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These no-chill sugar cookies are soft, buttery, and topped with the best silky smooth vanilla buttercream and your favorite colorful sprinkles.
Since 2017, I’ve hosted a regular monthly recipe here at Fresh April Flours. After years of cakes, muffins, no bakes, pies, brownies, and bread, it was time to add to my cookie collection (even though it already has more than 100 recipes in it).
But, here’s the thing. These are no regular cookies. These are slightly fancier, gourmet-style cookies that you can make at home so you can skip the fancy bakery that will cost you $5-7 per cookie.
THE PROBLEM WITH GOURMET FROSTED COOKIES
Too many times, I have had lackluster, overly-sweet, crumbly, and incredibly disappointing cookies from some of the biggest names in gourmet cookies. I’ve tried a lot of them.
And I am confident enough to say I can make them better, which means you can make them better, because I’ll guide you through exactly how to do that step-by-step.
For these cookie gourmet recipes, think easy cookie bases with some kind of buttercream situation on top and possibly some add-ins inside the cookie and/or on top of the frosting.
We’re just taking a lot of my favorite easy cookie bases and jazzing them up with homemade frosting, fun toppings, and results that will bring you everything you’re used to finding here on my website but slightly leveled up.
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED FOR THIS FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES RECIPE
I got the idea for this series after I made my Jack & Sally sugar cookies. Those cookies were my Insta-famous easy vanilla sugar cookies recipe (not to be confused with my cut-out sugar cookies!) topped with my go-to creamy frosting right on top.
Those Jack-faced cookies are simply soft frosted sugar cookies with Jack Skellington piping work, and one bite of them really sealed the deal for me to turn those cookies into the first installment in this Cookie of The Month series.
NO-CHILL SUGAR COOKIES
As I mentioned, the cookie base for these classic sugar cookies is one you’ve seen a few places already.
Not only did the recipe debut in my vanilla bean sugar cookies and also make an appearance as Jack & Sally sugar cookies, it also served as the simple base for my soft & chewy snickerdoodles (without cream of tartar).
For the sugar cookie dough, you’ll need:
• all-purpose flour
• baking powder
• baking soda
• softened butter
• powdered sugar
• an egg
• vegetable oil
• vanilla extract
I get a lot of questions about this cookie dough using powdered sugar as opposed to granulated sugar, and the reasoning is that the powdered sugar makes the dough much more manageable to handle, and it also helps keep the cookies nice and soft.
Trust the process. This is the perfect cookie for a dollop of buttercream. You’ll see!
THE BEST VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
Since I am a pro at American buttercream (see my cookbook dedicated entirely to BUTTERCREAM), I promise my easy recipe for vanilla buttercream will have you feeling like a pro, too.
For my basic buttercream, you’ll need:
• softened butter
• powdered sugar
• milk or cream (this means heavy cream, whipping cream, or even half-and-half– something really creamy!)
• vanilla extract
Do. Not. Leave. Out. The. Salt.
Many folks think that buttercream should be nothing but sweet, but one of my biggest complaints about some of the cookies you can get at specialty shops and the grocery store is that the frosting is way too sweet and doesn’t complement the cookie nicely.
We need some salt in the cookie as well as the frosting to achieve the best sugar cookies you can make at home.
HOW TO MAKE FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES
Believe it or not, even with cooling the cookies before frosting them, these cookies from start to finish take less than 90 minutes to bring together.
MAKE THE SOFT, BUTTERY SUGAR COOKIES
To make these soft cookies, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set this aside.
Cream butter and powdered sugar until light in color and fluffy in texture, then beat in the egg, vegetable oil, and yes, one entire Tablespoon of vanilla extract (there is no shortage of vanilla flavor happening in these cookies!).
At this point, the dough will be very soft but not too sticky. If it is too sticky, let it rest for a bit before handling it.
In my original vanilla bean sugar cookies, we drop cookie dough balls into granulated sugar, roll them around, and then place them on the baking sheet.
Since we are topping these with buttercream, we don’t need to coat the cookie dough balls in white sugar, but smoothing out the cookie dough balls does make a difference in the way the cookie looks after baking.
