These easy Christmas sugar cookies hold their shapes! Use our simple icing recipe to decorate with a smooth finish.
This is the best sugar cookie recipe because the cookies are thick and soft, and the dough is very easy to work with. It takes just an hour or two of refrigeration (or quickly freeze for 45 minutes) then roll it and cut it - bake it then frost it. Simple as that!
The Best Christmas Cookies
We love this sugar cookie recipe because the shape holds and the flavor is spot-on! They are thicker and puffy, not thin and crispy. You can use this easy sugar cookie recipe for any occasion or holiday. My favorite is Christmas cookies because I make a big batch then have the neighbor kids over to decorate them for a fun event!
How do you make sugar cookies keep their shape?
This easy sugar cookie recipe is great at holding the shape of the sugar cookies, but here are a few steps to further insure a perfectly shaped sugar cookie:
- Use room temperature butter, and not warmer. Not too slimy or melted, but room temperature where a finger poked in the butter dents it easily.
- It is important to refrigerate the dough and not skip this step, because the chill process helps the sugar cookie keep their shape. If you are in a hurry, you can freeze the dough for 45 minutes instead. I prefer using the fridge for a more even chilling.
- Use parchment paper instead of a silicone mat (Silpat). The greasy surface of the silicone mat tends to make my cookies spread. I've started using solely parchment paper when baking cookies.
- Allow your cookie sheet to cool between batches. This doesn't take long, but it helps keep the shape of your cookies.
How to Make the Best Sugar Cookies
There are no secret tricks to this recipe. This is an easy sugar cookie recipe and one of the best! To make this sugar cookie dough follow these easy steps:
First, in a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, then the vanilla and mix until combined. Stir in the sour cream. Beat on high for 2 minutes, then scrape the sides of the bowl.
Next, in another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and beat on low until just combined.
Then, after making the dough, divide it in half and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap, in a round flat thick disc shape. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days. This lets you work with one half at a time so while you are cutting out shapes and baking them, the other half can stay chilled in the fridge.
Tips for roll out cookies
- When rolling out the sugar cookie dough, keep it thick at no less than ¼- to ½-inch thick. Do not try to roll it too thin to stretch the amount of cut-outs you get, because the thickness is key here. You'll get enough cookies, trust me. I believe I got about 30-40 cookies this last weekend when I made them for my parents' visit. I brought half of them to a Christmas party and left the other half at home to munch on during the weekend. Plenty enough.
- Flour your cookie cutters. Trust me. I have quite the collection of cookie cutters from over the years, and I always dip mine in flour while using them to help keep them from sticking to the sugar cookie dough. I keep a small pile of flour off to the side for this reason so I can quickly dip the cookie cutter after so many cut outs.
- Use a dessert spatula with a beveled edge to transfer cut out cookies to cookie sheet. The angle helps get under the cookie and carefully remove from the cutting board without ruining its shape. I have a Pampered Chef one, but this one is cheaper and great reviews.
Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe
The icing (or frosting) recipe for these sugar cookies is another favorite of mine because it's extremely easy to mix up with a handheld mixer (or stand mixer) and is very versatile. It makes plenty so you can divide into separate bowls to use different colors if you wish. I love the AmeriColor Gel Paste Food Color because it only takes a drop or two to get a nice potent color.
Because this sugar cookie dough needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days, this is the best sugar cookie dough for prepping in advance. It's so easy to whip up the dough and store in the fridge until it's time to roll out and cut! You can also freeze the already baked cookies until ready to decorate. So many options for prepping these in advance!
More Christmas Cookie Recipes
Are you soaking in the holidays with cookie baking? Try these favorite Christmas cookie recipes.
- Gingerbread Men Cookies
- Candy Cane Blossoms
- Peppermint Biscotti
- Christmas M&M Cookie Bars
- Hot Cocoa Cookies
Made this Recipe?
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This recipe was originally published December 15, 2014.
The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe
For the Sugar Cookies:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter , at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Easy Icing:
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter , melted
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons milk
- Food coloring , optional
- Sprinkles and other decorations , optional
For the Sugar Cookies:
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, then the vanilla and mix until combined. Stir in the sour cream. Beat on high for 2 minutes, then scrape the sides of the bowl.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and beat on low until just combined. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half tightly with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.
When ready to roll out, cut and bake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working with one half of dough at a time and leaving the other chilling in the fridge, roll the dough to about ½-inch thick (no less than ¼-inch thick) on a clean floured surface. I recommend flipping the dough at least once while rolling and adding more flour to the work surface and rolling pin.
- Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and carefully transfer to prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies just start to look dry, rotating pans halfway through the baking time. Do not over-bake! They might not look done, but they are! Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting. Frost the cookies using my Easy Icing recipe.
For the Easy Icing:
- Beat the sugar, butter, vanilla and 4 tablespoons of the milk in a mixing bowl on low speed until combined. Add the remaining milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until smooth.
- Switch to high speed and beat until the frosting is a spreadable consistency, but still thick enough so it's not too runny. Add more milk, if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. If it gets too runny, add more powdered sugar, as needed, ¼ cup at a time. Use an offset spatula to spread frosting on the cookies, leaving ¼-inch edge. Decorate with sprinkles immediately before frosting dries.
- Nutritional value is an estimate only and varies based on ingredients used.
- Serving size varies based on size of cookie cutters.
- If high humidity climate, add up to ½ cup more flour.