Perfect Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe (great for Decorating)

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This cut-out sugar cookie recipe is perfect for creating sugar cookies that hold their shape and can be decorated.

They are still chewy and relatively soft, but hard enough to hold your icings and toppings!

It is so difficult to find a perfect cut-out sugar cookie recipe.

Either they’re too crumbly, don’t hold their shape, or just aren’t right for the decorating.

Of course, there are sugar cookie recipes that make circular soft and chewy cookies, but those aren’t built for or designed for decorating with royal icing.

And I like to decorate a cookie with royal icing like it’s nobody’s business, so finding the perfect sugar cut-out recipe was a must.

Finally, I found it.

These cookies make a sturdy base, they can handle being rolled relatively thin or much thicker, and they taste good on their own.

They’re not just relying on the icing to help them out.

They do require a bit of work and some chilling and freezing, but what I’ve learned after lots of cookie batches is that sometimes you do need to put in the work it takes to make a good cookie and not just try and find the easiest way out.

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These cut-out sugar cookies are:

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  • deliciously soft and chewy, but sturdy
  • easy to roll and create smooth tops
  • made with powdered sugar to help balance out the crispness
  • a great complement to royal icing

How Do I Get Cut-Out Sugar Cookies to Keep their Shape?

One of the hardest things for me has been to let my sugar cookies keep their shape.

These ones do, but I have to make sure to follow the recipe carefully and not skip steps as it all adds up to help the cookie stay in tact.

There is a science behind baking!

Reasons that a cookie can spread include the oven not being hot enough (the cookies will spread before the heat has a chance to set them), the ingredients not being mixed together propertly, putting a raw cookie on a hot baking sheet, and not chilling or freezing the dough as instructed.

I’ve found that the longer I refrigerate and chill the dough, the better results I get.

Can I Refrigerate Cut Out Sugar Cookie Dough?

Yes, you can refrigerate cut out sugar cookie dough, and it’s part of the process anyway.

Refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking.

Can I Freeze Cut Out Sugar Cookie Dough?

Yes, you can freeze cut out sugar cookie dough, and this recipe involves freezing it for 15 minutes.

You don’t want to put cookie dough that has been frozen for a while straight in the oven though as it can affect the shape, so make sure to let it thaw to chilled before using.

Can I Skip the Chilling and Freezing in this Recipe?

The chilling of the dough in this recipe is essential to making sure that the dough doesn’t spread.

If you skip the chilling, you do it knowing that your cookies might not hold their shape and your work has been a waste.

So, no, don’t skip the chilling of this recipe!

How Do I Decorate Cut Out Sugar Cookies?

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There are a lot of ways to decorate sugar cookies.

You could go for a basic buttercream if you just want to slather something on in a haphazard way or let the kids go crazy, but many people do cut-out sugar cookies so they can decorate them with royal icing and make gorgeous decorations.

Whether you’re making baby shower cookies, flower cookies or Christmas tree cookies, the best way to decorate them and get that smooth, glossy, sheen is by using royal icing.

You can find my royal icing recipe here, and I would recommend using that, along with the decorating tips, to make these cut out sugar cookies worth your while.

Ingredients for the Perfect Cut Out Sugar Cookies

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Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you have plain flour, baking powder, salt, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

  • 1 1/2 cup (340 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (50 grams) powdered sugar
  • 4 cups (512 grams) plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to Make the Perfect Cut Out Sugar Cookies

This recipe is adapted from Lisa Snyder’s book, 100 Animal Cookies, and I love the taste and texture of the cookies it creates.

To start, use one bowl to combine the salt, baking powder, and flour.

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I like to sift these together to make sure they’re properly mixed.

Then, cream the butter and both kinds of sugars until the combination is fluffy and pale in color.

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You don’t want to overcream, as this can add air into the dough that you don’t want.

Next, add the eggs and vanilla and mix until just combined.

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Add the flour to the butter mixture gradually in a few different stages, as you mix completely and then add more.

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Divide your dough into equal parts, whether that’s 2 or 3, and roll each into a disc.

Wrap the disc in saran wrap and put it in the fridge for at least an hour, but you can also leave it over night.

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When ready, roll out your dough to your desired thickness, I recommend 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch.

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If you do this on a cutting mat, you can then cover your mat with saranwrap and put it into the freezer for 15 minutes.

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Finally, pull it out of the freezer, remove the saran wrap, and pull the dough away from the mat.

Cut out your cookies and put the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

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Bake at 350F for about 9 minutes, and when they look slightly brown on the sides, pull them out and let them cool for 10-15 minutes on the baking sheet until you move them over to cool all the way on the wire rack.


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