Filed Under: Cookies

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Recipe By Tessa Arias
  |  
September 30th, 2021

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 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!

the best drop style sugar cookies stacked on top of each other

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.

soft and chewy homemade sugar cookies on a plate with christmas ornaments surrounding

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.

easy and chewy sugar cookies on a plate with a pink towel

Ingredients for easy sugar cookies:

  • 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 into little puddles. 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.
  • 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.

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!

balls of easy sugar cookies being rolled in sugar before baking

Can I make sugar cookies 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).

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 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.

homemade chewy sugar cookies on a plate

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 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 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.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sugar cookies

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin

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!)

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Recipe Rating




  1. #
    Grace-anne — September 30, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Just wondering, what does cream of tartar do to a sugar cookie recipe?
    I have one that I’ve been making ever since I was a little girl and it has cream of tarter in it.
    Why would someone add it and why would someone not add it for their recipe?
    Just curious?
    Thanks!

    • #
      Emily — September 30, 2021 at 11:36 am

      Hi Grace-Anne 🙂 Cream of tartar is more classic to the taste and texture of a Snickerdoodle than a Sugar Cookie in our experience. We try not to call for harder-to-find ingredients when possible and didn’t find it necessary for this recipe. Hope that helps! Please let us know how this recipe compares to your favorite sugar cookie recipe!

  2. #
    Priscilla — September 30, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Hi! These looks amazing. Do you know what I can use in replace of butter and eggs to make it vegan?

    • #
      Emily — October 1, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Priscilla! Please check out our article here regarding our views on Baking Substitutions. I would suggest searching instead for a sugar cookie recipe specifically designed to your dietary needs. Sorry we can’t help further!

  3. #
    Barnyard baker — September 30, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    OMG seriously delicious! My go to sugar cookie recipe.

    • #
      Emily — October 1, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      So happy to hear that!

  4. #
    Karen — October 2, 2021 at 8:14 am

    Do I bake them right away or chill the dough for 24-48 hours?

    • #
      Emily — October 4, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Karen! You can bake these cookies up right away, no chilling required 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  5. #
    Lida — October 4, 2021 at 10:38 am

    I made these and they tasted delicious, but mine turned out super cakey/fluffy. Could this have been caused by my butter not being cool enough or too much flour? Thank you!

    • #
      Emily — October 4, 2021 at 12:10 pm

      Hi Lida! So happy you enjoyed this recipe 🙂 Cakey cookies can happen due to too much flour being added. Do you use a digital scale to measure your ingredients?

  6. #
    Tully — October 8, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Would this recipe be good with adding m&ms or Funfetti sprinkles?

    • #
      Emily — October 8, 2021 at 1:06 pm

      Hi Tully! We haven’t tried adding m&ms, but you’re welcome to experiment! I’ve personally made these with about 1/4 cup of multi-colored jimmies, and they taste delicious 🙂 Let us know what you think!

  7. #
    Monica Criteser — October 19, 2021 at 11:16 am

    easy to execute and I was eating cookies within an hour! Love it. Can’t resist a good sugar cookie.
    thanks!!

    • #
      Emily — October 20, 2021 at 12:03 pm

      Wonderful! So happy you enjoyed this recipe, Monica!

  8. #
    Kim — October 19, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Oh my wow…these are AMAZING! Great flavor, slightly crispy sugar ‘shell’ created by the sugar on the outside, the cookie is actually kind of soft in the center but slight crisp on very edge. Recipe days to use a 3Tbsp sized dough ball per cookie, this definitely gave a better chew to the cookie than a smaller amount of dough but the cookie is quite large.

    • #
      Emily — October 20, 2021 at 12:12 pm

      So glad to hear that, Kim! Crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the center is just what you want with these cookies! I’ve actually got a batch in my freezer ready to go whenever a craving strikes 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  9. #
    Laura — October 22, 2021 at 8:16 am

    I just want to say your recipe is a Keeper in my house 🙂 we all loved it! My boys each needed more then one cookie at a time!! … I will definitely be making them allot this winter and I look forward to trying more recipes from you

    • #
      Emily — October 22, 2021 at 8:58 am

      So happy to hear they were such a hit, Laura!! I agree, I’ve actually got an extra batch in my freezer right now for when the craving hits during the week haha! These cookies would be so pretty and festive during the winter holidays/season with rolling the balls of dough in different colored sugars! Thanks so much for the rave review 🙂

  10. #
    Laura — October 22, 2021 at 8:21 am

    Just wanted to let you know that this recipe is a keeper in our home 🙂 its perfectly delicious, my husband and boys loved it!! I will definitely be making it quite often this winter

  11. #
    Brianna Newsom — October 24, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    Ive made these so many times and they are my ultimate FAVORITE sugar! Easy and the perfect balance of everything I want in a sugar cookie!

    • #
      Haley Wehner — October 25, 2021 at 9:39 am

      So glad you love these cookies! Thanks for the kind words, Brianna!

  12. #
    Nicky — October 24, 2021 at 1:33 pm

    Hi there! Do you think a cream cheese frosting Would be good on these cookies?

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