Christmas Sugar Cookies + Video
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Christmas Sugar Cookies are the absolute best cookies ever!!! They are buttery, sweet, and scrumptious. Decorated with a beautiful marshmallow tasting icing, these cut out sugar cookies are baked to perfection – soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the edges. They are the #1 most requested cookie every year.
There’s a helpful video in this post that you can watch to see the cookies being made!
Christmas Sugar Cookies
I love that there’s so much that you can do with sugar cookies: have a cookie decorating party, package them as a gift for your loved ones, or leave them out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
The holiday season simply isn’t complete without Christmas sugar cookies!
Nothing beats the aroma of freshly baked cookies or the joy of decorating and sharing them with others.
I use this recipe every year, and it is the best sugar cookie recipe for decorating. The cookies hold their shape well and don’t spread out while baking.
With my best tasting sugar cookie icing, you can decorate the cookies with a delicous glossy shine.
Your soft sugar cookies will look professional and taste absolutely amazing. If you love this Christmas sugar cookie recipe, try my Christmas Pinwheel Cookies next!
Christmas Sugar Cookies Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Unsalted Butter – Using unsalted butter gives you more control over how much salt is in the overall recipe.
But if you only have salted butter on hand, you can use that instead – just omit additional salt from the recipe.
- Granulated Sugar – Cream sugar with the butter, softened at room temperature.
- Eggs – This will bind your dough together.
- Vanilla Extract and Almond Extract – These add flavor to the dough. You can skip the almond extract or use imitation, if allergies are a concern.
Other flavors, including lemon or maple, make great replacements!
- Flour – Regular all-purpose flour is recommended, but you can use any cup-for-cup all-purpose gluten free flour with this sugar cookie recipe, and they will turn out amazing!
- Salt – Omit this ingredient if you decide to use salted butter.
- Best Ever Sugar Cookie Icing – Ready in just 5 minutes, you’ll love how easy this icing is to whip up!
Christmas Sugar Cookies – Step by Step Instructions
Make The Dough
Start by creaming the softened butter and granulated sugar together. The texture should be light and fluffy, and the color will change to pale yellow.
Mix in the eggs and extracts until combined. Then, add salt and flour and blend until smooth.
Divide the dough into two even discs. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.
Roll It Out
Working with one disc at a time, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.
Use cookie cutters to cut out your shapes, then carefully transfer them to lined baking sheets.
Next, place the trays in the refrigerator to chill for another 15 minutes before baking. This helps them to hold their shape.
Bake, Cool, and Decorate
Transfer the baking sheets from the refrigerator straight to the oven, and bake until the cut out sugar cookies start to brown around the edges.
Let them sit on the pan for a few minutes to finish baking, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Finally, decorate them with my Sugar Cookie Icing for a beautiful glossy finish! You can use any colors, sprinkles, or sugar pearls to get your desired look.
Use Decorating Squeeze Bottles for easier decorating and minimal clean up.
Tips and Tricks for Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Prevent Sticky Dough. Keep adding a little more flour until the dough is tacky, meaning it doesn’t stick to your finger when touched.
- Space Cookies Out. Place cookie cutouts at least one inch apart so that the heat of the oven has space to move and the cookies can bake evenly.
- Rotate Halfway Through. Not all ovens have perfectly even heat.
Rotating your cookie tray halfway through the baking time will help ensure that no cookies end up burnt or undercooked.
- Time Batches Carefully. Allow each baking sheet to cool a bit before placing new cut-outs on the tray.
This guarantees that the heat doesn’t melt your dough or cause it to lose its shape before it can start baking.
- Cool Completely. The cookies will firm up as they cool. Make sure they are completely cooled before you decorate or transfer them to a container.
How to Prevent Sugar Cookies From Spreading
First, don’t use any leavening agents! That means no baking soda or baking powder — it’s the secret to get cut out cookies to hold their shape.
This is a tip I picked up from a bakery over 20 years ago. Makes them perfect every time.
