can result in harder, crunchier cookies with a less sweet taste). If you would like, use two wooden dowels, sized at ¼” thickness, on either side of your dough while rolling it out to keep cookies a uniform thickness.

cut-out sugar cookie dough rolled out and cut with cookie cutters

When your dough is ready to roll, break off a workable size of dough. I usually break it into 4 pieces. Roll dough with a floured rolling pin and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.

I like to dip my cookie cutter into powdered sugar every few cuts to keep my cookie edges clean.

Transfer cut dough onto baking sheets. It is best to keep cookies that are the same size and shape together on baking sheets so as to uniformly bake all of your cookies.

transferring cut-out cookies from the rolling surface with a spatula

Re-roll and cut your sugar cookie dough as needed until all of the dough is used up. At this point, you may decorate cut cookies with sprinkles or just leave them plain and decorate them with icing later.

When it comes to bake the cookies, the time is very short.

I’m talking only 4-6 minutes for medium (2″ or so) size cookies.

My medium circles (2″) take 6 minutes. Stars (2″) take 5 minutes.

circle cut-out sugar cookies on a plate

Mini circles (1″) take 4 minutes.

Bake until cookies are slightly puffed and are no longer shiny. Edges may start to brown, and that’s ok, just work quickly to remove them from the oven. I prefer to remove my sugar cookies before they start to brown.

Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. I prefer to decorate day-old cookies, as they are sturdier, but this is personal preference and only a suggestion.

TO DECORATE SUGAR COOKIES

If you don’t already have one, here is my super easy royal icing recipe. It’s made without meringue powder, so it truly is easy (again, not fibbing here at FAF!)

To decorate, start with completely cooled cookies (I prefer day-old).

cut-out sugar cookies ready to decorate

Fill a piping bag, condiment squeeze bottle, or zip top bag with an end snipped off with cookie icing. Squeeze evenly over surface of cookie. If you would like to make an outline in a different color, make your line first, allow to harden a bit, and move onto this step.

You have now “flooded” your cookie.

Using a toothpick or an offset spatula, spread liquid icing around to fill holes.

Once all of your holes are filled, carefully pick the cookie up and tap it on your work surface to make sure everything is distributed evenly and to get any air bubbles out.

While icing is still wet, decorate with sprinkles, or simply leave plain.

TA-DA!

As far as decorating these cookies goes, they can be decorated however you like. This chewy sugar cookie recipe is ideal for pairing with a colored icing recipe, and I’ve included my favorite easy royal icing (with a video!) in the recipe.

I actually really love authentic royal icing, but it can be so finicky. Once I found a way to make easy royal icing without meringue powder, my life was forever changed! It’s perfect for gingerbread people and gingerbread houses.

You may color your icing, leave it white and decorate with sprinkles, or just simply dust your cookies with sprinkles before you bake them. The sprinkles will bake right into the tops of the cookies in the oven.

Or… Decorate and/or dip these easy cut out sugar cookies in melted chocolate. Also a wonderful idea.

mini cut-out sugar cookie dipped in chocolate and non-pareil sprinkles

Whatever you do, do not be intimidated by this (seriously) EASY cut-out sugar cookie recipe. The result is crisp edged, soft centered, beautifully shaped cookies with a buttery, slightly chewy texture to them.

They really are the most perfect sugar cookie for cookie cuttering I’ve ever found, but that comment is strictly off the record… (hehe).

OTHER VERSIONS OF THIS RECIPE

This is typically my standard Christmas sugar cookie recipe, but because I think it’s really important as a baker to have a recipe for sugar cookies as your go-to for all the holidays, here you can find all of the other versions of these buttery cut out sugar cookies so that you have a flavored cut out cookie recipe for any occasion!

Funfetti cut-out sugar cookies for any party
Peppermint cut-out sugar cookies to make Christmas sugar cookies
Pumpkin spice cut-out sugar cookies for Halloween and fall

And while these two cut out cookies are not necessarily the same cut out sugar cookie recipe you’ll find below, they both stem from the same concept and are equally wonderful to add to your collection of cut out cookies.

And, just for good measure, if you’re looking for the best sugar cookie recipe that isn’t a cut-out, definitely check out my vanilla bean sugar cookies next. They’re like soft sugar cookie pillows.

vanilla bean sugar cookies in a cookie tin

Think you’re all set? I mean… I do! So happy cookie-cuttering!

a hand squeezing royal icing onto a cut-out sugar cookie
4.73 from 11 votes
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Easy Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

No dough chilling necessary for these soft cut-out sugar cookies that are perfect for decorating with simple sugar cookie icing and/or sprinkles. Crisp edges, soft centers, and completely customizable in flavor and shape!
Prep Time20 mins
Bake Time6 mins
Total Time26 mins
Recipe Author Lynn April
Servings: 2 dozen (2″) cookies

Ingredients

CUT-OUT SUGAR COOKIES

  • 2 and ½ to 3 cups (300-360g) all-purpose flour1 be sure to measure properly
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg room temperature2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract3
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract3
  • 1 cup (227g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 and ¾ cup (210g) powdered sugar

COOKIE ICING

  • 1 and ½ cups (180g) powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30mL) warm water
  • ½ Tablespoon (10g) light corn syrup
  • teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Instructions

