Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe for Decorating

Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe for Decorating

This is the perfect sugar cookie recipe for all your holiday baking. These sugar cookies are soft yet chewy and keep their shape while baking. 

Plate of sugar cookies covered in red and green sprinkles on a white plate

Perfect for the holidays or any time of year, these cookies require only 6 ingredients, no chilling of the dough and about eight minutes in the oven. 

They can be rolled into balls, or rolled out flat and cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

Plate of frosted sugar cookies with sprinkles

Ingredients in Sugar Cookies

Your shopping list will include:

Butter: allow the butter to soften at room temperature for several hours. The key to this recipe is soft, soft butter.

Sugar: this recipe calls for granulated sugar. I always have a bag ready for use in my pantry.

Vanilla extract: pure vanilla extract is needed for this recipe. Not the imitation stuff. Yes it can be expensive but it adds a wonderful flavor to the cookies.

Egg: pick up a carton of large eggs. While you will only need one most baking recipes call for eggs so they won’t go to waste.

Flour: A bag of all purpose flour will do for this recipe.

Baking powder: pick up a fresh container of baking powder. If you can’t remember when you purchased your last container, toss it and buy fresh.

Plate of frosted sugar cookies with unfrosted cookies in the background

How to Make Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe

These cookies are the perfect balance of chewy and crispy and they are delicious plain or frosted.

First allow the butter to soften to room temperature. This is an important step so the cookies have the right consistency and texture.

I use a stand mixer but a hand mixer will work as well. Use a large bowl to blend the softened butter and sugar for about three minutes. Next, add the egg and vanilla and mix until just combined.

Mixing stand with sugar cookie dough in the bowl

Add the flour 1 cup at a time slowly so that it doesn’t fly all over the kitchen. Gradually add in the next 2 cups of flour before increasing the speed of your mixer.

The dough will be the consistency of play dough – soft and moldable.

Roll the dough into balls or roll out flat and use cookie cutters to create shapes before placing on a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake in a 350° oven for 6 to 8 minutes depending on your oven. Eight minutes was the magic number in my oven.

Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool for five minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Hand holding glass over a cookie ball on a cookie sheet

How to Form Sugar Cookie Dough

What I love about this easy cookie dough is that it can be scooped and rolled in your hands into smooth balls and baked, or rolled in your hands, placed on a baking sheet and gently pressed with a bottom of a glass.

If you wanted to use cookie cutters, this dough can be rolled out flat to a quarter-inch thick using a rolling pin and pressed into desired shapes.

When making holiday cookies with kids, I find using the glass method works best. If I want to get a bit creative and methodical, I’ll roll out this dough and use cookie cutters.

Baking sheet of cookies ready for the oven

My kids are artistic, but they are certainly not professional bakers or decorators and they get a little sloppy with the frosting.

Spending time in the kitchen with your children is a great way to bond and celebrate the holidays. 

I don’t have all day to spend making cookies which is why this recipe works. Rolling out the dough takes  time. Flattening balls of dough with the bottom of a glass is a time saver.

All kids are proud of their cookie decorating skills, and these ideas below are easy for even the most creative and artistic kids.

Collage of four types of decorative cookies: overhead shot of decorative cookies on a cookie sheet, a snowman cookie, Christmas tree cookies , and reindeer cookie.

What decorating ideas are easy for kids

Reindeer: use pretzels for the antlers, a red candy for a Rudolph nose and edible candy eyes.

Melted snowman: mini chocolate chips for the eyes, a Rollo candy for Frosty’s hat and orange sprinkles for the carrot nose.

Christmas trees: green gel or frosting piping to make a tree and sprinkles, nonpareils and stars for the ornaments. 

Christmas lights: colored gel for the cord and M&Ms for the colored lights. 

Can I Freeze Sugar Cookies

Yes the dough can be rolled into balls and frozen individually. Place the balls on a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer until frozen. Store the frozen balls in a zip lock bag until ready to use. These baked cookies also freeze well. Just make sure they’re cooled completely and not frosted before they go in the freezer.

Closeup of fronsted sugar cookie

How to Store the Perfect Sugar Cookie

Allow the decorated cookies to sit for about an hour before storing. The frosting will be dry to the touch and will hold its shape when packaged in a sealed tight plastic container.

More Christmas Sweets

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Closeup of fronsted sugar cookie

Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe

Ali Randall
This is the perfect sugar cookie recipe for all your holiday baking. These sugar cookies are soft yet chewy and keep their shape while baking. 
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 dozen


  • Stand Mixer
  • Baking Sheets
  • Silicone Baking Mats


  • 1 cup butter room temperature very soft
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Frosting: made fresh or store-bought

  • Sprinkles, sugars and nonpareils
  • For frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cup confectioners sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Add in vanilla and egg, scraping down the bowl and beat until combined.
  • Add baking powder and one cup of flour at a time to the bowl. Mix slowly to keep the flour in the bowl and increase the speed until the dough is well formed. The dough will be moldable and easy to handle.
  • Scoop the dough with a spoon into the desired size and roll in your hands into a smooth ball. Place the rolled ball on a prepared baking sheet and press gently with the bottom of a glass.
  • To roll and use cookie cutters, turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters and transfer the cookies to a silicone lined cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooking rack.
  • Enjoy plain or frost and decorate the cookies using sprinkles, sugars and nonpareils.


The cookies will not flatten or spread in the oven while baking so be sure to roll them to the desired thickness and shape.
Keyword Perfect Sugar Cookies, Sugar Cookies
Perfect Sugar Cookies | These soft and chewy sugar cookies are a holiday favorite and can be decorated easily.

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