The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (2024)

Home » Recipes » Desserts » Cookies » The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!}

Jump to Recipe

4.46 stars (338 ratings)

Feb 12, 2024356

This is easily the best recipe for cutout sugar cookies! They are soft and tender but hold their shape very well during baking.

I’ve been making this cutout sugar cookie recipe for over fifteen years, and it is truly the best of the best. For the perfect sugar cookies, make sure to follow all the tips in the recipe!

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (1)

The Best Sugar Cookie Dough

This cutout sugar cookie dough is pretty straight forward. What makes it a little bit unique (and extra yummy) is the addition of fresh lemon zest to the batter.

That subtle hint of lemon flavor is absolutely phenomenal and may change your sugar cookie game forever.

However, if you don’t have a fresh lemon hanging around, you can leave it out. (Just promise me you’ll try it eventually!)

The cookie dough also calls for granulated sugar AND powdered sugar. This helps make the cookies incredibly soft and perfectly sweet.

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (2)
The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (3)
The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (4)
The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (5)

To Chill or Not to Chill

This sugar cookie dough benefits from a few hours of chilling in the refrigerator. Not only will it be infinitely easier to roll out and cut into shapes, but the flavor of the cookies will taste better, too.

However, you can roll and cut the sugar cookies right away. The dough will be sticky, so make sure the counter and rolling pin are adequately floured so the dough doesn’t stick.

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (6)

The Key to Perfect Sugar Cookies

For the best sugar cookies ever, roll the dough at least 1/4-inch thick (slightly thicker is even better).

If the dough is rolled too thin, the cookies can easily over bake in the oven, which means they’ll be dry-tasting and kind of crispy.

And while I firmly subscribe to the “you do you” belief, I’m going to have to put my foot down when it comes to sugar cookies. We want buttery soft, fluffy, ultra-tender sugar cookies.

For that reason, err on the side of rolling the dough thicker than you think you should.

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (7)

Trust the Baking Temperature

You may notice that the baking temperature in this recipe is much higher than most “normal” cookie recipes.

I promise that there is a method to this madness! Because sugar cookies already go into the oven much thinner than, say, a ball of chocolate chip cookie dough, they benefit from a shorter baking time.

Using a high temperature perfectly bakes the outside of the cookies quickly and leaves the inside of the cookies super super soft. Pull the cookies out of the oven before you think you should. A slightly underdone middle is just fine. The cookies will set up as they cool.

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (8)

Frosting for Sugar Cookies

These cookies work very well frosted with:

  • royal frosting
  • other types of hard-drying, stackable icings
  • buttercream frosting
  • whipped frosting

When this recipe was originally published, I included a recipe for the most amazing whipped cream cheese frosting. It’s the ultimate in super soft, easily spreadable cookie frostings.

If you are looking for that frosting recipe, it’s in a recipe box all its own below the sugar cookie recipe…so keep scrolling and you’ll find it. 🙂

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (9)

A Favorite of Many

This cutout sugar cookie recipe is beloved by many! With over 300 5-star reviews, it is a tried-and-true favorite.

Ashley says: I have been using this sugar cookie recipe for years and years! It is seriously the best. I omit the almond extract but I love using the lemon zest. It is my kids favorite recipe. They are soft but not doughy at all.

Tracy Ellen says: My favorite, go to sugar cookie recipe.

Jen M says: I don’t know how I’ve never made these before. They are SO good and the dough is a dream to work with. I rolled it out with powdered sugar as suggested and it is so much better than using flour! I’ve made them twice in the past couple weeks. I was worried the lemon and almond would be too strong, but they are just the perfect amount of flavor so the cookies aren’t bland. You won’t regret making these.

PJ says: I’ve been looking for this recipe for a couple decades now. I personally testify that these are the best butter sugar cookies ever! They are so good I’ll eat a plain one while decorating the others.

