The Perfect Sugar Cookie Recipe for Every Occasion


It’s the time of year when sugar cookies come out in full force. Parents use them as a project with their little ones to decorate and have fun, they’re at every cooking exchange, every party and every work function. Sugar cookies are everywhere, but only a select few can make those that are just absolutely perfect. The rest of us look at our gorgeous cutouts as they go into the oven and then look at the mess that comes out of the oven 10 minutes later. Surely we did everything correct, did we not? The instructions on the package were easy to read (I mean, it’s not that difficult to take the dough out of the fridge, open the package, roll it out and then stick a Christmas tree cookie cutter in there).

So what just went wrong? Well, we can tell you. We can actually turn your sugar cookie disaster into a sugar cookie abundance of beauty, and it’s not that difficult. We can even give you a gorgeous homemade sugar cookie recipe – even though we think they all taste the same and the premade dough is easier to work with. Read on and we can turn your holiday disaster into Martha Stewart-worthy cookies – funnily enough, since we’re using a recipe she created!


2 cups flour

Half teaspoon baking powder

Quarter teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter (leave it out for about an hour so it’s room temperature when you use it)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

All the decorating accessories you want; cookie cutters, sprinkles, frosting, etc.


Turn your oven onto 325 degrees so it has time to preheat while you prep your dough. Pull out a large bowl and quickly mix flour, salt and baking powder together. Once you do that, grab your electric mixer and add the butter and sugar until it’s completely mixed. Pretty simple, right? Next you will freeze your dough wrapped in foil for approximately 20 to 30 minutes so that it has time to harden and become firm.

Sprinkle your counter with flour and roll out your dough with a rolling pin. Keep the top of the dough floured as well as your rolling pin to keep it from sticking. When it’s about a quarter inch thick, start using your cookie cutters (we assume you can do this without instruction) and place your cutouts on a cookie sheet – no greasing required. Next, bake your cookies for approximately 10 to 18 minutes. The time frame is so large because Christmas cookie cutter shapes come in all shapes and sizes. Smaller cookies need less time, larger need more. Just keep an eye on them.

Take them out of the oven and stick them on a cookie rack to cool. You’ll need them to cool completely before you begin the decorating process or else things will turn ugly very quickly.

Adding Flour

Every sugar cookie is different, and every recipe is different. However, you can’t just make the perfect sugar cookie without a few tips and tricks that will help you create one that won’t spread or become too misshapen during the baking process. We have some tips and tricks that will help you out when it comes to making the perfect cookie.

Our first tip is this; add flour. When you use prepared dough from the freezer section at the supermarket, you’ll want to let it soften a bit and then add a significant heaping of flour to the mixture. How much? Well, you’ll have to use your expert eye. You want the dough to become firm instead of mushy and soft. Add a bit at a time until this happens. It will stay in shape, won’t spread and will provide you with the perfect shaped sugar cookie every single time.

Don’t Ignore the Butter Rule

If you’re going to use a DIY cookie recipe, you must follow the butter instructions. You can’t make this recipe at the spur of the moment and use butter that’s not room temp. Otherwise, your dough consistency will not work out and things will get ugly. You have to use the room temperature butter. Melt it and your dough will be too soft and difficult to work with. Use cold butter and it will be chunky. Don’t think that you can avoid this by doing something different; just follow the instructions and get good cookies out of it.

Rotate Baking Sheets

Now, this is a tip that most people choose to ignore, if they’ve even heard of it. The best thing you can do for the perfect sugar cookie is turn that baking sheet around 180 degrees halfway through your baking time. It’s going to be what makes your cookies bake evenly and well, and it’s going to be what saves your cookies from destruction.

The best course of action is go wait 5 to 6 minutes to go ahead and flip them around, since the average bake time is 12 minutes. If your cookies are smaller or larger, you’ll need to plan your times a bit more accordingly. Just don’t forget to rotate or your cookies will not be as even all the way across, and it can make decorating your cookies a bit difficult.

This is How We Roll

When rolling your dough and cutting your shapes, pick a place not near the oven. The closer it is to the oven when you’re rolling your dough, the closer it will be to melting and not working out in your favor. Instead, go ahead and choose a counter space away from the heat. You need to keep that dough as cool and chilled as possible. It doesn’t even hurt to stick it back in the fridge in between cutting and baking so that it stays the correct consistency.

These rules might not seem like a big deal to some, but they’re the make or break things that are going to turn your cookies into little tiny bites of Christmas perfection – or whatever holiday you’re baking for.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images


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