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This is the BEST easy sugar cookie recipe! These drop sugar cookies are chewy and soft and perfect with or without frosting – and they are NO CHILL cookies!

I know I always say something is the BEST or PERFECT, but these really are. I’ve fine tuned my “perfect” recipe so that they’re not only soft, but chewy too. When I made these for a party everyone absolutely RAVED about them!

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Stack of the best sugar cookies with icing and colorful sprinkles on top

You’re probably thinking…wait. Doesn’t she already have a sugar cookie recipe? Or two? And yes, you’d be right. But I’ve fine tuned my perfect sugar cookies to make them soft and chewy and delicious with or without frosting.

This is an easy drop cookie recipe that turns out the perfect soft sugar cookie that’s melt in your mouth yet chewy at the same time. The best part about these is that they’re amazing with frosting, but they’re also good plain. Plus, you can vary the recipe in so many ways.

(They’re even good frozen. I’m not going to explain how I know, lol.)

Explaining why these are the best soft AND chewy sugar cookies requires that we talk a little bit about cookie science. I think it’s important to understand why these are the best.

If you’re looking for sugar cookies without baking powder, this is the recipe. These are thick, soft sugar cookies with icing (or without). They encompass all the best things about a sugar cookie recipe!

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for soft and chewy sugar cookies:
  2. What kind of sugar do you use in sugar cookies?
  3. Why do you use baking soda in cookies?
  4. Why do you use cream of tartar in cookies?
  5. What’s the secret to a soft but chewy sugar cookie?
  6. Do you need to chill sugar cookie dough?
  7. Sugar Cookie Frosting
  8. How To Store Sugar Cookie Recipe
  9. How to Make These Chewy Soft Sugar Cookie Ahead of Time
  10. Can You Freeze These Soft Sugar Cookies?
  11. Soft Sugar Cookies Tips and Tricks
  12. Additions and Substitutions
  13. Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies Recipe Recipe
Stack of the best sugar cookies on a wood cutting board

Ingredients for soft and chewy sugar cookies:

  • Butter – a good sugar cookie uses butter. Butter flavored shortening is okay, but to get that traditional sugar cookie flavor, you need butter. Use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt. If you’re using salted butter, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Sugar – this recipe uses granulated sugar. My cutout sugar cookie recipe uses powdered. We’ll go into that too.
  • Egg – eggs provide structure in baking. It’s hard to replace an egg in cookies and still get the right texture.
  • Flour – all-purpose flour is the normal cookie flour. You want to add just the right amount so the cookie is dry enough not to flatten out, but not so dry that it crumbles.
  • Leavening – this recipe uses a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar (more on that in a minute).

What kind of sugar do you use in sugar cookies?

Most recipes you see calls for granulated sugar when you’re making sugar cookies. (That’s what this recipe uses.)

A traditional sugar cookie needs white sugar to be, well, traditional. Brown sugar is delicious in cookies, but then it wouldn’t be an old fashioned sugar cookie. Normally, sugar cookies only contain one kind of sugar (granulated or powdered), instead of a combination of sugars, like in a chocolate chip cookie.

You will recall, however, that my cutout sugar cookies use powdered sugar. So, what’s the difference between powdered sugar and granulated sugar in a cookie recipe? Besides flavor, granulated sugar helps with spread of the cookie. In a drop cookie, spread is okay and expected. However, in a cutout sugar cookie or snowball cookie, you don’t want spread. Powdered sugar includes cornstarch, which helps with binding and reducing spread.

For a normal drop sugar cookie recipe, granulated sugar is the way to go.

Why do you use baking soda in cookies?

This soft sugar cookie recipe is made without baking powder. In fact, most cookie recipes use baking soda and not baking powder. Baking powder is for cakes, traditionally, and results in a more cake-like texture. Baking soda helps with spread and creates a soft and fluffy cookie. Want a soft sugar cookie? You need to use baking soda. But, this recipe also calls for cream of tartar.

(Learn all about baking soda vs baking powder here.)

Why do you use cream of tartar in cookies?

Cream of tartar is normally used in egg whites and meringue, but it’s also a great addition to sugar cookie recipes. Cream of tartar helps with the chewiness of cookies and, when combined with baking soda, is almost like a double-acting baking powder.

