BEST Sugar Cookie Recipe | Soft, Chewy Drop-Style Cookies
Filed Under: Cookies

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

By Tessa Arias
  |  
September 30th, 2021
4.95 from 325 votes
4.95 from 325 votes

My go-to recipe, these Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies are perfectly tender and soft with just the right amount of chewiness. They take just minutes to make with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen!

Yield: 16 large cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Tessa's Recipe Rundown...

Taste: The perfect amount of sweetness.
Texture: My favorite part, each bite is the ideal balance between soft and chewy.
Ease: Super easy 30-minute sugar cookie recipe with no chilling required.
Pros: Fun, simple, and perfect for holidays from Christmas to Valentine’s Day, even 4th of July!
Cons: None.
Would I make this again? I’ve made this recipe many times, everyone raves about it.

Not to boast, but everyone who has tasted or made this sugar cookie recipe has said it became their instant favorite!! It took weeks of testing to get it just right.

These Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies require NO CHILLING and are incredibly easy to bake up.

This recipe is perfect for your Christmas cookie boxes or just enjoying with a glass of milk. If it’s a warmer time of year, it also makes a great base for ice cream sandwiches!

soft drop-style sugar cookie recipe, showing several stacked cookies

This recipe is actually featured in my cookbook, The Ultimate Cookie Handbook, which has sold out multiple times!! It makes me so glad to see you guys adore cookie baking as much as I do.

Originally, I had created a sugar cookie recipe with cream cheese that was ultra-soft. However, I found that it would become claggy, and each bite would get stuck to the roof of your mouth. I happened to grab a sugar cookie at a bakery one random day and instantly became inspired by its texture.

my soft, chewy sugar cookie recipe, all baked and ready to enjoy

It was simultaneously soft and chewy. Each bite was so incredibly satisfying! I knew I had to recreate that texture for my cookbook sugar cookie recipe. I’m SO happy with the results… mostly because this recipe turned out to be so easy to make, and they taste utterly delicious.

People will think you went to an expensive bakery when you show up with a box of these cookies. Especially if you stock up on some cute homemade cookie gift packaging.

my sugar cookie recipe, baked and sitting on a plate next to a glass of cold milk, ready to enjoy

Ingredients For the Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe:

  • All-purpose flour – Make sure to weigh your flour accurately. If you add too much flour, your cookies won’t spread at all and won’t be soft or chewy. 
  • Baking powder – This gives the sugar cookies lift, without adding too much spread or browning.
  • Fine sea salt – So important to balance the sweetness!
  • Unsalted butter It’s important that your butter is at a cool room temperature, otherwise your cookies may spread. 
  • Granulated sugar – The star ingredient! Don’t reduce the sugar – find out why here.
  • Eggs – One whole egg with an extra egg yolk lends richness and chewiness to the texture. Make sure they’re at room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract – No sugar cookie recipe is complete without vanilla extract.

How to Make SOFT Sugar Cookies

  1. The extra egg yolk helps to add more moisture and richness, for a soft and chewy texture.
  2. The other trick is found in the size of the dough ball…. a whole 3 tablespoons in each! This creates larger cookies that spread out perfectly with ultra-soft centers.
  3. Whatever you do, don’t overbake this sugar cookie recipe. They should still look ever so slightly ‘wet’ in the center when you pull them from the oven.

Why Did my Sugar Cookies Spread?

To prevent flat sugar cookies that spread into little puddles, it’s important to make sure your butter is at a COOL room temperature.

Your sticks of butter should give slightly when pressed with your finger but still hold their shape. To be precise, your butter should be 67°F.

how to tell if butter is at a cool room temperature

How to Get a Crinkly Top in Sugar Cookies

Baking powder is one ingredient that gives these cookies their characteristic cracks, so make sure your baking powder is fresh. Check out my Baking Soda vs Baking Powder article for more details and instructions on how to test for freshness.

You also want to make sure that your butter is at a cool room temperature (67°F) as that can affect the appearance of these sugar cookies as well.

PLUS, rolling the cookies in granulated sugar is important! The sugar helps to draw moisture out from the surface of the cookies while they bake, which dries out the tops before the interior sets, resulting in pretty cracks.

