Cut Out Cookies
If you’ve been looking for the best Cut Out Cookies recipe that won’t spread during baking, this is the one! The sugar cookie dough is easy to work with, and it’s a solid, reliable recipe that’s perfect for decorating and special occasions.
This recipe is from my friend Bridget, arguably the cookie queen of the internet, of Bake at 350.
If you’ve ever had issues with your cut out cookies spreading in the oven, or tasting like cardboard, this recipe will make those problems a thing of the past. This is the best sugar cookie recipe!
This is Bridget’s tried and true Vanilla Cutout Cookie recipe from her second cookbook, Decorating Cookies Party.
Decorating cookies can be suited to all kinds of occasions, but I love making these cookies every Christmas, along with Peanut Butter Cookies, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Shortbread Cookies, and Snickerdoodles.
They’re very similar to my Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe that I decorate with frosting and Christmas sprinkles, but these are even more flawless.
There are only 7 ingredients required to make these cutout cookies: all purpose flour and baking powder for the dry ingredients, plus butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
They are classic sugar cookies that take well to all sorts of cookie shapes. Decorating cut out cookies is the ultimate arts & crafts type activity that you get to EAT afterwards. Kids and adults love it equally as much!
Step by Step Overview:
First cream together cold butter and sugar, either in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer and large bowl:
Salted butter is used here, but if you only have unsalted butter, that will work too. In that case, add 1/8 teaspoon of fine sea salt to the ingredients.
Next, add an egg, vanilla extract and almond extract:
Add all-purpose flour and baking powder, then mix on low speed to incorporate the flour mixture and turn it into a soft dough:
Roll the dough out onto a flat, lightly floured surface using a rolling pin, then cut your shapes out:
Be careful not to add too much extra flour during the rolling.
Also, here you can truly do any shape you’d like, and I even do many different shapes with one batch of dough.
Just organize them by size on baking sheets so you don’t have big and small shapes on the same sheet, since bake time will vary.
Set the cookies out on a silicone mat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet:
In my experience you get a slightly softer cookie with the silicone mats, but you can also cut bake time by a minute or two if using the parchment. Watch the edges of the cookie closely to check for doneness.
Freeze the cut out cookies for 10 minutes, then bake immediately in a 350 F oven.
FYI: Freezing chills the butter, and will prevent the cookies from spreading flat in the oven. This is absolutely essential in order to have the best results.
You should get nice, crisp edges right out of the oven, barely bigger than how you cut them:
Let the cookies cool completely before decorating with royal icing, buttercream frosting, sprinkles, or any other desired toppings.
Recipe Tips and FAQ
Yes, you can either freeze them cut and unbaked, and add a few minutes to baking time when you’re ready to cook them, or you can freeze them already baked, then thaw and serve.
There are many ways to get creative with this. For round shapes, you can use drinking glasses or measuring cups. If you don’t have those, you simple use a knife to cut squares or diamonds.
These will keep at room temperature for at least 4-5 days, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Store in an airtight container or well wrapped with plastic wrap. If the cookies have been decorated, let them dry in a single layer, then I recommend storing them between pieces of wax paper so the decoration doesn’t get messed up.
Cut down the baking time and pull the pan from the oven before you see browning on the edges. You may also swap brown sugar for the granulated sugar, but note that this will add flavor and change the color of the dough slightly.
Bridget’s Cut Out Cookies
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup salted butter, cold and cut into chunks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.
- Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set this mixture aside.
- In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until combined and fluffy. Beat in the egg and extracts, mixing until combined.
- Add the flour mixture in three parts, mixing on low speed. Scrape down the sides and bottoms of the bowl as needed. After the last addition, the dough will look very thick and crumbly.
- Prepare a rolling surface and roll out a portion of the dough. Cut as many shapes from the dough as possible and place them on a prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
- Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes. Freezing the cookies will help keep them from spreading. Meanwhile, knead the scraps and remaining dough together and continue the rolling, cutting, and freezing process on a second cookie sheet.
- After freezing, immediately bake the cookies on the center rack of your oven for 9 to 12 minutes (for 3.5 to 4-inch cookies), or until they appear done in the center. The baked cookies won’t change much in color.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes. With a thin cookie spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated in November 2018. Originally published December 2014.