This Sugar Cookie recipe is the perfect year-round holiday cookie! A simple mixture of butter, sugar and flour (with a few additions), these sugar cookies bake up beautifully every time.
Short on ingredients but long on the dozens of ways they can be adapted, shaped, or decorated!
How to Make Sugar Cookies
Really, really good sugar cookies are ones that are uniformly mixed, shaped, and baked.
- Combine butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Mix in an egg. Add dry ingredients.
- Chill dough for a few hours. Roll and cut with cookie cutters to match your occasion!
Sugar cookies look best when they are baked just until very lightly browned on the edges.
Don’t skip chilling the sugar cookie dough. This allows for the butter to firm up a bit which will keep the cookies from spreading too much and looking flat. Chilling helps them to bake perfectly and keeps their shape.
Tips for Perfection
- Ingredients should be at room temperature (including the butter and the egg) before beginning.
- It is really IMPORTANT that flour is measured correctly. Do not scoop the flour with the measuring cup or it packs the flour in causing a dry dough. Lightly spoon the flour into the measuring up and level it.
- Check the label of your butter, some store brand butters contain water or other ingredients that don’t set up properly in these cookies.
- If the dough seems powdery or isn’t holding together, it is not mixed enough. Continue mixing (for up to 5 minutes more) and the dough will hold together.
- Roll the dough to 1/4″ thickness so it bakes properly. When rolling the dough, if it gets too soft, put it in the fridge for a few minutes.
- Don’t skip chilling the dough or your 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.
Mix up the dough by mixing up the extracts! Swap out vanilla extract for a bit of peppermint at Christmas! Add in almond or lemon extract for a new flavor.
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 before decorating (or the icing will melt).
You can decorate with a soft frosting and embellishments but our favorite is to use a simple sugar cookie icing that finishes shiny and firm.
Easy Sugar Cookies for Cookie Exchange
Homemade sugar cookies are ideal for bake sales and cookie exchanges because they’re so easy. Some of my other favorite easy cookie recipes for bake sales are:
- Easy Shortbread Cookies (Cookie Press) – everyone loves these pretty cookies
- Eggnog Cookies – mmm, eggnog!
- Mexican Wedding Cookies – snowball cookies are always a hit
- Chocolate Crinkle Cookies – chocolate and more chocolate
- Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies – totally perfect!
- Candy Cane Cookies – adorable and festive!
Easy Sugar Cookies
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened to 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
- Combine flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.
- Combine butter and sugar in a bowl and mix with a mixer on medium until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add egg and vanilla. Mix until well combined and smooth.
- Add flour mixture a little bit at a time with the mixer on low until mixed and the flour is incorporated. Continue mixing until the dough holds together, up to 5 minutes.
- Divide dough in half, cover with plastic wrap and chill 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. While the oven is preheating, remove the dough from the fridge.
- Sprinkle the surface with a bit of powdered sugar or flour so the dough doesn't stick. Roll dough to ¼" thickness (you don't want it to be too thin) and cut into desired shapes.
- Place cookies 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes or just until cookies begin to brown on the edges.
- Cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before decorating.
- Once cooled, decorate with sugar cookie icing.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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