Celebrate the season with a tried-and-tested recipe for The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies that are buttery, soft and hold their shape after baking.

An assortment of Christmas cookies decorated with frosting and sprinkles

What better way to kick off Christmas than with cutout cookies? This recipe has become my go-to during the holidays because it yields consistently soft, chewy and perfectly flavored sugar cookies. Best of all, you can cut it into any shape or size imaginable and it’ll stay that exact same shape, even after a hot date with the oven.

How to Make Cookies That Keep Their Shape

There are a two key tips that will lead to cutout cookies that will keep their shape:

  • Chill the Dough: Because of the amount of butter in this dough, it’s important to refrigerate it so that the fat has a chance to re-solidify.
  • Chill the Unbaked Cookies: The chill fest continues as you then refrigerate (or even freeze) the cutout cookies for 15 minutes prior to baking them. This guarantees that the butter will not melt too quickly, which causes the cookie to spread. Spread-out cookies = shapeless cookies… and we don’t want those!
A collage showing how to make cutout cookies

Now all that’s left to do is decide what shape you’re going to make! No matter the season or the holiday, this recipe is guaranteed to become a staple in your dessert repertoire.

An assortment of Christmas cookies decorated with frosting and sprinkles
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Dessert

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies

Celebrate the season with a tried-and-tested recipe for The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies that are buttery, soft and hold their shape after baking.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time 11 mins
Total Time 1 hr 41 mins
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Store-bought or homemade frosting
  • Assorted sprinkles

Equipment:

  • Assorted cookie cutters

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, then add the vanilla.
  • Turn the mixer off. Add the flour and then beat just until combined.
  • Remove the dough, shape it into a disk about 6 inches wide and wrap it securely in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 1 hour. (See Kelly’s Notes.)
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Remove the dough from the fridge and cut it in half. Roll half the dough between two pieces of wax paper until it’s about 1/4-inch-thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out your desired shapes and place them roughly 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining dough. (Leftover scraps can be re-rolled.)
  • Refrigerate the cut-out cookies for 15 minutes. (This helps them keep their shape when baking.)
  • Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes until pale golden, and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Frost and decorate as desired.

Kelly’s Notes:

  • The dough can be refrigerated overnight, however when you remove it from the fridge, you will likely need to let it rest at room temperature for some time before it’s soft enough to roll.
  • When in doubt, remove the cookies from the oven just prior to them turning pale golden. The cookies will crisp slightly as they cool, so removing them while slightly underbaked guarantees your cookies will remain soft. For crispier sugar cookies, bake them the full time.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!

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Recipe adapted from Gale Gand.


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Nutrition

Calories: 521kcal, Carbohydrates: 69g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Cholesterol: 101mg, Sodium: 165mg, Potassium: 97mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 33g, Vitamin A: 770IU, Calcium: 31mg, Iron: 2.4mg

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Comments

  1. Dumb question – you indicate the serving size is 8. Can you tell me approx how many cookies per serving? Thanks

  2. Hi,
    Is it okay to store these in an airtight container at room temp or should they go in the fridge?
    Also, how long will they stay good for?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi there! Yes, you can store the cookies in an airtight container at room temp. They’ll last up to a week. :)

  3. Thank you for this recipe I have always wanted to learn how to make dough to do cut up cookies so I can enjoy with my grandchildren I will do this today thank you very much

  4. These are delicious! I have made these every Christmas for years now. Everyone always loves them and wants the recipe. They are my favorite Christmas cookie. Thank you so much for share this recipe. Keep it up.

    Wendy R Thomas

    1. Hi Danielle! I’ve never tried freezing it so I can’t say for certain what the results would be. Let me know if you give it a shot!

  5. I’ve been looking for a cut out cookie recipe for my little boy but he’s severely allergic to eggs, what can I use to substitute 2 eggs?

  6. 5 stars
    HI Kelly, Love your blog! I’m trying to subscribe to your newsletters to get your recipes delivered to my inbox. When I put my email address in to subscribe to your newsletters it keep saying oops some thing went wrong and to try again later.
    Have a good day.
    Hugs, Teresa

    1. Hi Teresa,

      So sorry you’re having an issue! I just subscribed you so you should be getting emails going forward. Please let me know if you don’t get the Thursday email :)

    1. Hi Lauren! The dough will last a few days in the fridge. I’ve never tried freezing it so I can’t say for certain what the results would be. Let me know if you give it a shot!

