Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe

 

When I was growing up, I always enjoyed making sugar cookies at Christmas time.  Even at a very young age I would spend half an hour carefully decorating a cookie, adding one sprinkle at a time.  My sisters would have a whole plate of cookies decorated in the time I would decorate one or two, but mine were little works of art. My mom never quite understood my need to seek perfection (especially on a cookie!), but she knew it was simply a part of who I was.  Well, some things never change… I’m quite a few years older now, and a mother myself, but I still find such enjoyment in spending the late hours of the day hunched over a tray of cookies, adding sprinkles with the greatest of care.

One of the nice things about making sugar cookies is that they can be as simple or as detailed as you care to make them.  Making sugar cookies with children can be a fun and special activity.  Or taking the time to decorate sugar cookies with extra care can produce some really beautiful results, perfect for special gifts.  Whatever the end goal, starting with a reliable recipe, and handling the dough with a bit of care will ensure delicious results every time.

Here is the recipe I use, and have made hundreds of times.  Most recipes for sugar cookies are extremely similar to this.  Some recipes call for almond extract or lemon zest in place of the vanilla extract.  I’m sure those variations would produce delicious results as well.

Rolled Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) Challenge unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

Parchment paper

Directions:

-In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.

-In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.

-Add the egg and vanilla and beat another minute or so.

-Add the flour mixture slowly.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time or you will have a snowstorm of flour.)

-Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

-Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.

-Using your hands, knead the dough a few times.

-Place the dough in a large plastic (ziplock type) bag and refrigerate for about 2 hours.  If you want to speed up the chilling process, place the bag of dough in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Just don’t forget it in the freezer, or it will become to firm to work with (and then you’ll have to wait for it to thaw).

-When it’s almost time to remove the dough from the refrigerator (or freezer), preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

-When the dough has chilled and is firm, take out about half of the dough, leaving the rest in the refrigerator (until your ready to work with it).

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface.  You’ll notice the sticks I have on either side of the dough.  These are paint stir sticks (available for free from the paint department of any hardware store).  There is a product on the market called Perfection sticks, which are sticks that usually come in a set of a couple different thicknesses.  They are designed to help you roll out the dough in a nice even thickness.  Since I don’t own Perfection sticks, I just glued two paint stir sticks together, which makes about the perfect thickness for sugar cookies. (So you need 4 sticks total, since you need a double thick stick for each side of your dough.)  If I want the dough a bit thinner, I just roll out the dough to the thickness of the sticks, then remove the sticks and roll just a bit thinner.

Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough.  This helps you roll out the dough without adding additional flour (adding too much flour can make the dough a bit tough, and can create little pockets of flour in the dough that cause bumps to form on your cookies during baking, making it more difficult to decorate later).

Roll out the dough to about 1/3 of an inch thick.

Cut the dough with your choice of cookie cutters.  Try to make the best use of the dough you’ve rolled out.  Every time you re-roll the dough you add a bit more flour, and can create the flour pockets I mentioned that can cause bumps to form in the cookies while baking.

Place cookie shapes on a prepared baking sheet.  I bake my cookies on heavy weight metal baking sheets, topped with Silpat brand silicone liners. Silpat liners are a bit of an investment, since you’ll probably want to have two (I have four) but they are such a great quality product and last a lifetime.
Make sure to only put cookies of similar size on each bake sheet.  If you try to bake smaller cookies with larger ones the small ones will be over done before the large ones are baked.

Place entire baking sheet (with cookies on it) in the freezer or refrigerator for about 3-5 minutes.  Chilling the cookies this way will help ensure they keep their shape while baking.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as then are on the pan, so don’t let then get too brown.  Cool for just a minute or so on the pan, then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.

This recipe yields about 30, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies.

Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant.

To get you started on the decorating, here are a couple posts,
Basic cookie decorating tutorial (the cookies in this post are mini cookies used as cupcake toppers, but the information can be used for any cookies).
How to make pretty Luau cookies (the same techniques could be used for cookies for any occasion).

