Sugar Cookies: the effortless recipe for classic soft sugar cookies

Total time: 25 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 20 people
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By Cookist

Classic soft sugar cookies are always a lovely treat to enjoy during the holidays. You can enjoy these sweet treats plain or topped with an icing like for cut-out cookies. With crisp edges and a chewy, soft texture on the inside, they have a their sweet, buttery vanilla flavor.

Sugar cookies can be formed by hand, dropped or rolled until 1/4-inch thick and cut in shapes to make them more festive. Sugar cookies hit the spot no matter what the occasion. Make them around the holidays and decorate them to add a fun flair to your treats, or whip up a batch of soft cookies. This recipe will be more delicious than store-bought or grandma's ones you can enjoy up to a week when baked – it's guaranteed!

Sugar Cookie Origins

This recipe is very popular and loved by all. Sugar cookies are thought to have been first invented in the mid-1700s in Nazareth (Pennsylvania) by Protestant German settlers as they wanted to create a round, crumbly, buttery cookie. The recipe was initially made known as the Nazareth cookie, but it has been called a sugar cookie in cookbooks since the 1800s.

Sugar Cookies vs. Butter Cookies 

Although sugar cookies and butter cookies are similar, there are a few key differences. Sugar cookies are often made thin, and the dough is punched out using cookie cutters to make fun shapes. They're a popular type of cookie to make during the holidays.

Butter cookies, as their name suggests, have a higher butter content and more flour, and will tend to hold their shape better when baked. Both types of cookies are delicious.

Sugar Cookies Ingredients

Soft sugar cookies are made using staple pantry ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. An extra egg yolk helps make these cookies a little richer.

You'll also need baking soda and baking powder to help leaven the cookies while baking and give them their ultra-soft texture.

How to Make Soft Sugar Cookies from Scratch

Making the best homemade sugar cookies is a cinch. Start by combining the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until it becomes creamy. Mix in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Using a tablespoon dollop heaping spoonfuls of the dough onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Keep the dough about 2-inches apart – the cookies will spread, so make sure to give them space! Bake your sugar cookies for 9 to 11 minutes. Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool for 5 minutes. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.


Can You Make Sugar Cookies Ahead of Time? 

Of course! You can make the sugar cookie dough up to 2 days in advance, or make the dough and freeze it for up to one year, You can also bake the cookies several days in advance, or even bake the cookies and freeze them for up to 3 months.

Why Are My Sugar Cookies Flat?

There are a few reasons why your sugar cookies might have turned out flat. One major cause is overmixing the dough. Another culprit is using too much sugar or too little flour. Make sure to be precise when measuring your ingredients.

Can You Make Cut-out Sugar Cookies With This Recipe?

You can definitely make cut-out sugar cookies using this recipe. Simply grab your favorite cookie cutters and press them into the dough to make decorative, fun cookies everyone will love!

Tips for Making the Best Sugar Cookies

If your cookies are dry or they didn't spread, you may have added too much flour to the dough.

Make sure you level your measuring cups when measuring out the flour. This will ensure you have the right amount for your recipe and ultimately yield sugar cookies with the ideal flavor and texture.

Overmixing the cookie dough may make it crumbly. You want to just combine the ingredients.

You can use salted butter instead of unsalted butter, however, you'll want to reduce the amount of salt you add to the recipe to ¼ teaspoon.

To make gluten-free sugar cookies, use gluten-free flour instead of AP flour.

If you're making two trays of cookies at once, rotate the trays halfway through baking to ensure the cookies bake evenly.

Sugar Cookie Variations

Because sugar cookies are quite simple, you can jazz them up in all sorts of delicious ways. Try adding chocolate chips or nuts to the dough, or mix in a little flavored extract like almond, orange, or lemon.

Decorate your soft sugar cookies with royal icing or colorful sprinkles.

If you don't like your sweets too sweet, you can cut the sugar in your sugar cookies by ¼ cup. You'll still get that same chewy on the inside, crispy around the edges texture, and delightful flavor.

How to Store Sugar Cookies

Keep your sugar cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or a week when stored in the fridge. You can also freeze your sugar cookies for up to 3 months.

All-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups
Baking soda
1/2 tsp
Baking powder
1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp
Granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups
unsalted butter, softened
1 cup
Large egg
large egg yolk
pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp


Preheat your oven to 350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy and light.

Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract.

Gradually beat in the dry ingredients.

Scoop the dough in heaping tablespoons and place them onto the baking tray.

Space the dough about 2-inches apart.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. Serve and enjoy!


Use room temperature ingredients to make your cookies.

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