I know it’s kind of an obscure ingredient, but it’s always good to have in your pantry. These sugar cookies without cream of tartar won’t be as chewy and will be flatter than with it. Plus, when you make snickerdoodles, you want cream of tartar for that telltale tang.

Stack of the best sugar cookies on a wood cutting board with top cookie missing a bite

Ah, that’s the question of the day, isn’t it?

I’ve done so much sugar cookie research on how to make my soft sugar cookies also be chewy and not cake-like and I found the secret ingredient:

Egg yolk. That’s it!

(Well, not it, really. What the egg yolk does in combination with everything else.)

In baking, eggs provide structure. Egg yolks add fat, egg whites add the structure.

Two eggs in a sugar cookie is just too much egg; it makes it more cake-like than a cookie. One egg in this recipe makes a soft sugar cookie, but it’s not chewy.

One egg plus an egg yolk is the perfect ratio of egg for the perfect chewy sugar cookies that are still soft and pillowy. Combined with the magic that the combination of baking soda and cream of tartar work, an extra egg yolk is the key to the chewiness of these cookies.

For this recipe – NO! This is an easy no-chill sugar cookie, which is awesome. Less wait time between you and cookies!

Since this is a drop cookie, and the ingredient ratios are just perfect, you can just mix, drop and bake!

You don’t need frosting on these, but I love a quick and easy vanilla buttercream. I use a ratio of unsalted butter to powdered sugar and add vanilla, salt and a bit of milk for consistency. You can tint the icing any color too, and don’t forget the sprinkles.

Stack of the best sugar cookies with icing and colorful sprinkles on top

You can store the sugar cookie dough in the refrigerator, either in the mixing bowl or scooped into balls, for up to 2 days. Be sure to cover them well with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before baking.

You can also store the frosting in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Just bring to room temperature before frosting the cookies. You may need to add a bit of milk to thin the frosting as needed for consistency after it warms up.

Yes, you can make the dough and frosting up to 2 days ahead or make both and freeze them for up to 2 months.

Can You Freeze These Soft Sugar Cookies?

Yes – you can freeze the baked cookies unfrosted OR frosted! Freeze plain cookies in a gallon size resealable bag with paper towels between layers. Freeze frosting in an airtight container. You can freeze frosted cookies in a single layer in an airtight container.

Soft Sugar Cookies Tips and Tricks

  • Use real butter, not fake.
  • Use granulated sugar because these are a drop sugar cookie.
  • Buy yourself some cream of tartar so that your cookies have some chew without the spread of just using baking soda.
  • Add an extra egg yolk to complete the perfection of this chewy soft sugar cookie.
  • You can make these dairy free sugar cookies by using Earth’s Balance Vegan Butter Sticks in place of the butter.

Additions and Substitutions

This sugar cookie recipe is a blank slate; you can transform it in so many ways. I love a good sugar cookie with frosting, of course, but you don’t need to use frosting on these cookies. They’re fabulous plain. Or, edit the recipe to:

  • Make chocolate chip sugar cookies by adding 1 cup of chocolate chips to the batter and skipping the frosting.
  • Make M&M Sugar Cookies by adding 1 cup of M&Ms to the batter, skip the frosting.
  • Add 1 cup of sprinkles to the batter to make a sprinkle cookie (omit frosting).
  • Roll the cookies in sugar or cinnamon sugar (reminiscent of snickerdoodles) and skip the frosting.
  • Flavor your frosting with lemon juice or a bit of cocoa to make a new flavor!

However you make them, this easy sugar cookie recipe will be a hit with your family! Prepare for rave reviews, I promise!

