Cut out sugar cookies are a perfect way to get festive during the holiday season because you can put your own touch into decorating them. This recipe will give you perfect cut out sugar cookies that are super soft, vanilla flavored, they hold their shape and have a flat surface making them not only taste great but perfect for decorating.
How to make perfect cut out sugar cookies:
- cream together butter and sugar
- add in vanilla extract and egg
- mix in the dry ingredients
- roll out dough
- cut out cookies and place on lines baking sheet
- refrigerate overnight
Tips that will get you perfect cookies:
Use room temperature butter. When you cream the butter together with the sugar, it helps tremendously when your butter is not solid hard. Your butter will be perfectly smooth and that will directly reflect the texture of the finished product.
Do not roll out the cookies too thin. Generally, perfect cut out cookies you get from a professional baker are about 1/4″ thick. That is the absolute thickest that I would go when rolling out the cut out sugar cookie dough and slightly thinner also works. Don’t roll them out too flat because they will not be as soft that way, instead, more crispy.
Cut out cookies before refrigerating them. There are many reasons for this and all are valid and super helpful. First reason is because of the butter. To avoid spreading of the cookies, the butter needs to be solid and cold. If you were to refrigerate the dough, then roll it out cut out the sugar cookies, all of that will warm up the butter and then you bake the cut out cookies may loose some of their shape.
Another reason is because it’s much easier to get the counter top dirty while you are already baking and have your ingredients out, then to clean up and then get it dirty again the next day. If you follow the steps to my recipe, you will have already cut out your cookies and placed them on a baking sheet with parchment paper so the only thing left to do is take the baking sheet out of the refrigerator, uncover the cookies, and place them in a heated oven.
You can use the scraps to re roll the dough after cutting out your first batch. This dough is very soft so you will be able to use the edges around your cut out cookies, work it with your hands, re roll it, and cut out more cookies.
What to expect with the dough for perfect cut out sugar cookies:
This dough will be very very soft which is another reason why it helps to cut out cookies on the thicker side. Start with 2 cups of flour. If you find that the dough is too sticky, add one or two more tablespoons of flout until it no longer sticks to your fingers. Also, I recommend using a spatula to lift the raw cookies and transfer then onto your baking sheet to avoid altering the shape of the perfectly cut out cookies.
Baking is important:
As with any baked good, baking the product is one of the main contributing factors to the outcome of your final product. These cookies should not be over-baked. Once the edges of your cookies turn light brown, they are ready to come out of the oven. It’s important to note that the center of the cookies will still be very soft and will look undercooked. However, as the cookies cool, the center will become harder and the cookies will be solid. That is why once you remove cookies out of the oven, leave them on the baking sheet for 5-6 minutes because they will be too delicate to be picked up. After about 5 minutes or so, you can transfer them onto a cooling rack where they will cool completely.
- 1 stick of butter (110g)
- 1 cup sugar (230g)
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups of flour (310g)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside
- In a large bowl using a hand held mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the softened butter and sugar on high speed for about 3 minutes or until completely smooth and creamy.
- Add in the egg, and vanilla and continue to beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl when needed.
- Add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) to the wet ingredients and mix until evenly combined. The dough will be very soft but should not stick to your hands. If you find that the dough is too sticky and will be difficult to roll out with a rolling pin, add in 1 more tablespoon of flour until it is not longer sticky to your hands but still very soft.
- Transfer dough on a lightly floured surface and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes of your choice and using a spatula, transfer cut out cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Any left over dough can be re-rolled to make more cookies.
- Cover baking sheet(s) with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at lease 4 hours, up to 2 days. Overnight refrigeration is best.
- Once the cookies have chilled for at least 4 hours, preheat oven to 350°F .
- Uncover the baking sheet(s) and place in heated over. Bake cookies for 13-16 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown. The center of the cookies should still be very soft to touch but that will harden as the cookies cool.
- Remove cookies from oven and let them sit in baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, transfer cookies onto a cooling rack and let them cook completely.
- Decorate cookies once they are completely cooled.