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Best Christmas sugar cookies recipe

These soft, thick and chewy, drop-style Christmas sugar cookies are made with only 8 ingredients. Rolled in sugar for extra sparkle, they are perfect for any holiday. No cookie cutters required for this classic cookie recipe – just scoop, chill, then bake.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my classic Christmas sugar cookie recipe and my Christmas funfetti cookie recipe. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my cookie recipes in one place.

Christmas sugar cookies with red and green sprinkles on white platter.

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The BEST Christmas sugar cookies

A version of this recipe was given to me about 30 years ago. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it and finally landed on the BEST sugar cookie recipe. It also happens to be very easy and only requires 8 ingredients.

Butter sugar cookies for Christmas.

Check out my post on how to ship cookies without breaking for helpful tips and tricks to send treats to family and friends.

Why you should make this recipe

Sugar cookies are not just for Christmas. Change the color of the sprinkles and they are perfect for any holiday or birthday celebration. Learn how to make sanding sugar to create any color you like.

I dialed back the sugar just a bit in this recipe, compared to many of the recipes out there. We’re rolling them in sugar, so to avoid them being overly sweet, I reduced the amount in the dough.

Lastly, everyone love sugar cookies. They are a classic for a reason and always the first to go on a cookie tray.

Ingredients

To make these Christmas sugar cookies, you’ll only need 8 ingredients and you likely have everything you need in the pantry already.

Ingredients for cookies.
  • Butter – Use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt in your baked goods.
  • All-purpose flour – Weighing your flour is the most accurate way to measure.  
  • Vanilla – Gives baked goods that familiar flavor we all love.
  • Sugar  – Provides just enough sweetness + a little extra for the tops .
  • Egg – Provides moisture and structure to the dough.
  • Salt – All baked goods need salt.
  • Baking powder and baking soda – baking powder gives the cookies just a tiny bit of lift, while the baking soda helps the cookies spread just the right amount.
Cookie on small plate with greenery in background.

How to make

Before we learn how to make Christmas sugar cookies, first you should gather all of your ingredients. Measure everything out ahead of time.

This is your “mise-en-place“. You want to make sure you have everything you need BEFORE you begin.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together, then set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

If the color of your butter has not lightened, you are not done. Do not rush this step.

Creamed butter and sugar in mixing bowl.

Add the dry ingredients, then mix until you no longer see big pockets of flour. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is fully incorporated.

Use a small cookie scoop to portion out dough and place on lined cookie sheet. Wrap the tray tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to overnight.

Step by step photos to make sugar cookies.

Then, dip in colored or granulated sugar and bake. Cool on sheet pan, then transfer to cooling rack.

Christmas sugar cookies Q&A

Why should you rest cookie dough?

Resting cookie dough allows the flour to fully hydrate, plus it allows the flavors to develop. This gives you a better tasting cookie.

Can I bake dough straight from the fridge?

Absolutely. Baking chilled dough reduces the spread. Chilled dough will bake up thick and chewy. Room temperature dough will spread more resulting in thinner cookies.

How long should cookie dough rest before baking?

I would let this dough rest for a minimum of 2 hours. I let my Christmas sugar cookie dough rest overnight before baking, but if you don’t have that much time, allow at least 2, preferably 3 hours.

Can I freeze the dough?

Yes! Christmas can be a very busy time, so I often make cookie dough in advance and store it in the freezer until I’m ready to bake. It will keep for 3 months, if stored properly in an airtight container.

Sugar cookies on plate.

Variations and substitutions

Christmas sugar cookies can be made any time of the year. Roll in pastel colored sugar for Spring holidays or birthdays. Dip in red, white and blue for summer holidays. Orange and yellow sanding sugar would be perfect for fall cookies.

Instead of rolling them in sugar, you could top them with a marbled icing that I made for my Valentine’s sugar cookies.

Flavor variations

  • In addition to vanilla, add 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract for a slightly different flavor.
  • To put a wintery spin on them, swap vanilla for a teaspoon of peppermint extract.
Inside of Christmas cookies on white plate.

More holiday cookies

Sugar cookies in red and white striped cookie tin.

Helpful tools and equipment

If you plan to do a bit of baking this Christmas, I highly recommend getting yourself a few basics. If I had to pick one of these as the most important, it would be the scale. Weighing ingredients is the most accurate way to measure.

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Yield: 36 small cookies

Christmas sugar cookies

Christmas sugar cookies

Easy, drop style Christmas sugar cookies bake up soft and chewy.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chill Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 22 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened // 2 sticks // 227 gr
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar // 250 gr
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (*see notes)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour // 355 gr
  • + extra sugar for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer), cream butter and sugar together for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the bowl, then add egg and beat until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add vanilla (and almond extract, if using), beat to combine again, then scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Mix again to combine well.
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Remove bowl from mixer, then scrape down again, making sure to incorporate any remaining butter or flour into the dough.
  6. Use a small cookie scoop to portion out 36 balls of dough. Place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 325°F with convection fan / 350°F without fan / 180°C / Gas mark 4.
  8. Remove dough from fridge. Line baking sheet with clean parchment or silicone baking sheet. Place balls of dough 2 inches apart on baking sheet. (I did 12 cookies per tray)
  9. Bake for 10 -12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on pan for 10 minutes, before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

In addition to 2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. almond extract is also nice. Totally optional, but delicious.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

36

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 111Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 60mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 1g

Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.

Did you make this recipe?

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