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Top view of a stack of unfrosted Christmas tree sugar cookies on a wooden board

Perfect Sugar Cookies for Cut Out Christmas Shapes

This is the best sugar cookie recipe for making decorated cut out shapes with perfect edges. These chewy cookies bake up soft, flavorful, and are easy to make with just 6 ingredients. 

Course Dessert
Cuisine Holiday
Keyword best sugar cookie recipe, best sugar cookies, christmas cookies, christmas sugar cookies, easy sugar cookie recipe, homemade sugar cookies, royal icing, sugar cookie recipe
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 36 minutes
Chill Time 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 6 minutes
Servings 32 cookies (depending on the size of your shapes)
Calories 166 kcal
Author Kelly

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese softened
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decorating Cookies:

  • Royal Icing or Frosting in various colors
  • Sprinkles
  • Royal Icing
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6-8 Tablespoons warm water less for stiff icing and more for thin icing
  • Gel food coloring optional

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment turned to low speed, mix the flour, sugar, and salt together until combined.
  2. Add the butter, 1 cube at a time, and mix until the dough looks crumbly and slightly wet about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and cream cheese and beat for another 30-60 seconds until the dough just begins to form large clumps, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Gather dough with hands and knead just until it sticks together. Divide dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap each half in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes (or up to 2 days).
  5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. When ready to roll, remove and unwrap one dough disc from the fridge.
  6. Place a large piece of parchment paper on a flat surface. Place dough in the center. Place another large parchment paper on top of the dough and using your rolling pin, roll into 1/4 inch thickness (1/8 inch for thinner cookies). Place the sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes and grab the other dough and repeat.
  7. Remove the first dough sheet from the freezer and remove the top parchment paper. Cut into shapes with cutters of your choice. Place cut cookies on lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart and place in freezer again for 10 minutes (to prevent spreading). Repeat with the other dough sheet and any scraps.
  8. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  9. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, on the middle rack for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway, or until edges are light golden brown (do not overbake).

  10. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Frost or decorate cookies as desired.
  12. For royal icing: Beat all ingredients together until icing forms peaks, about 7 minutes.
  13. Tint with gel food coloring as desired and frost cookies.

Recipe Notes

*Total time includes chilling

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Nutrition Facts
Perfect Sugar Cookies for Cut Out Christmas Shapes
Amount Per Serving (1 cookie (with icing))
Calories 166 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 3g15%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 1g2%
* Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy using the WPRM recipe calculator. It is best to make your own calculations to ensure accuracy. We expressly disclaim any and all liability of any kind with respect to any act or omission wholly or in part in reliance on anything contained in this website. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.