Roll Your Sugar Cookie Dough Balls in Sugar Before Baking!

Roll each ball of dough in a shallow dish filled with granulated sugar. This creates that slightly crispy exterior and beautiful sparkly appearance.

my sugar cookie recipe - portioned dough balls being rolled in sugar and placed on a baking sheet, ready to bake

Can I Make This Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe With a Hand Mixer?

Yes! A hand mixer will work just as well as a stand mixer.

What Kind of Baking Sheet is Best for Cookies?

A light-colored aluminum half sheet pan is my favorite for baking cookies. Avoid dark nonstick pans altogether, they brown too much and may burn the bottoms of your cookies. The below photo features cookies from the same exact batch of dough, baked for the same amount of time at the same temperature. The only difference was the baking pan!

showing the undersides of cookies after testing baking cookies on a variety of baking pans. Some burn the cookies fast!

Check out my Baking Pans 101 post for all the surprising details. Or, just click here to score my favorite baking pans for cookies (and everything else!)

Should I Line my Baking Sheets with Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Mats?

I prefer parchment paper for cookies over silicone mats, to line my cookie sheets. Parchment is easier and quicker to clean up. Silicone mats like Silpats can actually lead to more spreading and browning. Check out the details here.

Whatever you do, never spray your baking sheet, parchment paper or silicone mat with nonstick cooking spray when baking cookies. This will lead to too much browning and spread (hello, burnt cookie puddles).

Why Use a Cookie Scoop?

Do You Need to Chill Sugar Cookie Dough?

It’s not required for this sugar cookie recipe. Immediately baking after mixing will result in absolutely delicious cookies; however, if time permits, chilling the dough for 24-72 hours does result in cookies that are thicker, chewier, and more flavorful. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap before refrigerating. When ready to bake, let dough sit at room temperature just until it is soft enough to scoop. Learn more about chilling cookie dough here.

How Long to Bake Drop Style Sugar Cookies

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the sugar cookies are set and are just beginning to brown around the edges. The longer you bake, the crispier your cookies will be.

Can This Recipe be Used For Cut-out Cookies?

No, this sugar cookie recipe was designed for simple drop-style cookies. If you want cookie cutter sugar cookies instead, check out my Cut Out Sugar Cookie recipe here.

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies

This is totally optional, as these cookies are so pretty by themselves – but if you want to make them a more colorful treat, here are my top tips:

  • Roll the balls of dough in colored sugar before baking. I like to have one bowl filled with green-colored sugar and a separate with red, for easy Christmas sugar cookies! 
  • You can also fold in 1/4-1/2 cup of multi-colored jimmies or holiday jimmies or sprinkles as a last step before rolling the dough balls in granulated sugar, to add even more festive colors to this sugar cookie recipe!
  • Use my Best Buttercream Frosting recipe for decorating. You can get creative with the flavor suggestions in that recipe post or use gel food coloring to add colorful flair.
  • Another favorite is my Best Cream Cheese Frosting recipe!

How to Store Sugar Cookies

Store sugar cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Store cookies with a tortilla, apple wedge, or piece of bread to keep them soft for longer.

Can You Freeze Sugar Cookies?

Yes! This sugar cookie recipe freezes beautifully. Freeze the uncoated, pre-portioned balls of cookie dough in a freezer-safe container, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, or in a Ziploc bag. Allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge or for 30-60 minutes at room temperature, then bake as directed below.

You can roll the cookie dough balls in the sugar before freezing – however, the dough will absorb some of the sugar, and it won’t have quite the same visual or texture impact compared to rolling in sugar right before baking.

Check out my How to Freeze Cookie Dough article for step-by-step instructions (and how to bake from frozen).

soft sugar cookies on a plate
4.95 from 325 votes

How to make
Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Yield: 16 large cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
My go-to recipe, these Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies are perfectly tender and soft with just the right amount of chewiness. They take just minutes to make with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen!

Ingredients

  • cups (318 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • cups (250 grams) granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup (50 grams) for rolling
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed to beat the butter and 1¼ cups sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and beat until combined. Slowly beat in the flour mixture.

