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Save time with this no chill sugar cookie recipe. You can make beautiful cut out sugar cookies without the usual refrigeration time. These roll out cookies bake with clean edges and taste delicious!
I can’t think of one person who doesn’t love the look of a beautifully decorated sugar cookie. Cut out sugar cookies are visually stunning, and basically appropriate for almost any occasion any time of year. But sugar cookies take time! With most recipes (including this favorite), you must refrigerate the dough after rolling to ensure clean edges on your baked cookies. Do we always have time for this? Probably not. Enter this year’s cookie making time saver, the no chill sugar cookie recipe!
Can I really make cut out sugar cookies without refrigerating the dough?
For a while I thought this was a unicorn recipe. One spoken of but not really possible. That is, until a neighbor mentioned she uses a recipe that doesn’t need to be chilled. If a real person I know does it, it must exist. Not scientific, but you probably do the same thing. And then I saw a recipe on the back of a sugar packet that didn’t call for chilling. Two related and yet unrelated events like this I typically take as a sign to get into the kitchen.
I made the sugar packet recipe once. It worked well and was pretty good. Then I made it again, and it was a flop. Same ingredients, same kitchen, same recipe, same baker. Darlings, I couldn’t blog that. Consistency is important! So I made a few more batches of cookies and came up with this easy sugar cookie recipe.
The dough doesn’t require refrigeration before baking, and as you can see from the pictures, the edges are beautiful! I’ve made a few different sizes of cookies and shapes to test, and they’ve all turned out lovely, just like the classic sugar cookie dough you refrigerate.
Can I refrigerate this sugar cookie recipe before baking?
You can, but if you’re going to do that, I’d recommend just making my classic cut out sugar cookie dough recipe linked to at the top of the page. The texture is slightly different, and it doesn’t puff while resting. This may totally be my imagination, but when I chilled this no chill recipe for a few hours for testing, the cookies puffed a little more than I liked. The edges were still pretty though, so it’s very possible the puffing was not there the way I thought.
Some tips for successful no chill sugar cookies…
When you are mixing the ingredients, don’t whip them too long. You don’t want your butter and sugar light and fluffy like you would with a cake or a drop cookie. Stir just enough to combine your ingredients at each step and then stop. The less you work the dough, the prettier the final result.
You also don’t want to mix too long because you don’t want your butter to get too soft. The butter for this recipe shouldn’t be completely softened. This helps maintain structure in the dough when you put the cookies in the oven.
When recipes call for “softened butter”, it means a butter that is completely room temperature. If you press a finger into it, the butter gives way easily. This is too soft to give you the best results here. Instead, we look for butter that is only slightly softened, and then we cut it into cubes for easy mixing with the sugar. This also saves you time because you don’t have to wait as long for your butter to be ready.
You also want to plan your cookie cutting carefully. While you can re-roll the scraps of dough for cutting, the prettiest cookies come from the first roll out of the dough. This is true for any sugar cookie recipe.
Keeping that in mind, you’ll want to cut your most complex designs first, and try to minimize the space between cuts. The closer together you can cut your cookies, the less times you’ll need to re-roll.
And finally, make sure your oven is at the correct temperature before baking. If you have a questionable quality rental oven like I currently do, an oven thermometer is your best friend. Start pre-heating your oven before you mix your dough, and it will have had time to heat and settle to the correct temperature by the time you are ready to bake. Too cool and the cookies have a chance of spreading. Too hot and the cookie edges will cook too fast and start coloring before the center is done.
How do I decorate sugar cookies?
If you aren’t planning on shipping them anywhere or packaging them, you can use my mom’s decorating hack. Buy the icing tubes at the grocery store, cut off the tips, set out sprinkles, let the family have fun. Easy, a little messy, makes as many great memories as the homemade options.
A step up is using something simple like a cookie glaze. I love cookie glazes because they still dry hard enough to carefully stack the cookies. Not drying as hard as royal icing, it’s great for pretty “iced” cookies that aren’t as hard to bite into. You can find an easy sugar cookie glaze recipe here.
And if you want to work on more complex designs, or decorate a cookie sturdy enough to handle USPS during the holiday rush (when carefully packaged of course), you want royal icing. You can find a recipe for royal icing in my pumpkin sugar cookie dough post. If you’re here around Christmas and looking for ideas, be sure to check out the leg lamp decorating tutorial in this post.
I hope you love this no chill sugar cookie recipe. Happy baking, darlings!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (see notes)
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat your oven to 375 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until just combined. For the best results, do not mix in extra air to make fluffy.
- Stir in the egg and extracts. Scrape the bowl.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the salt, flour, cornstarch and baking soda.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 batches, stirring only until just combined each time. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
- Turn the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface and roll. Cut using cookie cutters and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about an inch of space between cookies.
- Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time, until the edges are set and the centers are done. The exact cooking time will vary depending on the size of the cookies. Smaller cookies will bake a little faster, larger cookies may require an extra few minutes.
- Once baked, remove the sheets from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 5-10 minutes before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely. Undecorated cookies may be frozen for decorating later.
- Decorate as desired once cool. Enjoy! Cookies will be at their best for 1 week after baking stored in an airtight container.
- Almond extract is NOT nut-free. If you need to make nut free cookies, be sure you are using artificial almond extract and not pure almond extract, OR omit the almond extract altogether. I will either substitute lemon extract or just use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to make nut free cookies.
- Cornstarch keeps the cookie soft and helps it keep its shape. If you are making for someone who cannot eat cornstarch, arrowroot powder is a 1:1 substitute in this situation.
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