My Favorite Cut Out Sugar Cookies

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These Cut Out Sugar Cookies are my family’s annual Christmas tradition…and I hope they’ll become yours too!

My favorite Cutout Sugar Cookies that hold their shape while baking!

Do you use the Timehop App? It’s that app you have on your phone and every day it tells you what you posted on Facebook (or twitter or Instagram) on that day in the past. It’s pretty cool, seeing photos I posted on Facebook of Jordan 5 years ago.

And then I see the status updates I posted a year ago, two years, four years ago. And I think to myself…wow. I have nothing relevant or important to say but I put it out there so everyone could read it anyway.

It makes me kind of want to post “I can’t wait to see what I think a year from now when Timehop gives me this status” right now on Facebook and just wait for it next year to see what I think. Tell me I’m not the only one who thinks that way?

One of the things that Timehop does is remind me of all our traditions. For instance, on December 24th I’m probably going to check it and see 5 straight years of Instagram and Facebook posts with Jordan decorating sugar cookies. Because that’s what we do on Christmas Eve: we make sugar cookies.

We make these cut out sugar cookies, to be exact.

My favorite Cutout Sugar Cookies that hold their shape while baking!

Jordan is really big on traditions. I think it’s funny, because she’s just like my dad. Traditions mean a lot to him and I hate when they change, because I know he hates it too. Me? I don’t really care about what we do when and where, but Jordan is just like her Papa. Who knew tradition loving skipped a generation?

Jordan’s so into traditions that when her Aunt moved to a new house this summer the first thing she said was “Is she still hosting Christmas Eve????” When I told her I wasn’t sure, you’d have thought the house was on fire by how she reacted. Then there is the monkey bread requirement on Christmas morning, the mint chocolate dessert mandate on her birthday, and these sugar cookies.

When I made these and said, jokingly, “Well, now we don’t need to make them on Christmas!” you should have seen the look she gave me. Dead and buried, that’s for sure.

We’ll be making these cut out sugar cookies for the next gazillion years, I’m sure. And that’s okay with me, because they’re my favorite cookie choice. 🙂

My favorite Cutout Sugar Cookies that hold their shape while baking!

This is recipe #2 of the family favorites I realized I’d never posted. We have made them every Christmas (and Valentine’s Day and the 4th of July and …) for at least 8 years. I’ve tried many cut out sugar cookies  and this is the one I always gravitate back to for cut outs.

Now, ya’ll know I don’t really like cutting out sugar cookies…but I make an exception for these. Plus, a few years ago, I discovered a fabulous tip for a less mess cookie cutout. Ready for it?

What’s the worst part about rolling and re-rolling dough? For me, it’s the mess. Flour gets everywhere. Dough sticks. Then it’s too warm to bake.

Not anymore!

My Sugar Cookie Rolling Tip:

Rolling out sugar cookie dough (1 of 1)

Much like I roll out my pie dough, I roll out my cookie dough between two sheets of wax paper, right after I’ve mixed it up. Just place the dough between two sheets of wax paper and press it into a disk, then roll flat. While I’m rolling, I’ll occasionally (carefully) lift up the wax paper on the top, put it back down, flip, and do the same on the bottom. That’s because the force of the rolling can cause the wax paper to crinkle.

Using room temperature just-made dough makes rolling out easy. No elbow grease is needed, like when you chill the dough first.

Using two sheets of wax paper makes less mess and eliminates the need for extra flour, which makes a more tender cookie.

Chilling it once it’s already rolled flat makes the dough chill so much faster – you can cut out your cookies after as little as 30 minutes.

And, the chillier the dough is when you bake it? Means your cookies stay in the shapes you cut them in. I love that about this recipe – the cookies always stay in shape. No bloated gingerbread men or round hearts here – a candy cane stays a candy cane and a tree stays a tree!

My favorite Cutout Sugar Cookies that hold their shape while baking!

The recipe for these cookies is very simple: you just add all the ingredients to the bowl and mix. The recipe uses powdered sugar instead of granulated, which helps control the spread and texture of the cookie. The cream of tartar works with the baking soda to give the cookie softness but with that cookie texture you expect.

