Easy Sugar Cookies
Soft and flavorful, these no-chill, no-roll sugar cookies really are the easiest you’ll ever bake.
The other day I was craving a soft and vanilla scented sugar cookie slathered with buttercream frosting, and what could I do but give in? Only, I wasn’t going to make sugar cookies the traditional way.
One of my biggest pet peeves is cookie dough that needs to be chilled. Don’t they know that when I want cookies, I want them now? I did a little bit of research online, tested a few recipes, and eventually ended with this— a soft, cake-like sugar cookie recipe that I’ve made dozens on times over the years. I won’t claim that it’s the best sugar cookie recipe on the internet, but I love these cookies so much! And you really cannot beat how quick and easy they are.
No need to chill this sugar cookie dough!
There are 2 reasons why this recipe doesn’t require chilling:
- Cookie dough with a large amount of butter needs to be chilled so that it doesn’t cause the cookies to spread too much as they bake. So this recipe has only 3/4 of the butter most sugar cookies call for.
- Chilling cookie dough also gives the gluten in the dough time to relax creating a softer cookie, and allows the flour to absorb some of the moisture in dough which also prevents spreading. The powdered sugar in this recipes combats both of these issues: it helps the cookies stay soft, and powdered sugar contains cornstarch, which helps with excess moisture.
No need for cookie cutters!
There’s also no need to roll out and cut the sugar cookie dough. It’s firm and holds its shape well, so if all you want are round sugar cookies you can just portion, roll into balls, place directly on your sheet pan, and bake immediately!
What if I want to cut these sugar cookies into shapes?
Of course, you can turn these sugar cookies into any shape you want! If you want to use cookie cutters, I recommend following these steps:
- Roll cookie dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thick.
- Place on a sheet pan and freeze for 15 minutes.
- Cut into desired shapes.
- Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Then, bake. Baking time will depend on size of the cookie, but start checking at around 10 minutes.
Shop tools for this recipe
This recipe was originally published February 2014.
Easiest Sugar Cookies
For the cookies:
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (170 grams), at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (112 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (270 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (113 grams), softened to room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar (450 grams), sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1-3 tablespoons milk
- Food coloring (optional)
- Sprinkles (optional)
To make the cookies:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar. Add to the mixer and mix on low until combined. Mixture will be crumbly at first, but will eventually come together into a thick dough.
- Roll into tablespoon-sized balls and place on the prepared sheet pan 2 inches apart. Use your hand or the bottom of glass to press the balls into thick disks.
- Bake until bottoms just turn golden brown, about 11-13 minutes (see Notes). Let cool on the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a sheet pan to cool completely.
To make the frosting:
- Beat the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of the milk until smooth and creamy. Add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until spreadable consistency is reached. Add food coloring if using.
- Frost cookies and decorate as desired.
- To roll and cut cookies into shapes: Do not chill. Roll out on a sheet of parchment paper to 1/4-inch thick. Place on sheet pan and freeze 15 minutes. Cut out shapes. Place on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake. Baking time will vary based on cookie size.
- To make Almond Sugar Cookies: Substitute 1 teaspoon almond extract for the vanilla extract in the cookies. Omit vanilla in frosting and increase almond extract to 1/2 teaspoon.
- If you wait for the edges of the cookies turn brown, they are already a little overdone. What I do when I try a new cookie recipe is I bake one test cookie, checking it often. And then I bake the rest when I determine the correct baking time. These cookies turned out with a barely golden bottom at exactly 12 minutes in my oven.