To decorate iced sugar cookies, you need to start with a good recipe for rolled, cut out sugar cookies. This one is tasty and doesn't spread!
While I’ve included it as part of a few tutorials, I’ve never actually posted my recipe for the ultimate cut-out sugar cookies!
Oof. Sorry about that!
I use it as the base for any sugar cookies I make, and have since my cake decorating days, about a decade ago.
It’s served me well over the years, with various shapes and designs of these cookies making it to many a Christmas cookie tray, birthday party, potluck, etc.
With this year’s prime decorating season coming up, it’s finally time for these easy sugar cookies to shine!
Decorating Sugar Cookie Cutouts
This is the perfect sugar cookie recipe for making decorated cookies, as it makes fantastic cut-out cookies.
When cut and baked, the dough doesn’t spread - without spreading. It’s always good when you cutout cookies look the same after baking, as they do before!
It’s a buttery cookie, with crisp edges. They hold their shape after baking, while also being a softer cookie - so they’re pleasant to eat. (I’m not a fan of SUPER crisp cookies).
It’s not an overly sweet cookie, so it provides a really great base for the icing.
All around, a great recipe!
Want some help getting started with cookie decorating? Check out this post: Sugar Cookie Decorating for Beginners .
It’s EXTENSIVE, and should answer any question you have about the process!
Gluten-Free Cut Out Sugar Cookies
In the mood to make a classic sugar cookie recipe, but need it gluten free?
Those gluten free cut out cookies taste as good as my original recipe, and have great texture, AND performance!
It’s the best recipe when you want to be more inclusive with your cookies - no one can tell they’re gluten-free.
This easy sugar cookie recipe requires simple ingredients that can be found at any grocery store:
All purpose flour
1 - I only make this recipe with real butter, not vegetable shortening. It’s all about having the best taste ... and butter just wins. You might be able to swap in shortening, I just have no data for you.
2- You’ll want to use room temperature butter for making these easy cut out sugar cookies.
Trying to cream cold butter takes the “easy” out of things, after all!
3 - I make this with my Homemade Vanilla Extract. Almond extract is a great substitution, though I’ll usually use slightly less, to not be overpowering.
Sometimes I’ll get even more wild with it, depending on the occasion.
A small amount of peppermint extract for Christmas cookies, a bit of Cinnamon flavoring for Valentine’s Day, even anise extract (black licorice) for making black cat sugar cookies for Halloween!
Note: If you’re using a potent flavour, use a bit less of it!
While you *can* use buttercream frosting as a sugar cookie frosting, I recommend using royal icing.
It whips up quickly, dries hard, and is basically the gold standard for sugar cookie icing.
There are two ways to make it, and I have recipes for both:
Traditional Royal Icing - This is the classic version, made with raw egg whites, lemon juice, and powdered sugar.
Easy Royal Icing - this version uses meringue powder instead of the raw egg whites, making it a safer option for pregnant people, the immune compromised, and the very young.
Meringue Powder is a bit more expensive than using eggs, but it’s good to have peace of mind when serving your cookies!
You can sometimes find it in the baking aisles at larger grocery stores, and it’s usually readily available at cake decorating supply stores and large craft store chains.
Gel coloring is the best way to get intense color, without adding a ton of liquid to the icing.
Equipment & Supplies
To make the best sugar cookies, you’re doing to need some basic equipment and supplies.
Beyond measuring implements, a mixer, etc, you’ll want to have:
A Rolling Pin
I recommend using a Rolling pin with adjustable thickness guides.
It’s a good idea to keep your dough rolled to a consistent thickness, and the guides make doing so incredibly easy.
That link goes to the one I use, and I LOVE it. The silicone mat it comes with also gets a ton of use!
You can cut this recipe into any shape you want, so just use your favorite cookie cutters for whatever the occasion is!
The fun part of sugar cookies is decorating, so there are a few things you’ll need, to do so:
I recommend having Large Piping Bags on hand - I tend to go through a lot of them - at least one piping bag per color.
