Easy cut out sugar cookies won’t spread and the dough requires no chilling! Decorate them with royal icing.

iced christmas tree cut out sugar cookies in a wood box

It’s that time of year again to make Santa’s cookies. So you may wonder, “Which cookies are Santa’s favorite?” Christmas sugar cookies of course. Santa loves seeing all the creativity and love put into decorating his cookies, just ask Buddy the Elf!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • No need to chill the dough before rolling and cutting out cookies.
  • The cookies don’t spread and they keep their shape once baked.
  • The recipe doubles easily if you’re making a large batch for the holidays.
  • Spark some creativity while decorating!
  • It’s a holiday classic. What would Christmas be without decorating cookies?

Ingredient Notes

bowls of ingredients to make cut out sugar cookies.
  • Butter: Use room temperature unsalted butter. Every brand of salted butter has a different amount of salt added so it’s best to add it separately.
  • Baking powder: This leavening agents helps the cookies rise slightly without spreading.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Also known as powdered sugar, this is used to sweeten the dough while keeping the cookies soft. It’s also used in the royal icing.
  • Meringue powder (not pictured): To make the royal icing, you will need meringue powder. You can find it online or at your local chef store.

Recipe Variations

Make chocolate cut out cookies. Swap out 1/2 cup flour for 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.

Get creative with decorating. Feel free to dye the icing using gel food coloring. You can also add sprinkles before the icing dries!

Try different cookie cutters. I have a set of these round cookie cutters and these holiday ones for Christmas. You can also use this recipe to make my cut out pumpkin cookies or snowflake cookies.

How to Make Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

photo collage demonstrating how to make cut out sugar cookie dough in a mixing bowl with hand mixer.
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients in one bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar using a stand mixer or hand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix to combine.
  3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
  4. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick. Use desired cookie cutters to cut dough. Place cut out sugar cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 F for 8 minutes. Let cookies cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
photo collage demonstrating how to make royal icing for cut out sugar cookies.
  1. Make the icing. Whisk meringue powder and water until foamy. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Mix until icing holds a medium peak.
  2. Transfer icing to a frosting bag with a small round tip. Ice the cooled cookies.

Expert Tips

Make sure the dough thickness is even so the cookies bake at the same rate. Roll cookie dough out to 1/4 inch thick. This rolling pin guarantees even thickness.

Use cookie cutters that are about the same size. Again, this way the cookies bake at the same rate.

Dip the cookie cutters in flour before cutting the dough. This will prevent the dough from getting stuck to the cutter.

iced christmas tree sugar cookies in a wooden box. brown wooden houses behind box

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

Store cookies in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Freeze dough in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before rolling and cutting the dough. Alternatively, you can freeze the baked cookies for up to 3 months. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn.

Make ahead the dough and store it in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. Bring to room temperature before rolling out.

Recipe FAQ

What icing to use for sugar cookies:

Decorate sugar cookies with royal icing. If you want the icing to harden, use meringue powder however it can be hard to find. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store or specialty cook store, you can find meringue powder on Amazon.

How to decorate sugar cookies:

Transfer icing to a frosting bag fitting with a small round tip. Trace the outline of the cookie and then fill in with icing.

Why did my cookies spread?

Most likely the butter was too soft or the dough too warm. This is common in warm or humid climates. Place the baking sheet with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking.

iced cut out sugar cookies in a box

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iced cut out christmas tree sugar cookies on rectangle baking sheet

Get the Recipe: Easy Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Easy cut out sugar cookies won’t spread and the dough requires no chilling! Decorate them with royal icing.
5 (21 ratings)


Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  • 2 ½ cups (312 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup (180 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Royal Icing

  • 2 ⅔ cups (320 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 5-6 Tablespoons warm water


Cut Out Sugar Cookies

  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine softened butter and confectioners’ sugar using a hand mixer.¹ Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides as necessary.
  • With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture to the bowl. The dough is ready when most of it sticks to the paddle. When touched, it has a little give, but does not stick to fingers.
  • Flour the work surface and roll dough to about 1/4-inch thick, using flour for dusting as necessary. Use cookie cutters to cut cookies and place on prepared baking sheet. Gather scraps and re-roll dough when necessary.
  • Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Prepare icing.

Royal Icing

  • Place the meringue powder and water in a large mixing bowl, and whip with the whisk attachment until foamy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip on medium speed until very stiff and thick, about 3 minutes. The royal icing should hold a medium peak. If necessary, thin with additional water, a drop at a time, to get the desired consistency.
  • Transfer icing to an icing bag fitted with a small round tip (I used Wilton #2). Ice the cookies and decorate with sprinkles if desired.


Store iced cookies in layers between pieces of parchment paper in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freeze dough in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost dough in the refrigerator before rolling and baking.
Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 172kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 27mg, Sodium: 77mg, Potassium: 54mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 246IU, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 1mg

References: The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle and Baking a Moment

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