This Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe is going to be your new go to Christmas cookie. They are easy to make, soft, delicious, and hold their shape every single time.
This is a family favorite recipe that you are going to love and keep for years to come! Make some of the best vanilla buttercream frosting to decorate them!
I’m so excited about sharing this soft cut out sugar cookie recipe with you guys today! It’s the recipe that my mom always used for cut sugar cookies at Christmas time, that she passed down to me. Whenever I make the dough, I take a taste of it, and I am immediately seven years old in my parents’ kitchen stealing scraps as we make cookies as a family, Christmas music playing in the background.
Every year, I use this recipe to make Christmas sugar cookies with my own kids. It’s one of my very favorite Christmas traditions. You can find us, just about every Christmas Eve, decorating these cookies to put out a plate for Santa.
I love this recipe. The cookies turned out perfectly. My 16 yr old says they are the best cookie I have made so far. Thanks Lisa!
What Makes This the Best Sugar Cookie Recipe in the World
- The taste! The taste of these cookies is perfection. They are just the right amount of sweet and buttery.
- They hold their shape! Cut out cookies that hold their shape is a must at Christmas. These guys don’t spread, and they hold their cut out shape just right.
- These soft sugar cookies truly are soft. They have a tiny bit of a crisp outer edge with the most delicious soft center.
How to Make Sugar Cookies
As with any baking recipe, I suggest that you read through the recipe fully before you get going. Proper measuring and temperature of ingredients are what will ensure success.
This is a brief overview of the recipe. Please make sure to get the full measurements in the recipe card below.
- Whisk together dry ingredients. Whisk together the sifted flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Sift them, and set aside.
- Cream together the butter, shortening, and sugar. Beat the sugar with the shortening and butter incorporating air into them. The mixture should look light and fluffy at the end and take about 3 to 6 minutes.
- Add the eggs and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Add it all at once. Then mix on low just until it is combined enough the flour won’t fly out of the bowl. Turn up the mixer to high for just a few seconds until it’s fully combined.
- Chill the dough. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Roll the dough. Roll out the dough on a well floured counter top (sometimes I use powdered sugar instead!), and cut out the shapes. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Bake the cut out cookies.
- Frost and enjoy!
Measuring flour is the key to making a lot of great cookie recipes like this one turn out perfectly. Following these steps will ensure that you have the correct amount of flour in the recipe.
- Whisk the flour in the container you store it in.
- Spoon it into a dry measuring cup. Do not scoop with the measuring cup. This can pack the flour and result in too much. (Read more about dry measuring cups below.
- Level off the flour with the flat edge of a spatula handle.
Dry Measuring Cups
A dry measuring cup is a measuring cup meant to measure dry ingredients. They are usually make out of plastic or metal and come in sizes (1 cup, 1/2 a cup, 1/3 cup, etc). They are different than glass measuring cups with marks on the side meant for measuring liquids.
Sifting Dry Ingredients
I really like sifting the dry ingredients in this recipe because it helps distribute the baking powder and salt fully in the flour. It’s one extra step that ensures that this recipe turns out perfect. That being said, if it will keep you from making these, skip it.
Chilling the Dough
After making the sugar cookie dough, you do need to chill it for 2 hours before rolling. This ensures that the cookies will hold their shape when you bake them. This is an important step, so please don’t skip it.
Making Dough in Advance
If you would like to make this dough further in advance you can do that too. Keep the dough refrigerated for up to 2 days. If you wrap the dough tightly, you can freeze it for up to 1 month.
Freezing this Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
This cut out sugar cookie recipe is great for freezing! To do that, just put a piece of paper towel at the bottom of an air tight container, layer the cooked cooled cookies in a single layer. Put another paper towel on top, and then add another single layer of cookies. Continue layering, alternating paper towels and cookies.
When you thaw the cookies, the paper towels will help absorb any excess moisture.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Frosting for Sugar Cookies
You can’t have frosted sugar cookies my Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. It is the perfect delicious compliment to this recipe.
If you would like to decorate the cookies as you see here, you will need:
- To double the vanilla frosting recipe. If you are just spreading frosting on the cookies, a single batch should work.
- Grab a frosting tip set. I really like this one. It comes with reusable bags and lots of tips at a reasonable price. It’s perfect for decorating gingerbread houses too.
- Add in some food coloring. Gel food coloring is a great way to get vibrant colors in this frosting recipe.
Tips and Tricks for this Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe
Here are the cliff notes to make sure these frosted sugar cookies turn out perfect.
- Properly measure your flour. Read above on how to do that. It’s my first question for a reader when a cookie recipe doesn’t turn out.
- Use room temperature butter and shortening. You should be able to easily dent them with your finger, but not push all the way through.
- Use fresh baking powder. Test it by dropping some in some water. It should bubble immediately.
- Chill your dough. Read above on how and why.
- Use good baking sheets. You can do everything right and the use old baking sheets only to have your cookies burn. I love these baking sheets. They never fail me.
These sugar cookies will stay soft and delicious, if stored in an air tight container, for at least two weeks. That is as long as I can give you because they have never lasted longer than that around here. And even that took acts of great will power. At the two week mark, they were still very soft and very delicious.
If you would like to make them further out than that for decorating later, I suggest freezing them.
Yes! These freeze very well, and they are a great recipe to make far in advance (about three months at the most). Read above for more detailed instructions.
A balance of butter and shortening! Vegetable shortening (like Crisco) will help the cookies hold their shape, while butter gives it a delicious flavor. Just like in my pie crust recipe, you need both.
When they just begin to brown around the edges, they are ready to come out of the oven. Allow them to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before using a spatula to transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
Unfortunately, these cookies haven’t been tested with gluten free flour. If you wanted to test these gluten free, I recommend using a flour that is meant to replace all purpose flour one for one, such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour.
Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (read important tips about measuring flour here)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt see note
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/4 cup shortening room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- powdered sugar
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift and set aside. (Read about sifting and if you can skip it here.)
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the shortening, butter, and sugar until fluffy. About three minutes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, until just combined.
- Add the flour to the wet ingredients. Mix in on low just long enough that the flour is somewhat incorporated so you can turn it on high for a few seconds to fully incorporate.
- Refrigerate the dough, covered, for at least two hours.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside
- Dust your countertop with flour (or for a fun treat, powdered sugar). Working with a small amount of dough, roll it out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters and place on prepared baking sheets. Put the scraps of dough back in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes before rolling out again.
- Refrigerate the cut dough on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes.
- Bake until the edges of the cookies are just golden brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pans for two minutes before placing on cooling racks to cool completely. Read here about frosting them.