This easy sugar cookie recipe is the perfect holiday cookie!

A simple mixture of butter, sugar, and flour with a few additions, these sugar cookies bake up perfectly and hold their shape. 

They’re perfect for any holiday, easy to make, and they freeze beautifully!

Easy Sugar Cookies with icing
  • These easy cookies use simple ingredients. Our family thinks this is the best sugar cookie recipe since they’re soft and have a delicious buttery vanilla taste.
  • Pair them with our favorite sugar cookie icing to make festive cookies for any occasion!

Ingredients for Sugar Cookies

  • Sugar – This sugar cookie recipe uses regular granulated sugar for sweetness and texture.
  • Butter – The amount of salt in salted butter can vary, so use unsalted butter and add salt for the best flavor.
  • Flour – All-purpose flour brings everything together.
  • Egg – Egg helps bind everything together.
  • Other Vanilla adds flavor while baking powder helps achieve the perfect texture. Add ½ teaspoon of almond extract if you’d like.

How to Make Sugar Cookies

  1. In the stand mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar together per the recipe below.
  2. Mix in an egg. Add dry ingredients and mix. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Chill dough for a few hours. Roll and cut with cookie cutters to match the occasion!

Sugar cookies are best when baked just until lightly browned on the edges.

sugar cookie dough in a disc

Don’t Skip the Chill!

Don’t skip chilling the sugar cookie dough. This allows the butter to firm up a bit, keeping the cookies from spreading too much and looking flat. Chilling in the refrigerator helps them to keep their shape as they bake.

raw sugar cookies on a baking sheet
  • No parchment – Skip the parchment paper or silicone mat for this recipe. They hold their shape best on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Room temp ingredients – Ensure butter and egg are at room temperature.
  • Measure flour correctly – It is important to measure flour correctly. Avoid scooping the flour with a measuring cup, or it can pack the flour, resulting in a dry dough. Instead, lightly spoon the flour into the measuring up and use the straight edge of the back of a knife to level it.
  • Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4″ thickness. When rolling the dough, if it gets too soft, put it in the fridge for a few minutes. Don’t add too much flour when rolling the dough.
  • Don’t skip chilling the dough or the cookies will spread and not hold their shape.
  • If baking in batches, do not place new batches on a warm cookie sheet. This will cause the dough to spread.

Pro Tip!

If the dough seems powdery or isn’t holding together, it has not mixed long enough. Continue mixing with a paddle attachment (for up to 5 minutes more), and the dough will hold together. Image below.

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are one of the most popular cookie recipes for decorating. Feel free to have fun with cookie cutters, stamped rolling pins, or simply cut them into circles.

To make Christmas sugar cookies, or any time of year cut-out cookies, ensure they’re completely cooled on a wire rack before decorating (or the icing will melt).

You can decorate the baked cookies with soft frostings like buttercream frosting and embellishments, but our favorite is to use a simple sugar cookie icing or royal icing that finishes shiny and firm. Tip! Use gel food coloring for the best colors.

Another option is to melt chocolate chips and dip half of each cookie.

Once decorated, store cookies in an airtight container. These chewy sugar cookies also freeze well. Keep in freezer for up to 3 months.

a stack of sugar cookies

More Easy Cookie Recipes

These sugar cookies are a favorite all year long! We enjoy them as Christmas cookies but cut them into any shape for other occasions. Here are some more of our favorites!

iced sugar cookies with sprinkles
4.88 from 100 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Sugar Cookie Recipe

Nothing says year-round holiday fun like baking easy sugar cookies and decorating them with family and friends.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 24 minutes
Servings 48 cookies

Equipment

a rimmed baking pan
Baking Sheet ungreased, no parchment
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Ingredients  

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened and room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 3 cups all purpose flour *see note
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  • In the bowl of stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, add the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until fluffy.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture with the mixer on low. Continue adding until all of the flour is and let mix until the dough holds together, up to 5 minutes. If the dough is powdery or not holding together, mix it longer.
  • Divide the dough in half, and form each half into a flat 5-inch disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours or up to 4 days.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. While the oven is preheating, remove the dough from the fridge. If it has been in the fridge longer than 3 hours, it may need to sit out 15 minutes before rolling as the butter will be very firm.
  • Sprinkle the work surface with a light dusting of flour (or powdered sugar) to keep the dough from sticking. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness.
  • Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. The scraps and be re-rolled, chill them in the fridge if they soften too much.
  • Place the sugar cookies 1-inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or just until cookies begin to brown on the edges.
  • Cool for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, transfer to a cooling rack, and cool completely before decorating.
  • Once cooled, decorate with sugar cookie icing.

