Learn how to make sugar cookies with this step-by-step guide. Great for beginners or experienced bakers looking for a classic cookie recipe.
I’ve been dying to share this sugar cookie how-to. Sugar cookies are a beloved classic in the world of baked goods for good reason. Their delicate, buttery flavor and slightly crumbly texture make them irresistible. The cookies can be cut into any shape or size and decorated in various ways to suit any occasion, making them the perfect edible canvas. Whether you enjoy them plain or loaded with frosting and sprinkles, sugar cookies are a timeless and delightful addition to any dessert spread. This guide will explore how to make sugar cookies from scratch and include tips to help you achieve perfect results every time.
The last time I made these, a package arrived right before I put the first batch into the oven, and guess what it was? A new Silpat! If you haven’t baked on a Silpat before, you are seriously missing out! They make cleanup a breeze (always a plus) and are essential for moving delicate cookies from one surface to another. I highly recommend buying a Silpat. Now, let’s talk sugar cookies!
Why You’ll Love These Sugar Cookies
Say sugar cookies, and I’m sold, but if you need a bit more convincing, here you go:
- Simple dough – The recipe calls for typical baking essentials, and the dough comes together quickly. This is basic baking 101.
- Delicate flavor – Sugar cookies are similar to shortbread; buttery, sugary, and oh-so-good!
- Uniform shape – These cookies hold their shape so well. They don’t spread much in the oven, which preserves the clean cuts you get from cookie cutters.
- Not too sweet – These sugar cookies are sweet enough to be eaten alone but not overly so. Frosting and sprinkles or icing won’t make them excessively sweet. Don’t you love a versatile sugar cookie?
Sugar Cookies Ingredients
- Flour: Sugar cookies call for all-purpose flour, specifically bleached all-purpose flour. Bleached all-purpose makes the best cookies because it is whiter in color, softer in texture, and has a finer grain than unbleached flour.
- Granulated sugar: Aside from adding sweetness, granulated sugar aerates the dough when creamed with butter. This gives sugar cookies their light crispness and tender chew.
- Butter: Unsalted butter helps bind the ingredients. It also adds richness, tenderness, and structure to the cookies. Use room temperature butter to prevent the sugar cookie dough from spreading while baking.
- Egg: When it comes to how to make sugar cookies, an egg is essential. It adds structure, flavor, and moisture. The egg also contributes to leavening.
- Powdered sugar: Powdered sugar replaces flour when it comes time to roll out the dough. This swap adds another layer of sweetness while preventing the cookies from developing an overly brown exterior.
How to Make Sugar Cookies
To make sugar cookies:
- Sift the dry: Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt through a sieve or sifter into a medium-sized bowl. Sifting breaks up any clumps and aerates dry ingredients to prevent dense cookies.
- Time to cream: Add room temperature butter to a large bowl (don’t try to speed up the process by using melted butter) with granulated sugar and beat until a pale yellow color. Creaming butter and sugar is important because it evenly disperses the sugar into the batter. It also creates tiny pockets of air resulting in lighter-textured cookies. Ideally, you want to do this with an electric stand mixer on medium speed, but a hand mixer will work too!
- In goes the egg: Continue to run the mixer as you add the egg and milk.
- A dough is born: Reduce the mixer speed to low as you slowly add the dry ingredients until the dough gathers into a ball. If using a hand mixer, run on low as you gradually add the dry ingredients, then knead the sugar cookie dough into a ball.
- Divide and chill: Divide the cookie dough in half, form each half into a round disc, and wrap it in plastic or wax paper. Once done, refrigerate for at least two hours (or overnight).
- Roll it out: You can roll the dough out on a marble pastry slab or a large sheet of parchment paper. Whichever you choose, lightly dust the surface and rolling pin with powdered sugar, then roll each of the discs into a thin sheet about ¼-inch thick.
- Choose your cutter: Use your favorite cookie cutter(s) to cut the cookies. Transfer the shapes to a baking sheet lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
- Preheat and freeze: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pop the baking sheet with the cookies in the freezer for 5-10 minutes as the oven comes to temperature.
- Time to bake: Pop the cookies in the oven to bake for about 8 minutes, but watch them closely. You want to remove them from the oven before they turn golden brown. They will finish cooking after you remove them from the oven.
- Cool: Set the cookies aside to cool, then enjoy plain or frosted.
Variations, Substitutions, and Cooking Tips
Add your favorite extract – Vanilla and almond are both excellent choices!
Use citrus sugar – Mix a little citrus zest with granulated sugar to add a bright, fruity flavor and aroma.
Use a light-colored baking sheet – You don’t want to encourage browning, so a light baking sheet is the way to go. Light baking sheets reflect heat, while dark baking sheets absorb it.
Gradually add powdered sugar – Powdered sugar is great for rolling out dough because it dissolves into the cookie when baked. However, too much can make the dough dry.
Consider using an offset spatula – The small spatula makes it easy to transfer the cut shapes to the baking sheet.
Even Baking – Leave space in between the sugar cookies and make them the same size to ensure even baking.
Make soft sugar cookies – Add an extra egg yolk to the recipe, , don’t overmix, use extra dough for each cookie and slightly underbake.
Now that you know how to make homemade sugar cookies, it’s time to implement what you learned! Head to the kitchen, gather your ingredients and get to baking. Since this is not my original recipe, I will share the link with you. These are by far my favorite sugar cookies! Since trying it a few years back, it has been my go-to recipe.
Try these cookie recipes next!