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Cut Out Sugar Cookies

cut out christmas sugar cookies on white plate

Cut out sugar cookies are perfect for the holidays! This recipe has ALL the options – a no chill option, a gluten free option, plus buttercream and royal icing recipes! The recipe is easy to follow with step by step pictures and a video tutorial!

Be sure to read the post for answers to questions like..

  • How thick to roll cut out sugar cookie dough
  • How to freeze baked cut out cookies?
  • Can you freeze cut out sugar cookie dough?
  • How to properly measure flour for cut out cookies
  • Is there a no chill cut out sugar cookie option?
  • How to make gluten free christmas cut out sugar cookies?

How to make cut out sugar cookies that keep their shape

The key to cut out sugar cookies that keep their shape is COLD cookie dough! There are a few methods to getting cold cookie dough..

  1. Mix the dough together and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling out the dough
  2. Make the dough, cut out your shapes, then freeze the shapes for 10 minutes before baking.
  3. Use cold butter when making the dough and work fast to get the cookies into the oven before the dough reaches room temperature
how to make cut out sugar cookies collage with text overlay cut out christmas tree sugar cookies on white background

How thick to roll cut out sugar cookie dough

This really depends on preference. 1/4 inch thick is a pretty good standard, but you can roll them thicker or thinner. Be aware that the baking time will change depending on how thick the dough is.

How to freeze baked cut out cookies?

Say you already baked the cookies and now you want to freeze them. I found that the best way to freeze already baked cut out sugar cookies is to…

  1. Make sure they are completely cool first and unfrosted. This method works for unfrosted cookies.
  2. Stack like shapes together (for example stack the candy canes together or stack the gingerbread men together) and place a small piece of parchment paper between each cookie. I like to stack mine about 4-5 cookies high.
  3. Wrap the stacks well in plastic wrap.
  4. Place the bundles inside a ziplock freezer bag or inside a freezer container.
  5. To thaw, remove the cookies from the bag (keep them inside their plastic wrap) and thaw on the counter. If you store the cookies inside a container, you can simply place the whole container on the counter to thaw.
 

christmas cut out sugar cookies on white background collage with text overlay

Can you freeze cut out sugar cookie dough?

Yes! Lets talk about the 2 different methods you could use..

Flatten dough into disc

You can freeze this cookie dough by dividing it in half and flattening each half into a disc. Wrap each disc well with plastic wrap and place inside a freezer bag or container. To thaw, place the dough in the fridge overnight.

Pre-cut the shapes

You can also freeze pre-cut shapes to bake later. To do this..

  1. Roll out the dough after making it and cut into your desired shapes
  2. Place the shapes on a silicone or wax paper lined baking sheet and freezer for 1-2 hours, or until frozen.
  3. Once frozen, remove the shapes from the pan, wrap like shapes together in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer bag or container.
  4. To thaw, unwrap from the plastic, place the shapes on a silicone lined baking sheet on the counter and allow them to thaw for 15-25 minutes before baking. You want the shapes to still be cold, but not frozen.
cut out candy cane sugar cookie in hand

Frosting options for cut out cookies

I had the hardest time trying to decide what kind of frosting to use on my cut out cookies! People are very split on their frosting preference between buttercream or royal icing.

Here’s the good news, I’ve included the recipe for both buttercream AND royal icing, that way you can choose!

Royal icing is traditional made with egg whites or meringue powder, but I wanted to provide a super easy royal icing-like recipe that doesn’t call for either of those ingredients. Unless you are a baker, I’m guessing you don’t have meringue powder in your pantry.

how to properly measure flour for sugar cookies collage

How to properly measure flour for cut out cookies

  • Fluff the flour with a fork
  • Use a spoon to scoop the flour into your measuring cup
  • Use a butter knife to level the measuring cup

Sticking the measuring cup straight into the bag of flour will result in too much flour to be packed into the cup, which can result in dry cookies.

But, I don’t want to chill my cookie dough before baking.. do you have a cut out sugar cookie no chill option?

Ya’ll ready for the best answer in the world? YES, there is a cut out sugar cookies no chill option!

There is one crucial change you need to make to the recipe however. You will need to use COLD butter instead of softened butter. Using cold butter and working fast, the dough will still be cold enough to maintain it’s shape when baking right away.

I do recommend that you chill the dough between baking the batches – either in a disc or pre-cut shapes.

how to make cut out sugar cookies for any occasion collage

Gluten free cut out sugar cookies

As someone who is gluten free myself, having a good basic sugar cookie recipe that can be made gluten free is a must! This recipe turned out awesome using a high quality gluten free flour, I used King Arthur’s All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. There are no other changes you need to make, simply substitute the gluten free flour as a one for one replacement with regular flour.

More cookie recipes

Maraschino Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies
Double Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies

christmas cut out sugar cookies on white background collage with text overlay

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For a step-by-step of how to make this Cut Out Sugar Cookie recipe, watch this short video:

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 8 minutes

Cut out sugar cookies are perfect for the holidays! This recipe has ALL the options - a no chill option, a gluten free option, plus buttercream and royal icing recipes! The recipe is easy to follow with step by step pictures and a video tutorial!

