Let’s admit it. We’ve all tried to make cute cut-out sugar cookies with big plans of decorating them with fun colored frosting and festive sprinkles, only to pull the cookies out of the oven to see puffy, mis-shapen blobs laying there on the baking sheet. It can be really disappointing to have your cookies fail after taking the time to buy the ingredients, make the dough, roll out the dough, and then get your unbaked cookies into the oven without smudging them. It can sap the holiday spirit right out of you.
To prevent this from happening, I’m sharing the best (literally the best) cut-out sugar cookie recipe. It will not spread out while baking. It will not puff up around the corners. It will not sap you of your Christmas spirit. The shapes will stay crisp, corners will stay sharp, and your cookies will be ready for decorations!
Here are a few tips on how to make the best cut-out sugar cookies:
Too much spreading: Baking soda and baking powder are what make cookies, and most baked goods, rise. This recipe doesn’t include either, guaranteeing that your cookies will come out of the oven in the exact same shape as when they went in.
Chilling the dough: Keeping the dough cold plays a huge part in successful cut-out cookies. When cookie dough is room temperature, it’s going to stick to everything it touches. Chilling the dough makes it harder and less sticky. In the recipe below, I suggest dividing the dough in half and rolling out one half while the other stays in the fridge. The dough will come to room temperature the more you work it. I don’t have tons of counter space, so I can’t roll out a whole batch of dough anyway. If you’re in the same boat, work with portions of dough so the rest can stay cold.
Rolling out the dough: The key to rolling out sugar cookie dough without it sticking to everything is to roll it out on a well-floured surface. You can use your table or your counter top. Spread a thin layer of flour over the surface. It doesn’t have to be a lot of flour, but enough to keep a thin layer between the surface (which the dough will stick to) and the cookie dough. Roll your rolling pin in some flour as well.
Using cookie cutters: Once your dough has been rolled out, dip the bottom edges of your cookie cutters in flour. Tap off the excess flour, then press the cutter into the dough. This ensures a clean cut without any sticky edges.
Transferring to the cookie sheet: If you used enough flour on your counter top and your dough is still cold, you should be able to easily lift the dough up and transfer it to your baking sheet. It’s OK if you smudge some edges; you can flatten them back out once you’ve moved them.
Just remember: no baking soda, chilled dough, and well-floured surfaces. Then the cookies are ready for baking!
The Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Cream butter on medium speed with an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix until fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract; mix well.
- Next, add salt and flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are mostly combined, then medium speed until completely combined.
- Divide dough in half, wrapping each with a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
- Lightly flour a clean surface or counter top. Place one half of the dough on the counter (leave the other half in the fridge), roll a rolling pin in flour, and roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness.
- Dip cookie cutter in flour and then press into cookie dough. Transfer dough to the prepared baking sheets with a spatula or your hands.
- Bake cookies for 8 – 10 minutes (this will vary depending on the size of the cookies), or until lightly golden around the edges. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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