Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I have always loved sugar cookies, even though they are often made by default, to balance out a plate of Christmas cookies or to feed a class of sugar-crazed little ones. Maybe I’m just a kid at heart because I go crazy for anything covered in a thick layer of buttercream frosting too.

These chocolate cookies, however, are different. For one thing (and I can’t believe I am saying this) they don’t need the frosting. They are perfectly amazing all on their own— soft and chocolaty.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Don’t be fooled by their humble appearance. I sent a bunch of these with my husband to work to get them out of my reach and apparently it took a while for people to catch on that it was in their best interest to grab a few.

I did the same thing. I baked the cookies one day but ran out of time to frost, so I put them in a tupperware and ignored them for almost 24 hours. That’s probably a good thing, otherwise I’m not sure any of those cookies would have lasted that long.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I decided to go ahead and frost some cookies, because I wanted to dress them up for Valentine’s day and because I wanted to give royal icing a try. It turns out that working with royal icing isn’t all that easy, so please ignore my glaring imperfections. It was fun though and now I can report that you can’t go wrong with these cookies. Frosted or not, they are wonderful!

Baking sugar cookies that keep their shape

The key to a sugar cookie that doesn’t spread in the oven is to keep the dough cold. Chill it before rolling it out, chill it once it’s been rolled out but before you cut it into shapes, and chill the cookies again on the sheet pan before baking. It’s a lot of chilling, I know, but it works!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
These soft chocolate sugar cookies have such a great flavor all on their own, no frosting necessary!
Yield: Approximately 3 dozen, depending on size
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • ½ cup (115 grams) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on high until pale and creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Place half of the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap. Use the plastic to form the dough into a disk and wrap completely. Repeat with second half. Chill dough for 1 hour and up to a few days.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  4. Wrap one disk of dough and use a floured rolling pin roll out on a sheet of parchment paper to ¼-inch thick. Transfer parchment paper to a large plate or sheet pan and chill for 15 minutes. Cut out the chilled dough into desired shapes and place on the prepared sheet pan. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  5. Bake cookies just until the edges are firm, 13-16 minutes depending on the size of your cookies. Do not over bake. Since the cookies are dark in color it may be difficult to see when they are done, so you may wish to bake a few test cookies to be sure you get the timing right.
  6. Let the cookies cool completely before frosting, if desired. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. Unfrosted cookies may be frozen for up to one month, stacked between layers of wax paper.
Since the chocolate is the star of this recipe it is best to use a high quality cocoa powder such as Scharffenberger, Ghirardelli, etc.

Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita.

Royal Icing
Finish your sugar cookies with this icing to give them a smooth and professional look.
Yield: About 4 cups
  • ¼ cup (42 grams) meringue powder
  • Scant ½ cup water
  • 1 pound (454 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ - 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon clear extract, optional
  • Gel food coloring, optional
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the meringue powder and water on medium high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar in 2 additions and mix until combined. Add the corn syrup and extract (if using) and beat on high speed to stiff peaks, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Divide icing and color with gel food coloring, if desired. Use a pastry bag with a fine tip to pipe onto cookies. To "flood" or fill inside the piped frosting, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time to the icing until it is the consistency of syrup. Use a spoon or squeeze bottle to pour it onto the cookie inside the piped frosting boundary. Use a toothpick to smooth it out.
  3. Let dry at room temperature for several hours. Store frosted cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
Royal icing can dry out very quickly. Cover with plastic wrap when you're not working directly with it. It is best used immediately.

Recipe adapted from Bake at 350. Follow the link for lots of great tips and suggestions.

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30 Responses to Chocolate Sugar Cookies

  1. These are the prettiest sugar cookies! You know you need to make those for John’s class Valentine’s parties when he’s older, right?

  2. Um, hello chocolate sugar cookies. Where have you been all my life?

  3. Abril says:

    It looks yummy!! How many cookies do you get with this recipe?

    Thanks :)

  4. These are beautiful. Food styling and photography is something you have down girl. Seriously. Every picture you take is PERFECT.

  5. Janey says:

    Agreed, perfect pictures. Open a print shop on Etsy right this minute!!

