Looking for the perfect sugar cookie cutout recipe for decorating cookies?
I am totally obsessed with decorating sugar cookies! I’ve spent the last two months of my life working on my cookie decorating skills and I gotta tell you … it has made me so happy! Cookie decorating has been very therapeutic for me and I want to introduce it to as many people as I can. If you are looking for a great way to relax while creating something extra special at the same time, cookie decorating just might be for you!
Take a look at some of the cookies I’ve made over the last couple of months!
Aren’t these elephant cookies the cutest?! I made them for a friend that just had their first grand baby … Garner. His nursery is elephant-themed, so I customized these sugar cookies just for him.
I made these sock monkey cookies with chocolate chips for my son Brendan. I had so much fun making these. Both these and the elephants were made with royal icing transfers. Royal icing transfers are an easy way to make really beautiful cookies that need a lot of detail.
I totally fell in love with these doors with Christmas wreaths during the holidays. They made perfect gifts for my brokers’ real estate clients. The kids really loved these snowman cookies. They are so simple but so stinking cute!
I’ve worked and worked through literally a hundred batches of sugar cookie dough to find a recipe that I think nails all of the qualities that I look for in a perfect sugar cookie cutout recipe.
This sugar cookie cutout recipe that I have developed has all of these great qualities and more!
- Sugar cookies have to be soft and stay soft. I HATE hard sugar cookies. I want my sugar cookie to have a soft buttery texture but still be able to hold it’s shape while baking.
- They have to taste amazing. No bland, cardboard tasting sugar cookies please. Most of the sugar cookie recipes I’ve tried don’t really have any flavor. Also, there never seems to be enough sugar in the recipes I’ve made in the past. This is a little ironic … don’t you think? These ARE called “sugar cookies”. By adding a little more sugar and also adding some citrus extract, this recipe has the perfect flavor. The citrus flavor in the cookie tastes so yummy with the flavor of the royal icing. Believe it or not, they actually taste really good without any frosting at all!
- The dough must hold the shape of the cookie cutter while baking. This recipe doesn’t require you to chill the dough a second time after it’s been rolled out. You can simply cut out your cookies after you’ve rolled out the dough and pop them in the oven. This removes a 15-20 minute step in the process so that you can get onto the fun stuff. Baking and decorating cookies … instead of taking up your entire refrigerator with baking sheets!
My tips for making the perfect sugar cookie cutouts!
- Use rolling pin guides to get an even thickness across the cookie. Nothing is worse than baking your cookies only to realize they are not an even thickness all the way across. It just looks bad, and I’ve had a hard time covering up this mistake with royal icing. You can also use a couple of unused paint sticks on either side of your dough to use as thickness guides for your rolling pin. I use a 1/4″ guide to roll out my dough. I like to make my cookies this thickness because they stay softer and when I’m decorating, the extra thickness makes it easier for me to turn the cookies without touching any of the wet frosting I’ve put on them. The worst thing when decorating with royal icing is to perfectly flood a cookie and then mess it up because your finger accidentally touches it!
- Always use parchment paper to line baking pans. This will prevent sticking and over-browning on the bottom of the cookies.
- Use light colored baking sheets when baking your sugar cookies. Darker colored baking sheets will cause the cookies to over-bake slightly.
- Use a fondant smoother to flatten the top of the cookies right when they come out of the oven. This will make it easier to decorate the cookies with royal icing. Press down very lightly because you do not want the cookie to lose it’s shape. You don’t want to flatten the whole cookie either, just smooth the top of the cookie. If you don’t have a fondant smoother just use something that has a flat smooth surface.
- Always use ingredients that are at room temperature. This makes the ingredients easier to incorporate with each other and makes a smoother cookie dough.
- Don’t over mix the dough. Mix until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Bake until the cookies are just starting to turn a light golden brown. This is usually about 10-11 minutes for a cookie that is 1/4 inch thick. If you roll your dough thinner, bake for 8-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them until you get to know your oven.
- Leave the cookies on the baking sheet after you remove them from the oven. I don’t like to transfer to a cooling rack. I feel like the cookie still needs to cook a little after they’ve been removed from the heat of the oven. This may take a little trial and error on your part to get it perfect since every oven is different!
Please give my sugar cookie cutout recipe a try and I promise you’ll be so happy that you did!
In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting what I think are the essential tools you need in your “cookie decorating tool box”. These are the tools that will help you to be a successful cookie decorator.
I’ll also be sharing my recipe for royal icing so look for it soon!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract OR lemon extract
- 4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter on low speed for 3-5 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and beat on low speed until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the extracts and mix until everything is combined.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
- Add half the dry ingredients and 1 tablespoon of milk to the mixer and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the remaining dry ingredients and milk and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Form the dough into a flat disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Place into the refrigerator to chill for an hour and a half.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit out for about 10 minutes before rolling it out.
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Roll the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface until it is at about a ¼ inch thickness. Use rolling pin guides to help ensure that all of the dough is at an even thickness.
- Cut your shapes out of the rolled out dough, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and leave them on the baking sheet to cool down completely before decorating.
Here’s a video on how I decorated my sugar cookies for this recipe post!