This classic Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe is perfect for baking cookies with your family and friends. Make it a holiday tradition!
Frosted sugar cookies in fun holiday shapes are the most popular Christmas cookies! They are easy to make, fun to decorate, and everyone loves eating them!
Why We Love This Recipe
One of the traditions I passed down from my childhood to my kids is making cutout sugar cookies during the holidays. Growing up, we always made Betty Crocker rolled sugar cookies. When my daughter moved away from home, she made this cut out sugar cookie recipe with her roommates and was shocked to find that they had never made them!
Yes, making a homemade sugar cookie recipe takes a bit of extra time to make with the chilling time, rolling out the dough, cutting out the cookies, and decorating them, but it is time well spent with people you love.
How To Make Old Fashioned Rolled Sugar Cookie Dough
First, beat the butter and shortening to combine.
Then, add the granulated sugar and beat until light in color and fluffier in texture, about 2-3 minutes.
Next, beat in the eggs and vanilla extract for 1-2 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then, add it to the mixing bowl and stir until combined.
Finally, cover the cookie dough batter and refrigerate it for at least one hour.
Do you have to chill sugar cookie dough?
Chilling sugar cookie dough solidifies the fats so that they melt slower in the oven and prevent the cookies from spreading too much. When making cut-out sugar cookies, you want the shapes you cut out with cookie cutters to still be identifiable after baking.
Cold cookie dough is also much easier to roll out than softer, stickier cookie dough. But all that to say, NO you don’t HAVE to chill sugar cookie dough as long as you can roll it out (you’ll need to dust it with a lot of flour) and are okay with a little more spread of the cookie shapes.
This sugar cookie recipe recommends that you chill the dough in the fridge for at least one hour. But another option you have is to make the dough the night before and chill it in the fridge overnight! That way, the dough is ready to go when you are.
How can you chill cookie dough faster?
I do have a couple of tips for chilling cookie dough faster! The first is to spread the dough out more in the bowl and up the sides…more surface area means it will chill faster. If it is all in one big clump, the dough in the middle will take longer to get cold.
Another way to get it to chill faster is to put the bowl in the freezer instead of the refrigerator…a colder temperature means faster chilling.
How To Make Cut Out Sugar Cookies
Once the dough has been chilled, take out a portion of it and return the rest to the fridge. Roll the sugar cookie dough out to about 1/8-inch thick on a flour-covered surface. You can also dust the top of the dough with flour to help prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin.
Use cookie cutters to cut out various shapes depending on the season or holiday.
Cookie Cutter Alternatives
If you don’t have any cookie cutters, you can still use this cut out sugar cookie recipe and make shapes using an alternative method.
Knife or Pizza Cutter: You can use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut the dough into shapes. This works particularly well to cut out triangles, squares, or diamonds quickly. Triangle-shaped cookies can be made into Christmas trees, Santa hats, gingerbread houses, ice cream cones, and watermelon slices. Squares can be made into wrapped presents or windows.
If you have a certain shape you really want to make and are missing the cookie cutter, cut the shape out of a piece of paper (freehand or print one from online). Then, use a knife to trace around the shape in the sugar cookie dough.
Drinking Glass or Bowl: Another option is to use a drinking glass or small bowl to make circles. Circle cookies can be made into wreaths, faces, balls, peppermint candies, snowmen, penguins, donuts, eyeballs, and so on. The options are endless!
Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies at 400˚F for 5-7 minutes and then cool them completely.
The final step is to decorate the cookies! Since this post is packed with information about the rolled sugar cookie recipe, I made a whole post dedicated to decorating cookies, and it includes four icing recipes and techniques for using them! Find my sugar cookies icing guide here.
More Cookie Recipes
- Decorate these Gnomes Cookies with a buttercream or cotton candy beard.
- Pink Peppermint Cookies have a candy cane crunch!
- These Chocolate Chip Cookies are a family favorite.
- Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups have mini marshmallows on top!
Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
- Beat butter and shortening until combined.
- Add the granulated sugar and beat until light in color and fluffier in texture, about 2-3 minutes.
- Beat in the eggs and vanilla for 1-2 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the mixing bowl and stir until combined.
- Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight.
- Remove a portion of the dough from the bowl (leave the rest in the fridge) and roll it out to about 1/8-inch on a flour-covered surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour to prevent the rolling pin from sticking.
- Cut out shapes and use a spatula to transfer them to a parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake at 400˚F for 5-7 minutes.
- Cool completely before storing in an airtight container or before decorating.
Frequently Asked Questions
When making cookies, I like to use a combination of shortening and butter. Shortening helps the cookies rise more and gives them a light texture while preventing the cookies from spreading too much. On the other hand, butter brings flavor and helps make the cookies crispy.
The recipe I used growing up was from a vintage Betty Crocker cookbook, which called for all shortening, so you can choose that option. As far as using all butter, that works, too, but make sure your cookie dough is very chilled, and remember that your cookies will spread more as they bake.
Sugar cookie dough can be flavored depending on what your family likes. I always make mine with pure vanilla extracts. You can also try adding lemon extract or orange zest for a citrus flavor. Or, if you like almond flavor, add a little almond extract.
Other options include adding spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or anise. You can even add herbs like lavender or rosemary, depending on how you plan to use the cookies.
You can make more cookies by re-rolling the leftover scraps of dough you get when using this sugar cookie recipe. Gather all of the scraps of dough that were between the cut-out sugar cookies and use them to form a large ball of dough. Return the ball to the refrigerator to chill again. Continue rolling out dough and cutting shapes from the rest of the chilled dough in the bowl.