Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

Before I began teaching royal icing cookie classes a couple of years ago, I knew I needed to create the best cut out sugar cookie recipe that would make people ohhhh and ahhhh. After several batches, this is the recipe I came up with, and it’s a winner every time.

It’s the super soft cut out sugar cookie recipe that will have you saying, “Where have you been all my life?!” These sugar cookies are perfectly soft, have just the right balance of sweetness with a hint of saltiness, and they have a light, buttery flavor accented by fragrant vanilla.

WARNING: These sugar cookies will increase your appetite for cookies all year long…leading to more practice, better skills, and maybe even some mad royal icing skills.

best cutout sugar cookie recipe

What Makes This Super Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe the Best?

They Hold Their Shape

For one, this is a no-baking powder cut-out sugar cookie recipe. There is no leavening at all for that matter because leavening causes cookies to expand, and that is the opposite of what we want.

We want beautiful cookies that hold their shape when they bake, so please do not add leavener to a cut out sugar cookie, ever. While leavening makes cookies soft, there are other ways to make them soft without losing shape.

They Stay Soft

These are the best cut out sugar cookies because they stay soft for a whole week. I’m sure they stay soft longer, but I generally don’t recommend eating baked goods that have been sitting out for more than 7 days.

What makes them so soft? There is an extra egg yolk in the dough, which adds to the tenderness and moisture of the cookie.

Another important factor is baking time. If you bake these cookies too long, they will be slightly crisp on the edges (which isn’t always bad). If you bake them properly, however, they will always be soft.

To bake them correctly, they should be light in color, not golden brown at all. If it’s a cookie with pointy edges, such as a star, then a tiny bit of browning may occur.

They are Moist

These thick cutout sugar cookies are also very moist. Aside from the egg yolk, there is a good balance of fat and sugar that add the right amount of moisture to the dry ingredients.

Of course, if you overbake them, they will be dry. Adding some royal icing can help add moisture back, but it’s not a true fix for over baked cookie.

best cutout sugar cookies for christmas

This is also the best cut out sugar cookie recipe for royal icing because the cookies are thick and can hold a lot of icing without breaking.

As a note, these cookies are best at a thickness of 1/4 -1/2 inch. I always cut mine 1/4″, and they are just right.

If you are making cookies bigger than 4-5 inches in size, go to 1/2″ thickness so the cookies can support the weight of the royal icing.

The flavor of this cookie pairs perfectly with my famous buttercream frosting. These cutout cookies are very flavorful all on their own, but a little frosting makes them even better! Find the recipe here.

best cutout sugar cookie recipe for Christmas

How to Make Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Read Through the Recipe Before Starting

Reading through the recipe gives your mind a visual picture of what needs to happen, and it makes the process go smoother.

Use Cold Butter

Every time. Cold butter helps the cookies to form a tighter structure so that they won’t spread easily. And that’s what we want, right? Cookies that hold their shape.

Chill the Dough

Chill the dough for at least an hour in the fridge. Cold dough is easier to work with and allows you to transfer cut out cookies to a baking sheet without stretching or tearing the dough.

Roll the Dough Out on Parchment Paper

Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper that fit the length of a half sheet pan. Rolling the dough on parchment makes the dough easy to move to the refrigerator.

A Guided Rolling Pin Will Be Your Best Friend

Use a 1/4 inch if at all possible. Here is the rolling pin I use, and it creates perfectly uniform cookies every time.

As a note, I always roll cookies to 1/4 inch because they stay soft without getting crisp on the edges. Thinner cookies tend to cook faster on the edges, so they won’t stay as soft.

Don’t Brown the Cookies

It’s okay if the cookies have a slight golden hue on the edges, but they are best if they are not browned too much.

In most ovens, around eleven minutes should do the trick. Of course, every oven bakes differently, so start with 9 or 10 minutes and add a minute at a time to get your cookies just right.

christmas frosted cutout sugar cookies

What You’ll Need for This Recipe

A stand mixer is essential because mixing cold butter is too difficult with a hand mixer and can burn up the motor. You can always mix by hand…but I can’t promise that your arm won’t fall off. Save your energy and use a good mixer.

A 1/4-inch rolling pin is the most essential tool because it eliminates guesswork. When you use a guided rolling pin, you won’t have thinner edges or thicker spots in the dough. Your results will be consistent every time, period.

Rimmed half sheet baking pans are also essential. These pans help the cookies to hold their shape as they bake without browning too fast.


The Best Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

red and white royal icing snowflake cookie with red nonpareils nearby on a cooling rack

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  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 1 hr. 30 min.
  • Cook Time: 11 min.
  • Total Time: 1 hr. 41 min.
  • Yield: 2436 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies


Units Scale
  • 226 g unsalted butter, cold
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 375 g all-purpose flour
  • Royal Icing or Buttercream Frosting


To Make These Cutout Sugar Cookies

  1. Remove the butter from the refrigerator and leave out until the butter is just slightly soft but still cold. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  2. Add the whole egg and mix on low, then add egg yolk and vanilla and mix on low speed until blended in.

  3. Add flour and salt; mix on low/medium-low speed until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not over-mix the dough. If there are any ingredients stuck to the paddle, scrape them off and mix for a few seconds until just mixed.

  4. Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit a rimmed half-sheet baking pan. Put one piece of parchment paper on your counter, place the dough in the center, and then top it with the other sheet of parchment.

  5. Roll dough out to **1/4 inch thick. Place the rolled dough on your baking sheet and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour. The dough can be frozen at this point if you do not want to use it right away.

  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; remove dough from the fridge, uncover, and gently lift dough away from parchment paper on each side so it is not stuck to the paper. Cut out desired shapes and move cookies to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate cut out cookie dough for 10 minutes.

  7. Bake for 9 – 11 minutes, but do not brown the cookies. They will still be light in color when they are finished. Let cookies cool on a wire rack for an hour before icing.


This recipe is a Baker Street original recipe.

**You can also roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick, but the baking time will decrease. Start with 6 minutes for baking, but the cookies will most likely need another 1-2 minutes. 

For extra thick cookies, increase baking time by 2-3 minutes.


  1. Can’t wait to try this! Any particular reason to use wax paper instead of parchment paper? Thanks

    • Hi Nina, I use wax paper because it’s softer and easier to work with on top of the dough. You could definitely use parchment, but it doesn’t stay in place as easily. Either will work though!

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