4.16 from 59 votes

How to Make The Perfect (Soft) Cut Out Sugar Cookies

The perfect soft cut out sugar cookies, made with unsalted butter and powdered sugar.

Update: Since posting this recipe years ago, I since tweaked the recipe and reposted a new, more comprehensive tutorial HERE. If you're looking for a dough that holds it shape a bit more, I recommend checking that one out!

Course Dessert
Category Cookies
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 18 Cookies (depending on the size you cut them)
Calories 94 kcal
Author Melissa Rose


  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened (*Read Tips below)
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg medium sized
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda *See note below
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe sugar cookie frosting


  1. Cream the butter and powdered sugar together with an electric mixer. Once mixed, add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and baking soda and continue to stir on medium speed. Once incorporated, turn the mixer down to low speed and add the flour in one cup portions. When the flour disappears, turn off the mixer and transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough until it forms a solid ball. If dough is sticky, add additional flour while kneading (do not be afraid to add 1/4-1/2 cup more flour while kneading if sticky).
  2. Next, on a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to 3/8 to 1/2 inch thickness. The thinner you go, the faster they will bake & the crispier they will be. I like them to be thick and soft, so I keep them around 3/8 inch thick and use a 2.5 inch circle cookie cutter or wine glass rim to cut them out.
  3. As you are cutting them out, transfer them to a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches between them (to allow them to spread). Cover and refrigerate cut out cookie dough for 1-2 hours. (For more intricate cut out shapes, I highly recommend this refrigeration step. For regular circle cookies, refrigerating is not as important, but will result in a cookie that does not spread as much. For intricate shapes, I cut out the cookie shapes first and then refrigerate the entire trays. This helps so you do not have to work with a cold chunk of dough.)
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are very lightly browned. Do not worry if they look underbaked, as they will continue to bake on the hot cookie sheet after it comes out of the oven.
  5. Cool and frost with a vanilla icing of your choice. Have fun with colors & decorations to make these match any occasion.

Recipe Notes

Check out a great royal icing recipe for simple & easy frosting.

* A few readers have commented that their cookies puffed up quite a bit during baking. The cookies WILL raise a little, but should not be "puffy." Because the raising of baked goods can vary based on altitude, I recommend referring to King Arthur's altitude adjustment guide prior to baking. Although I have never had a problem with these puffing up (I live in the Midwest), this is something to consider in other regions.

* Tips on Butter: Use real unsalted butter, not margarine or shortening. Butter should not be melted, just softened to room temperature. If butter is melted too much, the cookies will spread, resulting in skewed shapes.

* This recipe has been in my family's cookbook for many years, but a reader recently pointed out that this recipe is very similar to a Betty Crocker recipe. Which may very well be where we got this one originally! So feel free to check that one out here for more in-depth reviews (the main difference is that I do not use cream of tartar because I find it to give these cookies a crunchier texture).

Nutrition Facts
How to Make The Perfect (Soft) Cut Out Sugar Cookies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 94 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 6g30%
Cholesterol 36mg12%
Sodium 65mg3%
Potassium 6mg0%
Vitamin A 330IU7%
Calcium 4mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.