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
4.80 from 43 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. 
4.80 from 43 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

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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 came to this recipe from
    A link In your gingerbread icing recipe. I have molds to make gingerbread house molds. Would you say this sugar cookie recipe would hold up as a wall? I hate gingerbread and the recipe that came with molds was only gingerbread.
    Thank you for your advice!

    1. The sugar cookies should work as walls but they will definitely be more delicate than gingerbread would be. Make sure to pack the molds firmly and bake them for the full cook time in order to get the best results. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

    1. We’ve only made the recipe as written Faye. I’d think they would rise a lot and not hold their shape as well since there is more baking powder in self rising flour than we add in this recipe.

  2. I have made this recipe over a dozen times and it always turns out perfect. Yesterday I was not paying attention and added too much flour ‍♀️ which resulted in a crumbly dough that would not stick together. I added just under 2 tablespoons of water to the dough to get the consistency right and it was saved! You wouldn’t even know I messed up!!5 stars

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your great tips Samantha! Glad you’ve enjoyed these as much as we do.

      1. This recipe is perfect! I made the dough last night and left it in the fridge until this afternoon – it was very hard coming out of the fridge so I actually preheat my oven to about 125 and then turned it off – then i cut my dough balls in half and put them in the oven as it was cooling just until the outside was squishy enough to shape and mold the ball! Worked like a charm!

        The cookies themselves rolled beautifully and cooked perfectly! They held their shapes and I ended up with 55(!!) bat and ghost cookies! Thank you for the recipe! Such a delicious cookie!!5 stars

    1. Oh no, so sorry to hear that Michaela! Did you mix it well, if not mixed long enough it can appear dry if the butter doesn’t completely mix in? 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. This recipe was a disaster. You need to specify that the butter needs to be soft . And also 3 cups of flour is way too much.
        2 1/2 is plenty.
        Wasted so much time and following your recipe.1 star

      2. We made 4 batches of these cookies exactly as written and this weekend and had no problems with the dough being dry. You’ll want to ensure when you measure your flour that the flour is measured by lightly spooning it into the measuring cup (and not scooping it with the measuring cup as this will add extra flour causing a dry dough). Hope that helps.

        We tested one batch reducing the flour by 1/4 cup and the dough seemed ok but the cookies began to spread and didn’t hold their shape quite as well.

    2. Came out crumbly (followed every recommendation about butter and flour), I squished it together. Put in fridge overnight to chill to make in the morning and the dough is rock hard. It’s been out for an hour now and no change. So bummed I just didn’t get the regular mix, that always works.

      1. I can’t say for sure why yours was dry and crumbly Chris. We made multiple batches and did not have this problem. Did you mix it well? If not mixed long enough it can appear dry if the butter doesn’t completely mix in. When measuring your flour, did you scoop it with the measuring cup or sprinkle it into the measuring cup? (scooping can add extra flour).

  3. This recipe is amazing. However, after making several batching and them being perfect, they now are very soft and fragile. I refrigerate the dough (usually overnight) use the same measurements etc. any advice?4 stars

    1. Hmm, that is strange Brandi! I am not sure what changed this time. They should be soft but not to the point of becoming fragile. It could be a results of too much butter?

  4. How long can you chill this sugar cookie recipe? Also can this recipe be frozen and kept for travel. Making cookie dough today ( weds.) And plan to roll out on Sat. Would that be fine ? Thank-you Sandra B.

      1. You could probably do a little bit less. I would flatten the dough into a disc shape so it chills all of the way through. If you find your first tray spreads too much or the dough is difficult to work with (sticky) you’ll want to chill it a bit more.

  5. Hi Holly. I just put together this dough. I used your exact measurements but the dough was way too dry. I had to add 2 tbl of milk to get the correct consistency. It’s cooling in the fridge now. Thoughts?

    1. I can’t say for sure why yours was dry. Did you mix it well, if not mixed long enough it can appear dry if the butter doesn’t completely mix in. When measuring your flour, did you scoop it with the measuring cup or sprinkle it into the measuring cup? (scooping can add extra flour).

    1. Hi Kendall, if you can resist them ;) they should last week or two or you can freeze them for up to a few months.

      1. Hi Marikay, it should taste fine but margarine won’t allow the cookies to hold their shape as well so they will spread out more and not keep their fun cookie cutter shapes.

  6. Can I make a couple of the dough and freeze it and then that way when I want more just have it already ?

  7. Is this something that can easily be multiplied?

    Will it hurt anything if I chill the dough longer than 4 hours? I am wanting to make it a day ahead so things will be prepared for our baking day.

    Thank You!!!

    1. Definitely Katie! You can easily double this recipe and it is totally fine to refrigerate it overnight as well! Have fun on your baking day.

  8. I made this with sprinkles and i didnt freeze it, and ohmygosh it was soooo good. 10/10 recommend making5 stars