Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe

This Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe is one we always include in our Christmas cookie line-up. It has a delicious but subtle flavor, and it’s easy to make and decorate.

Sometimes I like cookies with all the bells and whistles (hello, Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies). And sometimes I like to keep things simple. 

Sugar Cookie Recipe - Shown With soft cookie base, simple buttercream frosting, and festive sprinkles

Today we’re going with simple, but that doesn’t mean the end result is any less delicious.

These cookies are sweet and soft, with a nostalgic quality to them. They’re not fussy, and they’re simple enough that I can decorate them with my 3 year-old.

While they’re not winning any Pinterest beauty contests, considering the fact that a toddler can decorate them with unskilled hands, I think they end up looking really nice!

This sugar cookie recipe is made with the simplest of ingredients: just flour, baking powder, and salt for the dry ingredients, and butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla for the wet. Bring that together and you’ve got your dough.

Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe - with Sweetapolita Sprinkles and Frosting

Then for the frosting, it’s just butter, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and a touch of milk.

Give it a shake of your favorite sprinkles on top for both flavor and texture, and you’ve got a simple but addictive cookie.

How to Make this Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe:

To get the wet ingredients going, cream together butter and sugar, then add one egg and vanilla extract:

Creamed softened butter and sugar, with an egg and vanilla extract added

Add the dry ingredients, which is flour, baking powder, and salt, to the wet:

Adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients for the sugar cookie dough

Mix together until it comes together into a dough, taking care not to overmix:

Sugar Cookie Dough - In Bowl To be Rolled and Cut after Chilling

The dough will likely be too soft to roll right now, so chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes. I find it easiest to dump the dough onto a piece of parchment, and use the sides of the parchment to flatten it into a disk to be chilled.

Sugar Cookie Dough Heaped onto Parchment Paper for Rolling

Roll the dough about 1/4″ thick, then cut into whatever shapes you’d like:

Cut Out Sugar Cookie Pieces - Ready to be frosted or iced and decorated

I get 24 cookies using a 2.5″ cutter, re-rolling and cutting the scraps. Really though, do whatever shape you’d like. 

Chill the cut dough circles in the fridge for 30 more minutes, until fully firm, then bake the cookies. The chilling is essential to keep the cookies from spreading in the oven.

Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, which is the time when the cookies should *just* lose their sheen on top:

Freshly Baked Vanilla Sugar Cookies in Rows on Parchment Paper

You don’t want the cookies to brown on the edges at all. They should be soft and pale throughout. For this reason, use an air bake pan if you’ve got one, to prevent browning. Baking on parchment paper also helps minimize the browning.

While the cookies cool, make the frosting.

Combine softened butter, confectioner’s sugar, milk, and vanilla extract:

Vanilla Buttercream - Butter, Confectioner\'s Sugar, Milk, and Vanilla Extract in Bowl

Whip together for about a minute, until creamy:

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream - Only 4 Ingredients Whipped Together in Bowl

When the cookies have cooled completely, dollop frosting onto each cookie, to make sure each cookie gets the same amount:

Frosted Vanilla Sugar Cookies on Parchment Paper

Then you can further spread the frosting all over the top:

Buttercream Frosted Sugar Cookies - Dye Free and Natural

Now the cookies are ready for sprinkles, and here I consider them essential. You really need the texture there, and without them, the cookies look a bit too beige on beige.

Here I’m using the Christmas Crackers Twinkle Sprinkle Medley from the Sweetapolita shop. I bought my first batch a few years ago and love that the sprinkles are gorgeous AND they taste good too. 

My friend Lindsay shared a 15% off code in her Ube & Coconut Cream Pie post a while back, if you want to get some.

Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles - With Sweetapolita Christmas Sprinkles Added on Top

When the cookies have been sprinkled, they are ready to enjoy! They also freeze very well, completely assembled and decorated.

See the Cookies section of my recipe index for more cookie recipes, and I’ll highlight a few more that are favorites for Christmas. 

More Christmas Cookie Recipes:

A close up of Sugar Cookie with Christmas Sprinkles
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5 from 1 vote

Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe

These Sugar Cookies are sweet and buttery with a subtle vanilla flavor. They're great for decorating with your favorite sprinkles.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword simple sugar cookie recipe, sugar cookie recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 24 cookies
Calories 144kcal
Author Joanne Ozug fifteenspatulas.com

Ingredients

For the Sugar Cookie Dough:

  • 7.5 ounces all-purpose flour, by weight (1.5 cups measured)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (68-72F)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature (salted is preferred, add 1/8 tsp salt if using unsalted)
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar *
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar for one minute, using a hand mixer on medium speed, until combined and fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until incorporated, about 30 more seconds.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix on low until a crumbly dough forms. Take care not to overmix.
  • Dump the dough out onto the counter or onto a piece of parchment, and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Roll the dough out 1/4" thick. You can use flour as needed for sticking, but use as little as possible. Use a cutter to cut whatever shapes you desire, whether it be circles, stars, or Christmas shapes. Re-roll and the cut scraps as well. Or, you can simply cut the dough into squares with a knife and not have any scraps.
  • Place the cut cookies on a flat pan and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, until firm. This will keep the cookies from spreading in the oven.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and if you have one, I recommend using an air bake pan to minimize browning.
  • Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes, which is about the time that the cookies should *just* lose their sheen on top. They shouldn't be golden on the edges yet. You want to keep them soft.
  • Let the cookies cool on the pan, and make the frosting.
  • In a medium bowl, whip together the butter, confectioner's sugar, milk, and vanilla, for about 1 minute on medium speed with a hand mixer, until fluffy and light.
  • Frost all the cooled cookies with the buttercream. You should have enough that you can generously frost every cookie, and I usually have a tablespoon or two leftover.
  • Sprinkle the frosted cookies with sprinkles, as desired. Then enjoy!

Notes

Sugar cookie recipe is the same as my Easy Fruit Pizza. That Fruit Pizza has a cream cheese marshmallow frosting that's delicious with the dough, that you can also try.
Yield: I got 24 cookies using a 2.5" diameter circle cutter. This was with re-rolling the scraps.
*Add more confectioner's sugar if you'd like it sweeter. It's more or less "to taste" here.

Nutrition

Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 249IU | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg