Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

These Cut-Out Sugar Cookies are soft, buttery and hold their shape while baking. Eaten plain or decorated with frosting and sprinkles, these cookies are so festive and fun!!

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Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees with Green Frosting

Patience is something I’ve been lacking since…..well, birth. But for some reason, when it comes to decorating cakes and cookies, I’ve got all the patience in the world.

In fact, I used to decorate and sell cookies all the time for baby showers, birthday parties and everything in between! That creativity and versatility is what I love about cut-out cookies. And this recipe is all you’ll ever need for perfect, buttery sugar cookies that really hold their shape!

Different cut-out sugar cookie designs I've made in the past

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter – I always use salted butter. However, if you only have “unsalted” butter on hand, add that plus 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Sugar – For sugar cookies, I always use white granulated sugar. If you only have brown sugar on hand, you could certainly give it a try! (I’ve always thought they’d be delicious that way, but would have a darker appearance and certainly aren’t the classic sugar cookie!)
  • Egg – The egg helps bind all of these ingredients together; this is a must for a sturdy sugar cookie!
  • Baking Powder – You’ll notice this recipe has a very small amount of baking powder, which is a leavening agent. If you add too much, the cookies will raise more and spread, which can ruin the clean cut shapes you’re going for. However, a very small amount will help give the cookies a little rise so they’re not too dense.
  • All Purpose Flour – For many recipes, you can substitute self-rising flour with little other adjustments. However, for no-spread sugar cookies, you’ll want to use just all purpose flour.
  • Frosting Ingredients, if you plan to decorate the cookies. I like using buttercream (so smooth & delicious!) or the Wilton royal icing recipe (as it hardens and makes the cookies easy to store).
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies on a white plate

How do you make Cut-Out Sugar Cookies that don’t spread?

Make the dough – The dough is really simple to put together. You’ll combine the butter and sugar, then add the egg and extracts. Lastly, you’ll stir in the baking powder and flour.

Refrigerate – Pat the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2+ hours or overnight.

Roll out and cut the dough – Remove the disc from the fridge and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. It feels quite thick for a cookie, but it’s what will help give it that soft, chewy texture! Use a floured cutter to make the shapes and place on parchment-lined baking sheets or a silicon baking mat.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t work the dough too much. The more times you roll the dough out, the more “stretchy” the gluten in the flour gets, making the cookie more tough. Get as many cookies cut on that first roll-out, then roll out once or twice more if needed.

Bake – Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes, or until barely turning a golden brown. If you over-bake them, they will firm up and won’t be as soft as intended. The bake time will largely depend on the size cookies you choose, so be sure to watch them carefully as they bake.

Decorate – Now time to decorate! As I mentioned before, you can use buttercream or a royal icing recipe. I use the Wilton royal icing recipe as I like how it hardens and is easy to transport. I usually make just 1/2 batch as it makes more frosting than I need for one batch of cookies. (See below for more ideas!)

Pro Tip – How to Fill a Piping Bag

Sure, you can try to hold the bag and fill it, but chances are, you’ll make quite the mess….speaking from experience here!  Instead, use a tall cup, open the piping bag and fill it (see photos below). Then remove it from the cup and twist the top. Now you can snip the tip off and get to decorating!

Ways to Decorate Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

When I think about fun in the kitchen as a kid, my mind immediately goes to decorating Christmas cookies with my siblings. It’s a great activity to get the kiddos involved! Here are a few different ways to decorate cookies!

  • Color the dough before you cool it. For example, mix in a few drops of green food coloring if you plan to make Christmas trees! And if you want to get really crafty, make a few different colors of dough and roll out together for a tie-dye effect!
  • Add sprinkles before baking. My mom never loved lots of frosting on her cookies, we we’d press some sprinkles into the dough on a few cookies before baking, instead!
  • Spread frosting with a butterknife. Buttercream is super simple to make, can be colored, and is easy for kids to spread with a butterknife.
  • Pipe frosting onto the cookies. See my tip above on how to fill a piping bag!
  • Sprinkles! For me, sprinkles are a must! I love the color & sparkle they add around the holidays!
Cut-Out Sugar Cookies on a table

Other Favorite Holiday Treats

Everyone’s got their favorite Christmas treat, but here are a few of my favorites!!

Gingerbread Cookies – Gingerbread Cookies are simply a classic. Full of flavor, soft, chewy and fun to decorate!
Cookie Dough Truffles – It’s not the holiday season at our house without these little morsels of deliciousness!
Grandma’s Frosted Spritz Cookies – These are my #1 favorite Christmas treat. There I said it. I’m picking favorites and this is the one…my mouth is watering just thinking about them!! 

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies on a white plate

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Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

These Cut-Out Sugar Cookies are soft, buttery and hold their shape while baking. Eaten plain or decorated with frosting and sprinkles, these cookies are so festive and fun!!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Refrigeration Time 1 hr
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 18 medium cookies


  • 3/4 c salted butter softened
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract optional
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 c flour


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well-combined.
  • Stir in the egg, vanilla and almond extract.
  • Add the baking powder and flour and stir until combined.
  • Scoop the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten into a disc and wrap up tightly; refrigerate for 2+ hours or overnight.
  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick.
  • Cut with a floured cutter and place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart on a parchment-lined (or silicon baking mat-lined) cookie sheet.
  • Bake one pan at a time for 10-12 minutes (depending on cutter size) and let cool on a cooling rack.
  • Decorate as desired.
Keyword cookies, sugar cookies


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