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Best Sugar Cookie Recipe

4.85 from 32 votes
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posted: 12/07/19

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Sugar Cookie Recipe stands the test of time. Crisp on the outside, but buttery soft on the inside, this is a family favorite!

several sugar cookies piled on each other on wax paper which is on a blue cloth napkin

This recipe for easy sugar cookies is one of my very favorite baked goods. I have made this recipe so many times, I can practically do it in my sleep. Originally from America’s Test Kitchen, you know it is a winner.

By following my simple tips for how to make the best sugar cookies, these will turn out perfect for you as well. You’ll never need another recipe.

Reader Review

I have used this recipe for around 2 years and I absolutely love it.

What Makes This Recipe the Best

I don’t use “best” loosely. This recipe really is the best, and there are a few things that will make you heartily agree.

  • These cookies have a simple delicious buttery flavor that wins over everyone.
  • The texture of these sugar cookies is perfection. They are crisp on the outside and buttery soft on the inside.
  • These homemade sugar cookies don’t need any chilling, which means you are that much closer to being able to eat them.
  • This is an easy sugar cookie recipe. If baking intimidates you, read on! You can do it.
  • Whether it is Christmas time, a birthday, or a party at work, this cookie recipe fits every occasion. Around the holidays I love rolling these in green and red sanding sugar!
a thumb and index finger rolling a ball of white cookie dough in a small bowl of sugar

How to Make Sugar Cookies

This is a brief overview to show you just how easy these cookies are to make. For the full recipe with all of the measurements see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar. You can do this with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, but I much prefer the stand mixer. Once it is creamed, add the vanilla and eggs.
  3. Add the flour mixture. I like to add it all at once, mixing on low for a short time and then on high for a very short time to keep the mixing time as small as possible.
  4. Make the dough into cookies. Shape the dough into balls using a cookie scoop, and roll in sugar. Bake the cookies and enjoy!
TOP PICK

Cookie Scoop

I love using this cookie scoop to keep the size of the cookies uniform. It also makes quick work of scooping the dough!
Product Image

Adding Flour in Cookie Recipes

In the last year or so I’ve changed how I do this, so I wanted to bring your attention to it. I’ve done some reading and what I’ve learned is that adding a flour mixture a little at a time is more likely to result in over mixing.

Once flour hits wet ingredients, the gluten begins to develop. If you beat the flour in too long, it will result in unpleasantly chewy cookies. For a long time I added flour just a scoop or two at a time. Now, I have a new faster method.

Add in all of the flour mixture at once. Beat on low, just long enough so the flour doesn’t fly all over. Then beat on high, just enough so it is combined. Be sure to scrape your bowl at the bottom with a spatula to make sure all the flour was mixed in. We also don’t want to under mix.

raw ball of sugar cookie dough sitting on a silpat reusable baking mat
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Baking Sheets

These rimmed baking sheets are the best. They help your cookies turn out perfect.
Product Image

Sugar Cookie Tips and Tricks

These tips apply to a lot of my cookies. They are such helpful little tips.

  • Measure the flour correctly. This is so important that I have a whole section on it below.
  • Ensure the baking powder is still good. To test, add a little to some water. It should bubble right away.
  • Fully whisk your dry ingredients. There is no risk of over mixing when it’s all dry ingredients and no one wants a pocket of salt in their cookie.
  • Use room temperature butter. Resist the urge to soften the butter in the microwave. It just doesn’t soften the butter evenly, resulting melted patches. Instead, cut it up and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes. You should be able to easily dent it with your finger but not push all the way through. And it will feel cold to the touch.
  • Fully cream your butter and your sugar. It should look light and fluffy after mixing. Doing this will create lighter cookies because it will beat air pockets into the butter. Additionally, this will create more volume of dough and therefore more cookies.
  • Use room temperature eggs. Fill a bowl with luke warm water and let the eggs sit in there while you are doing your other measuring and mixing.
  • Use a cookie scoop (1 1/2 tablespoon). This will ensure that all of your cookies are uniform in size.
  • Rotate your baking sheet half way through baking. This helps ensure that your cookies will bake evenly.

How to Measure Flour

This guide on how to measure flour will ensure that each of your baking recipes turns out fantastic regardless of whether or not you own a kitchen scale.
Person's hands leveling off measuring cup of flour with handle of spatula over container of flour with whisk beside for How to Measure Flour

Measuring Flour in Baking Recipes

A key component to any baking recipes is measuring flour correctly. If there is too much flour, it will greatly impact the recipe, perhaps even to the point of ruining it. Extra flour most often happens when it is measured incorrectly. Follow the steps below to ensure you get the correct amount of flour. You can read more about this in the link above.

  1. Whisk the flour in the container you keep it in, even if that container is the bag you purchased it in. This will loosen up the flour, a key step.
  2. Scoop the flour with a spoon. Scoop it into a dry measuring cup. Then with the flat edge of a spatula, level off the flour.

Storing

This soft sugar cookie recipe can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Please keep in mind that they are freshest in the first three days after making. These can be stored at room temperature. As with all recipes, use your best discretion when it comes to leftovers.

Freezing Sugar Cookies

Freezing as Cookie Dough Balls

This is a great dough to make ahead and freeze. To do that, follow the recipe through rolling the balls in sugar. After that, follow the steps below.