I also highly recommend the book Cookie Craft.  This is the best and most complete book I’ve found on decorating cookies.  This book has gorgeous photos for inspiration, but also has every bit of information you need, including directions and recipes.  Despite the thousands of cookies I’ve made over the years, I still come back to this book for ideas or to refresh my memory on a particular technique.

And once your cookies are decorated, take a look at my post HERE on pretty packaging for your cookies

172 comments

  1. Still keeping fingers crossed that you will remember where you got your plastic mat to roll out dough. Love the fact that they have 3″ squares marked. Thanks.

    • Hi Annabelle,
      The mat pictured was a gift from my mom several years ago. She purchased it at a local kitchen store which is now no long in business. It’s made for rolling out pie dough, so I might suggest doing a google search for “mats for rolling pie dough”, or something along those lines. Happy baking!

  2. Hello! Congratulations on your blog! I love it!
    I’m new to cookies and I would like to bake a lot of them to give as a gift in a tea party.
    How long in advance can I make and decorate them?
    Thank you in advance for your help.

  3. Can you premake the dough and freeze it to use later?

    • Hi Kathryn,
      Yes, you can freeze the dough ahead of time. If I was going to do this I would roll the dough into the thickness you want and freeze it in a large sheet, ready to cut out. You can also cut out the cookies, and freeze the unbaked, cut-outs. Another option is just making the dough and keeping it in the fridge. I’ve kept the dough in the fridge for up to a week before using it. Just make sure it is wrapped well and there are no strong odors in your fridge. Happy baking!

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  5. Hi! I really love your blog, you’re a genius! :) I was wondering if I could use a hand mixer to do this recipe, because I don’t have an electric stand mixer!
    Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Nadia,
      Yes, the recipe can be done with a hand mixer, and then mix by hand toward the end. This way it a bit more difficult, but it can be done.

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  9. I found your blog and have to say I love it! The presentation, the ideas, everything! I tried your sugar cookies recipe and they turned out perfect! it was the first time I ever baked cookies. I’m from Brazil but my husband is from the US and he loves cookies. He loved it! thanks again.I’m certainly coming back for more ideas and recipes.

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  11. I don’t have silpat liners….do I grease my cookie sheet or leave it up greased? Or do you suggest something else?

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  14. Made these last night and thanks to your painting sticks tip, they came out the perfect thickness! I added a little more vanilla and they taste great….even without icing! I’m so proud of them! Thank you! (I’ve also made your perfect vanilla cupcakes and they turned out awesome thanks to your step by step instructions)

  15. HI Glory.
    Made these cookies for christmas and everybody loved them. My aunt forgot to get a cookie plate for her party so she took some home. Everyone took some home! I tried the recipe today with gluten free flour and soy-free and dairy-free margarine. They tasted the same as the regular ones! So far I’ve tried 4 recipes from your blog and all four have been excellent. Thanks for sharing all the great recipes.

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  17. Hi there, I was wondering of I can roll dough directly on silpat and bake?

    • Hi Sima, Technically Silpats should not but cut on (with metal cookie cutters), but I imagine it would work if you are careful not to press into the mat too hard. I have never tried it this way, and prefer to cut on a smooth work surface (cutting board, marble slab, etc) and then move to the silpat to bake.

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  20. can shortbread cookies be frosted with royal icing and packaged the same way as sugar cookies???
    also how long in advance can u make frosted sugr cookies and how to store them..
    many thanks

  21. Hi, I just made this recipe and it was very easy. Mine turned out crumbly though so only some of it would come together when rolled. Could this be maybe from the butter needing to be warmer? It’s the only thing that I can think of… We will be icing the ones that turned out soon!

  22. Sorry just saw another comment about the same issue. I used an electric hand mixer but not a beater blade.. would this be the cause?

    • Hi Susan,
      Yes, this recipe will come together MUCH easier with a large stand mixer (and that’s what I always use). The recipe technically can be done with a hand mixer, but then you will likely need to do some kneading by hand to get all the ingredients fully incorporated.

