Best classic Christmas sugar cookies recipe
These buttery classic Christmas sugar cookies are the perfect roll out cookies for the holiday season. They bake up nice and tall with defined edges and a soft interior. Decorate with fluffy buttercream frosting or royal icing and lots of sprinkles. If you are serious about your cut out cookies, this recipe is for you!
Along with my easy rum balls recipe, the one Christmas classic that can’t be left out are sugar cookies. They are almost everyone’s favorite and decorating them is something everyone can take part in – whether you have lots of skill or not much at all, it doesn’t matter.
Try topping them with a marbled icing for an easy, fun design.
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Perfect roll out sugar cookies
This is by far the most tested recipe on my blog. It’s been years in the making. The goal with this recipe was a sugar cookie that did not spread, held its shape perfectly with no “cookie bloat”, baked up nice and tall with golden edges, and also tasted good.
One would assume this is an easy task, but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t quite as straightforward as one might think. If you’ve ever been disappointed with your cookies for any reason, that’s about to end.
There are some tips and tricks to getting the perfect classic Christmas sugar cookies, so let’s get to it.
Classic Christmas cookies recipe
This recipe for cut out Christmas cookies is a combination of the bakery-style sugar cookies and the type of roll out sugar cookies we all grew up eating.
The texture, or crumb, of these cookies is a bit more refined, but the flavor is exactly what you’d expect and want from this type of cookie.
To make classic Christmas sugar cookies, you’ll need the following 9 ingredients: all purpose flour, cake flour, unsalted butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder and milk or cream.
I used half and half for my cookies and it worked really well. I would not recommend low-fat milk. For the best results, use whole milk, half and half or cream.
What makes this recipe different from all the others?
This recipe is not like all of the other sugar cookie recipes out there. The biggest difference is the addition of cake flour. It gives the cookies a delicate, soft and crumbly texture that just can’t be beat.
I’ve adjusted the sugar and butter several times, baked with and without baking powder, with and without cream, without cake flour and with it – trust me when I tell you that this recipe works, and it will work for you.
The other big difference is freezing the dough, not just chilling it. I’ve tested this recipe more times than I can count to get it just perfect, and freezing the dough is key to getting nice, sharp, golden brown edges with no cookie bloat.
You can see on the sides of the cookie, they are nice and straight, not rounded. There is a defined line, or edge, on top – which is what you’d expect from a bakery cookie.
Dough for cut out Christmas sugar cookies
The first step is creaming the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. This takes a few minutes, don’t rush it. If the color of your mixture has not lightened, you’re not done yet.
Next, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add in the eggs and beat until they are well incorporated.
Combine all of the dry ingredients, and add in two batches, alternating with the cream. Lastly, roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness between two sheets of parchment paper, then chill or freeze the dough until it is firm enough to cleanly cut out shapes.
Tips and tricks for perfect classic Christmas sugar cookies
Follow these tips for perfect Christmas cut out cookies:
- Chill the dough before cutting out cookie shapes – if the dough is slack (too soft), you won’t get nice edges.
- Dip cookie cutter in flour before cutting dough – keeps the dough from sticking when you release the dough from the cutter.
- Place cut out cookie dough shapes on baking mat (or parchment paper) on sheet pan, then place in freezer.
- Bake cookies straight from the freezer.
My last tip is to make your own sanding sugar mix. You can get very creative for a fraction of the price of one small bottle at the store.
Tools, equipment and fun extras
You’ll need a few things to make this classic Christmas sugar cookies recipe, but the one item (aside from the mixer), that is imperative, is the scale. The luster dust is just for fun, but I really hope you get it, because it’s gorgeous.
- Food scale – An absolute must for bakers. Weighing ingredients is far more accurate than measuring with cups and spoons, and I cannot recommend owning a scale strongly enough.
- Silicone baking mat – This yielded the best results. I preferred baking on this over baking on parchment paper.
- Classic Christmas cookie cutter set – metal cutters with comfort grip, 8 different shapes.
- Gel food color – This is the brand that I have. Avoid liquid food coloring, it won’t give you the same results and it will make the icing runny.
- Luster dust is an edible food color that comes in powdered form. By mixing it with a drop or two of vodka, it becomes a “paint” to color the frosting or the cookie itself. It comes in every imaginable color and looks beautiful on iced cookies. It can deepen the colors of the frosting or just add a little shine or sparkle to give them an extra special look.
- Stand mixer – This is the mixer that I’ve had for almost 10 years. It gets a TON of use and is worth every penny.
- Sheet pans – Invest in heavy duty, commercial baking sheets. They aren’t pretty, but they don’t warp and they last a lifetime.
More holiday treats
- Lemon ricotta cookies
- Citrus biscotti
- Gingerbread biscotti
- Gingerbread cake
- Peppermint rum balls
- Red velvet crinkles
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Classic Christmas sugar cookies
The perfect recipe for soft and buttery classic Christmas sugar cookies.
Cut out sugar cookies
- 3 cups all- purpose flour (13.25 ounces)
- 2 cups cake flour (8 ounces)
- 2 tsp. sea salt/kosher salt
- 3 1/2 tsps. baking powder
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (11 ounces)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whole milk, half and half or heavy cream (2 ounces)
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tbsps. meringue powder
- Whisk all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and light in color, about 5 minutes. (If using a hand mixer about 7 - 8 minutes.)
- Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until incorporated, then add the vanilla and beat until mixture is uniform.
- Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the cream, and mix until just combined.
- Divide the dough into thirds and roll out to 1/4" thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper. (You'll have 3 pieces of dough, you'll need 6 sheets of parchment)
- Put the sheets of dough (and the paper!) on a sheet pan to keep them flat, then freeze for an hour until dough is very firm.
- Dip cookie cutter in flour, then cut out shapes and place them on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Freeze the dough for a minimum of 2 hours. (I wrapped my sheet pans up and froze overnight).
- Preheat oven to 325°F with convection or 350°F without convection.
- Remove sheet pan from freezer and bake for 18 minutes. (This is for 3 inch cookies. If your cookies are smaller or larger, adjust the time by a minute or two)
- Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to rack to cool completely.
1. Combine powdered sugar, meringue powder and water in a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer.
2. Beat on high for 2 - 3 minutes, until completely smooth.
3. Use assorted food coloring to dye the frosting. Place in piping bag with tip to decorate.
Add sprinkles or sanding sugar to your cookies immediately after frosting. Use luster dust after royal icing has set completely.
Serving Size:1 cookie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 247Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 231mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 1gSugar: 26gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂
Questions? Send me an email, I’m happy to help. I’d love to send you weekly tips and recipes, so you can get updates about what’s happening in the kitchen!
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Originally published 12/7/11, most recent update 11/30/21.
OMG your pic of all the different chill times and cook times blew my mind! I’m going to try your recipe this year for our holiday cookies. Thank you!
Thank you so much, Laura!!! This recipe was definitely TESTED! LOL! I hope you love them <3
Wow, Cheryl… when you commit, you COMMIT! Your readers will love you for this.
Thank you so much, Gail! I had invaluable input from a very sweet and kind professional baker friend of mine to help me get over the hump! I owe her all the credit! xx
Loved how informative this recipe is, it’s great with so many tips on baking times, chill times and more! Can’t wait to try these!
Thank you so much, Kathleen!
Fantastic! Your efforts for perfecting this recipe made our Galentine’s baking day a huge success!! This will definitely be my go to recipe for sugar cookies!
Thank you so much, Amy! I’m so happy you liked the recipe and had fun making them! 🙂