Need the best sugar cookies ever for baking with your kids this Christmas? Get all the tips and tricks to make buttery frosted sugar cookies as a classic holiday treat for your family. You'll make special memories together with a cookie decorating day everyone will love.
If your kids (or you) are going to get into sugar cookie decorating, then you absolutely need to start with the best sugar cookie recipe!
Whether you plan to decorate them with elaborate royal icing designs or simply want to frost the cookies and sprinkle candies over the top, a crispy, buttery sugar cookie base is the essential first step.
This not-too-sweet sugar cookie recipe is so amazing, I ended up including it in The Ultimate Kids' Baking Book.
Sugar cookies are a perfect treat all year round because you can simply change the shape and the colorful decoration on top and they're ready to match whatever holiday you're in the mood to bake for.
Pair this with my favorite royal icing for stunning cookies you'll be so proud to share with family.
Why This Is the Best Recipe
This is the best cut-out cookie recipe for beginner bakers because:
- All Butter, NO Shortening: I don't keep shortening in the house, so I need just a basic butter recipe.
- Easy to Roll Out: The dough rolls out perfectly and is easy to cut with our favorite cookie cutters.
- Cookies Hold Their Shape: Nothing's worse than a puddled shape you don't recognize after baking! This dough holds your cookie cutter shape perfectly.
- Crispy Outside, Chewy Inside: I feel crispy cookies hold up better to decorating far better than an overly soft sugar cookie but this recipe has a lovely soft chewy middle.
- Bakes Evenly: Some recipes tend to brown around the edges before the cookie is baked, this recipe bakes perfectly evenly.
- Easy for Kids: I've tested this recipe on both my girls and we always have a great time with it.
The wholesome ingredients that go into this sugar cookie dough are absolutely delicious. Once you see how easy it is to make, you'll never buy refrigerated cookie dough again!
All you need are these six easy things:
- Butter: I always use salted butter. Usually, I buy Land O'Lakes butter but I've recently learned that Trader Joe's butter is amazing, too.
- Baking Powder
Sugar Cookie Tools
There are a few important things to be sure you have stocked in your kitchen for baking sugar cookies:
Baking Mat & Rolling Pin
I absolutely love my silicone baking mat for rolling out dough of all kinds. I use it for shaping my homemade breads, rolling out pie crusts, forming pizza dough, and definitely for rolling out sugar cookies.
I've tested many different baking pans over the years and when it comes to baking cookies, this set has become my absolute favorite. They are lightweight, bake the cookies evenly, and you don't really even need parchment paper because this sugar cookies recipe will slide right off the pan.
Whether or not you need parchment paper to make sugar cookies depends on the baking pans you're using. Even when I use my favorite cookie pans, I still line them with parchment paper because it helps keep them clean.
You don't need a huge bin of cookie cutters to enjoy cookie decorating. Just stock up on a couple basic shapes and use your imagination! I love my circle and heart shapes the most and we've found dozens of ways to use them.
Do You Need a Stand Mixer?
I've always loved using my kitchen stand mixer for making this sugar cookie dough. The paddle attachment mixes everything perfectly with very little work from me.
However, I know not everyone has the space to store a mixer or the budget to get one. You can actually make this cookie recipe and mix it by hand if you prefer.
How Thick To Roll the Cookie Dough
Once the cookie dough has been mixed together, you'll want to roll it out for cutting on your baking mat.
I like to work with smaller portions of dough at a time so it is easier to roll evenly. Roll the dough out to a ¼ inch thickness.
Easy Sugar Cookie Icing Tips
Once the cookies have been baked and completely cooled, you can decorate them with glaze, icing, or your favorite frosting.
If you're baking with kids, prepare your favorite cookie frosting and set out sprinkles for the finishing touch. This is the easiest way to decorate sugar cookies with your family.
How to Make Easy Sugar Cookies for Christmas
Even though sugar cookies are fun to bake for holidays all year long, Christmas is definitely the most popular time!
If you want to plan a full cookie decorating day with your kids, you'll definitely want to follow the preparation timeline I outline here.
6 Simple Christmas Cookie Designs:
- Red and Green Hearts
- White Circles with Colorful Sprinkles
- Green Trees with Ornament Candies
- White Snowflakes with Silver Sparkles
- Single-Color Ornament Shapes
- Yellow Stars with Sparkle Sprinkles
Make Ahead Tips
One of my very favorite things about baking sugar cookies is the fact that you can easily make them ahead of time for your event.
You have three choices for make-ahead sugar cookies:
1. Prep (& Freeze) the Dough:
If you want your cookies to be fresh-baked, make the dough ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for several months.
Simply thaw the dough in the fridge overnight before you roll it out. You may have to let the dough warm slightly before it will roll well.
2. Bake the Cookies and Freeze Undecorated:
To really cut corners and save yourself time, prep the dough, roll it out, and cut and bake the cookies.
Store the baked cookies in single layers between wax paper in a hard-edge container in the freezer to avoid breakage.
Then you can just thaw and decorate right before your event.
This is a perfect way to prep make-ahead Christmas cookies so your kids can just enjoy the fun part: Decorating!
3. Freeze Fully Decorated Cookies:
I have not tried it yet myself, but I have been told by several hardcore baker friends that you can fully decorate your sugar cookies and then freeze them for later.
This works best with royal icing and is especially handy if you want to make a more complex decoration that requires lots of time. But you can learn how to make very simple royal icing designs here.
It's also a perfect Christmas in July project for you and the kids! Enjoy the entire cookie decorating process when life is calmer and just enjoy eating them during Christmas.
Freezing Sugar Cookies
If you want to freeze sugar cookies, it is best to store them in single layers between waxed paper in a hard container to prevent breakage.
Homemade sugar cookies freeze so well and will taste just as delicious once thawed as they did when you baked them.
They are perfect for making ahead for holidays or special events.
Sugar Cookie FAQ
Yes, you can and should chill the dough before you roll it out.
Properly cooked sugar cookies are very pale, they never really get a golden brown color on the top or edges. It can be tricky to determine if they are fully baked the first time you make them. Use a spatula to peek underneath a cookie. If it is golden brown under there, the cookie is perfect.
If you want to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing, they should be firm and crispy. Softer cookies don't have as smooth of a surface for royal icing.
If you plan to use frosting, you can bake soft or crispy sugar cookies, whatever your personal preference is!
If you don't want to bake sugar cookies from scratch and plan to use a cookie mix, try adding a half a teaspoon of almond extract and/or up to one teaspoon of vanilla extract to help them taste better.
Easy Cookie Recipes for Kids
Don't miss some of our other favorite easy cookie recipes to bake with your kids:
If you’ve tried these easy sugar cookies or any other recipe on PeanutBlossom.com please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know where you found it in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
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