  4. Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow dish. Using a large (3-tablespoon) spring-loaded scoop, divide the dough into balls, then roll in sugar to coat evenly. Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart, and flatten slightly with the bottom of a measuring cup.

  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies set and begin to brown. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

*If you live in a warmer/humid climate, or if you prefer a thicker cookie, feel free to chill the dough balls prior to baking.
Course : Dessert
Cuisine : American
Keyword : sugar cookie recipe, sugar cookies

December 2021 Baking Challenge

This sugar cookie recipe was the December 2021 selection for our monthly baking challenge! Every month you can join the challenge by baking the recipe and snapping a photo for a chance to win prizes! Learn more about my monthly baking challenges here. Check out everyone’s cookies:

 

Tessa Arias
Author: Tessa Arias

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Amy R — March 24, 2023 at 10:50 pm

    Best sugar cookies ever!!!

  2. #
    Danny — March 19, 2023 at 9:54 pm

    Hi, can I make these with brown butter and then refrigerate the butter, before mixing then chill the dough 2 days? Would any of those latter cookie recipe tips help in this older recipe? I don’t know if I need to adjust anything if I’m doing any of that. I do know for sure, that the chocolate chip cookies all benefited. Thanks!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 20, 2023 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Danny! Your question is actually a complicated one to answer! American butter is about 80% butterfat and 20% water (on average, depending on the brand of butter), so when you brown butter, you lose that extra moisture/water as it evaporates through the browning process. It takes some experimentation to alter a regular non-browned-butter recipe to work with browned butter for this reason. You can simply try adding a little water back into the recipe, or start with more butter than the recipe requests, in order to compensate for the moisture you’ll lose as it browns. It’s something you’ll have to experiment with a little in order to perfect, but it can be done, and it’s a fun experiment in the meantime! To answer your question about browning the butter in advance, yes you can refrigerate brown butter to use and cream later, but this will react differently than normal butter when creaming, so keep a close eye on it as you cream the two, and look out for the visual cues Tessa talks about in creaming butter/sugar here. Although this sugar cookie recipe is a couple years old, it’s absolutely delicious as-written, too! Let us know how it goes as you experiment 🙂

      • #
        Danny — March 21, 2023 at 3:25 pm

        Thanks 4 the reply! Another question. Is there any difference between using melted butter then chilling vs. using cold butter then chilling? Since they both end up cold and chilled at the end anyways?

        • #
          Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 22, 2023 at 11:54 am

          Hi Danny! There is a difference and it’s because butter that is too warm (or once became too warm) won’t aerate properly when beaten with sugar. The water and butterfat in butter are an emulsion, which can break when melted and re-solidified, so if your recipe depends on butter to create air or structure, butter that was once melted (or even sat out at room temperature for too long and became too warm) will no longer work to create the necessary structure or stability. This is why most recipes formulated to use brown butter won’t then call for creaming, and why it can take a lot of tinkering to reach a great result (particularly with spread and texture) with an existing creaming-based recipe. They also often need extra leavening agents, to compensate for the lack of structure from the creamed butter/sugar. I hope that makes sense – it’s a complicated one to wrap your head around! I recommend checking out Food 52’s article here, and/or King Arthur Baking’s article here, for more info 🙂

  3. #
    marry — March 17, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    what’s the nutritional information of these cookies?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 20, 2023 at 11:39 am

      Hi Marry! We don’t have nutritional information for our recipes, as we believe that dessert should be an indulgence! You should be able to find a nutritional calculator online to assist with this, if you wish! 🙂

  4. #
    Donna — March 15, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    I’m giving 5 stars because the recipe mix was great. Flavor and texture were soft and chewy. I followed recipe exactly and did not chill the dough. My cookies spread quite a bit. Next time I will chill the dough and I expect they will be the perfect soft sugar cookie I was looking for. Thanks!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — March 16, 2023 at 9:08 am

      Hi Donna! I’m so glad you enjoyed these cookies, but the excess spread is likely due to your butter being a little too warm when creaming. Check out our notes and tips on this in the pink tip box, above the recipe 🙂 Chilling the dough next time will also definitely give you a thicker texture of cookie, too. Happy baking!