Other Cookie Recipes you'll love:

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Stack of the best sugar cookies with icing and colorful sprinkles on top

Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies Recipe

4.16 from 50 votes
This is the BEST soft sugar cookie recipe! These drop sugar cookies are chewy and soft and perfect with or without frosting.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Yield 17 cookies (depending on size)
Serving Size 1 cookie


For the Cookies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 170g
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 149g
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 ml
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 248g

For the frosting

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 47g
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar 151g
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5ml
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon milk 15 ml
  • Food coloring if desired
  • Sprinkles optional


Make the Cookies:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheet with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  • Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer). Cream until the mixture is fluffy, about one minute.
  • Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix until smooth, then mix in baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add flour and mix until cookie dough forms.
  • Scoop 2 tablespoon sized balls 2-inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake for 11-15 minutes, or until the bottoms are just starting get golden and the top is no longer glossy. Cool at least 10 minutes on cookie sheet before removing. Cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting:

  • Mix butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer until smooth, then slowly mix in the powdered sugar a bit at a time. The mixture will be very crumbly. Add the vanilla and mix, then mix in the salt and milk. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  • Tint with food coloring, if desired.
  • Frost cooled cookies. Store loosely covered.

Alternate preparation:

  • Scoop balls of cookie dough and roll them in sugar or cinnamon sugar before baking. Skip frosting. OR
  • Add 1 cup of sprinkles to the dough before scooping. Skip frosting.

Recipe Video

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 130mg | Sugar: 17g
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Dorothy Kern
Keyword cookie

**Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!**

Stack of the best sugar cookies with icing and colorful sprinkles on top with recipe title at top of image

These Easy Sugar Cookies are quick and simple even though they are made completely from scratch! They’re so good with or without frosting.

Last Updated on January 26, 2021

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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  1. David, This is exactly what I was thinking while reading the cream of tartar “tip” (i include the quotes bc that is how it is described a few comments up). I’ve always been told that any recipe calling for cream of tartar that also includes baking soda, baking powder can be used in place of both the baking soda and cream of tartar. I’ve tried it both ways and have never observed any difference at all.

  2. Sugar cookies are one of my favorite cookies, and I have been trying to find a scrumptious sugar cookie for some time, and I finally found it! I love these cookies and so does everyone I cook them for! It is seriously the best sugar cookie I have ever made! Thank you for concocting them!

  3. You say to add lemon juice or cocoa. Would you add lemon juice instead of vanilla or in addition, and how much? With the cocoa would you be replacing some of the flour or would it be in addition?

  4. OMG! I have been looking for a soft sugar cookie recipe for a long time, I hit the jackpot! These are the best cookie I have ever made and I bake alot! The icing is so delicious. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, I will be forever grateful, my top 3 cookie recipes! Lol! Connie

  5. If you look at the ingredients for baking powder, it usually includes baking soda, and powdered acid (often related to tartaric acid). Cream tartar is a powdered form of the same acid. So by combining the baking soda and cream of tartar in this recipe, you’ve effectively made baking powder. Isn’t chemistry wonderful. Baking soda is most often used in foods that are already slightly acidic – containing fruit, molasses, etc. When you combine baking soda and an acid you generate carbon dioxide gas, which leavens the food – the little gas bubbles make the food lighter and puffier. In baking powder, they put a solid form of acid with the solid baking soda – you get the same effect when you add water (try putting some water on a bit of baking powder and watch it fizz). So essentially you get the same leavening action in a muffin or biscuit, without having to have the batter/dough be slightly acidic. To be fair, there are some foods that aren’t acidic, and still only use baking soda. My assumption is that the soda decomposes at baking temperature to release the carbon dioxide – but probably not as well or efficiently as when acid is present. Oh, and incidentally, what is left behind in the baked product, after the CO2 escapes – is sodium and some other chemicals. So keep in mind that effectively, you’ve increased the saltiness of the food by the amount of baking soda or baking powder that you add.

    1. These are fabulous! Excellent texture and crumb, buttery flavor. Batch is small—marking my copy to double next time as these go fast! I got 27 cookies out of the batch at what I would call a “normal” cookie size. I rolled mine in granulated sugar before baking. Great recipe- worth the no notice trip to the store for cream of tartar!

    2. David, This is exactly what I was thinking while reading the cream of tartar “tip” (i include the quotes bc that is how it is described a few comments up). I’ve always been told that any recipe calling for cream of tartar that also includes baking soda, baking powder can be used in place of both the baking soda and cream of tartar. I’ve tried it both ways and have never observed any difference at all.

  6. Hands down the BEST and EASIEST sugar cookie recipe ever!! This one is an absolute keeper!! 

  7. These are so good I literally just got through making them and they don’t taste like cardboard. Thank you so much!!