I always use almond extract in the recipe for that extra little flavor bump. (I swear, I could drink that stuff.) But you can stick with just vanilla, or add another flavor: peppermint, lemon, coconut…

These cut out sugar cookies are the perfect not-too-sweet sugar cookie so they are ripe for frosting. This frosting is simple and sweet, made with butter and milk (or nonfat milk). Combined, the cookie and icing are the perfect sweetness. They’re made to compliment one another.

You know who else loves these cookies, almost as much as Jordan? Santa.

Cutout Sugar Cookies (8 of 10)

He gets a plate of cut out sugar cookies every year and he eats every last one. 🙂

Cut Out Sugar Cookies are our favorite holiday tradition.
4 from 1 vote

Cutout Sugar Cookies

These are my family's favorite cutout sugar cookies! They hold their shape and they're soft, sweet, and the perfect recipe.
Servings 3 -4 dozen, depending on size
Author Dorothy Kern



  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk regular, low- or non-fat are all fine
  • Food color and/or sprinkles if desired


  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer). Mix on low, scraping the bowl occasionally, until the mixture forms a cookie dough. Be sure to start on low or the dry ingredients will fly everywhere!
  2. Divide the dough in half. Place a large sheet of waxed paper on a large cutting board or flat surface. Place the cookie dough on the wax paper. Place another large sheet of wax paper on top of the cookie dough. Press down into a flat disk with the palm of your hand, then roll out the dough between the two pieces of wax paper. After each 3-4 rolls, carefully lift the top sheet of wax paper off the dough, then replace it, flip the dough over, and carefully peel the other wax paper sheet, replace it, then continue rolling until the dough is about 1/4” thick. Place the dough, still between the wax paper sheets, on another cutting board or cookie sheet.
  3. Repeat with second half of dough. Place both rolled out cookie dough sheets in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or wrap them well with plastic wrap and chill overnight).
  4. When ready to cut cookies, preheat oven to 375°F.
  5. Cut cookies in desired shapes and place them on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Save the scraps of dough and re-roll them as needed. Note: once you re-roll the dough, you may want to chill those cutouts for about 10 minutes before baking them so they’ll keep their shape.
  6. Bake cookies for 6-10 minutes depending on the size. I take them out as soon as the bottoms start to brown because we like them softer. If you want crunchy cookies, let them cook longer. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
  7. To make frosting, beat butter until smooth in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, then vanilla and 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until the frosting is the consistency you desire. Tint the frosting if you want it a color.
  8. Frost cookies, decorating them with sprinkles. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

If you’re looking for other Christmas cookie recipes click here.

Sugar Cookie Mix

Sugar Cookie Mix (11 of 11)

M&M Sugar Cookies

M&M Sugar Cookies (1 of 5)w

Cake Mix Sugar Cookies

Cake Mix Sugar Cookies by #cookie #Christmas

Sweets from friends:
XXL Buttery Sugar Cookie by Sally’s Baking Addiction
Chocolate Sugar Cookies by Table for Two
Confetti Sugar Cookies by Buns in my Oven

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  1. Traditions have become so important to my kids too.  I admit, sometimes I don’t feel like keeping up with them, but when they mean so much to my kids, how could I not do them?  I was honestly thinking yesterday that I need to make sugar cookies this year.  Maybe this will become our new Christmas Eve tradition too.  These really do look like the perfect cookie Dorothy.

  2. I’m with you on the almond extract, Dorothy! It makes the cookie so amazing. And frosting on a cookie is just heaven!

  3. I never make cut-outs because, well, I don’t really love rolling, cutting out, and frosting…but….yours have me tempted to make some! They look fabulous and love all the sprinkles 🙂 Pinned!

  4. Sugar cookies just make me happy. Especially at Christmastime! These are so adorable. I can’t wait to make them! 

  5. Sugar cookies always remind me of Christmas. They’re one of my favorite cookies and so fun to customize! These look fabulous, Dorothy! What a great cookie for this time of year!

  6. Both you and Sally posted the same recipe today! lol 😛 Your pics are very stunning. I hope you have a great week!

  7. I LOVE using almond extract in sugar cookies…it’s the best! I also happen to love any sort of tradition. Our Christmas eve tradition is Jello shots 🙂
    Maybe I’ll do the same time! Pinned!

  8. What a fun tradition! Decorating sugar cookies reminds me of Christmas too!

  9. The waxed paper trick works every time! These cookies look awesome!

  10. Our family is big on tradition too. It feels wrong when something is skipped. These cookies look fantastic. What a fun way to spend Christmas Eve. Pinned.

