Rolled Sugar Cookies are a CLASSIC soft and sweet holiday cookie, made with a few simple ingredients you already have in your pantry, and bake in only 8 minutes!
ROLLED SUGAR COOKIES
Rolled Sugar Cookies are the PERFECT cookie to make for the holidays, or any time of year! They’re my go-to dessert recipe, because they’re really easy to throw together and bake in only 8 minutes. I like to decorate these with my Sugar Cookie Frosting and decorative sprinkles or colorful sugar. You can also leave them unfrosted and just enjoy the cookie by itself!
This is also kid-friendly, and a great recipe to make with the family. We always use fun cookie cutters for this sugar cookie recipe, and the kids love helping to cut the cookies out and decorate. This cookie recipe is also perfect for making ahead and freezing, giving you more time to relax this holiday season!
WHY ARE MY SUGAR COOKIES HARD?
Usually if a sugar cookie has turned out too hard, it’s because they are over-baked. Watch your timing closely when baking these cookies, and even check them a minute or two before they are supposed to be done.
If you’re sure that you’re baking them for the right amount of time according to the sugar cookie recipe, try using an oven-safe thermometer to double check the baking temperature. Sometimes an oven can cook higher or lower than the set temperature, and you can change it up or down to compensate.
Also, make sure you’re not over-mixing the dough, especially if you are using a stand mixer where it can be easy to do so. You want to mix until everything has just come together, then chill the dough before rolling it out. Over-mixing can result in hard cookies, regardless of which sugar cookie recipe you follow.
HOW CAN YOU DECORATE SUGAR COOKIES?
- Sugar Cookie Frosting (Buttercream frosting)
- Royal icing
- Powdered sugar
- Cream Cheese Frosting
HOW DO I KNOW IF SUGAR COOKIES ARE DONE?
Watch the baking time for your sugar cookie recipe carefully. When the cookies are slightly firm, but still indent when you touch them (carefully, they’re hot!), they are done. If your cookies start turning brown around the edges, they’ve gone too far. Check your sugar cookies recipe for the correct time. If you roll the cookies on the thinner side, they may bake faster.
I’ve included a picture below so you can see how the back of the cookies will look if cooked correctly, you can see above the color on the tops.
HOW LONG DO SUGAR COOKIES LAST?
Sugar cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for 4-5 days. I don’t like to refrigerate sugar cookies because they can harden compared to room temperature cookies.
CAN I FREEZE SUGAR COOKIES?
This sugar cookies recipe is perfect for making ahead of time and freezing, which is especially helpful if you’re making early Christmas cookies! If you freeze the cookies already baked, wait to decorate them until after you defrost them. This way your Christmas cookies won’t lose any of their decoration.
If you’re just freezing the cookie dough, roll it into a log and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then in tinfoil. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before you want to bake, then follow the cooking instructions for your sugar cookie recipe. Sugar cookie dough will last for about a year in the freezer.
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WHY DID MY SUGAR COOKIES SPREAD?
If your sugar cookies are spreading, there’s a good chance that the cookies have too much butter or granulated sugar. Make sure you’re measuring your ingredients exactly. Try using a knife to level your baking cups when you’re scooping sugar.
This sugar cookies recipe calls for chilling the dough before baking, which will help prevent the dough from spreading in the oven. Make sure you don’t skip this step!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SUGAR COOKIE AND A SHORTBREAD COOKIE?
Sugar cookies are soft with a primarily sweet flavor when compared to shortbread, which tastes more like butter or shortening. This is due to shortbread cookies having more butter in the recipe while sugar cookies have more granulated sugar.
MORE COOKIE RECIPES
- Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
- M&M Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
- Award Winning Gingerbread Cookies
- Turtle Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
TIPS FOR MAKING SUGAR COOKIES
- For an easier time rolling out your cookies, roll them right after you mix the dough, while it’s still at room temperature. Place the rolled out cookie dough between sheets of parchment paper, roll up the parchment paper and refrigerate. Then just unroll, cut out your cookies, and bake according to your cookie recipe!
- I like to use unsalted butter to make cookies so I can decide how much salt to add. If you do use salted butter, omit the teaspoon of salt from the recipe.
- If your dough is too sticky to work with, dust the dough and your rolling pin with flour. Be careful not to go overboard with the flour here, or the cookies may dry out. Dust any excess flour off of the cookies before baking.
- If you’re afraid of drying out your cookie dough, place a piece of parchment paper between the dough and your rolling pin and roll it out that way.
- Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper to prevent the cookies from sticking when baked.
- Any leftover dough you have can be frozen, then defrosted and re-rolled when you’re ready to bake.
- If you’re decorating your cookies with a dusting of powdered sugar, make sure the cookies are completely cooled, or the sugar can melt.
- I like to use sanding sugar because it doesn’t melt during baking.
- If you’re decorating your cookies with homemade frosting, instead of vanilla you can try other flavoring like peppermint!
- You can dip the cookie cutters in flour to help keep them from sticking to the dough.
- Make sure to bring your unsalted butter to room temperature before working with it, and cream it in the stand mixer for a few seconds before adding sugar.
- I always use vanilla extract in sugar cookies, but you can swap it for almond extract if that’s what you have. Or keep the vanilla and also add seasoning to your cookie recipe, like cinnamon and nutmeg!
- You can substitute half butter and half shortening in this sugar cookie recipe. You might lose some of the buttery taste but the shortening will help the texture of the sugar cookies.
- Make sure your cookies don’t brown in the oven. You also want to take care to make sure the bottoms don’t get too much color. You’re looking for a color like below.
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter , softened
- 3 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Sugar Cookie Frosting
- 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter.
- Roll out dough, using powdered sugar on the surface and rolling pin ¼ to ½ inch thick.
- Carefully, with a spatula, place cookies 1 inch apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
Sugar Cookie Icing
- Whisk together powdered sugar and milk until smooth.
- Add in corn syrup and almond extract until smooth and shiny.
- Thin with additional corn syrup if needed, then whisk in food coloring as desired.