Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

December 10, 2014
17 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

Here's a vanilla cookie (plus a chocolate variation) for all of your holiday cookie-decorating needs. These cookies are buttery and chewy and can be flavored with anything from spices to coffee to citrus zest -- or even a little booze. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Watch This Recipe
Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
  • Makes about 2 dozen cookies
  • 3 1/4 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour (or 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup cocoa powder, for chocolate cookies)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate chips (or the equivalent in bars, roughly chopped), optional
  • sprinkles, crushed candy canes, flaky sea salt, crushed nuts, chili pepper, shredded coconut, optional
In This Recipe
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon to combine.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine, scraping well after everything is incorporated.
  3. Add the flour mixture all at once (unless your mixer physically can’t handle that), and pulse the mixer a few times to avoid a floury cloud from poofing up out of the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed just until the flour is incorporated, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thick. Cut the dough using your favorite cookie cutter and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. For even baking, rotate the pan halfway through baking. Transfer the baked cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely before decorating or serving.
  6. If you're dipping the cookies in chocolate, melt your chocolate of choice over a double boiler or in the microwave in increments of 10-20 seconds until melted. Dip the cookies half in the chocolate, sprinkle with desired toppings, and lay on wax paper until cool.
  7. NOTE: To make chocolate sugar cookies, reduce the flour to 2 3/4 cups and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder. To make marbled cookies, make one batch of vanilla dough and one batch of chocolate dough and mix to desired ratio.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • GML
  • PMWalsh
  • Änneken
  • romanolikethecheese
  • stinkycheese
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.

27 Reviews

KamsKookies February 28, 2021
I absolutely love this recipe but I do suggest adding more than just a pinch of cinnamon. I actually use about 1 tsp of cinnamon. Trust me, it gives this cookies such a good flavor. (It won’t be too much cinnamon overload but if you really don’t like cinnamon, then maybe just don’t add quite as much as me). Also, I am a cookier so I use this recipe to decorate cookies with icing. They hold their shape very nicely if you’re using a cookie cutter and aren’t too sweet which is good because the icing I use is pretty sweet. Also, I measure in ounces, not the cup measurements. Not sure if that makes a huge difference. I will definitely be using this recipe for awhile! Best one I’ve come across so far!
GML November 7, 2020
This recipe is ideal for a buttercream or chocolate dip because the cookies themselves are quite bland/not too sweet. I tried them with topped with nonpareils...and they were not spectacular.
PMWalsh October 31, 2020
I followed this recipe and went against my better judgement rolling the dough to 1/2 inch thickness as instructed. BIG MISTAKE!! Although pretty to look at, the resulting cookies were way too thick and crumbly. More disappointing was how tasteless they were. I'm so disappointed in these. Wish I had read the reviews BEFORE spending the time to make these.
PMWalsh October 31, 2020
Wish I had read these reviews BEFORE I went to the trouble of making these. So disappointing. Followed the recipe and rolled out to 1/2 inch ... way too thick. The texture of the cookie was way too crumbly and the cookies themselves were absolutely tasteless. The marbling looked pretty, though! So very disappointing.
Änneken December 8, 2019
It's the second year in a row that I am making these and I am just as impressed as the year before. They are buttery, sweet and just a tad flaky. I love them a lot....This time I actually followed the recipe to the T and rolled them out to a half inch. They were much easier to handle when I decorated them, dipped them in chocolate, etc.
romanolikethecheese December 10, 2018
I added 1/4 teas fresh ground cardamon. Delicious fragrance to these delicious cookies.
stinkycheese December 9, 2018
These came out beautifully and are delicious. Love the marbled look. I used White Lily flour and had no issues with the dough. I was confused by the instruction to roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness—don’t you mean 1/4 inch?
Taylor S. December 25, 2017
Tasty! Perfect texture when baked - slightly crisped on the edges and soft and pillowy everywhere else. I added in freshly grated nutmeg and these 100% taste like eggnog clouds.
mckenzie December 10, 2017
Hm, these were really disappointing. I followed the recipe to a T, thought the dough seemed really dry and very dense, but baked them up anyway. Sure enough they were pretty flavorless and heavy. Oh well, we still got to decorate cookies so whatever!
Tessa B. December 3, 2017
The dough is crumbly! Will not ball at all! What a disappointment.
Tessa November 27, 2018
I had the same problem. I added 1/4 c sour cream also and they were great!
Tiki T. January 31, 2017
Can I sub whole wheat pastry flour?
Laura C. December 24, 2016
Just made these for Christmas and they are DELICIOUS. Not crumbly or dry, but I have learned just add milk/liquid a bit at a time if you are in a dryer climate and it doesn't hold.
madeleine May 7, 2016
If I wanted to make these flavored with matcha- how much so you think I should use?
Meghan December 7, 2018
If you want to add matcha, I would suggest doing the same flower to matcha ratio that she said with the coco powder. I bake with tea all the time, and that ratio always works for me.
Laura D. December 13, 2015
Flour can be from winter wheat or summer wheat - they have different properties which can explain why some doughs held together and others did not. Also, flour dries out when you store it too long. Always add a little moisture, water, milk, etc. when you get a crumbly dough - you are merely replacing the moisture that was lost.
Valerie S. November 25, 2015
I just made this and the dough is crumbly and didn't come together! Is there any save?
Author Comment
Erin J. November 25, 2015
Add milk or cream a few teaspoons at a time just until it comes together!
Richelle V. December 13, 2015
Same problem. I added an egg yolk, but it was still crumbly so I used another egg and that did the trick! It turned out great. will make this recipe again but with extra egg or maybe I'll try milk.

Tessa November 27, 2018
I used sour cream and it worked really well!
Swimkitty November 13, 2015
I had a great experience. My all purpose flour is King Arthur. Came out great. My butter was soft not melted. That is the trick. Do not melt the butter. Thank you. Made 40 soccer balls shaped cookies.
OdieB July 22, 2015
How long can the dough keep in the fridge for?
Georgia February 22, 2015
Loved these the chocolate ones great, super simple to make.
SFmom December 25, 2014
Totally didn't work for me. Dough didn't come together at all despite following recipe.
SFmom December 25, 2014
Update: baked the cookies. Tasted good although it was all crumbly.
BeetRiot December 18, 2014
I really like this sugar cookie. The dough rolled out beautifully between two sheets of waxed paper. The cookies totally kept their shape with clean lines and no puffing up while baking. I like my sugar cookies a little softish so I pulled them out of the oven a minute early - at 9 minutes. They were pretty much perfect - with a strong vanilla flavor too. Anyway, I'm happy. Thanks!