  11. I never make cut out cookies because they seem like so much work. Your cookies look so good that I may just have to attempt it. What better time to do it than the holiday season, right? Pinning!

  12. I love how these can be re-issued (deliciously) and decorated according to the season. I love cookies, but in this case, what puts me over the edge is the icing and of course, SPRINKLES.

  13. Gosh I LOVE these and I love sugar cookies.  And they hold their shape?  Done!

  14. These cookies look so perfect! I love it how you didn’t make them too sweet, perfect to top with frosting or icing. I am a traditions girl definitely; always porridge on a christmas day breakfast and lemon drizzle cake on mother’s day! Pinned! x 

  15. I love frosted sugar cookies so much, but I never make the time to make and decorate them during this time of year…then I see them here, and want to make a batch right away!

  16. I always see people posting TimeHop things on Facebook but haven’t actually used it myself. I’m only afraid that it’ll show something really random/weird/embarrassing that I can’t explain but that somehow made sense in the past!

  17. Yum! I love cut out cookies- can’t wait to make some for Christmas. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  18. lol I’m like Jordan-don’t mess with my traditions!!! 

    These sugar cookies are perfect and I love that they’re a part of your Christmas every year!

  19. These cookies are so cute! And what a fun tradition for Christmas Eve. 🙂 I didn’t get into decorating cut out cookies until recently, and I’m so excited about making some Christmas ones this year. I’ll totally have to try out your recipe!

  20. There is nothing like a classic sugar cookie. The snowman is so cute.

  21. I wish I had the time right now to go make these!  I love cut out sugar cookies with frosting!  I can’t wait to try this recipe!  My mouth is watering as we speak!

  22. When I saw this post I yelped “YES!”. I love sugar cookies, LOVE LOVE. But with sprinkles? Perfection lady!

  23. I am so digging your rustic icing with sprinkles…it’s beautiful! I am especially jealous because this morning I meticulously piped frosting for snowflake sugar cookies…and my hand still hurts. And yours are prettier. <–there is probably a FB status in there somewhere 😉 I can see why you keep this tradition alive! Pinned!

  24. These cookies look so good. Totally need to make these with my 6 year old lil girl. And I gotta say I am just like Jordan. I am all about traditions and doing things the same way every year. When something doesn’t go smoothly I get kinda of cranky and annoyed. Silly huh!! But just wait until Jordan is older and then she can do all the traditions by her self and you can sit back and relax!! 🙂 

  25. I look forward to making cut out sugar cookies during the holidays! I love that you make them with Jordan ever year. These look gorgeous especially with the pretty sprinkles 🙂 

  26. I love making sugar cookies! they are so fun to decorate. I actually think thats my favorite part of the process. Love your beautiful pics!

  27. We make sugar cookies every Christmas Eve, too! Love Christmas traditions like this!

  28. Can’t wait to have traditions with my future kids! So sweet 🙂 I seriously need to check out Time Hop, too! What a cool idea!

  29. Aww, that’s a sweet tradition to share with your daughter. I think traditions are especially important around the holidays! Every Christmas eve my family has fondue, and it is so much fun! I plan on carrying it on with my kids. These cookies look perfect…I have so many cookie spreading problems, but I’m sure it’s because I’m at altitude and they just don’t want to behave themselves in the oven 🙁

  30. Sugar cookies always seem to taste the best as Christmas cookies!

  31. We do cut out cookies and gingerbread houses every year because the kids love it so much! Yay for fun traditions that live on year to year. These are so pretty…and I’m intrigued by the powdered sugar in these.

  32. Such a fun Christmas tradition! We make these EVERY year! Love all your tips Dorothy!

  33. I was just looking for a cut-out sugar cookie recipe! I’m so glad I came across your blog because this recipe looks PERFECT! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try this year. Cookie decorating is always a HUGE part of the festivities. 🙂

  34. I’m basically as big on traditions as Jordan… Like, to the max. I skipped my family’s Thanksgiving this year to go to my guy’s instead because he had been to our past 2 Thanksgivings. When we got to his aunt’s house and I realized their feast included lasagna, 7-layer bean dip & peach pie, I just about cried. So my parents hosted a second “Thanksgiving” this past weekend for me so I could still bake and cook our traditional dishes. So tell Jordan I can totally relate! 😉

    • Oh gosh, I know that feeling! The first time I had to go a holiday without knoepfle I about died. Luckily, as an only child, my parents are kind of a package deal and they almost always come (and bring the noodles). 🙂

  35. Can you freeze frosted sugar cookies?

    • I would freeze the cookies separate from the frosting for best results. I’ve frozen the dough, the baked cookies, and the frosting so it all works. Freezing the frosted cookies is fine, but the frosting may weep a little bit. 🙂

  36. i just made these. 
    Used only vanilla extract. 
    They are delicious. 
    However I found that they were super crumbly and didn’t roll very well. The dough kept cracking. 

