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Roll-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

Written by Mike Tamplin Sep 8, 2013

247 Comments

Over the weekend I did some major housekeeping. I donated three huge bags of clothes I don’t wear anymore, de-cluttered my condo storage locker, and deleted seven rarely-used apps off my iPhone. Why not keep this cleaning streak going?

I’m in between cookie projects at the moment, so I’d like to use this down time to update my go-to sugar cookie recipe. When I posted my original sugar cookie recipe it was right when I began decorating cookies (November 2011). As I continued to bake and ice more cookies, I tweaked a few aspects of the original post. I’ve incorporated a few techniques and shortcuts I learned over the past two years, usually a result of trial-and-error.

Recently, I’ve been getting questions about the roll-out sugar cookie recipe I use, but realized the original post is a little out-of-date. I’d like to take this time to finally do an official update.

Keep in mind that this recipe is just what works for me. Feel free to modify it to your liking.

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For the printable version of this recipe, click here.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup
    (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup
    granulated sugar
  • 1
    egg
  • 1 ½ tsp
    vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp
    almond extract
  • 1 tsp
    salt
  • 3 cups
    all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. 1

    In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Mix until fluffy and well incorporated.

    mixing-butter-sugar
  2. 2

    Add egg, salt, and extracts. Mix until it is all well incorporated.

    adding-egg-extract
  3. 3

    Add flour, mixing a cupful at a time, to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. After everything is well mixed, the dough should be non-greasy to the touch.

    adding-flour-sugar-cookie-recipe
  4. 4

    Roll to 1/4 inch thickness between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. (I love my Joseph Joseph rolling pin because the guides take the guess work out of wondering if your cookies are the correct thickness and evenly rolled out.) After rolling, chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

    rolling the dough for a roll out sugar cookie recipe
  5. 5

    Once the dough is well chilled and hard to the touch, cut out shapes and place them on a parchment paper-lined, light-colored baking sheet.

    cutting the dough for a roll out sugar cookie recipe
  6. 6

    Bake at 375 for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven before the first indication of the edges turning brown. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

  7. 7

    Remove cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula and place on a cooling rack for a few hours before decorating.

    roll out sugar cookie recipe on a cooling rack

Makes about 2 dozen 3-inch cookies, but this recipe can be doubled easily if needed.

What’s Changed from the Original Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • I left out the cream cheese and added more extract. I love the taste and texture cream cheese adds but it’s a bit pricey. Skipping the cream cheese and upping the extract still leaves the cookies with a great taste. Although, I still add cream cheese on special occasions (like during the holidays) for a little extra kick.

  • I go back and forth on whether to leave out out the baking powder completely. I sometimes think leaving baking powder out helps minimize spreading and achieve smoother baked edges. However, sometimes I believe keeping it in helps the cookies bake more evenly, although it might cause them to rise a tad more. Currently, I’m on team “no baking powder.”

  • I now sift the flour before adding it in the mixer. Before, I thought it was a time-wasting step that I could easily skip. However, the dough would be really clumpy, with unmixed flour at the bottom of the bowl. Sifting makes incorporating the ingredients easier and a lot faster. There’s no time wasted scraping the bottom of the bowl if I sift.

  • I bumped up the heat on the oven to 375 degrees and lowered the baking time to 7 minutes. I found that the cookies spread less if they cooked at a higher temperature than at 350 degrees. This could just be unique to my oven, though.

Baking Tips for Perfect Cut-Out Cookies

  • I found I achieved crisp, square cookie edges if I cutout shapes when the rolled out dough was refrigerated for about an hour. It should feel hard to the touch, like cold slices of cheese. Also, I freeze the cut-out dough shapes on the baking sheet about 15 mins before placing in oven.

  • Use light colored baking sheets with parchment paper when baking cookies. Dark colored, non-stick baking sheets get too hot and can brown the bottoms of your cookies before the tops are done baking.

  • If possible, try to bake the same day you make the dough. I learned that refrigerating prepared dough and baking it a day or two later can darken the dough. Although, this isn’t a big deal if it gets covered with royal icing.

  • If you would like plan ahead, baking and then freezing the baked cookies works well.

  • If the cookie does spread a little after baking, there’s a small time window where you can press the dough back into shape while it’s still hot.

  • I always wait a day after baking to start decorating the cookie. I would leave them out to dry on a cookie sheet for a day to avoid butter bleed, or dark spots appearing on the icing. The cookies are still soft after decorating.

Roll-out sugar cookie recipe by Semi Sweet Designs

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247 replies on “Roll-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

  1. Hello Mike,
    I just wanted to know what brand of Vanilla Extract, Clear Vanilla Extract, and Light Corn Syrup do you use? Also, I wanted to know why you changed from Americolor Meringue Powder to CK Meringue Powder? Thanks in advance. 😊

  2. Hi Mike,

    I just wanted to say thank you for posting your recipes! This is probably the best sugar cookie recipe I’ve ever used, I’ve had great results with it.

    By the way, I’m also an aerospace engineer by day and a hobby-baker by night! :) Nice to see that I’m not the only one.

  3. In your baking tips, you mention that you freeze the cut-out cookies for 15″ before baking, but the actual recipe doesn’t include this tip. Would you kindly clarify that issue? Thanks

    1. You don’t have to freeze the cut outs, but if you want to ensure that they don’t spread while baking I would recommend freezing the cut outs.

  4. If I did add cream cheese, what would the amount be ?

    1. I’ve added 2oz to 4oz into the recipe. Just add more flour until the dough isn’t tacky to the touch anymore. It should still pull away from the bowl when it’s ready.

  5. This recipe is by far my favorite sugar cookie recipe. Thank you! It’s very delicious. I can’t wait to decorate them.

  6. Hi Mike ,

    Love your Blog. What Decorating Bottle do you use and do all the tip fit on them properly. You make it look so easy!!

    1. Hi Fern. You can find the bottles here in my shop. Any normal tip will work, like brands like PME, Wilton, and Ateco.

  7. Hi Mike,
    The one problem I have when making cut-out cookies (of any cut-out cookie recipes), is that the bottom part of the cookies is not smooth. It has holes here and there. I can never get smooth bottom cut-out cookies like ones from the store. My drop cookies always turn out good though, the bottom is smooth. Any idea why this happens? I use light colored pan and parchment paper.

    1. Hi Hanna, that’s normal and pretty difficult to prevent otherwise. My suspicion is cutout cookies are more dense than other kinds of cookies. When air gets trapped underneath, it creates bubbles and hole indentations because there’s no place to escape. You can always decorate the bottoms of the cookies instead of the tops if you want a smoother finished look.

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