If you’re wondering how to make homemade sugar cookies for your next upcoming party or celebration, you’ve come to the right place! From the tools you need to get started to some helpful projects to try for birthdays and holidays, this guide on How to Make Sugar Cookies will turn you into a cookie pro in no time!
Tools You’ll Need
Making sugar cookies is easy when you have the right tools for the job! Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to get started.
- Cookie Sheet (or two!): Having at least two cookie sheets will make it easier to swap cookies in and out of the oven, since you can be prepping one pan as another pan bakes! We suggest this Recipe Right cookie sheetfor every day baking or you can use the Mega Baking Sheet for those bigger Christmas batches!
- Cooling Grid
- Rolling Pin
- Parchment Paper
- Cookie Spatula
Rolling Out Your Cookie Dough
Before you start rolling out your dough, make sure to dust your work surface with flour. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. While you’re at it, have a little bowl of flour on the side, since you’ll be using quite a bit of it to dust your dough and your tools…and be sure to wear an apron because flour has the tendency to get everywhere!
For easy rolling, divide your dough into two portions. Set one portion aside and place the other on your floured surface, using your hands to lightly shape the dough into a flat disk.
Sprinkle your rolling pin and the top of your dough with flour, then start rolling! Starting from the center and moving the rolling pin outwards, roll your dough until it’s about 1/8 in. thick, giving the dough a quarter turn every so often to prevent sticking. Continue flouring your surface and tools as necessary.
Cutting and Baking Your Cookies
Once your dough is about 1/8 in. thick, you’re ready to start cutting. We suggest dipping your cutter in flour between almost every cut. This will not only prevent the dough from sticking to your cutter, but the flour on the edges of the cookie will help seal it, which will help your cookies keep their shape in the oven.
To easily transport your cookies to the baking sheet, start by removing all the dough scraps from around your cookie. This will make it much easier to remove the cookies from your work surface. Using a cookie spatula (we like the Really Big Mega Spatula for this job!), simply lift your cookies from the work surface and transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, spacing them about 1 to 1½ in. apart.
If one of your cookies tears during transport, no biggie. Throw it back in the bowl and re-roll it with the scraps!
Bake your cookies in a 350 degree oven for about 8 to 11 minutes, or just until the edges are light golden brown. As your first batch bakes, you can re-roll the scraps and start preparing the second pan to go into the oven. Keep in mind that the more you re-work the dough, the tougher it will get – so try to only re-roll scraps once.
Repeat with the second ball of dough.
How to Decorate Sugar Cookies
Now comes the fun part – decorating! The most important step here is to make sure your cookies are completely cool before icing them, otherwise the heat from the cookie may melt the icing.
How to Make Sugar Cookie Icing
Traditionally roll-out sugar cookies are decorated using royal icing, but you can also use buttercream frosting or even fondant to add cute decorations to your treats.
Royal Icing is made using Meringue Powder, powdered sugar and water. It is great for outlining and flooding your cookies and it dries hard, so your cookies won’t get damaged during transport or storage.
Buttercream frosting is also a tasty option, especially for kids! It’s easy to color, pipe and top with sprinkles and other decorations. When storing cookies topped with buttercream, lay them flat in a single layer so you don’t smudge your designs.
For more tips and tricks on how to work with royal icing, check out How to Decorate Cookies Like a Pro.
Common Substitutions for Homemade Sugar Cookies
Have you ever wondered how to make sugar cookies from scratch only to discover you’re missing a few ingredients? We’ve all been there!
No need to scrap that recipe! In most cases, there’s a substitute you can use for everything from baking powder to eggs. While these swaps may change the taste, texture and appearance of your food, there’s no denying they can help save the day if you’re short on a necessary ingredient.
From brown sugar to baking powder, eggs to butter, our Common Substitutions for Baking and Cooking article will help you satisfy your cookie craving no matter what is (or isn’t!) in your pantry!
How Long do Sugar Cookies Last?
If your cookies are baked and decorated, they’ll last at room temperature for about a week. Store them in an airtight container to prevent moisture from ruining your decorations.
Can You Freeze Sugar Cookies?
Absolutely, so long as they’re not decorated. You can bake and cool your cookies ahead of time, then store them in the freezer until you’re ready to decorate.
For best results, layer undecorated baked cookies in an airtight container or freezer bag with parchment paper or waxed paper in between the layers. Stored this way, your cookies can remain in the freezer for up to 4 months.
When you’re ready to decorate, let your cookies come to room temperature before icing with buttercream or royal icing.
Can You Freeze Sugar Cookie Dough?
Yes, you can freeze cookie dough. Simply form the dough into a ball, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Place it in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to roll and bake your dough, let it thaw completely in the fridge overnight. Bring it to room temperature, then roll, cut and bake.
How Long Does Sugar Cookie Dough Last in the Fridge?
If you’ll be using your dough within the week, you can store it in the fridge instead of the freezer. Form the dough into a ball, then wrap it with plastic wrap. Place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Can You Freeze Decorated Sugar Cookies?
We don’t suggest freezing decorated sugar cookies. If your cookies are topped with royal icing, the moisture from the freezer could cause your icing to weep or melt, ruining your hard work!
If your cookies are decorated, we suggest storing them in an airtight container at room temperature. They should stay fresh for about a week.
Ready to go cookie crazy? Here are a few of our favorite cookie projects using this delicious roll-out cookie dough recipe:
…and because Christmas is coming, here are a few cute Christmas cookies to add to your platter this year!
Looking for a festive baking project, but want to bake something more than a simple batch of cookies? Take a look through our list of easy Christmas cake ideas to get your mind in a merry mood.
What is your favorite go-to cookie baking tip? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to tag us on Instagram @wiltoncakes so we can see your amazing cookie and baking projects!
Easy Sugar Cookie Recipe
- Cookie sheet
- Rolling Pin
- Parchment paper (optional)
- Cookie cutters
- Angled Spatula
- 1/2 teaspoon no-color almond extract
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with anelectric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powderand salt. Add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Donot chill dough. Divide dough into two portions.
- On floured surface, roll out dough into circle approximately 12 in. in diameter and 1/8 in. thick. Cut and bake cookies, about8 to 11 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.
Recipe Tips and Tricks:
- Make sure your butter is at room temperature so it can easily combine with the sugar
- The use of two extracts in this recipe really enhances the flavor, so don’t forget to add both vanilla and almond extract!
- As you scrape down the bowl, don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the bowl, as dry ingredients can sometimes get trapped there
- Be careful not to overmix your dough! As soon as your dough starts to clump together, you’re ready to roll (literally and figuratively!)