Best Sugar Cookies

These Sugar Cookies are one of the most craveable cookies on the planet – 10X better than your favorite bakery!  They’re thick, soft and chewy, infused with vanilla and almond extract and are spectacular plain or decorate them for any festive occasion. This sugar cookie recipe is shockingly easy-to-make without rolling out dough and requires only 30 minutes of chilling time!

sugar cookies stacked on top of each other showing how thick, soft and chewy they are


 

These are the BEST Sugar Cookies

  • INHALABLE. I can’t count how many cookies my husband and I inhaled trying to perfect this recipe. We could not stay away – and neither will your guests!
  • THICK, SOFT AND CHEWY. No dry or crumbly cookies here! This recipe includes one extra egg yolk for richness and only baking powder for thickness.
  • QUICK TO MAKE. No rolling the dough flat or cutting out individual cookies!
  • MINIMAL CHILLING TIME. Chill for 30 minutes, or up to 72 hours.
  • SERVE WITH OR WITHOUT FROSTING. The cookies are so phenomenal that they’re stand alone scrumptious – or the best frosting recipe included!
  • DECORATE FOR ANY OCCASSION.  Change the frosting color, sprinkles, etc. to create festive cookies for holidays, baby showers, birthdays, etc.
  • PERFECT FOR PARTIES.  Easily portable, don’t need to be chilled or warmed, and can be made ahead of time and frozen.
  • FREEZER FRIENDLY. Freeze the cookie dough or the baked and frosted cookies.
top view of best sugar cookie recipe on a plate showing the craggy tops
ingredient icon

Sugar Cookie ingredients

This sugar cookie recipe uses pantry friendly ingredients so you can make them at a moment’s notice! Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Granulated Sugar: This imparts that classic sugar cookie sweetness! Do not use an alternative sweetener because it will affect the texture of the cookies. 
  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour for the best texture.
  • Baking Powder: This is a leavening agent that aerates the cookies and helps them remain tender, soft, thick and chewy without spreading too much or browning like baking soda can.
  • Butter: Use unsalted butter or omit the salt in the recipe. The butter plays a critical role in the structure and flavor, so please don’t make any substitutions.
  • Eggs: Use one whole egg and one egg yolk. The egg gives the cookies structure and the egg yolk makes them extra soft and chewy because it adds richness without any additional moisture. Bring the eggs to room temperature before adding to the recipe. 
  • Vanilla and Almond Extract: Vanilla is the flavor base so use quality extract for the best results. Almond adds a hint of rich and delicious almond flavor – I think it’s the secret to the best sugar cookie recipe!
  • Salt: Use good old table salt.
  • Powdered sugar AKA confectioners’ sugar: This sweetens the frosting without making it grainy. 
  • Butter:  Use unsalted butter with a pinch of salt or salted butter and omit the salt, then salt to taste.
  • Heavy cream: Heavy cream is preferred, but half and half or whole milk can be used instead to thin the frosting. If using half and half or milk, start with less because it’s thinner.
  • Vanilla:  Use quality extract for the best flavor.
  •  Salt: Table salt enhances the vanilla flavor and balances the sweetness. Add more or less as needed.
showing how to decorate homemade sugar cookies on a plate with frosting

Sugar Cookie recipe variations

Sugar cookies can be customized in numerous ways, here are a few ideas:

  • Peppermint Sugar Cookies:  Add ½ teaspoon peppermint extract when you add the vanilla extract, then sprinkle frosting with crushed candy canes.
  • Lemon Sugar Cookies: Add fresh lemon zest to the cookie dough and use lemon juice and lemon zest in the frosting.
  • Cinnamon Sugar Cookies: Add ground cinnamon to the cookie dough and roll the cookies in cinnamon sugar before baking.
  • Coconut Sugar Cookies: Add shredded coconut to the cookie dough for a tropical touch. You can also roll the dough in coconut flakes before baking.
  • Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookies: Add mini chocolate chips to the dough. You can also try adding white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, cinnamon chips or another favorite baking chip.
  • Maple Pecan Sugar Cookies: Add maple extract to the dough and mix in chopped pecans for a rich and nutty flavor.
  • Orange Cranberry Sugar Cookies: Add orange zest to the dough and fold in dried cranberries for a festive and tangy cookie.
  • Chai Spice Sugar Cookies: Blend chai spices like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg into the cookie dough for a warm and aromatic flavor.
  • Sugar Cookie Bars: Use this sugar cookie bar recipe for thick, soft and chewy bars.

