Learn how to make sugar cookies from scratch. This buttery and sweet sugar cookie recipe is just the thing to satisfy your sweet tooth. Easy to decorate (but delicious on their own, too), this recipe makes about 18 cookies and is a fun project to do with the kids.
No need to dig out a rolling pin or cookie cutters for this sugar cookie recipe! Rolled in colorful sprinkles or sugar, these sugar cookies are quick and easy to make and even easier to customize.
This sugar cookie dough uses standard baking ingredients and is a great starter recipe for beginning bakers. While we suggest rolling these cookies in jimmies, nonpareils or sanding sugar, you can also try chopped nuts, flavored sugars or dried fruits for added texture and flavor!
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon imitation almond extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- Nonpareil Sprinkles or Sanding Sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper. Because we’re rolling these cookies in sprinkles, the parchment paper helps ensure your sprinkles won’t burn or stick to the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy.
This should take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes (it should be pale yellow in color).
Make sure your butter is softened (but not melted) before beating. The purpose of creaming the butter and sugar is to create small air bubbles, which will help give your cookies a nice rise. If your butter is melted, the air bubbles will collapse and your cookies will fall flat.
Once pale yellow in color, beat in the egg, vanilla extract, almond extract and salt.
Gradually add the flour and mix on low speed until just combined.
Once the dough comes together, stop mixing. This will help ensure you get that nice, soft sugar cookie. If the dough is overmixed, your cookies may come out dry and crumbly.
Portion the dough into tablespoon-sized balls. A small cookie scoop makes this easy and gives you consistent batches.
Roll the dough balls between the palms of your hands to smooth out the shape and warm up the dough a bit.
The warmth from your hands will make the dough balls slightly sticky, which is the perfect time to roll them in sprinkles!
Nonpareils, colored sanding sugar or even jimmies work great with these cookies. Try blending two or three colors together for a holiday or celebration, or combine all your jimmies for a literal explosion of color!
Though shaped sprinkles would look cute on these cookies, they will melt in the oven, so stick to jimmies and nonpareils for best results!
Place your sprinkle-coated dough portions 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined cookie sheets. Using the palm of your hand, slightly flatten each cookie to ensure even baking.
To help make sure your cookies don’t spread in the oven, place the cookie sheet with the prepared dough in the fridge for a couple minutes before baking. While this step isn’t necessary, it does firm the dough slightly and slows down the baking, producing a softer, rounder cookie.
And you always want to make sure your cookie sheets are cool before starting a new batch, otherwise your dough will melt and bake unevenly. You can run your sheets under cold water to chill them, or pop them in the freezer for a bit to cool off.
How to Tell When Cookies Are Done
Bake your cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they are semi-firm to the touch. Sometimes knowing when your cookies are done baking is tricky. This takes practice and some bonding time with your oven to find that sweet spot.
If you prefer your cookies on the softer side, stay on the lower end of the baking time. If you like crispy cookies, bake until you see them turning slightly golden on the edges.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet on a cooling grid for about 2 minutes.
This allows the cookies to settle and finish baking. The cookies will firm up as they cool, making them easier to transfer to a cooling grid to cool completely.
How to Decorate and Ice a Sugar Cookie
These sprinkle-covered cookies are pretty fun on their own, but a little frosting never hurts! Spread some buttercream on top and add more sprinkles for a fun and colorful treat (or top the buttercream with those shaped sprinkles you’re itching to use!). Just make sure your cookies are completely cool before frosting.
How to Store Sugar Cookies
You can extend the life of your cookies by storing them in an airtight container or bag at room temperature. You can also freeze them for several months. Wrap them in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and freeze until ready to eat (when you defrost them, the moisture may cause the sprinkles to bleed a bit…but they’ll still taste delicious!).
If you’re not ready to bake right away, you can also freeze the raw cookie dough. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Stored this way, sugar cookie dough will keep for several months. When you’re ready to bake, place the dough in the fridge to defrost, which should take about 24 hours.
Let’s go cookie crazy! If you try this recipe, make sure to share a picture of your cookies on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and tag us @wiltoncakes so we can see! Happy baking!
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