If you don’t mind some jaggy edges on your baked cookies, you can just leave the cookie dough balls as is. If you’d prefer more uniform, smooth looking cookies, simply use your fingers to gently press the cookie dough balls together a bit.
If your fingers stick too much, dip them in some additional powdered sugar before pressing on the cookie dough. The powdered sugar will absorb during baking, so don’t worry about making a mess.
The base for these frosted sugar cookies only need about 8-9 minutes in the oven, at which point you can remove them and allow them to cool on cooling rack before adding the frosting. They will cool quickly, in under 30 minutes.
TOP WITH THE BEST CREAMY VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
While the cookies cool, you can go ahead and make the vanilla buttercream. This recipe is just for white frosting, but if you want colorful frosting, color it as needed. There is a link to my favorite gel food coloring in the recipe card.
To get started on the frosting, beat the the butter on medium-high until smooth.
Turn the mixer to low, then slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until everything is combined. Add the vanilla extract, milk or cream, and salt, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until combined.
Lastly, use my very favorite buttercream trick to achieve the creamiest, silkiest sugar cookie icing possible: use a spatula to stir the buttercream by hand.
This will remove air bubbles and make it smooth and creamy, Bonus points, it only takes about 3-5 minutes and will make a giant difference in the aesthetic of your buttercream.
FROST THE SOFT SUGAR COOKIES
When your cookies are cool and your buttercream is smooth, use a small offset spatula to spread frosting onto each cookie.
Before the frosting is set, add any sprinkles, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or candy bits you’d like to garnish the cookies. You can also leave them plain, because these cookies truly speak for themselves and have no problem standing on their own.
I took these frosted sugar cookies to a holiday party, and I had so many people asking for the recipe. While I do love traditional sugar cookies cut into shapes and decorated with royal icing, these chewy sugar cookies are great for a special occasion that could use a little something special with its cookies.
Color the frosting to match your occasion, use festive sprinkles to coordinate with a holiday, or leave the buttercream white and just enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth combo of the soft sugar cookie base with creamy (and remember– perfectly salted!) buttercream complement.
These cookies are sure to impress, are so simple to make, and are the best place to start to kick off a year of fun gourmet cookies.
Best Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe
- 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour1
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar plus more for shaping cookie dough balls
- 1 large egg room temperature preferred2
- ¼ cup (56mL) vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 2 to 2 and ½ cups (240-300g) powdered sugar
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons (30-45mL) milk or cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stop the mixer, add the egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract, then beat again on medium speed until everything is combined, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add the dry ingredients in two additions, insuring the first addition is mostly incorporated before adding the second. Continue to beat on low until just combined.
- Using a cookie scoop (I use this #50 cookie scoop for all of my standard size cookies), drop balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Use your fingers to smooth the sides of the cookie dough balls to produce more uniform-looking cookies. The dough will be slightly sticky, so dip your fingers in some powdered sugar if your fingers are sticking too much.
- Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes, just until edges are set. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before adding frosting.
- When the cookies are completely cool, they are ready for decorations. In a medium size bowl with a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the the butter on medium-high until smooth.
- Turn the mixer to low, then slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until everything is combined. Add the vanilla extract, milk or cream, and salt, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until combined. Turn off the mixer and use a spatula to stir the buttercream3 by hand to remove air bubbles and make it smooth and creamy. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.
- When your buttercream is smooth, use a small offset spatula to spread frosting onto each cookie. Add sprinkles, chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or candy bits, if using, before the buttercream is set. Store leftovers covered tightly at room temperature up to 5 days. Cookies freeze well, up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
- Flour: it is imperative that you either fluff/spoon/level your flour or ideally, weigh it in grams. Two cups of all-purpose flour is 240g. Too much flour will result in a dense cookie.
- Room temperature egg: it is always a good idea to use room temperature eggs when using room temperature butter, as it incorporates into batter much more easily. It is not required, just encouraged.
- Color the frosting: if you want to tint your buttercream, separate into smaller bowls and tint after the buttercream has fully come together. My favorite brand of food coloring is AmeriColor.
All nutritional values are approximate and provided to the reader as a courtesy. Changing ingredients and/or quantities will alter the estimated nutritional calculations.