cut out sugar cookies

  • Adjust recipe: Use the same recipe, but reduce the baking powder to ¾ teaspoon.
  • Roll out dough: Divide the dough into 2 equal parts placed on lightly floured silicone baking mats. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness (any shape, as long as it’s evenly 1/4-inch thick). Transfer to baking sheets (while still on the nonstick mats) and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  • Chill: Refrigerate for 2 hours, up to 2 days.
  • Cut out: Cut the dough out using your favorite cookie cutters shapes, and place them 1” apart on parchment paper or silicone lined baking sheets. Repeat until all the dough is used, gathering and re-rolling the scraps as needed.
  • Bake: Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes.
a plate of best sugar cookie recipe showing how thick, soft and chewy they are

How to make this Sugar Cookies Recipe

You’re only a few minutes away from the best sugar cookie recipe! Let’s take a closer look with step-by-step photos (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1: Mix dry ingredients.  In a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
showing how to make sugar cookies by mixing the dry ingredients together in a bowl
  • Step 2: Cream butter and sugar. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
showing how to make sugar cookies by creaming butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy
  • Step 3: Combine. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and almond extract and beat until just combined. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients, don’t overmix.
a collage showing how to make sugar cookies by beating egg and vanilla, followed by flour, until combined and thick
  • Step 4: Chill. Cover the dough with plastic wrap pressed to its surface and refrigerate for 30 minutes, up to 72 hours. 
  • Step 5: Make dough balls. Using a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop, roll the dough into balls. Roll the dough in a small bowl filled with the ¼ cup granulated sugar and coat all sides.
showing how to make sugar cookies by rolling the dough balls in sugar before baking
  • Step 6: Bake.  Transfer 6 cookies dough balls to parchment paper or silicone lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the centers are barely set.
showing how to make sugar cookie recipe by baking the cookies on a nonstick mat
  • Step 7: Cool. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  
showing how to make sugar cookies by cooling on a wire rack before frosting

frosted sugar cookies

  • Step 8: Frost cookies (optional). Beat butter until creamy, then beat in heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Beat for 2 additional minutes. Frost and decorate cookies as desired!
showing how to make sugar cookies by mixing frosting in a mixer

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe tips for success

Follow these tips for the best sugar cookie recipe every time!

  • Don’t pack the flour. It is important you measure the flour correctly because too much flour will result in denser, drier sugar cookies that won’t spread. It’s best to measure flour with a kitchen scale (this is my fav). If you don’t have one, then fluff your flour with a spoon, scoop it into the measuring cup and then level; as opposed to scooping the measuring cup into the flour which can cause the flour to compress.  
  • Butter should be at cold room temperature. The stick should not be greasy or melty. It should only give slightly when pressed with your finger, AKA 67 degrees F.
  • Use room temperature egg and egg yolk. Room temperature eggs mix more evenly, creating a uniform texture and whip into a greater volume for softer, thicker sugar cookies. Cold eggs, on the other hand, can break the emulsion of the sugar and butter, so the dough loses air cells, resulting in drier, denser cookies.
  • Room temperature eggs hack. Add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes. 
  • Don’t over-mix the dough. After you add the eggs, mix the dough as little as possible, to avoid overdeveloping the gluten. Overmixing can lead to a tougher cookie. Stop the mixer when a few streaks of flour remain, then give the dough a final stir by hand.
  • Chill the Dough. While you can chill the dough for only 30 minutes, refrigerating the cookie dough longer develops more flavor, makes thicker cookies (because the dough spreads less), and crispier outside with a more tender inside.
  • Make large cookies. Using a 3 tablespoons cookie dough scoop creates larger cookies that spread to the perfect thickness and ideal texture with crisp exteriors and chewy soft interiors.
  • Don’t skip the sugar roll. Rolling the cookies in granulated sugar before baking creates a lightly crispy exterior as the sugar helps to draw moisture out from the surface of the cookies while they bake.
  • Make uniform cookies. Keep the cookie sizes consistent to ensure even baking. Use a cookie scoop for uniform portions.
  • Don’t over bake the cookies. The key to the best sugar cookie recipe is to remove the cookies from the oven when the edges are just starting to turn golden, and the center is barely set.
  • Do NOT frost warm sugar cookies. You must wait for the cookies to cool completely before frosting, otherwise the frosting will melt. 
  • Adjust frosting. If the frosting is too thin, add additional powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add additional milk/heavy cream. Add a pinch of salt if the frosting is too sweet.
holding up best sugar cookie recipe showing how thick and chewy it is

