Perfect soft sugar cookies that stay soft for weeks? This soft sugar cookie recipe holds its shape when cut and baked, but stays soft and chewy. It’s perfect for decorated sugar cookies!
“Are these as soft as the frosted sugar cookies at the store?” I asked my husband after taking a bite. “Maybe” he said, “but these have more flavor. I do love that man. You will love this soft sugar cookie recipe, though! This is a recipe for people who like soft sugar cookies, even after decorating with royal icing. The recipe freezes well, cuts like a dream, and bakes up beautifully! I honestly can’t say enough good things about it and how consistently well it works. You don’t even have to chill it. More on that in the pointers I’m going to share with you now…
Don’t you already have recipes for sugar cookies on the blog?
I do. I actually have 5 other recipes. This one is number 6. I like and use all of them because they’re all good in their own way. But just like shoes, it’s good to have more than one pair. If you’d like to find those recipes, you’ll find them at the links below:
- Classic Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Pumpkin Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Eggnog Sugar Cookies
- No Chill Sugar Cookies
- Vegan Sugar Cookies (great for those with egg and dairy allergies!)
It’s pretty easy to see the differences between this recipe and the flavored recipes like pumpkin and eggnog. The vegan recipe is in its own little category. But how do you choose between the classic cut out sugar cookies, no chill sugar cookie recipe, and this soft sugar cookie recipe?
Classic cut out sugar cookies are exactly what you think. The recipe is chewy, with a very slight crisp at the bottom edges and a softer center. It’s a really good classic cookie and has converted many sugar cookie skeptics to fans. The no chill sugar cookies are a slightly softer cookie with a dough that doesn’t have to be refrigerated before cutting. It’s fabulous when you are in a pinch and want some quick sugar cookies. I love this recipe when baking with my kids because kids have zero patience.
How long do the cookies stay soft?
They stay soft for WEEKS! The story as to how I know is a little embarrassing. I used this sugar cookie recipe for the easy turkey sugar cookie tutorial. That was test number 2 or 3. I originally intended to share some of the cookies, but the container got lost in the fridge and we didn’t re-discover it until 2 weeks later. I bit a cookie. Still soft and delicious. I don’t recommend losing a container of cookies in the refrigerator regularly, but in case you do… now you know.
Because I know many of you also work ahead when preparing cookies for holiday gifts, I also froze a batch of baked cookies to see how they held up. Once thawed, the texture is identical to fresh-baked. And because the cookies are so soft, they thaw quickly… you can practically bite one straight out of the freezer. Expect to see some ice cream sandwich experimentation in the future.
So if you’re looking for a super soft cut out sugar cookie recipe, that tastes great, and still holds up well to decorating, I can confidently say this is it!
A few tips for perfect cookies every time…
First, start with softened butter. If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t pull butter out in advance and just think “I’ll soften this in the microwave! It’ll be fiiiiiine!”. Honestly, especially for your standard drop cookies, it usually is. Softening butter in the microwave is *great*, but usually leaves some melted bits. Melted bits in sugar cookies will cause spread. Skip the microwave so you avoid the melted bits, especially if you’re baking these without chilling. You can speed the butter softening process a bit by cutting it into tablespoons. Then it only takes about 10ish minutes to be ready.
Second, don’t whip the butter and sugar until super fluffy. You don’t want to incorporate a lot of air into the batter. I mix together my butter and sugar at low speed and stop as soon as the mixture is homogeneous. Too much air in the batter can contribute to spread, especially with the really intricate cutter designs.
Third, preheat your oven. If you have an oven thermometer, that’s wonderful! Too cool and your cookies won’t set quickly enough and the butter will melt, causing spread. If your oven is too hot, the cookies will burn on the outside before the center is cooked. That, and you want to give the cookies a chance to bake evenly from top to bottom. One of the hallmarks of truly beautiful sugar cookies is only a very small to no amount of color at the bottom of the cookie. When you’re rolling cookies at anywhere between 1/4″ to 1/2-inch thickness, the last thing you want is cookies to burn at the bottom before the top has baked.
Fourth, if you have the time, chill the cookie dough. You’ll find this particular dough is pretty soft. On warmer days or when working with more intricate cookie shapes, chilling it for a few minutes makes it easier to handle. As little as 10-15 minutes will do.
Finally, try to keep your cookies at a uniform thickness. It’s much easier to get a perfect bake for your sugar cookies when the thickness is consistent. I also like to batch my cookies if I’m making a variety of sizes. I’ll bake the smaller cookies together, then the medium cookies on a separate pan, and the large cookies on their own pan. There’s a minute or two difference in the bake time for each, so by keeping the sizes on each pan consistent, it’s easy to adjust bake times.
Can I decorate these sugar cookies?
Of course! A plain sugar cookie is wonderful, but who doesn’t love a beautifully decorated cookie? These cookies taste delicious with whatever kind of icing you’d prefer!
Royal icing is wonderful, and I have some fun tutorials on the blog. You can find tutorials for Christmas leg lamp cookies, zebra and leopard print cookies, monogram cookies, chalkboard apple cookies, and even Doctor Who wedding cookies!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (see notes)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey or agave
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (see notes)
- 1 large egg
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and honey until just combined. You don't want to whip too much air into the cookies to prevent spread. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
- Stir in the vanilla extract and the egg.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 batches, stirring just until combined each time on low speed.
- Place your cookie dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll out to your preferred thickness. I usually roll to 5/8".
- Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill. This step is optional as the dough won't spread with most designs, but you might find it helpful as the dough is very soft.
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Remove your dough from the refrigerator and cut into shapes. Arrange the shapes on the baking sheets, allowing at least 1.5 inches between cookies. This allows for airflow that helps prevent spreading.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking process.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the pans at least 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool.
- Serve as is, or decorate once completely cooled. Baked cookies can be wrapped in an airtight container and stored at room temperature up to 2 weeks or frozen up to 3 months.
- If using salted butter, omit the salt in the recipe. You also don't need the butter to be super soft, just soft enough that it will mix with the sugar. So it doesn't quite have to reach room temperature. As long as you can make an indent in the butter with your finger, it's soft enough.
- You can play with the extract a bit. Sometimes I use all vanilla, sometimes 2 teaspoons vanilla and a teaspoon of almond or lemon extract. If using a baking essence instead of an extract (oil based vs alcohol based), cut down to 1 1/2-2 teaspoons.
- The baking times are for cookies that are approximately 3-4 inches across. If your cookies are smaller, check around the 8 minute mark. If they are bigger, you might need an extra minute or two.
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