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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! Try topping them with a marbled icing for an easy, fun design.

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.

Cut out sugar Christmas cookies with sprinkles.

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So well tested and such a clear recipe. The perfect taste and texture. A new holiday classic for my family!

– Jenni

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.

Cut out Christmas cookies on cooling rack.

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.

The effort you put into this beautiful cookies is apparent not just in your pictures but in every delicious bite of the batch I just made. Thanks for sharing your hard work and wisdom with us.


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.

Cut out cookies on rack with sprinkles and icing.


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.

Ingredients for sugar cookies.

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.

Recipe testing on parchment paper.
So much recipe testing for these cookies!

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.

Stacked sugar cookies on cooling rack.

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.

Step by step instructions for classic Christmas sugar cookies.

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.

Cutting cookie shapes out of dough.

Tips and tricks for perfect classic Christmas sugar cookies

Follow these tips for perfect Christmas cut out cookies:

  1. Chill the dough before cutting out cookie shapes – if the dough is slack (too soft), you won’t get nice edges.
  2. Dip cookie cutter in flour before cutting dough – keeps the dough from sticking when you release the dough from the cutter.
  3. Place cut out cookie dough shapes on baking mat (or parchment paper) on sheet pan, then place in freezer.
  4. Bake cookies straight from the freezer.
Cut out sugar cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheet.

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.
Classic roll out sugar cookies.

More holiday treats

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Classic Christmas sugar cookies

Cheryl Bennett
The perfect recipe for soft and buttery classic Christmas sugar cookies.
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 18 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Servings 30 – 3 inch cookies
Calories 247 kcal


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)

Royal icing

  • 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.

Royal Icing

  • 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: 1cookieCalories: 247kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 231mgFiber: 1gSugar: 26g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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!

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my photos or recipe without prior written permission. Thank you!

Originally published 12/7/11, most recent update 11/30/21.


  1. 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!

    1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

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