    • How do you measure your flour? I’m thinking you may have added too much accidentally, that can sometimes happen if you scoop the flour using the measuring cup, instead of spooning it into the cup. Sometimes adding a little water or milk will moisten up the dough if it’s still giving you trouble.

  37. i love these cookies but mine spread out and lost their shapes. Any hints? We are high altitude, do I need to adjust for that?

  38. Hi! just made this cookie dough for a bake sale (but I added about a tbsp. of caramel topping to a cup of whipped cream for my frosting) and I let it chill for about 1 1/2 hours, but the dough was way too stick to be rolled out and cut into shapes? Should I just let it chill more or did I mess up somewhere? I will say that I didn’t pre-roll out my dough and then refrigerate it- I just put it in plastic wrap and into the fridge!

    • That’s strange! I’ve made this recipe (it’s from Land ‘O Lakes) so many times and haven’t had that issue. Before I figured out the rolling between wax paper I would just wrap it in a ball and chill it for about that length of time. It’s possible that your butter was a lot softer than mine when you started. Did you alter the cookie recipe in any way (add any additional liquid?) If you have trouble in the future and don’t want to roll it first, try dividing the dough into two parts, wrap with plastic, and chill. It’ll chill faster that way!

  39. I have 2 batches in the fridge…I am going to make my cookies tomorrow.  Should I let the dough sit out for a few minutes before trying to roll it out?
    Thank you…

    • Did you roll it out before you chilled it, as called for in the recipe? If so, no need to let it sit. Just cut shapes, then bake, re-roll, rechill, etc as needed. If you chilled the dough before rolling out, you’ll probably need to let it sit so you can actually roll it without it breaking. But make sure that the shapes are COLD before you bake them, so they hold their shape.

  40. These look delicious. I’ll be trying your recipe out with my little gals today. Thanks for sharing <3

  41. Does the icing harden? also great recipe i enjoy doing cutouts right now with my kids being so little and with school parties they are a major hit gonna try out this recipe today for sure

  42. These look great! Did you mean to write powdered sugar for the cookie ingredients? I’ve always heard of granulated sugar for the cookie. Thanks!

    • I know, it’s strange right? But it is correct – powdered sugar in the dough! It makes them perfectly soft yet rollable. I’m not a crunchy cookie fan, so these are perfect!

  43. I was very excited to try your recipe I did follow it as per you said. When I went to take it out of fridge I thought this was going to be much easier but I found that the dough was crumbling and kinda hard. So I had to peel it off the wax paper re roll it and warm it up with my hands.  I found it very hard to work with. Then when it came to baking them I found that 5 minutes was enough we like them soft. I’m trying to figure out what went wrong. Mabey someone can figure this out and respond. I hope the frosting goes smooth.Thank You

  44. I just made these cookies and the dough came out hard and crumbling as I was trying to make the cookie shapes had to re roll them .I followed the recipe as it was written they also took only 5 minutes to bake . I’m trying to figure out why this happened. If anyone has an idea please let me no. Thank You 

    • Did you use regular butter or a substitute or accidentally pack your flour? Possibly they needed to be mixed longer as well. The bake time depends on the thickness and size of the cookies too.

  45. can you remake dough and refrigerate?

  46. What will happen if I leave out cream of tartar?!

  47. I subbed in about 4tb of ginger powder, a tsp or so of cinnamon, pinch of allspice and cloves for some of the flour, omitted the almond and doubled the vanilla, pulsed in the food processor instead of using a mixer, rolled into a log and froze, sliced 1/4 in thick, and baked from frozen for about 15 minutes until the edges just resisted a light touch. They came out exquisitely crispy, almost like meringue. Next time I’m going to try lemon zest and lavender. 

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