Sugar Cookies | Soft and Chewy Drop-Style Cookies | Handle the Heat
Filed Under: Cookies

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

By Tessa Arias
  |  
September 30th, 2021
4.94 from 294 votes
4.94 from 294 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.

The holiday baking season is almost upon us. 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!

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.

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!

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.

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!
  • Baking powder – this gives the 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!
  • Eggs – one whole egg with an extra egg yolk lends richness and chewiness to the texture, just make sure they’re at room temperature.
  • Vanilla extract – no sugar cookie recipe is complete without vanilla extract.

How to make SOFT sugar cookies:

The extra egg yolk helps to add more moisture and richness for a soft and chewy texture. 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. Whatever you do, don’t overbake your cookies. 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 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.

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 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 drys out the tops before the interior sets, resulting in cracks.

Roll your 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.

If you want to make your cookies festive and pretty without extra work, 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 sprinkles as a last step before rolling the dough balls in granulated sugar to add even more festive colors to your cookies!

Can I make this 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 sugar 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!

Side-by-side testing to find the best baking pans! Including nonstick vs. aluminum, and which pans specifically you should NEVER use!

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. Parchment is easier and quicker to cleanup. 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 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?

Using a stainless steel spring-loaded cookie scoop when portioning out cookie dough is one of the KEYS to beautiful, uniform, evenly-shaped and evenly-baked cookies. My cookie scoop is one of my most frequently used kitchen gadgets. A spring-loaded scoop saves you *so much time* in forming the balls of dough. When using a scoop, you ensure each ball is evenly sized so the cookies bake evenly, meaning you don’t have any small overbaked cookies or large underbaked cookies. Learn more about Cookie Scoops and how to use them here!

Handle the Heat now has our very own Perfect Cookie Kit, containing three spring-loaded stainless steel cookie scoops, two spatulas, 6-piece stainless-steel, round nested cookie cutter set with silicone rim, and more! Learn more here.

Do you need to chill sugar cookie dough?

It’s not required for this 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.

How long to bake drop style sugar cookies:

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies 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 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 make frosting for sugar cookies:

I love my Best Buttercream recipe for these cookies. It’s perfect because you can get creative with the flavor suggestions in that recipe post or even with gel food coloring for a festive flair. Another favorite is my Best Cream Cheese Frosting recipe!

How to store sugar cookies:

Store 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! Freeze the uncoated balls of cookie dough in a freezer-safe container, tightly wrapped plastic wrap, or Ziploc bag. Allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge or 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.

4.94 from 294 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 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! Full challenge details here. Check out everyone’s cookies:

 

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin

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. #
    Veronica Farmer — November 30, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    I thought the cookies were a I could actually taste the salt – they were too salty. I’d pare down the salt to maybe 1/2 teaspoon. I used pink Himalayan salt. I would retry but with less salt.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — December 1, 2022 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Veronica! We recommend using fine sea salt for a nicer flavor, but you can absolutely cut down the salt if you prefer. Let us know if you give these another try with less salt 🙂

  2. #
    Savannah — November 15, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    My cookies didn’t seem to spread like yours did. Mine were more think. Any suggestion?

  3. #
    Toni Leach — November 13, 2022 at 4:52 pm

    super confused, not sure what I did wrong. my cookies turned out dry like a biscuit consistency and didn’t spread out like the other pictures. maybe the butter wasn’t the right temp? I had it at room temperature for about 2 hours. followed all directions and made sure I had all measurements right. suggestions please? I’d like to try again! taste was amazing though!!

  4. #
    Ruby — October 26, 2022 at 10:16 pm

    Can this recipe be doubled, or would modifications have to be made? Should I just make separate batches of dough? Thank you.

    • #
      Emily — October 27, 2022 at 7:02 am

      Hi Ruby! You can absolutely double the recipe, just make sure that your mixer is large enough to handle the extra dough 🙂 Let us know what you think when you give this recipe a try!

  5. #
    Audra — October 21, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    love this recipe keep them coming please sincerely Audra Grunwald

    • #
      Haley Wehner — October 21, 2022 at 1:24 pm

      So glad you loved these cookies!