  1. Press the dough down lightly.
  2. Place on wax paper on a baking tray and put in the freezer for four hours to flash freeze.
  3. Transfer the frozen dough to an airtight container.
  4. Put back in the freezer and store the dough for up to three months.
  5. When you are ready to bake, proceed as directed in the recipe card but bake for an extra 2 minutes.

Freezing as Baked Cookies

If you would like to bake the cookies completely, but then freeze the whole cookie, these cookies freeze great.

  1. Place the baked and cooled cookies on a wax lined baking sheet.
  2. Freeze for four hours to flash freeze them. Transfer the cookies to an air-tight container and freeze for up to three months.
  3. Allow cookies to thaw at room temperature before eating. This will take less than 30 minutes.

Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

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.
overhead view of a lot of soft cut out sugar cookies that have been frosted and decorated

FAQ

Can these cookies be cut out?

They cannot. This recipe is only meant to be rolled and not cut out. For that, you will want my Cut Out Sugar Cookies.

My cookies spread too much, what did I do wrong?

In all likelihood, your butter was too soft. Room temperature butter should be easily dented with a finger but still cold to the touch. If you can push your finger all the way through the butter, it is much too soft.

Can these sugar cookies be frosted?

I don’t typically frost these, but you certainly could (I love doing that when I makes them as bars in my Sugar Cookie Bar recipe). I love using this vanilla frosting.

Can these be frozen?

Yes! They freeze well as both a baked cookie and as dough. You can find instructions for both above.

Why do you use unsalted butter?

The amount of salt in butter varies greatly from brand to brand. For that reason, I use unsalted butter and then I can control the amount of salt in the batter. If you are in a pinch you can use salted butter and just omit the salt from the batter.

Can these be made gluten free?

Unfortunately these have not been tested with gluten free flour. If I was going to test them I would use a flour mix that is meant to replace all purpose flour one to one.

How many cookies does this recipe make?

When made as written, this recipe makes 32 cookies.

a sugar cookie that has been broken in half on top of a pile of three other sugar cookies

Sugar Cookie Variations

I love this recipe so much that I’ve used it again and again to create some pretty amazing cookies. Check them out!

If you make is sugar cookies recipe and love them, join the others leaving a comment and letting me know!

several sugar cookies piled on each other on wax paper which is on a blue cloth napkin
4.85 from 32 votes

Perfect Sugar Cookies

Serves: 32 cookies
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
This Sugar Cookie Recipe stands the test of time. Crisp on the outside, but buttery soft on the inside, this is a family favorite!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (300 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature (197.8 gram)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar plus extra for rolling, about 1/2 a cup (297 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three to six minutes.
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Mix in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla until well combined.
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 large eggs
  • Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix on low until it just begins to combine. Then turn up the mixer to high just long enough that you don't see streaks of flour. Scrape down the bowl and ont he bottom to ensure that all the flour is added. Only mix long enough to combine the flour.
  • Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, roll the dough into one inch sized balls. Roll the balls in sugar (you will need about 1/2 cup extra). Place on the prepared baking sheet. Space the cookies about two inches apart.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking, or until the cookies just begin to turn golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Serving: 1cookie Calories: 121kcal (6%) Carbohydrates: 16g (5%) Protein: 1g (2%) Fat: 5g (8%) Saturated Fat: 3g (19%) Monounsaturated Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 25mg (8%) Sodium: 84mg (4%) Potassium: 5mg Sugar: 9g (10%) Calcium: 5mg (1%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
several sugar cookies piled on each other on wax paper which is on a blue cloth napkin

did you make this

Perfect Sugar Cookies

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions

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  1. Adriana Calderon says

    Hi I’m Adriana from Costa Rica can you tell me how much is in grama of butter?? Grate recepie!! Thank you so much

    • Lisa Longley says

      198.45 grams

  2. Jo says

    I’m Gluten sensitive- is there another option other than regular flour?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so sorry, I’ve only tested this recipe with all purpose flour. If I were going to try it with a GF flour, I would start testing using a one for one GF replacement, like this one: https://amzn.to/3xA17Ny

  3. Carleen M Magri says

    5 stars
    These were and are so yummy!! Everyone at my worked loved them too.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’ms o glad to hear it!

  4. Janet Mathis says

    Instead of vanilla flavoring for the sugar cookie I used almond flavoring and they tasted wonderful

  5. Ida says

    So nice to see this ATK recipe floating around again. I thought I had lost my copy, but thanks to you I found it. It was just tucked away under ordinary ol’ sugar cookies. The ‘Perfect’ is important! These are the best sugar cookies ever.

  6. Maryjo Betson says

    Lisa how come no one sifts their flour anymore and then measure? You can significantly see how much extra flour you’re putting in a recipe by comparing say a cup of flour whisked and leveled off versus sifting and then measuring and leveling off. You will end up with extra flour from the whisk pile. Lisa by the way, I absolutely love and look forward to all of your recipes!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I can’t really speak for anyone else, but I will say that scooping the flour with a spoon and then leveling it off is a great way to get the amount that the recipe calls for without sifting. I’m so glad you are enjoying my recipes!

  7. Kit says

    Hi, are the degrees in fahrenhite or celsius

    • Lisa Longley says

      Fahrenheit

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