These buttery sugar cookies are perfect for cutting out and decorating! Perfect for the holidays or any time of year, these easy-to-make crunchy cookies are bursting with butter and vanilla flavor.
This classic sugar cookie recipe is an easy, simple recipe that produces deliciously delicate cut out sugar cookies with a lovey vanilla-butter flavor. Both this recipe and my soft sugar cookies are delicious Christmas cookies, whether you’re making them for a cookie exchange or you plan to ship cookies during the holidays. And if you enjoy cutting out cookies with cookie cutters, definitely make a batch of gingerbread man cookies while you’re at it (one of my personal favorite Christmas cookies)!
Here’s how to make them perfect!
With or without baking powder?
I usually make the recipe without adding any leaveners (i.e., baking powder/soda) and beat the butter and sugar just until they’re combined. If you prefer the texture of the cookies to be light and fluffy, add baking powder and beat the butter and sugar for longer (I explain more in the recipe card below). Beating too much air into the butter and sugar or adding baking powder will cause your cookies to spread a bit more and be a bit softer.
If you are planning on cutting your cookies into shapes, I recommend not using baking powder so they hold their shape while baking.
How to make sugar cookies
- Cream butter and sugar together. Unless you are using baking baker, don’t beat the butter and sugar for too long. About 30-60 seconds should do it.
- Add egg and vanilla. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Mix in the flour, salt, and baking powder (if using). Mix together just until the ingredients come together. Do not overmix.
- Chill. The dough needs to chill so it doesn’t fall apart and melt when you roll out the cookies. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap in a disc shape and chill for at least an hour.
- Roll out the dough. On a floured surface, roll out chilled dough to about ¼-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes of your choice and place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. If you have opted to use baking powder, you can simply form equal sized cookie dough balls and place them on the sheet pan, pressing down gently on the tops to flatten slightly. I highly recommend chilling the cut out cookies directly on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before baking. This will also help them hold their shape.
- Bake. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. Allow to cool before decorating.
Tips for making perfect sugar cookies
- The moment the dough gets warm or hard to work with, put it back in the fridge until it’s firm again. Dough can get warm on a hot day or simply from the heat of your hands. Try to work as quickly as possible.
- If you don’t have enough space to roll out a large piece of dough, once your dough is ready, divide it in half and make two discs instead of one. Then, roll each disc separately, merge their scraps, and re-roll.
- Don’t overmix your cookie dough. This will produce tougher cookies.
- Chill your cookies before baking. Once you’ve cut out your cookies, place the sheet pan back in the fridge or freezer for 5-10 minutes to chill the cookies. This will help prevent them from spreading.
More delicious sugar cookie recipes
- Soft Sugar Cookies: Soft, buttery, and delicious.
- Funfetti Sugar Cookies: Made with lots of colorful sprinkles, these are the perfect special occasion cookie.
- Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies: Just like a cinnamon roll in cookie form.
- Brown Sugar Cookies: Perfectly soft and chewy with yummy caramel and molasses flavors.
Ultimate Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
- 2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (227g) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- Optional: add ½ teaspoon baking powder if you prefer the cookies light and fluffier and don’t mind them spreading slightly. (for more information refer to the above post).
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder if using. Set aside.
In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-low speed for 1 minute (for cookies that hold their shape the best), or 3-4 minutes (for light and fluffy cookies that will still hold their shape but not as well). Beat in egg and vanilla extract just until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and beat just until combined. Do not overmix or the cookies will be tough.
Form dough into a ball, then flatten slightly to form a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until firm enough to roll.
If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it or for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month, then thaw it overnight in the fridge.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface (or between 2 pieces of parchment paper), roll the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Cut out shapes using a cookie cutter and place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
If at any point the dough becomes too warm, place it back into the fridge for a few minutes. Re-roll the remaining scraps and repeat. Place sheets with cookies in the freezer or fridge for at least 15 minutes, until firm, so that they will be less prone to spreading.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, or until cookies appear golden brown at the edges. Baking time will vary and may take longer depending on the size of the cookies. Allow cookies to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on the counter, still covered, or overnight in the fridge.