  6. #
    Darci — October 18, 2022 at 2:32 am

    probably the best dough I’ve ever made!

    simple

    delicious

    thank you for sharing your gift

  7. #
    Debbie Duncan — October 12, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    can I refrigerate the batter over nightm

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — October 13, 2022 at 10:48 am

      Hi Debbie! Yes, absolutely! These cookies bake up even thicker and just as delicious after a 24 hour refrigerated rest 🙂 Happy baking!

      • #
        Summer — October 26, 2022 at 3:04 pm

        Hi, would I be able to make the candy corn cookies in the video with this recipe? I saw where you said they can’t be cut with a cookie cutter, but in the video she refrigerates the dough first.

        • #
          Emily — October 27, 2022 at 7:07 am

          Hi Summer! This recipe was created specifically as a drop-style cookie. If you want cookie-cutter sugar cookies instead, check out our Cut Out Sugar Cookie recipe here. 🙂

  8. #
    Brandon — October 12, 2022 at 8:06 am

    Tessa, I made these twice this summer major hit each time, co-workers requested I make some again so l’m making some today…this recipe is a gem thank you for sharing!

  9. #
    Coral — October 11, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    My 10 year old daughter and I just made these, and they turned out awesome! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

  10. #
    Symmone K — October 9, 2022 at 7:35 am

    These cookies are freakin DELICIOUS! The depth of flavor from the butter is so good. I baked my a tad longer really bring out that buttery goodness. My parents loved them…it reminded them of cookies from their childhood. So heartwarming & nostalgic. Thank you for this recipe, it’s a keeper! 🙂

  11. #
    Cat Harrison — October 7, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    I made the Chewy Soft Sugar cookies for my best friends daughter. She likes simple desserts. They were a big hit. We are going to bake them together for Halloween. Plan to add some sprinkles in the next batch.

  12. #
    Cristina — September 29, 2022 at 11:50 am

    First time doing this recipe and I don’t know why because those cookies are incredible good! It didn’t catch my eye at first because they were very easy to make and I didn’t think they will taste so good.Five stars from me 🙂

  13. #
    Nerea — September 28, 2022 at 6:06 am

    Super recipe!! I made them today and they are just perfect! Thank you for the recipe from spain!!!

  14. #
    Michelle — September 27, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    Turned out great but the recipe only made 13 cookies (with the 3 tablespoon cookie scoop). Disappointing.

  15. #
    Arel — September 27, 2022 at 2:38 am

    I tried this recipe and it turned out really good. Thanks for the recipe.
     

  16. #
    Jackie — September 3, 2022 at 8:03 am

    The taste is good but mine spread terribly and became one giant flat cookie, not what I was looking for. I followed the recipe to the letter. Can you please tell me what happened? Thanks!

  17. #
    Shell — September 1, 2022 at 2:10 pm

    I have been looking for a good sugar cookie that didn’t require icing and oh my goodness gracious, I have found it!! SOOOOO good!! Will make these over and over and over again!!!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — September 2, 2022 at 9:47 am

      So thrilled to hear that you enjoyed these so much, Shell!!

  18. #
    Angel Marie Lozano — August 25, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    What can I do if I wanted a more smooth top for a sugar cookie? Not cracks. To present them as a party giftwith frosting on top to decorate them.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — August 26, 2022 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Angel Marie! These sugar cookies are a crackly, chewy sugar cookie – not really something you’d want to use for a decorating party! I recommend trying this recipe for decorating, which will bake up perfectly smooth and ready for icing!

  19. #
    Lisa — August 9, 2022 at 7:56 am

    really nice

  20. #
    Jeanette — July 28, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    Made these for my adult son’s birthday. They were a hit!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 29, 2022 at 11:34 am

      Hi Jeanette! So happy to hear that these cookies were a hit!! Happy belated birthday to your son!

  21. #
    Rhona — July 12, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    Absolutely wonderful!!! This recipe was easy. Thank you for such clear instructions… Butter consistency etc.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — July 15, 2022 at 7:33 am

      Hi Rhona! So happy to hear you enjoyed these cookies, and also found our instructions helpful!