  6. I love your regular sugar cookies so I’m sure these will be amazing as well. And you decorated them so perfectly!! Where was little John while all this was going down?!

    • Annalise says:

      Thank you! And John was napping, playing with his toys, and then crying for attention. Frosting sugar cookies (and photographing them) takes way too long!

  7. Becky M says:

    I agree with Meghan, chocolate sugar cookies are genius! Pinterest is not letting me pin your image though!

  8. Tina says:

    These cookies look delightful Annalise. I’ve never had chocolate flavoured sugar cookies; can’t wait to give these a try. I also found royal icing quite tricky to work with, but there’s nothing quite like that shiny smooth finish!

  9. Naoko says:

    I made these last night and it took me hours… because, I have a small fridge, a small freezer, and a small oven. I could only chill, freeze, and bake a small amount at a time. But it was worth it! They came out looking great and delicious!! Thanks for sharing a great recipe. (I found it on Pinterest)

    • Annalise says:

      It definitely it a little time consuming. I can agree with you there. If you’re not so concerned about the cookies keeping their shape, some of the chilling can be skipped. I’m glad you liked them though. I agree, totally worth the effort!

  10. I love the idea of chocolate sugar cookies. These look simply perfect…I’ll take both frosted and unfrosted!

  11. Jennifer says:

    These sound wonderful! I am going to make them tonight. I might try my typical sugar cookie frosting since the royal icing is hard to work with. I use Confectioner’s Sugar, milk, and vanilla (plus food coloring). Can’t wait till these are done!

  12. Tiffany says:

    Annalise, These are delicious! Thank you for posting. I was looking for something a little different to make for Valentine’s Day. These have been a hit so far. I mixed up my second batch last night and will get them baked and ready for deliver tonight.

  13. Jen says:

    Your cookies are gorgeous, but I ran into more than a few problems making them. The instructions don’t really explain why you refrigerate than freeze the cookies. Also, no flour is used when rolling out the dough? I improvised a bit, but thought I’d let you know.

    • Annalise says:

      I think that the reason you chill them in the fridge is because you want to keep the dough cold, while still being able to work with it. After you’ve shaped the cookies, the freezer just helps get them really cold before baking and ensures they keep their shape while in the oven.

      I will change the instructions to mention flour during rolling and cutting. Thanks!

  14. Now I can make a batch of these for myself and a batch of regular for my hubby (and I’ll probably eat them all…)

    They look truly gorgeous.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    I made these yesterday. They are AWESOME.

    My husband loves sugar cookies so I got this idea to do an elaborate set of them for Valentine’s day and on a whim searched for chocolate sugar cookies. This recipe seemed the best out of the ones I found and I’m so glad I made them because they ROCK. I only bothered chilling the dough in between rolling and cutting the shapes (grab a hunk from the freezer, roll it, repeat) and they still held their shapes very well, much better than the traditional sugar cookies I also made the previous day. I will definitely be making these again. If I just omitted the cocoa powder do you think this recipe would be fine to make regular sugar cookies? I was just so pleased with how they held up.

    Thanks again for putting this up, and your pictures are BEAUTIFUL. My frosting didn’t turn out quite so perfect looking, but hey, good frosting job or bad they still taste the same.

  16. Nan Sang says:

    Would it be possible to freeze the dough for later?

  17. Danika says:

    I’m so glad someone made the sweetapolita recipe smaller! But I’m wondering why if the recipe is halved, you still use the same amount of eggs?

  18. katie says:

    Has anyone had success freezing this recipe? I want to make it now (very pregnant and due any day) and make them in a few weeks for Valentine’s Day?!?!

    • Annalise says:

      You can certainly freeze this recipe! You have two options – 1. Follow instruction through step #2, wrapping dough twice in plastic wrap, and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Let thaw in the fridge overnight before using. Proceed with recipe. And 2. Follow instructions through step #4. After freezing cut-out cookies for 15 minutes, transfer to a freezer ziplock bag or airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. You may want to place parchment paper in between stacks of cookies to make sure they don’t freeze solid together. When you’re ready to bake, place frozen cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet and proceed. Hope this helps!

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