Next, allow your butter to soften before creaming it with the sugar for a smooth consistency. But, don’t use melted butter!
This will thin your dough and create flat cookies.
I also recommend letting your eggs sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you use them.
Room temperature eggs are best for baking as they are easier to mix and incorporate into a dough.
Finally, chill your dough twice. Refrigerate it for at least an hour before rolling and cutting, then chill your shapes again on the trays for about 15 minutes before baking them — this will ensure that the cookies hold their shape.
Kitchen Tools You Will Need
- Stand mixer or large mixing bowl with hand mixer for making the dough.
- Baking Sheets – Used for anything from cookies to roasting, a good baking pan will last for years.
- Silpat Mat – There are so many uses! Roll out doughs, cut out cookies and biscuits, or make other desserts. It even provides a non-slip surface for transporting pots and pans.
- Cooling Racks – I like these because you can cool a large batch of treats without taking up a lot of counter space.
- Adjustable Rolling Pin with Removable Rings – flattens dough to ensure uniform baking.
Christmas Sugar Cookies FAQ
Make sure to not over-bake the cookies in the oven. They are ready once the edges start to turn a beautiful golden brown color. Cookies naturally firm up while they cool on a pan or rack, so don’t worry about trying to get them crispy in the oven.
Store them in an airtight container after fully cooled so that they retain their soft, delicate texture.
Absolutely! This dough is perfect for preparing in advance and should be used within 1 month for best results.
Form the dough in a ball, then gently flatten it into a disc. Wrap the disc tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer-safe storage bag. Thaw in the refrigerator once you’re ready to use.
You can even freeze iced sugar cookies! Layer with parchment paper in an airtight container and store for up to 3 months.
We got this brilliant tip for shipping cookies from our friend who owns a cookie shop, and it works so well.
Package the cookies in individual cookie bags and tape them to a piece of cardboard. Wrap the cardboard in bubble wrap, and then stack multiple layers of cookies in your shipping container.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Christmas Sugar Cookies + Video
- stand mixer OR
- 1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Best Ever Sugar Cookie Icing
- Pearl Sugar Balls, dragees
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar, on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Add the eggs, vanilla and almond. Beat until combined. Add the salt and 3 cups of flour; beat until you have a smooth dough. If the dough is sticky (meaning when you touch it and pull your fingers away the dough sticks to you), add more flour a tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.
- Remove half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.)
- Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking. Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sparkling sugar at this point.
- Bake the cookies for about 9-11 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Decorate the cookies with Best Ever Sugar Cookie Icing if desired. Be sure to let the icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours or overnight.)
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published December 2012, updated and republished November 2022
Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.
Have you ever stored the cookies in the freezer for a couple weeks to be decorated/frosted later??
After hours of searching for the "one" I have found the recipe I am SO excited to try 🙂 Thanks for sharing and a BIG thank you for all of you who have left comments, which are always a big help!
Thanks you, Steph9803! Enjoy and let us know how it goes!
Is it safe to refrigerate the dough overnight before rolling out, cutting and baking?
I always refrigerate the dough overnight and it works perfectly! Hope that helps,enjoy!
What is the shelf life of the cookies decorated and shrink wrapped. Thanks
Hi, these look absolutely beautiful! I can hardly wait to try making them. Do you know if adding orange or lemon zest would change the stability of the cookie? I've never added zest to a cookie and wondering if it would be good. Thank you.
Does this flour need to be sifted? If so, before or after measuring?
Thank you 🙂
Hi Zia, no it does not need to be sifted. Enjoy!
Can they stay in the fridge for more than an hour?
I made two batches of these cookies and by far this is the best recipe for cut out cookies and royal icing. After a few unsuccessful attempts to make cut out cookies over the years, I gave up on making them.
After finding this recipe, I decided to try again. This cookie dough is not temperamental. I call dough like this "forgiving." It rolls out well and tastes great without frosting. Most of the cutout cookies I have been given as gifts over the years have been thrown in the garbage because they tasted like a bag of flour and were hard as a rock.
