Every year at the beginning of December, I get excited to bake and decorate Christmas sugar cookies. This classic cut out sugar cookie recipe is one I make each holiday with my friends and family. A soft buttery cookie with hints of vanilla and almond, that’s delicious plain or with my easy royal icing recipe.
This sugar cookie recipe will hold its shape when baking and works with your favorite size and cookie cutter shape. You can even add some of your favorite food coloring to the dough for green Christmas trees or red candy canes.
Tips for Baking Christmas Cut Out Sugar Cookies
This cookie recipe that requires a little bit of planning ahead. First, the cookie dough needs to be made and allowed to chill in the fridge for 2 hrs. You can also make the dough the night before you plan to bake your cookies.
Dust your work surface with all purpose flour or confectioner’s sugar to prevent sticking. Use a large silicone mat or smooth working surface for rolling out your dough. I also dip my cookie cutters in flour or confectioner’s sugar before cutting. Lift cookies from work surface onto lined rimmed baking sheets with an offset spatula.
Roll cookie dough out to ¼ inch thickness before cutting into shapes. I’ve made mine at ⅛ inch and ¼ inch thickness and prefer the shape of the ¼ inch thick cookies.
Chill the cut out cookies on the baking pan before baking. Super cold dough is the trick to keeping the cookie cutter shapes. I also allow my pans to cool between batches.
Baked cookies need time to completely cool before decorating with icing. If you put icing on warm cookies it will melt and spread. Icing needs a couple hours to firm before you can stack and store your decorated cookies.
How to Store Decorated Christmas Cookies
Once the icing has set on the cookies, you can stack them inside an air tight container. Store at room temperature for up to 5 days or refrigerate for up to 10 days of freshness.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
Christmas Sugar Cookie Dough
- 2½ cups (313 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoon (9 grams) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon pure almond extract
- Sprinkles optional for decorating
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, egg, vanilla bean paste, and almond extract at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until the ingredients are smooth.
- Add the flour mixture and beat the ingredients at low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, a dough forms.
- Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the cookie dough for a minimum of 2 hours to allow it to rest and firm up.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line two rimmed medium baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the chilled cookie dough from the fridge and divide it in half.
- Wrap half of the dough in plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
- Dust a work surface with the either all purpose flour or confectioners’ sugar. Roll out one half of the cookie dough until it is ¼ inch thick.
- Lightly coat cookie cutters of your choice in all purpose flour or confectioners’ sugar, then cut out shapes from the dough.
- Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2-3 inches apart.
- Place the cookie sheets in the freezer for about 10 minutes to ensure the dough is cold when it goes into the oven. This will helps the cookies maintain their shape and prevent spreading while they bake
- Bake the cookies on the oven’s middle rack for 9 to 11 minutes.
- The edges of the cookies should begin to slightly turn light gold. Be careful not to over bake the cookies.
- Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Then using an a large offset spatula, gently place the cookies directly onto the racks to cool completely.
- Repeat with the remaining half of the cookie dough.
- Make my Easy Royal Icing Recipe to use for decorating the cooled cookies. Pipe the icing onto the cookies, sprinkle with decorative sugar crystals, then allow the icing 1 hour to set before stacking and storing cookies.