Best Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe (With Cream Cheese Frosting!)
If you want to make classic sugar cookies for decorating, this is the best, easy sugar cookie recipe (and cream cheese frosting). Heck, if you want to make any cookie, this is your dough: Just add your choice of mix-ins to create endless delicious variations. These Christmas sugar cookies are cut out cookies that are frosted with an easy cream cheese frosting and decorated with sprinkles. A fun and classic holiday cookie that’s perfect for gift giving and Santa Claus!
Sugar cookies are a staple around the holidays and they come in so many different varieties. These Christmas sugar cookies are decorated with cream cheese frosting and festive sprinkles for an elegant presentation.
Even though the holidays get super busy, there is one thing I ALWAYS make time for… homemade sugar cookies! With all of the stress and business that comes with the holidays, traditions like decorating sugar cookies makes me feel calm and helps me to enjoy these special moments. I can remember making and enjoying Christmas cookies with my mom every year when I was little, and it’s something I have looked forward to with my kiddos and now grandson too.
How Do You Make Christmas Sugar Cookies?
There is one easy sugar cookie recipe that I’ve found makes the PERFECT sugar cookie cut-outs every time, and I couldn’t let this Christmas go by without sharing it with you. If you’re planning on making cookies for the holidays, you definitely need to give this recipe a try. I’ve tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes and this one is a family favorite!
This is a basic sugar cookie recipe with the classic ingredients including butter, sugar, eggs, flour and vanilla. In addition to vanilla extract, I like to add in a bit of almond extract. This is optional, but it gives most any cookie recipe the most lovely flavor. The cookies bake until they’re light golden brown around the edges, then once they’ve cooled you can decorate them with frosting and sprinkles.
What makes this easy sugar cookie recipe the BEST?
I know the basic recipe for sugar cookies is pretty universal, but there’s a few things that sets mine apart.
- Use softened butter, but not melted. Leave your butter out at room temperature for at least an hour before you start prepping, so that you get the perfect fluffy texture when you cream the sugar and the butter together.
- White sugar: You want your sugar cookies to be pale and uniform so that they look even better decorated.
- Completely cream butter and sugar together. It should take about five minutes. To make sure you have the right texture, rub a little bit of the mixture in between your fingers. You’ll know it’s ready once you don’t feel any sugar granules.
- Scrape the bowl while you’re mixing. When you’re baking, every teaspoon of ingredients counts, and you’d be surprised how much sugar, butter, and dough can cake up on the sides of your bowl while mixing.
- Almond extract: Vanilla is a must when you’re making sugar cookie dough, but the addition of a little almond extract gives the cookies a certain depth of flavor that’ll make your cookies taste richer and even more scrumptious. So good!
- Salt: Like the other savory ingredients in this sugar cookie recipe, the point of salt isn’t to make the dough salty, but rather to emphasize the other flavors by contrast.
- Don’t overmix. Stop mixing the dough once you stop seeing streaks of flour. If you mix any more, you risk ending up with a tough and overly chewy cookie.
- Rolling the dough. Once the dough is ready, place the dough between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and press it into a disk, then roll flat. While I’m rolling, I’ll occasionally (carefully) lift up the wax paper on the top, put it back down, flip, and do the same on the bottom. That’s because the force of the rolling can cause the wax paper to crinkle.
- Keep the dough cold. Chilling the dough once it’s already rolled flat makes the dough chill so much faster – you can cut out your cookies after as little as 30 minutes. And, the chillier the dough is when you bake it? Means your cookies stay in the shapes you cut them in.
- Flour the cookie cutters. A bit of flour will help the shapes pop out of their cutters easily.
How Do You Keep Sugar Cookies Soft?
These cookies will stay perfectly soft as long as you don’t over-bake them. They are ready to come out of the oven when they are just slightly golden brown around the edges. You don’t want to bake them any longer than that, or they’ll get crispy. You will also want to store your cookies in an airtight container to preserve their soft texture.
Storing Decorated Sugar Cookies
Before storing these sugar cookies, wait until the frosting has dried completely. Baked frosted cookies can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 7 days and possibly a couple of days longer.
Can You Freeze This Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe?
These cookies will freeze beautifully! I recommend freezing the cookies before frosting in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy, thaw the cookies completely and decorate them. You can make a double batch now and have cut-out cookies ready to go for Valentine’s Day!
Are you Team Frosting or no? I’m definitely Team Frosting! I love the sugar cookie – frosting combo! If you’re not or don’t want the extra steps of making and icing the cookies, you can decorate these cookies very simply with colored sugars before baking.
We had so much fun with these sugar cookies, this year! My grandson is finally old enough to get in on the action and had a blast. It was a little messier this year, too, thanks to him! 😊 We also used some sugar cookie cut-outs that my mom passed onto me. So fun to use the cut-outs that I used as a child.
One bite of these incredible cookies and you will never make them any other way again! They are perfectly tender with just the right amount of sugar. I just love the texture of these cookies! I cannot say enough about how wonderful these cookies taste and bake up, so you’ll just have to try them yourself! Promise me you will try them this Christmas! P.S. Santa will LOVE them too!
Looking For Other Scrumptious Holiday Cookie Recipes?
My family's favorite sugar cookies, perfect for decorating and must have cream cheese frosting!
- 1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese, cold
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter with an electric hand or stand mixer on high speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and the sugar is mostly dissolved. Scrape down the bowl as needed to evenly beat the mixture.
Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Make sure to spoon the flour into your measuring cup and level it off with a knife to ensure accurate measurements. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
Roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or wax paper and place on a baking sheet in the refrigerator. Chill for about 20-30 minutes.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Dip cookie cutters of your choice in some extra flour and cut dough into shapes with cookie cutters and transfer to a baking sheet. Gather any excess dough into a ball, then re-roll and cut out more cookies and repeat until all of the dough is used.
Bake cookies at 350ºF for 8-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating with frosting. Store in an airtight container.
Mix the butter, cream cheese and almond extract for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. Add in 1 tablespoon of milk to thin, as needed. If it is too thin (it may be that butter is too soft) add more powdered sugar.
*For this recipe, the dough only needs to chill about 20-30 minutes in the refrigerator since it is already rolled out. If you would rather chill the dough first before rolling, you'll want to increase the chill time to about an hour.
*Using the parchment paper is a great tip for rolling the dough, because it eliminates the need to add extra flour to keep it from sticking.
*My cookies were done baking in 9 minutes, but check yours closely. You want them to be just barely set and not yet browned. They'll seem slightly undercooked right out of the oven, but will firm up nicely once cooled. 9 minutes seemed to be the sweet spot for me!
*Once the cookies come out of the oven, only let them stay on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, or just until you're able to carefully slide a spatula underneath the cookies without breaking them to transfer to a cooling rack. Letting the cookies stay on the baking sheet any longer will dry them out, making them less soft and tender.
*If you'd rather not decorate cookies with frosting, you can decorate cookies with sprinkles and colored sugars before baking.
*Nutritional information does not include frosting.