These sugar cookies are buttery, soft and chewy. These are great to enjoy during Christmas, but they’re also a great year round treat.
* This post was updated with new photos and a modified recipe 🙂
Eat’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Vanilla sugar cookies are a classic Christmas cookie. Although the ingredients are few and simple, the taste and texture of a sugar cookie is out of this world!
This recipe can be used to make soft and chewy sugar cookies, as well as crispy and crumbly sugar cookies. All you have to do is change up the bake time!
This is a very classic and basic sugar cookie recipe, so you can do a lot to change up the flavor for these cookies (more on additions below).
Sugar cookie ingredients:
• flour: for the dough and for rolling
• baking powder: this adds a lightly lift to the cookies and also helps the edges crisp to perfection!
• salt: to balance the sweetness
• butter: for flavor and texture!
• sugar: granulated sugar is best here because it yields a slight crystalized texture to the cookie which is so characteristic of store bought sugar cookies!
• egg: for structure
• vanilla: for flavor
How to make sugar cookies at home:
1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
2. Cream together butter and sugar.
3. Whisk egg and vanilla into butter mix.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
5. Chill dough.
6. Roll, cut, & bake!
7. Cool. Decorate with a simple powdered sugar icing or enjoy plain!
Make Ahead Sugar Cookies:
To make sugar cookies ahead of time, you can either freeze baked sugar cookies or raw sugar cookie dough. To freeze baked sugar cookies, let them cool completely to room temperature and place them in a freezer bag. Push as much air out of the bag as you can and seal. Baked sugar cookies keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
I find it best to freeze plain sugar cookies, and then decorate them right before I plan on serving them. I find that decorated sugar cookies don’t defrost as well as plain cookies, and my designs always manage to smear whenever I try to store them.
If you want to make sugar cookie dough ahead of time, you have 2 options. You can keep the raw dough in the fridge for up to 3 days, or you can freeze sugar cookie dough for up to 3 months.
How To Freeze Sugar Cookie Dough And How To Bake Frozen Sugar Cookie Dough:
To freeze raw cookie dough, wrap it well with plastic wrap and then place in a freezer bag and seal. Try to get as much air as you can out of the bag before sealing it so you prolong the dough’s life.
When you want to bake the frozen dough, take it out of the freezer and let it sit in your fridge for a couple of hours until it’s fully defrosted. Continue with the dough rolling and cutting normally.
How To Freeze Raw, Cut Sugar Cookies:
To freeze your shaped cookies, arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cover and freeze until solid. Transfer your frozen cookies to a freezer bag, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you want to bake the frozen and shaped sugar cookies, you can either bake them while they’re still frozen or after they defrost. To bake frozen cookies (dough?), arrange them on a baking sheet, leaving a bit of room for expansion. Bake in a 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.
To bake defrosted cookies, make sure you arrange them on a cookie sheet before letting them defrost to prevent them from sticking together. You can then either leave them on your counter to defrost for a couple of hours, or let them defrost in your fridge overnight before baking normally.
If you plan on waiting longer than 4 hours before baking your cookies, I recommend defrosting the dough in your fridge to prevent the butter from softening too much. You can also let it defrost on your counter for a bit and finish defrosting in the fridge. Just take care not to let your butter sit out for too long at room temperature.
How To Store Baked Sugar Cookies:
The best way to store baked sugar cookies is in an airtight container at room temperature. Unfrosted sugar cookies keep for up to 2 weeks. Frosted sugar cookies should be enjoyed as soon as possible just because the icing keeps well for up to 3 days.
How to Decorate Sugar Cookies:
I’ll be honest, I can’t decorate cookies to save my life. That’s why I prefer to either decorate some very simple designs … or just enjoy cookies plain. If you have more decorating skills than me (which you probably do), the 2 ingredient icing is great for piping borders and for flooding. If you choose to use whipped cream in the icing, you can even whip the icing to get a thick, spreadable frosting.
Sugar Cookie Add-ins:
Like I mentioned above, this is a very basic recipe, so you can add a lot of different flavorings to change this up. Some additions to this recipe can include almond extract, peppermint extract, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, clove, molasses, ground nuts, cocoa powder, and citrus zest. And these are just what I could come up with off the top of my head!
Check out these other recipes!
Vanilla Sugar Cookies Recipe
- 2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or a wooden spoon, cream together your butter and sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved and you're left with a thick paste.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the butter/sugar mix, and whisk to combine. Pour your dry ingredients in and fold together until you get a rough ball of dough.
- Turn the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, and pat into a disk shape. Wrap tightly and chill in the fridge for 1 hour, or until firmed up.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Unwrap the chilled dough and turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead it with your hands to warm it enough to roll (this helps prevent cracks). Roll the dough into about 1/4 inch thick, and cut with your desired cookie cutters.
- Arrange the cutout cookies onto your parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 1/2 an inch space between each cookie. Gather up the scraps of dough, and roll and cut again, repeating until all the dough is cutout.
- Bake the sugar cookies in the center of your preheated 350°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until puffed and lightly browned along the edges. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then transfer onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely to room temperature.
- (Optional) Decorate your cookies with a simple powdered sugar icing!
I would love to hear any tips you’d like to add to this post and how your sugar cookies turned out in the comments below. Have any questions? Any ideas to improve this recipe? Feel free to comment for that as well. Happy making and Merry Christmas!
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