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  26. love, love, love this recipe! It’s so easy to make and I love that the cookies don’t expand all that much when baked…they keep their shape so well! Thank you, Glory!! :)

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  28. Hi, how did you measure the flour? did you scoop it or spoon the flour into the measuring cup? Are these chewy or just soft?

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  30. Hi Gloria,

    Just wondering if you knew what the nutritional value is of these cookies. I am mainly looking for how many carbs?

    Thanks

    • Hi Kristina, I really have no idea. Since the list of ingredients is pretty short, I imagine you could track down the nutritional values on your own. I might suggest doing a google search to find a mater list of nutrients in a given ingredient, and then go from there. Certainly, these are cookies and are designed to be a treat, not a persons main source of nutrition.

  31. Made this cookies tonight and they’re so yummy!!! Taste buttery!!! Thank you for sharing your recipe!!!

  32. Hi Glory,

    I started out making your cookie recipe and following many of your first tutorials. I have always used the paint stick method to get my desired thickness, but I found the sticks were warping some from having been washed lightly after bakings. Plus, the glue was starting to pull apart as well. So, I went to WalMart and actually found some better sticks. They sell 5gal stir sticks now that are actually the same thickness as glueing 2 together. Plus, they are also much longer in length, which was another issue I was having. Such a huge find, and they are only $.28/ea. Had to share, this is huge and I’m so excited to not have to worry about gluing them anymore. :)

    Have a great weekend!!

  33. Thank you for the lovely recipe. I just made the sugar cookies and the turned out excellent! Now on to decorating.

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  38. Hi glory.
    Firstly, thank you for sharing your beautiful creations with us. Just a quickie. I have attempted your sugar cookies a couple of times but they always turn out crumbly. Do u have any tips or is it as simple as reducing the flour by half a cup?? Thank you. Jen x

    • Hi Jen, I’m guessing you are not mixing the dough with a large stand mixer? The only times I’ve ever had trouble getting the dough together is if I am working without a stand mixer. Without a large mixer, you will have to hand kneed the dough a bit to incorporate all of the flour. If you are using a large stand mixer, you simply need to let the mixer run a bit longer, it will form a ball of dough on it’s own.

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  40. There cookies are so simple and easy to make. They turn out fabulous each time.
    I made them recently into not so scary spider cookies for Halloween. Everyone loved them and especially the cookies.
    http://www.bilbos92.com/

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  43. Hi!
    I made your cookies yesterday, no stand mixer? everything manually. Was a little hard to whip that butter but not too big of a deal. The dough turned out beautiful, elastic, not greasy. And the cookies are just a fairytale. Thank you so very much for sharing. This will be my forever recipe for rolled sugar cookies ))))

    Irina.

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  48. Hi Glory,
    Firstly would like to say your recipes are amazing, all of them I have tried and the end result is wonderful :)
    I made the sugar cookies yesterday for the first time yesterday and they turned out wonderfully (except a few burnt bottoms lol but that’s my own fault). When I mixed the ingredients together they didn’t form into a proper dough so I had to add some milk. Which worked good and still tasted nice. However was wondering if I did something wrong in the initial steps to make this happen, I double checked all the measurements and everything and all seemed fine.
    Also I was hoping to make some chocolate sugar cookies from this recipe, how would you suggest the best way to go about this is? Do I just add cocoa or would I better off taking some flour out? Sorry I am bit new to the the cookie world and stick mainly to cupcakes but trying to expand my skills haha.
    Hope you are having a wonderul day :)

    • Hi Haylee,
      Thanks for your sweet comment! So glad you’re enjoying my site! Are you using a large stand mixer to mix the dough? The only time I’ve had any trouble incorporating all the ingredients is if I was not using my stand mixer. If you do not have a stand mixer, it will take a bit more effort (and some hand kneading) to form the dough. If you are using a stand mixer, I suspect that you just need to let the mixer run a few more seconds.
      For chocolate sugar cookies, I have a recipe here, http://www.glorioustreats.com/2011/01/chocolate-rolled-cookies-recipe.html
      Happy baking!

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