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!

sugar cookies cut out in various shapes

How to Make Sugar Cookies

Really, really good sugar cookies are ones that are uniformly mixed, shaped, and baked.

  1. Combine butter and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Mix in an egg. Add dry ingredients.
  3. 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.

steps for making sugar cookie dough

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.

dough for preparing sugar cookies

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.

a stack of sugar cookies

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:

sugar cookies cut out in various shapes
4.86 from 35 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Sugar Cookies

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


  • 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.



Measuring Flour: It is important that the flour is measured properly. To measure flour, lightly spoon it into the measuring cup and level it.  Do not use the measuring cup to scoop the flour or it will pack the flour into the cup and cause the dough to be dry.
Ingredients: Ensure all ingredients are room temperature and butter is softened to room temperature before beginning. (I do not recommend softening the butter in the microwave).
I prefer to use clear vanilla extract, you can often find it online or in craft stores. Any vanilla will work in this recipe.
TROUBLESHOOTING: If your dough seems to be powdery or not holding together, continue mixing it. If using a stand mixer, ensure you are using the paddles (and not the wire whisk attachment). As you continue beating, the mixture will hold together and form a dough. 
4.86 from 35 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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

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Easy Sugar Cookies on a baking sheet
Easy Sugar Cookies on a sheet pan with writing


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About the author

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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  1. 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!