How to decorate Homemade Sugar Cookies

These homemade sugar cookies are fabulous plain or decorate them for any occasion! Here are a few ideas:

  • Add food coloring: You can make the frosting any color you like to create festive sugar cookies! Try pink or blue for baby showers, pink for Mother’s Day, red for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day, red, white or blue (or stripes!) for 4th of July, red or green for Christmas or pick a theme and run with it!
  • Add sprinkles: Gently fold up to ½ cup of sprinkles into the sugar cookie dough before baking then top frosting with additional sprinkles.
  • Top with crushed candy: Top the frosted sugar cookies with crushed candy canes for Christmas, or any chopped/crushed candy or cookie such as M&Ms, crushed Butterfinger, crushed Oreos, etc. and even create designs with different candies.
  • Top with fruit: Create mini “fruit pizzas” by topping frosted sugar cookies with sliced strawberries/and or any fruit like kiwis, mango, pineapple, blueberries, etc.
top view of simple sugar cookie recipe with frosting decorated with sprinkles
How long do sugar cookies last?

Sugar cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days or refrigerated for 2-3 weeks.

Can I make sugar cookies without chilling the dough?

Chilling the dough is recommended for sugar cookies because it helps solidify the fats, resulting in a thicker and chewier texture. It also allows the flour to fully hydrate, enhancing the flavor and texture of the cookies. If you’re short on time, chill the dough for at least 30 minutes, but longer chilling (1-2 hours or overnight) is ideal for best results.

How can I prevent my sugar cookies from spreading too much?

Follow these tips to help prevent sugar cookies from spreading:
1. Chill the dough.
2. Ensure your butter is not too soft, it should cold but soft.
3. Measure the flour correctly.
4. Avoid placing cookie dough on warm baking sheets.

How do I prevent my sugar cookies from becoming too crispy?

To maintain a softer texture, avoid overbaking the cookies. Remove them from the oven when the edges are set but the centers still look slightly underdone. They will continue to set as they cool on the baking sheet.

What’s the best way to store sugar cookies?

Store sugar cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. If layering cookies, place sheets of parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking. Properly stored, sugar cookies can stay fresh for several days.

How can I add color to my sugar cookies?

For colored sugar cookies, add food coloring to the dough during mixing. Gel food coloring works well and provides vibrant colors without altering the dough consistency. Alternatively, add food coloring to the frosting.

How can I prevent my sugar cookies from becoming too brown on the bottom?

Placing parchment paper on the baking sheets can help prevent the cookies from browning too much on the bottom. Additionally, using light-colored baking sheets and adjusting the oven rack to a higher position can contribute to lighter bottomed cookies.

Can I substitute margarine for butter in sugar cookies?

While you can technically substitute margarine for butter, I don’t recommend it because it will alter the texture and flavor of the cookies. If using margarine, choose one with a high-fat content, as lower-fat margarines may result in cookies that spread too much.

best sugar cookies with a bite taken out of them showing how thick and chewy they are

WANT TO TRY THIS Sugar Cookie RECIPE?

PIN IT to your recipe BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!

FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES!  I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

top view of sugar cookies on a plate showing the craggy tops

Sugar Cookies Recipe

These Sugar Cookies are one of the most craveable cookies on the planet – 10X better than your favorite bakery!  They’re thick, soft and chewy, infused with vanilla and almond extract and are spectacular plain or decorate them for any festive occasion. This sugar cookie recipe is shockingly easy-to-make without rolling out dough and requires only 30 minutes of chilling time!
Servings: 16 large cookies
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

Sugar Cookies

  • cups (318 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
  • cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

FOR ROLLING

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

FROSTING (OPTIONAL)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at a cool room temperature
  • 4 cups (375 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Food coloring (optional)

Instructions

Sugar Cookies

  • Dry ingredients: In a large liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Cream butter and sugar: Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. (May use hand mixer.)
  • Combine: Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and almond extract and beat until just combined. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients, don’t overmix.
  • Chill: Cover the dough with plastic wrap pressed to its surface and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, up to 72 hours. If refrigerated longer than 60 minutes, let the dough sit at room temperature just until it is soft enough to scoop. Meanwhile:
  • Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line half baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.
  • Make dough balls: Using a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop, roll the dough into balls. Roll the dough in a small bowl filled with the ⅓ cup granulated sugar to coat all sides.
  • Bake: Transfer 6 cookie dough balls to prepared baking sheets, evenly spaced apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the centers are barely set. Do not over bake. TIP! If the cookies aren't as uniform as you'd like, as soon as they come out of the oven, invert a glass over one cookie at a time, and move the glass in a circular motion on the pan around the hot cookie for a few seconds. It will transform into the perfect circle before your eyes!
  • Cool: Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost only when completely cooled.

Frosting

  • Beat ingredients together: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (recommended), beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Beat on low to combine, then increase speed to medium-high and beat for 2 additional minutes, adding additional cream if needed. Beat in food coloring, if using.
  • Adjust as needed: Add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin or more cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  • Decorate: Frost and decorate cookies as desired!

Video

Notes

Tips for Success

  • Don’t pack the flour. It is important you measure the flour correctly because too much flour will result in denser, drier sugar cookies that won’t spread. It’s best to measure flour with a kitchen scale (this is my fav). If you don’t have one, then fluff your flour with a spoon, scoop it into the measuring cup and then level; as opposed to scooping the measuring cup into the flour which can cause the flour to compress. 
  • Butter should be at cold room temperature. The stick should not be greasy or melty. It should only give slightly when pressed with your finger, AKA 67 degrees F.
  • Room temperature eggs hack. Add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes.
  • Don’t over-mix the dough. After you add the eggs, mix the dough as little as possible, to avoid overdeveloping the gluten. Overmixing can lead to a tougher cookie. 
  • Chill the Dough. While you can chill the dough for only 30 minutes, refrigerating the cookie dough longer develops more flavor, makes thicker cookies (because the dough spreads less), and crispier outside with a more tender inside.
  • Make large cookies. Using a 3 tablespoons cookie dough scoop creates larger cookies that spread to the perfect thickness and ideal texture with crisp exteriors and chewy soft interiors.
  • Don’t skip the sugar roll. Rolling the cookies in granulated sugar before baking creates a lightly crispy exterior as the sugar helps to draw moisture out from the surface of the cookies while they bake.
 

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Prep ahead and Storage

  • Prep ahead:  The cookie dough can be covered and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or the balls can be rolled, placed on a baking sheet, covered and chilled for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.
  • Storage: Sugar cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days (if they last that long😉).  If you wish to extend the shelf life, store sugar cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 weeks, however, this can slightly dry out the cookies.
  • To freeze sugar cookie dough: Roll balls but don’t coat in sugar. Fit as many as you can on a parchment/nonstick lined baking sheet without touching and flash freeze until solid, 1-2 hours. Transfer the dough balls to a freezer size plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw overnight in the fridge or for 30-60 minutes at room temperature, then bake as directed.
  • To freeze sugar cookies (frosted or unfrosted): Fit as many cooled cookies on a parchment/nonstick mat lined baking sheet without touching and flash freeze until solid (about 1 hour). Transfer cookies to a freezer size container with sheets of parchment in between any layers.  Freeze for up to 3 months. TO EAT, remove any parchment paper and let the cookies sit at room temperature in a single layer until thawed completely.

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *