This cut out sugar cookie recipe is easy to make and creates a soft, flavorful cookie perfect for decorating. Decorate these cookies with buttercream or cream cheese frosting for a fun treat.
We don't have a ton of Valentine themed food on the site, so we thought we better get at least one out this year. John mentioned an easy sugar cookie recipe with buttercream frosting.
Maybe something heart-shaped with cherry flavoring. My initial thought was to use the same dough as the Christmas sugar cookies, but I decided against it.
This cut out sugar cookie recipe is one of my new go-to's, and it's too easy not to share. The longest part is waiting for the dough to firm up after it's mixed.
The best part is versatility of these cookies. Even though we're using them as Valentine's Day cookies, they can be made anytime of year.
Better yet, add your favorite frosting, royal icing, or decorating sugar.
How to Make Sugar Cookie Dough:
Making the dough for these sugar cookies is so simple. Place the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until it's light and fluffy.
Then add the egg and vanilla. Continue to beat the ingredients until mixed.
Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture.
Beat on low speed until just incorporated. The dough will be slightly sticky and tacky but should hold it's shape when pressed together.
That's it! The dough is made, and now it's time to chill it.
Why do you chill sugar cookie dough?
For most cookie recipes, it's a good rule of thumb to chill the cookie dough before baking it. Chilling the dough solidifies the fats (butter and oil), so the dough spreads less when baked.
Normally, I put the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, if not longer. One to two hours is optimum.
Can you leave sugar cookie dough in the fridge overnight?
Yes, that's exactly what I did with the cut out cookies in the photos. I made the dough late one afternoon and didn't have enough time to let it chill, bake the cookies, and decorate them before it got dark (ran out of daylight for the pictures).
I just left the dough in the fridge overnight and finished up the following day. As long as the dough is tightly wrapped, it will be okay in refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
To wrap the dough, form it into a thick, disc shape. Place the disc into plastic wrap and cover it well.
Make sure the dough is entirely covered and the plastic wrap is secure.
Can you freeze cookie dough?
Yes, you can make sugar cookie dough ahead of time by freezing it. Freezing cookie dough is similar to refrigerating it but with a couple of extra steps.
You may want to cut the dough into smaller sections, so it will thaw faster. Then, form it into discs and wrap it in multiple layers of plastic wrap.
Place the dough into plastic, freezer bags and push all of the air out before closing. Dough usually lasts about 3 months in the freezer when it's properly wrapped.
How to cut out sugar cookies?
Take the dough out of the fridge or freezer and place it on a lightly floured surface. If the dough is stiff and hard to roll, allow it to warm up at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before proceeding.
If the dough is frozen, it will need to thaw a considerable amount of time before being rolled out. Roll the sugar cookie dough out to a ¼ inch thick if you want softer cookies like in the photos or ⅛ thick for crispier cookies.
Take your favorite cookie cutter and press straight down into the dough. Jiggle it slightly from side to side to make sure there are no edges sticking.
I've found that metal cookie cutters work better than plastic for this type of dough. Carefully place the cut out cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
It may take more than one baking sheet depending on the size of the baking sheet and the cookies. This particular batch took 2 and one was reused a second time so 3 baking sheets total.
How do you make sugar cookies that keep their shape?
If the dough gets too warm while you're working with it, it will spread. That kind of defeats the purpose of chilling it in the first place.
Here are a couple of recommendations. First, if the dough seems to be getting gummy and sticky, place the pan of cut out cookies back in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes.
Do this after they've been cut out but before you bake them. This will give the fats a chance to solidify again.
Second, try not to reuse the same baking pan that just came out of the oven like I did. If you have to, it's not a big deal.
Place the empty baking pan in the refrigerator for a couple of minutes to cool before you place the cookies on it. Otherwise, the warm pan will heat up the dough before it ever gets to the oven.
How to make sugar cookie frosting?
After the cookies bake and cool, make the cherry flavored buttercream frosting. Simply place the butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and Maraschino cherry juice into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Mix on low until all the ingredients are combined and creamy. Then add the chopped cherries. Mix again until just incorporated.
How to frost sugar cookies?
When John said he wanted buttercream frosting for this cut out sugar cookie recipe, I was a little concerned. There's a reason we don't have any frosted cookies on the site.
That's because my cookie frosting skills resemble that of a kindergartner's. If you're using royal icing to frost sugar cookies, there are all these neat tricks and tools, but buttercream is a bit different.
I decided to try a pastry bag with a wide tip to place the frosting where I wanted it. Then I'd take a butter knife and smooth it out some.
It worked better than frosting the cookies with a knife alone. Here's exactly how I did it. Using the pastry bag, draw a heart-shaped outline with frosting just inside the edge of the cookie.
Then use a little more frosting to fill in the center. It doesn't have to be completely filled in since you'll use a knife to smooth it over.
Next, take a butter knife to smooth out the frosting into the shape of a heart.
How to store cut out sugar cookies?
If you used buttercream or cream cheese frosting, store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
If there is no dairy based frosting, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container on the counter top for the same amount of time.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup maraschino cherries, finely chopped
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.2 ½ cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place the butter and sugar into a separate large bowl. Use an electric mixer (stand or handheld) to cream the ingredients together on low speed until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes).1 cup unsalted butter1 cup granulated sugar
- Next, add the egg and vanilla. Continue to beat on low speed until just combined.2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract1 large egg
- Pour in the dry ingredients, and mix on low speed until a soft dough begins to form. The dough will be sticky and tacky but should hold it’s shape when pressed together.
- Form the dough into disc shape and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1-2 hours or overnight before making cookies.
- When you’re ready to begin rolling out the cookie dough, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350°.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. If the dough is firm and cracks around the edges as it’s being rolled, allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. This will bring the temperature of the dough up enough to be handled with ease.
- Continue rolling the dough until it reaches ¼ inch thick (⅛ inch for crispier cookies). Use a metal cookie cutter to press shapes into the dough and jiggle slightly to ensure the cutout is free on all sides.
- Carefully place the cookie cutout onto the cookie sheet. Repeat until all the dough has been used. I was able to get 18 cookies that were ¼ inch thick and 3 inches in length. However, the size and thickness of the cookies will determine how many this dough makes.
- Place the cookie sheet in the oven, and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to brown slightly.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. While the cookies cool, make the buttercream frosting.
- Place the butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, Maraschino cherry juice, and vanilla into a large bowl. Use either a hand mixer or stand mixer to combine the ingredients until they are smooth.¾ cup unsalted butter3 ½ cups powdered sugar2 tablespoons heavy cream2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Next, add the chopped Maraschino cherries. Continue to mix on low speed until the cherries are well mixed.½ cup maraschino cherries
- Apply the frosting to the cooled cookies. Serve immediately or store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.