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (10)
The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (11)

My Favorite Sugar Cookies

Yield: 24 -36 cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour hr 25 minutes mins

Cook Time: 8 minutes mins

Total Time: 1 hour hr 33 minutes mins

4.46 stars (338 ratings)

Print Recipe Rate Recipe Pin Recipe


Sugar Cookies:

  • 1 ½ cups (340 g) butter, softened to cool room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (318 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (57 g) powdered sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, from about 1 lemon
  • 5 cups (710 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

  • Add the eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract (if using) and lemon zest; mix until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  • Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.

  • Press the dough into a thick disc on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap until fully covered and refrigerate for several hours (or up to 2 days). *The dough can be rolled out right away; however the cookies won't hold their shape quite as well in the oven – if doing so, you'll need to use quite a bit more flour on the counter to make sure the dough doesn't stick.*

  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. If your oven bakes hot, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F.

  • Lightly dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to 1/4-inch or slightly thicker. If the dough has been chilled longer than a few hours, let it rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to soften enough to roll out.

  • Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies several inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.

  • Bake for 7-8 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE! There should be no browning on the edges or the bottom of the cookies and the center of the cookies may look just slightly underdone.

  • Let the cookies rest on the baking pans for 2 to 3 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Frost and sprinkle as desired.


Baking Temp: the baking temperature for this recipe may seem high but I believe it is one of the keys to success. The cookies still remain soft and light because they bake for such a short time (and they keep their shape really well!). If your oven bakes hot, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Author: Mel

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Method: Bake

Serving: 1 cookie, Calories: 267kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 62mg, Sodium: 236mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 15g

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
Recipe originally published October 2010; updated February 2024 with new photos, recipe notes, etc

Print Recipe Rate Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 8-ounce (227 g) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ½ cups (171 g) powdered sugar
  • teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream


  • In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer or in an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla.

  • Mix until very smooth and light and no lumps remain, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

  • In a separate bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until well combined and smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Author: Mel

Cuisine: American

Method: No-Bake

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (19)

Other Recipes Like This:

Easy Sugar Cookie Bars
The Best Swig Sugar Cookies {Copycat Recipe}
Easy Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies {No Rolling or Cutting Out!}
Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Christmas Cookies Desserts Forgotten Recipes Frosting The Best Cookies The Best Holiday Baking Recipes

posted on February 12, 2024 (last updated March 29, 2024)

« Previous PostBest Baked Macaroni and Cheese {New and Improved}

Next Post »Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Leave a Reply

356 comments on “The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!}”

  1. Phyllis Pierce Reply

    I want to decorate the cookies before baking them with colored sugar like sanding sugar. Can I sprinkle the sugar on the cookies and then bake them? Please let me know

    • Mel Reply

      Yes, that should work just fine – you may need to press the sanding sugar into the cookies lightly before baking.

  2. Joanne B. Reply

    I made this recipe for baby shower cookie favors in the shape of cowboy hats & boots. These cookies are not your typical sugar cookie. I used the almond extract & the lemon rind. I let the dough stay in the refrigerator for 2-1/2 to 3 hours before cutting out the cookies. My oven runs hot so I baked them at 375 for 7-8 minutes. i did not let them brown at all. They are melt in your mouth delicious! I’ve made two batches and this recipe will be a staple in our home from now on. Thank you for sharing this delectable one-of- a kind cookie recipe.

  3. Brook Bond Reply

    I tried making this and it was a disaster! The dough was super sticky even after adding extra flour. I chilled for several hours and tried rolling it out but it was impossible to cut out shapes and transfer them to the cookie sheet. No matter how much flour/powder sugar I used they would stick and then get deformed because it was too soft. Then when baking they all just flattened out and lost their shape. I was excited because of all the reviews but was extremely disappointed in the end.

    • Mel Reply

      Sorry these didn’t work out for you! I’ve never had the dough be quite as sticky as you describe. Was your kitchen overly warm by any chance?

  4. jann Reply

    i have to say, i have tried other cutout sugar cookie recipes, but i keep coming back to this one. it is just delicious. was wondering if you have a chocolate version of this recipe.

    • Mel Reply

      Hi Jann, I don’t have a chocolate version, but it sounds like a great idea to add to my to-try list!