Video

Notes

TROUBLESHOOTING: If the dough is powdery or not holding together, continue mixing it. If using a stand mixer, ensure you use the paddle attachments (not the wire whisk ). As you continue beating, the mixture will hold together and form a dough, it can take up to 5 minutes. 
  • Ingredients, including egg & butter, should be at room temperature.
  • Avoid using a measuring cup to scoop the flour. Instead, lightly spoon the flour into the measuring up and use the straight edge of the back of a knife to level it.
  • Roll the dough to 1/4″ thickness.  If the dough becomes too soft,  wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it.  Don’t add too much flour when rolling the dough.
  • Don’t skip chilling the dough, or the cookies will spread and not hold their shape.
  • Do not place new batches of cookies on a warm pan if or the dough will spread.
4.88 from 100 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 80 | Carbohydrates: 10g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 47mg | Potassium: 21mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 125IU | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Easy Sugar Cookies with icing and sprinkles and writing
stack of Easy Sugar Cookies with a title
Easy Sugar Cookies with sprinkles and a title
Easy Sugar Cookies in a stack and plated with sprinkles and a title

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. I made a double batch of this dough and it was very dry! Not easy to work with at all.
    I won’t be using this recipe again.
    A waste of time and ingredients.

    1. Oh no! Sorry to hear that, April. We find sometimes the dough needs to be mixed for up to 5 minutes more for it to really become a dough texture, especially if you are doubling the recipe.

  2. Your recipe is great. I heeded your suggestion for room temperatures and I think that was key. In your notes could you add— if you have them, suggestions for freezing. I have 3 upcoming cookie exchanges and I’ll use your icing but plan to do that on the day of. I’m a teacher and have crunch time from 3:00-6:00 for icing time. Thank you!
    BTW—I made “lil’ rhed trucks haulin’ a Christmas tree” 5 stars

    1. Hi Angie, to freeze freshly baked sugar cookies, let them cool completely. Place a sheet of parchment paper between each cookie to prevent sticking, then stack them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw the cookies at room temperature. So glad you loved this recipe!

  3. Hello
    Can this recipe be converted to dairy free I read in other comments that I can substitute gluten free flour to make it GF which I also need. We have 2 allergies in the family so looking for both. Thanks!

    1. Hi Fen, you are able to use margarine as a substitute for the butter in this recipe, although it might have a slightly different taste and/or texture. Let us know how they turn out! :)

  4. Do nor refrigerate over night. it came out às hard as a rock and I couldn’t bake for hours which wasn’t in my timeline.

  5. Hi there,

    I’m wondering how long the dough could be stored before baking. Would 48 hours be too long?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Christine, the dough will be fine just very firm. I would let it rest on the counter to warm up a bit before trying to roll it out.

    1. To find the full list of ingredients and amounts you can find them by scrolling to the bottom to the recipe or hit the “jump to recipe” button in the top header. I hope this helps Amanda!

  6. Did not turn out as written in the recipe. I followed exactly and had to add about 2 tablespoons of water just to get the dough to come together. In the oven now, hopefully they’ll turn out, I don’t have time to start over.

    1. If the dough doesn’t come together, it likely needed to be mixed longer. There are a couple of photos in the post that show how the mixture can start out a bit powdery and then if you continue mixing (about 5 minutes or so) it comes together.

  7. I followed the recipe exactly and these just didn’t turn out for me. I really struggled with the dough. No matter how long I mixed it just was not coming together. I added a tbs of water to help the dough form together and let it set for 2 hours in the fridge before cooking. They held their shape very well but I had issues with them cooking too fast on the bottoms. My first round in the over was definitely over cooked. I cooked them for 8 minutes exactly. The second round I pulled out at 4 because the bottoms were browning already. That left them with overly done bottoms and a soggy center. We ended up throwing the rest of the dough out after that. The dough also wasn’t very sweet. My boyfriend said it actually reminded him of bread. If you have an overwhelmingly sweet icing, it would probably work out with this dough but unfortunately it just wasn’t what we were looking for. I really wanted to like these):2 stars

    1. Oh no, so sorry to hear that Lexi! When measuring flour did you scoop the flour into the measuring cup or use the measuring cup to scoop the flour from the bag directly? That can affect the density of the flour. Did you substitute the butter for margarine? That could contribute to it as well. Hopefully, this helps!

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry you had issues with this recipe. Did you measure the flour with the spoon method (as opposed to scooping it)? If the flour is measured properly and the dough is crumbly, we do find mixing it longer will help bring it together. We’ve had to mix for as long as 5 minutes before. I hope this helps Steph!

    2. Not sure how everyone had issues but be sure to follow instructions very carefully. Baked goods are picky. This worked perfectly and my husband loved the cookies.5 stars

  8. I just made these cookies, I am amazed how good they are. At first, after leaving the cookie dough in the refrigerator too long, just pop in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Perfect. My hubby likes the cookies. I may have to make more.

    I am curious, do you have a gluten free variation?5 stars

    1. Glad to hear you both enjoyed the cookies! We don’t have a gluten-free version but this recipe would probably work fine with gluten-free flour!