CUT-OUT SUGAR COOKIES

  • In a medium sized bowl, toss together 2 and ½ cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a measuring cup or small bowl with a spout, beat the egg and flavoring/extract of your choosing. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl with a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg mixture to creamed butter and sugar and beat on high until completely incorporated, scraping down sides as necessary.
  • With mixer on low, add flour mixture to wet ingredients little by little, allowing dough to come together after each addition. After you have added all 2 and ½ cups of flour (plus baking powder and salt) to the bowl, most of the dough should stick to your beaters or paddle.
  • Test dough consistency by touching it with your fingers. It should be slightly tacky, but not sticky. It should remind you of Play-Doh. If it is too sticky, add ¼ cup of flour at a time until you reach 3 total cups of flour (two additions). Occasionally, I will need a tad more flour, but do not exceed 3 cups + 2 Tablespoons flour. Too much flour yields denser cookies, and we want these to stay soft.
  • When your dough is the right consistency, gather it into a ball and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. While it is resting, preheat your oven to 400ºF (204ºC). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
  • Prepare your rolling surface by dusting it lightly with powdered sugar. If you would like, use two wooden dowels, sized at ¼" thickness, on either side of your dough while rolling it out to keep cookies a uniform thickness.
  • When your dough is ready to roll, break off a workable size of dough. I usually break it into 4 pieces. Roll dough with a powdered sugared rolling pin and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. I like to dip my cookie cutter into powdered sugar every few cuts to keep my cookie edges clean.
  • Transfer cut dough onto baking sheets. It is best to keep cookies that are the same size and shape together on baking sheets so as to uniformly bake all of your cookies. Re-roll and cut dough as needed until all of the dough is used up. At this point, you may decorate cut cookies with sprinkles or just leave them plain and decorate them with icing later.
  • Bake cookies for 4-6 minutes. My medium circles (2") take 6 minutes. Stars take 5 minutes. Mini circles (1") take 4 minutes. Bake until cookies are slightly puffed and are no longer shiny. Edges may start to brown, and that's ok, just work quickly to remove them from the oven. I prefer to remove mine before they start to brown. Allow cookies to rest on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. I prefer to decorate day-old cookies, as they are sturdier, but this is personal preference and only a suggestion. Undecorated cookies freeze extremely well (I actually like to eat them frozen!), up to 3 months. Do not freeze decorated cookies. Thaw overnight before decorating previously frozen cookies.

COOKIE ICING*

  • When you’re ready to decorate your cookies, place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine warm water, light corn syrup, and extract. Stir until corn syrup is dissolved.
  • Add sugar water to powdered sugar and stir until completely combined. Mixture will be thick. The consistency you’re looking for is a slowly dripping icing that disappears into the bowl within about 15 seconds. Add water by drop if you think it’s too thick. If it becomes too thin, add more powdered sugar by the teaspoon. Use immediately. If you need to wait to use your icing, cover tightly, and use within 1 day. You will need to stir it up again and possibly add more water before using. Cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature well over a week.

Notes

  1. Flour: start with 2 and ½ cups of flour and work your way up to 3 cups as needed. Do not exceed 3 cups + 2 Tablespoons.
  2. Room temperature egg: this is preferred. It is always a good idea to use a room temperature egg when using room temperature butter, which allows for better incorporation into dough.
  3. Flavoring: you may use any flavoring you like. Total flavoring 2-3 teaspoons depending on your preference.
 
*See my detailed easy royal icing recipe for a video of exactly how to make this icing and what the drizzle test looks like.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @freshaprilflours on Instagram or tag #freshaprilflours!

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Hi, I’m planning on making this recipe this week! I’m just wondering wether I’m supposed to use the thick canned coconut milk or the thinner stuff from the carton? If someone could help me out I’d be really grateful, thank you!

2 stars
I followed the recipe so, so carefully, only adjusted the flavouring to one EA vanilla and almond, as 2tsp of almond would be too strong for my taste, but despite all the care and love and hopefulness the cookies spread like a s.o.b. when baking them. They turned out to be blobs instead of hearts 😕 tasty blobs, but blobs nonetheless.

5 stars
OMG! These should be called “THE BEST” sugar cookies! Thank you for sharing all of your tips and this amazing recipe! I made these at Christmas for our family cookie decorating. The cookies were so tasteful that most of them were eaten before we decorated. Everyone raved about how delicious they were. I will be sure to check out more recipes on your blog.

Hi, i followed the recipe carefully and got the right consistency. But the taste turned out to be a bit sour. Is it right that i put 2 tsp of baking powder as it stated on the recipe?

5 stars
When Lynn says the dough should be a playdough consistency, she is RIGHT! I have been nervous to make sugar cookies with cookie cutters for so long but as soon as I read this recipe, I felt confident. Thanks so much Lynn! We loved the final product.

LOVE the 2:1 ratio of almond to vanilla extract. These came out SO delicious! Mine spread out a bit despite using the 2 1/2 c of flour but again the taste far outweighs the slight out of shape cookie. (And I LOVED the no chill capability especially with an impatient toddler)

I was very disappointed with this recipe. The use of so much baking powder, and powdered sugar instead of granulated (you can’t substitute them 1 for 1 in recipes), meant the cookies were not sweet, but sort of bitter tasting. Also, after having taken the time to roll them out and cut them into cute shapes with my cookie cutters, they spread A LOT and became blobs. Again, you need granulated sugar and to chill the dough, either after rolling or after cutting out. We would have eaten the blobs if they had tasted good, but the whole batch went into the trash. A lot of time and effort and ingredients and clean-up, for nothing. And I had such high hopes! And, yes, I think that is way too much almond extract. Too much almond extract makes things taste bitter–I know it smells great, but it’s got to be used sparingly.

5 stars
I made these cookies, along with Lynn’s royal icing recipe, for the first time this year and they are amazing! Flavorful, but still soft and easy to make. Delicious!