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Sugar Cookies

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This easy recipe for homemade Sugar Cookies shows you how to make this classic cookie using simple baking ingredients. Bake up a batch for the holidays or personalize with different flavors and decorations for any party or occasion any time of the year!

Looking for an easy classic sugar cookie recipe? Well, we’ve got you covered. Making cookies during the cooler months is one of our favorite holiday activities. We especially love making sugar cookies because they can be shaped and decorated in so many different ways. These sugar cookies are perfect for any occasion or holiday and it’s easy to make with simple baking ingredients you already have in your kitchen.

Homemade sugar cookies are better than store bought because they can be personalized. They also taste much better when the ingredients are fresh, which is not always guaranteed in store-bought sugar cookies and can be used as a base for many other cookie recipes. 

Baking fresh sugar cookies are also a great family activity as decorating them can be creative and fun for everyone! 

Tall stack of cookies on a blue linen.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • They are made with simple pantry ingredients you can find at any grocery store. 
  • You can shape them using cookie cutters, or by dropping spoonfuls of dough for a rustic look.
  • The options for decorating are endless and can be a great family activity.
  • Sugar cookies are popular during the holiday season but can be baked year-round for a special treat at any time. 

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • All-Purpose Flour – This dry ingredient makes up the base of the cookie giving it its main texture and shape. 
  • Baking Soda & Baking Powder – A mixture of these two leavening ingredients help the cookies rise while baking creating a classic cookie texture. 
  • Salt – Helps activate the leavening agents and balances the sweet flavor in the sugar. 
  • Unsalted Butter – Gives the dough its rich buttery texture and flavor making the sugar cookie dough dense and easier to work with. 
  • Granulated Sugar – Sweetens the inside of the cookies so they have an even flavor throughout. 
  • Egg – Helps bind the ingredients together keeping them in a cookie shape while baking. 
  • Whole Milk – Used to help thin out the dough while keeping it moist and smooth. 
  • Vanilla Extract – Infuses the cookies with a light vanilla flavor that classically pairs well with sugar cookie flavor. 
  • Decorating Sugar – This ingredient is optional if you’d like to decorate your cookies with a crunchy coarse sugar crust for texture and flavor.
Ingredients needed for sugar cookies.

How To Make Homemade Sugar Cookies

  1. Prepare for chilling: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Set aside for when the cookies are ready to chill. 
  2. Mix the dry ingredients: Grab a medium-sized bowl, then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk all the ingredients together until fully combined. 
  3. Mix the wet ingredients: In a separate mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add in the egg and mix until combined. Then, add in the milk and vanilla and mix until all of the wet ingredients are evenly combined. During mixing, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. 
  4. Form the cookie dough: Slowly add the dry ingredients in batches to the wet ingredients. Mix until the dough is evenly combined, but do not overwork. 
  5. Shape and the cookie dough and chill: Form the cookie dough balls by scooping with a 1.5-inch tablespoon measure. Assemble them on the prepared cookie sheet. Wrap the cookie sheet with a layer of plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge to chill for at least two hours up to 24 hours. 
  6. Prepare for baking: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 
  7. Shape and bake: Roll each scooped dough piece gently into a ball using your hands until smooth. Then add the cookies to the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  8. OPTIONAL: Before adding the cookies to the baking sheet, dip the tops of the cookie dough balls in decorating sugar. 
Collage showing how to make sugar cookies.

Recipe Tips

  • We highly recommend chilling the cookie dough overnight. This will ensure a thicker, more evenly textured cookie. Not chilling long enough can cause the cookies to spread resulting in flatter cookies.
  • Use room temperature butter, eggs, and milk before making the sugar cookie dough to ensure it blends together evenly. 
  • When mixing the dough together, do not overwork it. Mix everything until just combined. This will keep the cookies from getting a tough texture. 
  • Splurge on a high-quality vanilla extract for fresh and flavorful sugar cookies. 
  • The baking time for these cookies is very short. It may seem like the cookies are underbaked when you remove them from the oven, but they will set properly as they cool.

Variations

  • Add your favorite sprinkles or sanding sugar in place of the decorating sugar. You can also omit the decorating sugar if desired! It adds a nice crunch to the outside of the cookie. 
  • Dust the sugar cookies with a bit of powdered sugar for a snow-covered look. 
  • To change the base of the sugar cookie flavor, add almond, coconut, maple, or lemon extract to mix up the flavor.
  • Change the color of these sugar cookies by adding a few drops of food coloring depending on the occasion. 
  • Add ¼ of unsweetened cocoa powder to the dough mix for a chocolate-flavored sugar cookie. 
  • Decorate the finished cookies with your favorite buttercream or icing of your choice.
Fresh baked sugar cookies stacked in a pile.

What’s the difference between sugar cookies and butter cookies?

Sugar cookies have a texture that is a bit softer and chewy whereas butter cookies are usually a shortbread texture that is dry and crunchy with a heavier butter taste.

Are sugar cookies and snickerdoodles the same?

For the most part, a snickerdoodle is a sugar cookie but with a bit of cinnamon and/or warming spices added to the dough.

How do you keep sugar cookies from spreading too much while baking?

Make sure the dough is chilled for at least 24 hours so the butter has a chance to solidify. For best results, baking on parchment paper or a silicone mat will keep them from spreading too much.

Storing and Freezing

Storing: Sugar cookies will last for a few days to a week stored in an airtight container at room temperature. 

Freezing: Both baked sugar cookies and unbaked sugar cookies can be frozen for later. Freeze overnight on a baking sheet, then transfer to an airtight container or bag for up to 3 months.

Stack of four sugar cookies with a blue linen.

Sugar Cookies

Yield: About 40 Cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 26 minutes

This easy recipe for homemade Sugar Cookies shows you how to make this classic cookie using simple baking ingredients. Bake up a batch for the holidays or personalize with different flavors and decorations for any party or occasion any time of the year!

Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup decorating sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate large bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. 
  4. Add the egg and mix it in until combined. Pour in the milk and vanilla, and continue to mix until combined, scrape down the sides as needed.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  6. Using a 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out the cookie dough onto the parchment-lined sheet tray. They can be close but not touching. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, but best if you can chill overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line sheet trays with parchment paper. Pour the decorator’s sugar into a small bowl.
  8. Roll the cookie dough balls between your hands to form a smooth ball. Dip the tops of the dough balls into the decorator’s sugar. Place them, sugar side up, onto the parchment-lined sheet trays about 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 8-11 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the tray for 10 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. See post for storage options.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 2 cookies. Actual calories will vary.

*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

*I highly recommend chilling overnight, this will ensure a thicker, more puffed-up cookie. Not chilling long enough can cause the cookies to spread resulting in flatter cookies.

*Add your favorite sprinkles or sanding sugar in place of the decorating sugar. You can also omit the decorating sugar if desired! It adds a nice crunch to the outside of the cookie but they don’t absolutely need it.

*Add almond, coconut, or lemon extract to mix up the flavor!

*Add your favorite buttercream or icing of your choice. I love to use this recipe as a base for other cookies.

*Photos courtesy of Dana from This Silly Girl's Kitchen.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 2 cookies
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 220Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 108mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 2g

*The calories are an estimate and are based on the ingredients and serving size listed. The calories can vary depending on the brand of product purchased.

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