  7. 5 stars
    Tried these yesterday, very good! I am starting my baking early and need more recipes without nuts! Granddaughter is allergic to nuts!

  8. 5 stars
    Made these and they are fantastic. So easy to work with and they taste great. Do you have a good icing recipe? Thanks!

    1. Hi Katlin – I stated in the recipe above to securely wrap the dough in plastic wrap, not parchment paper, before refrigerating. The parchment paper is used to line the baking sheets just prior to baking. You definitely don’t want to use wax paper for this step as it will melt in the oven. Hope that helps!

  9. 2 words…..COMPLETELY AWESOME!
    The flavor is great & the cookies are perfect. They aren’t too soft or heart. Thanks 4 sharing.

  10. Does this dough freeze well? I’ve had it in the fridge overnight but unfortunately my husband picked up wax paper instead of parchment paper and I’m afraid that another night in the fridge might not hold up.

  11. Do they have to be refrigerated for the full hour? Had a busy day and promised my 3 year old we would do cookies and it’s close to bed time. Lol

  12. These cookies came out wonderful! I have been baking for many years and had yet to find a recipe and method that I love. Thank you so much for sharing!

  13. your cookies are decorated so beautifully. When is the best time to decorate? If you wait until they are baked and cooled, won’t the colored sprinkles just fall right off?

    1. Hi Susan! If frosting the cookies, let them cool completely before you frost and decorate them. If you prefer cookies without frosting you can either add sprinkles before baking (sanding or decorative sugar works best) or, when cookies have cooled completely, brush an egg wash on the cookie and immediately top with sprinkles. To make the egg wash beat together the whites of 2 pasteurized eggs and 1/4 teaspoon of water. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Diane! You could try adjusting the scale settings before you print or, copy and paste the directions into a word document and increase the font size. Hope that helps!

  14. I have to say thank you for this amazing recipe. I found it maybe 3 years ago and first made christmas cookies for gifts that year. I’ve since used the recipe for two more christmases, birthdays, valentines day, you name it. I follow your recipe to a T and agree that the chilling the dough is crucial and scraps need to be refrigerated again before re-rolling. Everyone raves about these cookies and they always look beautiful. Thank you so much!!!!

  15. I did some test cookies with earl grey tea leaves in the cookie dough rather than steeping the tea bags in milk.

  16. I just made these for my sister’s graduation party and I have to say that these cookies are awesome ! Slightly unferbaked to be soft but very delicious and holds well its shape so it’s easy to decorate them ! I really recommend this recipe !

  17. Hi Kelly,

    I searched on several sites. I bake a lot, so I could pretty much tell from the recipes if I thought they would work and how much work was involved.
    I made your recipe exactly as indicated, except I doubled it (hey…I grew up in a big family – you never make a single batch of anything).
    I split the dough, flattened into 2 disks about 1 and 3/4 thick, wrapped in plastic wrap and put them in my garage (on a -22 C windchill day) for 2 hours.
    Got my trays ready to go with parchment, started rolling the first disk between parchment, but subsequently removed the top parchment as a light dusting of flour stopped any chance of sticking. I kept rolling gently and placed my hands over the dough at the start to warm it a bit. I have to tell you, this recipe will be my total go-to for sugar cookies.
    Rolled, cut and baked beautifully. Maybe because I am really used to rolling cookies (I make 1000 gingerbread for gifts at Christmas) so I didn’t run into problems, and the consistency of the dough was FABulous. Taste-wise – to me they taste exactly as a sugar cookie should taste, which is somewhat short and not very sweet. Readers who are looking for a sweet sugar cookie should note that you either have to sprinkle them with regular or coloured sugar, or ice them. However, I would not use store-bought icing on them. Too Messy and impossible to transport if giving as a gift. Use royal icing.
    For novice bakers, one absolute rule in baking – NEVER add liquid, like water or milk to batter unless there is already milk or water in the recipe. Adding liquid to a short cookie like this makes them bake hard as a rock. Add more fat or possibly an extra egg if you find the batter too dry, but not liquid.
    Thanks for an excellent recipe.