Let’s be real, I end up going through a few for each color used. It gets chaotic for me, LOL.
That said, you can use a large Ziploc plastic bag - fill it with icing, squeeze the air out, and cut a small piece of one of the bottom corners off.
How to Make Cut Out Sugar Cookies
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this blog post, here is the pictorial walk through with additional tips and info.
Make the Dough
First thing to address: You can make this a hand mixer and a large bowl, or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
I used the hand electric mixer for the sake of photos, but recommend a stand mixer - it’s a WORKOUT with a hand mixer!
Add in eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition.
Add vanilla extract, and mix until well incorporated and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are creamed together.
Add dry ingredients flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix on low speed until fully incorporated.
Gather sugar cookie dough into a ball or flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill dough for 1 hour.
Roll, Cut, and Bake!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line cookie sheets with parchment paper
Sprinkle a little flour over your clean work surface, roll dough out to about ¼ inch thickness,
Note: It can be rolled slightly thicker if you like, but ¼-inch thickness is ideal, IMHO - thick enough to hold up to decorating and handling, while still being a great thickness for eating / frosting ratio!
Use cookie cutters to cut out whatever shapes you’d like out of the rolled dough, place cookies 2″ apart on prepared cookie sheets.
For best results, knead only as much as you need to - don’t over-handle the dough!
Roll the remaining dough out on the floured surface, cut out, place on the parchment lined baking sheet, and repeat as necessary.
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms look lightly golden brown and the edges of the cookies are just starting to brown slightly.
Bake time will vary based on the size of the cookies being baked. Try to group cookies of similar size on each pan.
This compacts the surface of the cookies, flattening out the surface of each cookie to even out any uneven rising that may have occurred during baking.
It’s an easy way to ensure a perfectly flat, even surface for decorating.
Cookies need to cool completely before decorating.
See Sugar Cookie Decorating for Beginners for full details on decorating sugar cookies.
Storing Sugar Cookies
If you’re not decorating your sugar cookies, the undecorated cookies can be transferred to an airtight container or freezer bags and stored at room temp for several days, in the fridge for a week or more, or frozen for up to 3 months.
As far as decorating cookies go, fully dried - I mean it, FULLY dried - cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
I like to lay them flat, separated by layers of parchment or wax paper.
Fully dried cookies can also be frozen for several months, if needed.
I recommend sealing them - individually - in cellophane bags before putting them in the freezer. “Airtight” is important here - if any moisture gets in, they can be destroyed when thawed.
More Cookie Decorating Posts
Looking for more excuses to roll some sugar cookie dough out? In the mood to break out the royal icing? Here are some more cookie recipes and tutorials you may be interested in!
Decorating Dalek Cookies
Easy Royal Icing
Easy Spider Web Cookies
Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cookies
Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies for Decorating
Nightmare Before Christmas Cookies
Rolled Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Sugar Cookie Decorating for Beginners
Traditional Royal Icing
.. and be sure to check out our Cookies & Bars recipe section for even more delicious cookie recipes!
Share the Love!
Before you chow down, be sure to take some pics of your handiwork, for posterity and social media! If you Instagram it, be sure to tag me - @CelebrationGenerationCA - or post it to My Facebook Page - so I can cheer you on!
Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense. Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
Finally, if you love this recipe, please consider leaving a star rating and/or a comment below!
Cut-Out Rolled Sugar Cookies
- 1 ½ cups Butter softened
- 2 ¼ cups Granulated sugar
- 4 Large eggs
- 2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon Baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 5+ cups All-purpose flour
- In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.
- Add in eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla extract, and mix until well incorporated and smooth.
- Mix remaining 3 ingredients together, carefully mix into wet ingredients until fully incorporated.
- Wrap dough in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, line cookie sheets with parchment paper
- On a floured counter, roll cookie dough out to about ¼″ thick (can be slightly thicker).
- Use cookie cutters to cut out whatever shapes you’d like, place cookies 2″ apart on prepared cookie sheets.
- Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until bottoms look lightly golden.
- Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving. Cookies need to cool completely before decorating.