Filed Under: Cookies

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

By Tessa Arias
  |  
September 30th, 2021
4.94 from 274 votes
4.94 from 274 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).

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 274 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. #
    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!

  2. #
    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!

  3. #
    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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