With tips like cutting them out and putting them in the frig on the cookie sheet before baking, the author of this recipe sets the user up for success. I made sure to roll the cookies relatively thin so they didn't puff out and lose their shape.
Even after a few days, the cookies were not hard and tasted fresh. They were positively addicting and I was proud to give them as gifts. I put colored royal icing in various squirt bottles (like the ones they have in restaurants for mustard) to decorate the cookies.
Both the cookie recipe and the royal icing recipe are worth the effort. Thank you Donna!
We are so HAPPY to hear that!!! I am so glad they worked out for you. This is my favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe! Thank you so much!
I am so glad I found this recipe! It is amazing – the only one I will use from now on and the icing is lovely. I have a hard time rolling dough from the fridge, so instead of making them balls and chilling, I rolled the dough to 1/4 inch between two sheets of parchment paper and put those in the fridge – so much easier cutting out the cookies this way – perfect for people with limited strength in their upper body. Tonight I have just made my fourth batch this Christmas – the whole batch only lasts a day here with my adult men! Never, ever going to another recipe!! Sharon.
I’d like to hear a reply about freezing. I need to make 300 for a church event. Can I freeze? Should I freeze cut cookies and then bake or can I freeze baked cookies. Or does it matter.
The recipe calls for 3-4 cups of flour. What is best? 3 or 4 cups?
I am also wondering if the cookies can be made & baked ahead of time and freeze to decorate & eat later and/or freezing the dough to be baked later..?
These look awesome! Just wondering, about how many cookies does this recipe make? Thank you so much!! 🙂
what # tips do you usually use for the thick and thin iciing? [email protected]
Add a little more milk once you divide the icing. One should be like toothpaste consistency and the flood icing should be consistency of corn syrup. It doesn’t take much milk to get it thinner- try a teaspoon at a time
These cookies were amazing!
The sugar cookies remind me of my childhood. I’ve been searching for this recipe for years. Thank you, so much!!! My family made about dozens upon dozens already in two days.
Just made these delicious cookies! Just the perfect amount of sweetness. Thank you for the recipe.. This will be my go to sugar cookie recipe whenever I need! Can't wait for Christmas to bake more.
Everything about this recipe is great! Easy, tastes great, looks great…well, when someone who does it right decorates them. That would not be me. I just cant decorate with icing. I can cover the cookie fine but adding all the pretty bells and whistles, not happening. So i got some gel food coloring, added a drop of clear extract to thin it out and used a clean paintbrush to paint on evergreen branches and red berries. It was easy, didn’t take nearly as long as you’d think, no talent required and they looked great.
Can this recipe be used to create slice and bake cookies?
I found your recipe last year when I got the idea to make Christmas cookies with my nieces and nephews. The cookies were delicious and I was extremely impressed with how great we all decorated them. I thought our cookies were too pretty to eat, however my 12 year old son disagreed and found them DELICOUS and ate all of them!! This year I am going to attempt to use your recipe to make a mini cookie advent calendar for at least 5 kids (which is a ton of cookies). My question is, if they are in an airtight jar, how long will the cookies keep for? Thank you for the wonderful cookie and icing recipe!!! Happy Holidays!!
Hi Alyssa! I have made these cookies and frozen them until I am ready to decorate, they freeze really well. They should keep up to 4 weeks or longer in an airtight container, but they never last that long around here 🙂 Hope that helps!
Can they be decorated then freeze? It would only be for a week.
Sure you can freeze them after being decorated, just place the cookies in individual bags and then into a container. Hope this helps!
TSRI Team Member,
These are the best sugar cookies ever! I use this recipe every time I make them! The frosting is delicious too!
Curious- recipe says 4 cups flour……yet directions state put in 3 cups- did I miss something?
These cookies were so fun to make, I pre-made a bunch for my kids to decorate! I’ll be making these for many occasions.
Love this recipe! Can they be decorated then frozen?
We have had great success freezing them after being decorated, just place the cookies in individual bags and then into a container. Hope this helps!
TSRI Team Member,