  5. Julie Reply

    Love your recipes Mel! I have a question about the cream cheese frosting. Does it firm up or harden a bit so the cookies can be stacked? It sounds like the perfect cookie frosting! And I WILL be trying your cutout sugar cookies soon!!

    • Mel Reply

      Hi Julie, the cream cheese frosting in this recipe post is a bit too soft for stacking – the cookies do best in a single layer.

  6. Summer Reply

    I cheated on my Grandma’s recipe with these and it was worth it. The dough was a lot stickier than I’m used to but after chilling overnight it was easy to roll and cut out. I used the vanilla buttercream recipe from this site and the end result was perfection! Thanks Mel, you and your recipes are to best.

  7. Suzanne Reply

    I feel like a bit of a bum as everyone else is going crazy over these but I suppose I just didn’t realize that the frosting would literally just be cream cheese-flavoured whipped cream. Tastes great but a bit too unexpected on a sugar cookie for me. Also just generally very unpractical for storage purposes! But tastes great of course.

  8. Natalie S Reply

    These are Fantastic cookies! I doubled the batch and now have cookies coming out of my ears! Made them for a Valentine’s play date and everyone loved them. Followed the recipe exactly and they were just as described. I accidentally left one batch in too long, and they got a little color on the sides, and they were more crisp but still good.

  9. Lacy A Detlefsen Reply

    Would you share where we can find those adorable rainbow/cloud sprinkles that are shown in the demo pic? They are SO CUTE!

    • Mel Reply

      Hi Lacy! They are Wilton brand – I grabbed them on Amazon a long time ago.

  10. MELISSA Reply

    I don’t have a lemon but have lemon juice from concentrate. Will that work? If so, how much do you recommend?

    • Mel Reply

      I probably wouldn’t use lemon juice – the flavor might not be the same and might mess with the texture of the dough. You could just leave it out!

  11. Cheryl Reply

    Can I add sourdough discard to these?

    Thanks so much!!

    • Mel Reply

      I haven’t tried that, but it would be a fun experiment. Good luck if you try it out!

  12. Rikki Reply

    I made *another* website’s sugar cookies over the weekend because I thought I’d just try them out. I felt like I was cheating on you! This recipe is way better and I appreciate your neurotic, detailed instructions (said in the most loving way possible – because I’m the same way!). These are so soft and melt in your mouth. I learned my lesson. Never cheat on Mel!

    • Mel Reply

      Haha, this made me laugh, Rikki. 🙂

  13. Mary J Hartsell Reply

    Mel, have you ever tried baking with sugar substitute of any kind? If so, which one(s), and do you use the same measurements?

    • Mel Reply

      Hi Mary, unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of experience baking with sugar substitutes. I’m sorry!

  14. Shaunessy Hanson Reply

    These turned out perfectly! I put it in the fridge overnight and now I’m freezing half of it.

  15. Peg Reply

    Very sticky and difficult to roll out even after adding extra flour and chilling dough over night I finally rolled balls and stamped them with the bottom of a glass before baking.

  16. Ashley Reply

    I have been using this sugar cookie recipe for years and years! It is seriously the best. I omit the almond extract but I love using the lemon zest. It is my kids favorite recipe. They are soft but not doughy at all. If you don’t like that, Mel has a variety of different sugar cookie recipes you could try. This texture is my absolute favorite and the frosting is perfect.

  17. Ginny Huxel Reply

    I used this when I lived in the U.S. but I moved and now live somewhere where butter is low quality and expensive. Will this work with shorting?

    • Mel Reply

      I haven’t tried that, but it’s definitely worth experimenting – will probably work!

  18. Sharon Reply

    Can I leave out the lemon zest?

    • Mel Reply


  19. Debbie Reply

    I made this recipe with dairy free butter for a friend who is dairy free. It’s a little softer and sticky in texture, but I refrigerate it for about a half hour and it turn out perfect.

  20. Tracy Ellen Reply

    My favorite, go to sugar cookie recipe.

  21. Rachel Cosgriff Reply

    Do I need to store frosted cookies in the fridge or can they sit out?