  5. #
    Ethan — March 13, 2023 at 2:39 pm

    THE BEST COOKIES EVER! DELICIOUS!

  6. #
    Celine Smania — February 28, 2023 at 10:53 am

    Perfect, chewy consistency. Everyone loved them and I am definitely printing this recipe!

  7. #
    Stacy — February 13, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Perfect!

  8. #
    RJ — February 13, 2023 at 8:04 am

    love them

  9. #
    Cheryl — February 12, 2023 at 7:31 am

    best cookies ever

  10. #
    sam — February 10, 2023 at 6:58 am

    Hya! Idk what I did wrong:( my cookies spread wayy too much, they turned out tasting like baked butter. I think I added too much butter, well that would make sense, but I used everything how the recipe said. Through trial and error I tried baking ones with more flour (like a LOT more, maybe 150 grams more), and they held their form a lot nicer. They still taste very buttery, like I can’t eat more than one, because I feel like my heart will start fat burning. Anyway, all this ended with me mentally breaking down:(

    I love that others love this recipe, but I’m helpless and don’t know what went wrong…

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — February 10, 2023 at 10:02 am

      Hi Sam! I’m so sorry these cookies didn’t turn out as they should! It can be hard and upsetting when things don’t turn out, but please try not to beat yourself up – with each baking mistake, we learn – and that’s how we improve and get better! Without having baked alongside you, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what went wrong here, but here are a few things that may have caused your cookie issues here:

      – Is it possible something was mis-measured? How do you measure your ingredients? By volume (using cups), or by weight (using a digital kitchen scale)? When measuring by volume, it’s so easy to mis-measure ingredients (particularly flour, but potentially butter in your case too?) and throw off the entire chemistry of a recipe. Check out Tessa’s article here, where she talks about how to best measure ingredients to ensure accuracy every time.
      – Was your butter maybe too warm when you went to cream it? We were all taught growing up that totally-room-temp butter was what we needed to bake with, but it’s not true! About 65-67°F is perfect when creaming. Slightly cooler butter like this will give you thicker cookies that don’t spread as much, and have a better consistency. The length of time you cream for also plays into this. Have a look at this article, where Tessa shows some great visuals and explains why butter temperature and creaming time are important.
      – How old is your baking powder? If your leavening agents (baking powder, in this case) are not fresh, they won’t do their jobs and your baked goods can not rise properly, spread too much, fall after baking, and much more. Tessa talks about the science behind leavening agents, and how to test for leavener freshness, in this article here.
      – Finally, what type of pan are you baking on? Different materials of pans conduct heat differently, so some will cook the bottom quickly, and not leave the cookie appropriate time to spread out gently and evenly. Tessa discusses and shows the differences between a variety of baking pans in this article here!

      I hope something here helps, Sam, and I truly hope you give these cookies another try. They really are soooo good! Remind yourself that it’s just baking and it’s okay if they’re not perfect. We all get it wrong sometimes, and that’s totally okay. Be kinder to yourself 🙂 Hugs from Team HTH!

  11. #
    Denise — February 9, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    The cookies were delicious and very soft!

  12. #
    Nina Houghton — February 8, 2023 at 8:19 am

    My father considers himself to be a connoisseur of sugar cookies. I made these for him (it’s a fun recipe to make), and he decided they were the best he’s ever had and requests them constantly.

  13. #
    Theresa — February 7, 2023 at 5:52 pm

    Tessa, can you tell us what temperature the dough should be if it was refrigerated overnight? Specifically, how cool should the cookie dough balls be before going in the oven? Does this affect the baking temp or time or the flattening required given that the dough is much colder?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — February 8, 2023 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Theresa! If you’re refrigerating the dough overnight and then baking, it’s totally fine to bake straight from the fridge – you might just find that they bake up a little thicker and taller than if you were to bake before refrigerating. If you’re baking from frozen, more adjustments are needed – but just from the fridge won’t make much of a difference to the timing of the baking; the most you would need to add to the bake time is a minute or so. I hope that helps 🙂

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