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Plate of super soft cut out sugar cookies with royal icing with ornaments and cookie cutters around it | All Images © Beyond the Butter®

The Best Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Author: Jennifer
This is the best Cut Out Sugar Cookies recipe! Each bite gives you a buttery soft and tender inside with a light golden brown crispy outside. They taste incredible, won't spread during baking, and make a great addition to your holiday cookie box! Top with a simple sanding sugar, royal icing, or buttercream frosting.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 28 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 4 dozen


  • Cookie Cutters
  • Sanding Sugars
  • Piping Bags (for all royal icing consistencies)
  • Decorating Tips (for stiff and medium consistency royal icing detail)
  • Spatulas


cut out sugar cookies

  • 2 ⅔ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp Almond Extract

royal icing

  • ½ cup Meringue Powder
  • 7 cups Sifted Powdered Sugar
  • ¾ cup Water, room temperature + more for flooding consistency (keep separate)
  • 2 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Food Coloring or Icing Gel, colors of your choice


cut out sugar cookies

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set to the side.
  • Using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
  • Turn off your mixer and add in the powdered sugar. Blend it together with the butter over low speed until it's almost combined.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then on medium-high speed, add in the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract until well blended.
  • Switching the mixer speed low, gradually add in the whisked dry mixture until fully incorporated. The cookie dough should start to form a ball and pull away from the sides.
  • Transfer the sugar cookie dough onto a clean work surface, then shape it into a ball and divide it into 2 sections. Roll out the first section of cookie dough to a ¼ inch thickness slab on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper (or wax paper if you plan to freeze the dough for later). Place onto a baking sheet or jelly roll pan. Repeat with the second section, placing it on top of the first layer. Refrigerate the cookie dough slabs for a minimum of 1 hour or (my preference) overnight.
  • After chilling is complete, adjust your oven rack to the 2nd level position (just above center) and preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Flour your cookie cutters and cut out your shapes. Place each cut out shape about 1"- 1 ½" apart on the cookie sheet. If only using sanding sugar or sprinkles, now is the time to add them. Place any cut out cookies not yet baked into the refrigerator or freezer to chill while the first set bakes.
  • Bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes at 375ºF or until the edges are a light golden brown. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them with a spatula (or server) to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely before decorating them with the royal icing. If baking the cookies in advance, keep them stored in an airtight container with a slice of bread for up to 3 days. You can also freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months. Let them cool completely before placing into a well-sealed container or freezer bag.

royal icing (stiff consistency)

  • Using your hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix together the meringue powder and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Keeping the mixer speed on low, add in the water and vanilla extract and mix it starts to come together.
  • Then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to mix on low speed until the royal icing is very thick (about 3-5 minutes) and can keep a stiff peak when inverting the paddle attachment.
  • Remove any stiff consistency royal icing you plan to use later for detailing your cut out cookies. Scoop it into a well-sealed food container, covering the surface of the icing with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. It's a good idea to reserve a small amount too in case you have watered down the icing too much when making the flooding consistency.

royal icing (medium consistency)

  • To the stiff consistency icing add a few drops of room temperature water. It should be slightly thinner than stiff consistency, but still hold its shape and slightly easier to pipe.

royal icing (flooding consistency)

  • To the stiff consistency icing add room temperature water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the royal icing, when tested with a spoon, takes 15-20 seconds to blend back into the bowl of icing. If you watered it down too much, add a little of the stiff consistency icing you set aside back into the frosting.

decorating the cookies

  • Have your colors prepped and in piping bags. For outlining and filling the cookies use a flooding consistency royal icing with just a piping bag. No decorating tip is needed. To make things easier, place all the piping bags onto a jelly roll pan.
  • Place the finished outlined and flooded cookies onto a onto a wire cooling rack to dry. It takes a minimum of 2 hours for them to dry. To speed up the process, place a fan nearby to dry the tops. Optionally, cookies can be left out overnight to dry as well. Do not put the cookies into a container. Any leftover royal icing can be stored in the refrigerator covering the surface with plastic wrap and sealed with the container lid.
  • When cookies are dry to the touch, you can pipe any details over the top with a stiff or medium consistency royal icing. Use a piping bag and a decorating tip of your choice.
  • Allow cookies to dry completely overnight on the cooling rack.
  • When fully dried, place into a well-sealed food container with a slice of bread to keep them nice and soft for up to 10 days. You can also freeze already baked and iced cookies for up to 3 months when place and sealed into individual bags.

Recipe Notes

This cut out sugar cookie recipe yields approximately 4 dozen cookies. This will vary based on the size of your cookie cutters and how thick you roll out your dough. If you make less than the suggested amount noted for this recipe, consider reducing the amount of royal icing.
To decorate these cookies using buttercream frosting, visit my Chocolate Cut Out Sugar Cookies recipe.
Recipe bake times are approximate and will vary based on your oven. Always begin to check on your recipe at the first recommended bake time listed.
Royal icing prep times are not noted in the recipe, but take approximately 15 minutes. This does not include coloring the icing, prepping the piping bags, or decorating the cookies.
Total decorating time for these super soft cut-out sugar cookies will vary based on how many cookies are made (based on size of cookie cutter shapes) and experience level.
This cut out sugar cookie recipe is a family recipe that was given to me by my late Grammy. The royal icing recipe was adapted from Wilton.
Keyword buttercream frosting, cookies, cut-out sugar cookies, holiday cookie recipes, roll out sugar cookies, royal icing, sanding sugars, sugar cookies, super soft cut-out sugar cookies, the best cut out sugar cookies
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