    • Mel Reply

      They can sit at room temp for a couple hours. Any longer than that and I store them in the fridge.

      • Pam Reply

        Mel, I refrigerated the dough overnight and it’s as hard as a rock. Does it need to sit at room temperature for a certain time in order to be able to roll out and cut? Recipe didn’t mention anything so I’m worried I did something terribly wrong when making. Thank you.

        • Mel Reply

          Hi Pam, sorry for the confusion. Yes, if the dough is extra chilled, it may need 10-12 minutes at room temperature to soften up to roll out. I’ll edit the recipe to make it more clear.

          • Leslie Reply

            I love your recipes and have NEVER been disappointed! Just pulled my sugar cookie dough out of the refrigerator to roll out and had the same question. Glad to find the answer. Yes, please edit the recipe.

  22. Katie Reply

    This was my first attempt at sugar cookies and i was hoping for a little easier recipe. Not that it was hard, but the dough would not cooperate with me. Also, i did not like the frosting. Way too soft for my liking. I may try these cookies again but I’d find a different cream cheese frosting.

  23. Angelina Merriweather Reply

    Love the addition of lemon to cookies and taste of it all, but my only complaint was my frosting didn’t set up to where I could stack cookies in containers. Frosting was still wet which I don’t like but delish!

    • Mel Reply

      Yes, this frosting stays soft because I much prefer a soft, yummy frosting to the royal frostings that set up hard. You might want to google a recipe for a different style of frosting if you want to stack the cookies. 🙂

    • Grace Reply

      Love the flavor of these cookies! I’ve made them several time, but haven’t used the icing recipe. They tend to come out puffier than they should. Any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong?

      • Mel Reply

        Try to add a bit less flour (maybe 1/4 cup) and see if that helps the puffiness.

  24. Jen M Reply

    I don’t know how I’ve never made these before. They are SO good and the dough is a dream to work with. I rolled it out with powdered sugar as suggested and it is so much better than using flour! I’ve made them twice in the past couple weeks. I was worried the lemon and almond would be too strong, but they are just the perfect amount of flavor so the cookies aren’t bland. You won’t regret making these.

  25. CK Reply

    Made the cookies not the frosting. Delicious! Also, had a bit of dough leftover but didn’t want to roll it out so made it into thumbprints – filled with raspberry jams and baked for 8 minutes. SO good. May make another batch just to make thumbprints out of. Thank you!

    • Amber Reply

      I’ve made these cookies quite a few times now and I love them. Well, I’m not a huge sugar cookie fan (don’t hurt me ) but because they’re not sickeningly sweet, I like them. I royal ice all my sugar cookies, so a less sweet cookie is PERFECT! I’ve never had an issue with the dough being too sticky, but I pack, tap and level my flour. I roll out immediately on parchment and then chill the rolled out sheet…found it’s a quick and easy way to chill and no killing yourself trying to roll out cold, hard dough!

  26. stacey a geiermann Reply

    Asking a question…are these soft or do they have a snap, a bite?

    • Mel Reply

      They are soft.

  27. Rena Loo Reply

    Hi Mel! What type of food coloring do you use? I’ve tried this recipe twice, once with gel food coloring and once with liquid, and both times the frosting separated! It’s still delicious but doesn’t look like your beautiful photos.

    • Mel Reply

      Darn, I’m sorry to hear that! I always use gel food coloring.

  28. Sam Reply

    Is the butter salted or unsalted?
    Can’t wait to make these!!