    1. Wow! Thanks so much for your thorough review, Nancy, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe!

  18. This recipe is NOT good for cut out cookies! I followed this recipe exactly as written (I left the dough in the fridge for over 2 hours). When it was time to roll out the dough, it kept getting stuck to my pin and the table. I was not able to make any shaped cookies with this recipe. I added more flour to get the right consistency, I hope it won’t affect the taste of the cookies…

    1. Hi Oriella – I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this recipe. I have made it many times without the dough being sticky. Did you lightly flour your work surface? Was it by chance very humid/warm where you were making them? I’ve never had this issue before but would love to help troubleshoot.

  19. I see my first comment wasn’t allowed but I’m trying again. These are shortbread cookies, NOT sugar cookies. Please change the title so that others don’t waste their time and ingredients making these thinking they are sugar cookies.

    1. Hi Michelle – Thanks for your comment. As far as the recipe goes, these are sugar cookies. By definition, sugar cookies contain eggs (like in this recipe) and a leavener (such as the baking powder in this recipe), and shortbread cookies do not contain either ingredient, so the recipe title is 100% accurate.

  20. I did not have luck with these cookies. The dough was too sticky and when they were baked, they spread out and looked deformed, even though I chilled the dough and chilled the cut outs before baking. Hmm.

  21. These cookies are looking so adorable just I am in love with these cookies . And what a brilliant use of Cookie cutters.

  22. I am a no-bake cookie girl through and through! I don’t own one single cookie cutter and would love to win this, as my three year old daughter is really into helping me bake in the kitchen. What fun we could have!!! Thank you for the sugar cookie recipe…off to borrow some cookie cutters!

  23. I love cookies of all kinds unless they are fruit flavored or have fruit in them. Chocolate chip, butterscotch oatmeal, ginger cookies – YUM

  24. My favorite all time cookie is oatmeal raisin, but snicker-doodles and coconut macaroons also come pretty close!

  25. I love all cookies and if I have to pick I’ll say shortbread cookies and bars.

    I subscribe to your emails and newsletters.

  26. Powdered sugar wedding cake cookies. I have a tip. Roll your dough between plastic (new garbage bag , cut around three sides) throw it away when done. Mess controlled . Works great. Try it. Linda

  27. I love shortbread cookies and date, raisin and oatmeal cookies and many more.

    I subscribe to your emails and newsletters.

    Thank you and good luck on your move.

  28. I love any type of cookie….peanut blossoms, chocolate chip, sugar, chocolate crackle, seven layer, oatmeal, ginger, etc!!! YUM!

  29. My favorite all time cookie is definitely a hot cocoa cookie. You cannot go wrong with chocolate and marshmallows.

  30. My favorite cookie has always been and probably always be a good, crunchy sugar cookie – so thanks for this recipe!

  31. I love coconut macaroons (lol, and sometimes I dip the bottoms in dark chocolate) and meringue cookies with coconut are also pretty great too.

  32. Those cookie cutters are adorable!

    My favorite type of cookie is a maple pecan cookie that I make :)

  33. My all-time favorite cookie is a Snickerdoodle. I’m not a tech-saavy grandma so email is the only way for me to express my opinion……..thanks so much for this giveaway!

  34. Chocolate chip will always be my favorite, but this year I’ve really gotten into decorating sugar cookies!

  35. I have been volunteering in Bolivia the last 3 months and chocolate chips are nowhere to be found! How am I to delight in my favorite, gooey and a little chewy choc chip cookie without them??

  36. Sugar cookies are the only one I can NOT resist! (though I love all cookies… prefer cookies to cake/cupcakes)

  37. It’s really hard to pick an all time favorite cookie! I think I’ll go with a simple one that’s always a good one… really chewy oatmeal chocolate chip!

  38. Like you, I love most ALL cookies, but my very favorite is a good shortbread with icing. My great aunt and I used to make them when I was a child. I’ve since lost her recipe and haven’t made them in ages, so I’m hoping this one will work to take its place.

  39. I will probably answer different every day, but the first cookie that came to mind was a monster cookie because those include m&ms, chocolate, oatmeal and a good brown sugar taste.

    However, I am loving Two Peas & Their Pod’s Brown Sugar Toffee Cookies right now!

  40. While I do love so many types of cookies, my all-time favorite would probably have to be a warm, gooey, classic chocolate chip cookie. Yum!