How to Make the Best Sugar Cookie Recipe
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!
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!
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.