Ingredients

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  • 2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (equal to 1 stick)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened (equal to 3 sticks)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp milk (or heavy cream works great too)

OR Royal Icing Frosting

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp milk or warm water
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Notes:

  • Want to make no chill cut out sugar cookies? See the note section at the bottom of the recipe card.
  • This recipe turned out awesome using a high quality gluten free flour, I used King Arthur’s All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. There are no other changes you need to make, simply substitute the gluten free flour as a one for one replacement with regular flour to make gluten free cut out sugar cookies.

Instructions

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix with a spoon or fork. Set aside. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the room temperature butter and sugar, beat with an electric mixer for 90 seconds. 
  3. Add in the egg, vanilla & almond extracts and beat for 1 minute.
  4. Add the flour in thirds, mixing just until the flour is incorporated. The dough will initially look crumbly almost sandy. But continue to mix until the mixture is thick and sticks together. Use your hands to gently knead the dough together at the very end of the mixing process - knead for only 20-30 seconds. 
  5. Divide the dough into 2 flat discs, cover each with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to chill. The dough can be left in the fridge to chill for up to 2 days. 
  6. After chilling, remove one disc and preheat the oven to 350ºF. 
  7. On a very lightly floured surface (and I mean minimal) use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Frequently I will roll my dough on a silicone baking mat to eliminate the need to use flour. 
  8. Use cookie cutters to cut out your desired shapes. Remove the dough scraps and use a spatula to transfer the shapes to a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Bake for 9-10 minutes. If your oven has a hot spot, rotate the cookie sheet half way through. 
  9. The cookies will be pale in color - but will continue baking slightly once removed from the oven. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes. Then move to a cooling rack. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. If your dough is out of the fridge for too long, wrap it and chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  10. Allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting them. 

Buttercream Frosting

  1. Place the softened butter in a mixing bowl, beat using an electric mixer for 90 seconds. 
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, I usually do 2 cups at a time, and add the vanilla and almond extracts, beat again. 
  3. Taste the frosting to see if you want it sweeter. I liked the way mine turned out with 4 cups of powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick add 1 tbsp of milk or heavy cream, beat until creamy.
  4. Decide how many colors you want and divide the frosting into bowls accordingly. Add a small amount of gel food coloring to each bowl, using a spoon or spatula to mix until the color is even.
  5. Use piping bags fit with small round tips to pipe the frosting on or use spreaders to spread on the frosting. Add sprinkles if desired.
  6. Allow the frosting to harden for several hours or overnight. I usually place my cookies on baking sheets and cover with lids or tent with tin foil. 

Royal Icing Frosting 

  1. In a medium to small sized mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients (minus the gel food coloring) and mix with a spatula or mixer until smooth. Add more milk or water, 1 tsp at a time, if the frosting is too thick. Divide into bowls and add gel food coloring. Transfer to piping bags or squeeze bottles to easily decorate the cookies. 

Notes

No chill cut out sugar cookies

  • You will need to use COLD butter instead of softened butter. Using cold butter and working fast, the dough will still be cold enough to maintain it’s shape when baking right away. 
  • I do recommend that you chill the dough between baking the batches - either in a disc or pre-cut shapes. 

How to freeze baked cut out cookies?

Say you already baked the cookies and now you want to freeze them. I found that the best way to freeze already baked cut out sugar cookies is to…

  • Make sure they are completely cool first and unfrosted. This method works for unfrosted cookies. 
  • Stack like shapes together (for example stack the candy canes together or stack the gingerbread men together) and place a small piece of parchment paper between each cookie. I like to stack mine about 4-5 cookies high.
  • Wrap the stacks well in plastic wrap.
  • Place the bundles inside a ziplock freezer bag or inside a freezer container.
  • To thaw, remove the cookies from the bag (keep them inside their plastic wrap) and thaw on the counter. If you store the cookies inside a container, you can simply place the whole container on the counter to thaw. 


Can you freeze cut out sugar cookie dough?

Yes! Lets talk about the 2 different methods you could use..

Option 1: Flatten dough into disc

  • You can freeze this cookie dough by dividing it in half and flattening each half into a disc. Wrap each disc well with plastic wrap and place inside a freezer bag or container. To thaw, place the dough in the fridge overnight.

Option 2: Pre-cut the shapes

You can also freeze pre-cut shapes to bake later. To do this..

  • Roll out the dough after making it and cut into your desired shapes
  • Place the shapes on a silicone or wax paper lined baking sheet and freezer for 1-2 hours, or until frozen. 
  • Once frozen, remove the shapes from the pan, wrap like shapes together in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer bag or container.
  • To thaw, unwrap from the plastic, place the shapes on a silicone lined baking sheet on the counter and allow them to thaw for 15-25 minutes before baking. You want the shapes to still be cold, but not frozen. 

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