    • Mel Reply

      I use salted butter

  29. PJ Acosta Reply

    I’ve been looking for this recipe for a couple decades now. I personally testify that these are the best butter sugar cookies ever! They are so good I’ll eat a plain one while decorating the others. . I first tried these back in the 90’s, but I lost the recipe due to a move. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Erin C Reply

    This frosting is dreamy!!! I could eat bucketloads! I’ve never had anything like it. Have you ever tried it on a cake??! We liked the cookies, but I’m not sure about the lemon. My zester produces rather large pieces and some bites were too lemony for me. I like lemon a lot, maybe just not at Christmastime. My cookies were good, but the edges were a tad crispy, so I lowered the heat and baked them at 375 for about 7 1/2 minutes and then they came out soft. They aren’t very sweet, but I prefer them that way. I found the dough quite easy to work with if I rolled the dough about 1/4 in; that is the key to rolling them out easily. (I also sprinkled powdered sugar down on my baking mat and a little on the dough.) If I rolled them any thinner, it was a disaster, which has been true for all sugar cookies I’ve made over the last 15 years. Frosted sugar cookies are my all time favorites!! And it’s so true about the frosting! I’ve always made a frosting that sets up enough to at least stack between wax paper because I’m super practical, so I’m wondering how you store these??

  31. Erin C Reply

    Have you ever tried freezing the frosting by itself or a frosted sugar cookie?

    • Mel Reply

      I haven’t frozen the frosting by itself, but I freeze frosted sugar cookies all the time and it works great.

      • Erin C Reply

        I decided to freeze almost a double batch of frosting in a cheap, thin-walled storage container for almost 2 weeks and it turned out great! There was no separation or anything. It tasted exactly the same. I froze the sugar cookies, too, in a gallon zip lock bag with wax paper between the layers.

  32. Amy Reply

    I followed the recipe exactly as written and these are the BEST sugar cookies! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  33. kaya Reply

    Hi Mel
    I would like to try this recipe for my daughter’s birthday and have her friends decorate and ice their own cookies? Is it possible to add food colouring to the icing and portion of into little individual baggies they can squeeze out to decorate? Just not sure how durable the frosting is … Thanks!

    • Mel Reply

      I think if I was doing that, I’d use this buttercream frosting – it will hold up a little better.

  34. Heather Halstead Reply

    I really love the way these cookies look however they’re not sweet enough for me and I was thinking I like my cookies a little bit chewier so if I reduced the amount of flour slightly and add a little bit more sugar what do you think?

    • Mel Reply

      Hi Heather, these aren’t meant to be a chewy sugar cookie, but this recipe might be what you’re looking for:

  35. Tracy Reply

    First time making these. Have yet to do the icing but the cookie dough is Fabulous. So delicious. Will try them when they get out of the oven. Want to try some royal icing on these.

    • Maranda Reply

      I’m curious how your royal icing turned out with these. Thanks!

  36. Deborah Reply

    Do you have recommendations for favorite freezer containers?

    • Mel Reply

      I use some older Rubbermaid flat tupperware type containers – they’re great but I’m guessing there are a lot of brands that would work well, too!

  37. Josiah Reply

    I followed the recipe but the cookies are still sticky. I added 1/4 cups of flour and left it in the refrigerator but it’s still sticky. What to do?

    • Mel Reply

      How sticky? If they can be rolled out on a lightly floured counter, they should be fine!

  38. Katie Reply

    Could the dough be frozen? Love your site!

    • Mel Reply

      Yes, I think so!

  39. Melissa G. Reply

    These cookies are great. The frosting is out of this world! I’ve never made a frosting without butter in it before, but I’m sold on it for sure, The frosting makes it kind of hard to see what the cookie shape is, but I prefer the flavor and texture over appearance anyway.

  40. Michelle Reply

    Perfect cookies for Christmas with the fam. Soft and delicious.

  41. Tara Reply

    These turned out to be the best sugar cookies I’ve found!! Everyone went crazy over them!! These are now our go-to recipe!

Leave a comment »

The Best Cutout Sugar Cookies {My Favorite Recipe!} (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Moshe Kshlerin

Last Updated:

Views: 5823

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Moshe Kshlerin

Birthday: 1994-01-25

Address: Suite 609 315 Lupita Unions, Ronnieburgh, MI 62697

Phone: +2424755286529

Job: District Education Designer

Hobby: Yoga, Gunsmithing, Singing, 3D printing, Nordic skating, Soapmaking, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Moshe Kshlerin, I am a gleaming, attractive, outstanding, pleasant, delightful, outstanding, famous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.