  22. #
    Louise — June 29, 2022 at 7:15 am

    I was thinking of doing a fruit pizza with this think it will work

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 29, 2022 at 7:23 am

      Hi Louise! We haven’t tried that, but it sounds delicious! Let us know how it goes 🙂

  23. #
    Joan — June 28, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    Perfection. Thank you for the best sugar cookie recipe I ever used in my 50 plus years of baking.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 29, 2022 at 7:10 am

      Wow, what a compliment, Joan!! So thrilled to hear you loved these cookies so much! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  24. #
    Rachel — June 14, 2022 at 7:20 am

    Hi there! I had a question. Is there a way to make these cookies bigger and thicker? I wanted to make them probably a half inch thick with 4inch diameter. Maybe adding cornstarch? Really wanna make these! They look amazing!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 14, 2022 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Rachel! If you want thicker cookies, the #1 most important thing to do is chill your dough first! While this recipe doesn’t necessarily require chilling before baking, colder dough will retain a thicker shape better when it hits the hot oven. You can also try shaping your dough into taller shapes, rather than perfect spheres, to further discourage spreading. Tessa talks all about this, and more tips on achieving thick cookies, in this article here! I would also suggest using a large cookie scoop (or even an ice cream scoop) when portioning, so you can make them a bit larger, to your preference. Of course, this will increase the bake time, so just keep an eye on them and watch for the sensory indicators Tessa talks about in the recipe (“bake until set and beginning to brown”). As always, be sure to follow all of Tessa’s tips (in the pink box above the recipe) to ensure your cookies don’t spread while baking (especially the temperature of the butter before you even start!). I hope this helps, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of these cookies!! Happy baking 🙂

  25. #
    Umamah — June 13, 2022 at 8:36 am

    Can I use salted butter and omit the sea salt?

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 13, 2022 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Umamah! You can do that – Tessa just prefers to use unsalted butter, and add her own salt, so she can control how much salt is actually in the recipe. There is no specified amount of salt that must be in butters sold in the US (and it’s likely the same in most countries), so one brand of salt could have double the amount of salt of the brand next to it. That being said, if it’s all you have, go for it – just know it may be slightly too salty or slightly under-salted, depending on your butter. Happy baking 🙂

  26. #
    Ivette — June 1, 2022 at 7:03 am

    These are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
    My family are not a fan of sugar cookies, so I went ahead and made them, Omg they loved them, I will make sure to add this in my recipe box.

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 1, 2022 at 7:28 am

      Woohoo, so excited you and your family loved these sugar cookies, Ivette!! 🙂

  27. #
    Melissa — May 31, 2022 at 2:23 pm

    Ok. These are officially my new go to sugar cookie. Super doughy and sweet!!! Killer recipe!! And ridiculously easy to throw together and make! My only regret is not doubling the recipe!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — June 1, 2022 at 7:20 am

      Hi Melissa! So excited you love these sugar cookies!! Thank you for taking the time to let us know!! 🙂

  28. #
    JoJo — May 27, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    These cookies are so delicious!! I followed the recepie exact! And the cookies came out AMAZING!!! SO DELICIOUS!! Definitely my new favorite cookie recepie!!! Thanks!!

    • #
      Kiersten @ Handle the Heat — May 31, 2022 at 9:03 am

      Yay!! So wonderful to hear that you love these cookies, JoJo!! 🙂

  29. #
    Melissa Gedek — April 27, 2022 at 5:33 pm

    These are AMAZING!!! I have made them a few times now; I make two batches at a time since it only makes 16 cookies per recipe. I probably need to make 3 batches at a time. I do let the dough sit in the fridge for about 48 hours. I also make your buttercream icing lol and I’ve also tried using a vanilla/almond extract (it tastes like wedding cake!! Fantastic!! They only last a couple days lol :-).. teenagers!! I will never use anyone else for my cookie and other special treats!!!

    • #
      Haley Wehner — April 28, 2022 at 1:49 pm

      Wow, we’re so thrilled to hear you love these sugar cookies as much as we do! Sounds delicious about adding the almond extract!

  30. #
    Meg — April 17, 2022 at 6:16 pm

    I actually told my daughter to burn this recipe bc I can’t stop at just one! These cookies are OUTSTANDING! we took them to an Easter brunch today and the were the hit of the party. BEST EVER

    • #
      Emily — April 22, 2022 at 9:32 am

      haha don’t burn it! Make a full batch and freeze half of the dough 😉 So happy to hear how much you love this recipe!

  31. #
    Jenny — April 17, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    Cookies tasted good but I didn’t really like the sugar coating on the outside as much as I thought. Next time I’m going to leave out that step.

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