This is the BEST Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe you will ever try! These cookies are easy to make, delicious, and turn out incredibly soft every single time.
*Post & pictures updated December 2020*
Several years ago I shared this delicious cut out sugar cookie recipe and it’s become a huge hit with so many of you during the holidays! I decided it was time to finally update this recipe with more step pictures and tips to ensure that these cookies turn out perfect for you every time you make them.
One of the things that I love about this cookie dough is that it’s incredibly easy to throw together. I can usually mix up the dough in about 10 minutes. These cookies bake up perfect every single time, they don’t spread, and hold their shape.
If you’ve ever felt intimated when it comes to creating beautiful cookies, I guarantee this easy cut out sugar cookie recipe will change your mind!
First things first, let’s discuss the ingredients that you will need to make this soft cut out sugar cookie recipe:
- All-Purpose Flour: This provides the structure for your cookies so that they hold their shape. It’s crucial to measuring your flour correctly with the spoon and level method. Too much flour can lead to a crumbly cookie dough that won’t roll out properly.
- Baking Powder & Salt: The baking powder provides a little lift and the salt enhances all of the flavors.
- Shortening: If you want a cookie that will hold it’s shape without any dough chilling, then shortening is the way to go! I prefer to use Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening because it has a neutral flavor. Feel free to use their butter flavored version if you prefer though. Make sure your shortening is at room temperature too.
- Granulated Sugar: While I love adding brown sugar whenever possible to my cookies, we’re sticking with just granulated sugar here.
- Vanilla Extract & Egg: The vanilla flavors the dough and the egg helps bind everything together. Make sure to use a room temperature egg so that it disperses evenly throughout the cookie dough.
- Milk: This is a thick cookie dough, so there’s some milk to add moisture and help it come together. I typically use whole milk, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand – 2%, 1%, skim, or even almond milk will work here!
How To Make Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Whisk together dry ingredients: I prefer to mix up the dry ingredients first and whisk them together until well combined. This will ensure that your baking powder and salt are evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.
- Cream the shortening and sugar together: You only need to mix them together until they’re well combined, which should take 1 to 2 minutes.
- Mix in the egg, vanilla, and milk: The mixture will be nice and creamy like the picture above on the right. Feel free to stop and scrape down the sides of your bowl as needed.
- Mix in the dry ingredients: Keep in mind that the mixture will be a little bit crumbly at first, but keep mixing and it will come together just fine. Once the dough comes together, I like to work it together with my hands into a ball.
- Divide the dough in half and roll it out: This is a lot of cookie dough, so I suggest dividing the dough in half and rolling out each half. I find that it’s easier to roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper. 1/4-inch is the perfect thickness for these cookies.
- Cut out shapes & bake: This cookie dough also doesn’t require any dough chilling, but if you run into any issues with cutting out the dough then chilling it can help. See my section below for tips on rolling out and cutting your dough. The baking time will vary some depending on the size of your cookie cutters too, but I typically use 2.5-3-inch cookie cutters and they take about 9 to 12 minutes at 350°F (177°C).
- Ice the cookies: I love to use my easy sugar cookie icing recipe, I recommend doubling it to have enough to ice a full batch of these cookies.
Tips For Rolling Out & Cutting The Cookie Dough
I’ve had quite a few comments over the years with readers experiencing some issues with either rolling out the dough, cutting it, or transferring the dough to a baking sheet. Here are my tips to make this process as easy as possible:
- Roll each half of dough between two pieces of parchment paper: This will prevent it from sticking to your rolling pin and just make it easier! Make sure to lightly flour the parchment paper before adding the dough, then add a little flour on top of your dough before rolling it out.
- Use dowel rods: I like to place a 1/4-inch dowel rod on each side of the dough, then roll it out. This ensures that all of the dough is rolled to the correct thickness.
- Chill the dough: While this dough doesn’t technically have to be chilled, chilling it can make it easier to cut out more intricate shapes and transfer them to your baking sheet too. Once you’ve rolled each half of the dough out between parchment paper, stack them on top of each other (keep them between the parchment paper!), place them on a baking sheet, and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the dough is firm and easier to work with.
- Flour your cookie cutters: This will prevent the dough from sticking as you’re cutting out your shapes.
- Use a thin spatula to transfer the cookies to a baking sheet: I prefer to lightly flour a thin spatula, slide it under the cut out cookie dough, then transfer them to a baking sheet. They slide easily off the spatula too as long as you continue to keep it floured.
Storage & Freezing Instructions
Once your cookies have cooled completely, you can stack them and store them in an airtight container. If you ice the cookies, make sure to let the icing harden completely before stacking them. Cookies with or without icing can be stored at room temperature for up to one week.
To freeze the cookie dough
Divide the dough in two, flatten into two discs about ½-inch thick, wrap each one tightly with plastic wrap, and store in a freezer-safe storage container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to make the cookies, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the discs from the refrigerator, let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 45 minutes, roll each disc out between two pieces of parchment paper. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper, cut out shapes with cookie cutters, and bake as directed.
To freeze the baked cookies
Once the cookies have cooled completely, store them in a freezer-friendly storage container or storage bag for up to 3 months. I recommend placing parchment paper between the layers of cookies so that they don’t stick together. If you are freezing iced cookies, make sure to let the icing fully harden before freezing them. When you’re ready to enjoy the cookies, let them sit at room temperature for several hours to thaw completely.
- When measuring your flour, avoid scooping it out of the container with the measuring cup. Instead, stir the flour around, spoon it into your measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife.
- I suggest using one Crisco baking stick for this recipe since it will give you the exact amount that you need. If you’re measuring out 1 cup of Crisco, make sure to fully pack it into your measuring cup.
- The dough will be a little crumbly at first, but keep mixing and it will come together just fine. Feel free to stop once the mixture comes together and work it together into a ball with your hands.
More Christmas Cookie Recipes To Try!
- Chocolate Turtle Cookies
- Snowball Cookies
- Soft Molasses Cookies
- Thumbprint Cookies
- Peanut Butter Blossoms
Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
For the cut-out sugar cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream the shortening and sugar together for 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined. Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract until fully combined, making sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined. The mixture will be a little crumbly at first but it will come together as you continue mixing it. Once the dough comes together, use your hands to form it into a ball.
- Divide the dough in half. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper, add half of the dough, top with another piece of parchment paper, and roll the dough out ¼-inch thick between both pieces of parchment paper. Repeat with the other half of the dough between two separate pieces of parchment paper. This dough doesn't require any dough chilling, but if you prefer colder dough so that it's easier to work with you can place both pieces of rolled out dough between the parchment paper on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
- Peel off the top layer of parchment paper. Using 2.5 to 3 inch cookie cutters, cut the cookie dough into shapes and place them onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave a little room between each one. If needed, flour a thin spatula and use that to transfer the cut out cookies to the baking sheet. Re-roll any scrap pieces of dough between the parchment paper and continue cutting out shapes. Repeat with the other sheet of cookie dough.
- Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are set the bottom edges are lightly browned.
- Cool on the baking sheets for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.