Sugar Cookie Dough

How to Make Sugar Cookie Dough

Publish Date October 23, 2023

The warmth and comfort of the holiday season is often best expressed through food: a cozy fire with a cup of cocoa, sharing snacks and stories with visiting relatives or swapping cookies with friends. Seasonal sweets are a wonderful way to spark nostalgia.

One of the most quintessential holiday treats is the sugar cookie. The comforting, buttery vanilla taste is sure to bring back happy memories and help make new ones. Sugar cookie dough is delightfully easy to make and is a perfect way to get the kids involved in baking this season. So tie on that apron and get the milk ready, because we’ve got everything you need to know about how to make sugar cookie dough.

Learn How to Make Sugar Cookie Dough

Our step-by-step instructions, tips and tricks will teach you how to make this sweet holiday treat. Plus, kids of all ages can join in on the fun and get creative by decorating their own cookies for the holidays.

Final Step:

And serve.

Step 1:

The first step to making holiday sugar cookies is choosing the right ingredients.


Step 2:

In a medium bowl, add unsalted butter and cane sugar. Using an electric mixer, blend the ingredients until combined, light and fluffy.

Mix butter and sugar

Pro Cookie Tip:

Did you know you can swap processed sugar for equal amounts of date sugar? Date sugar is full of antioxidants, and it’s a rich source of minerals and fiber.

Step 3:

Beat the egg and vanilla extract into the dough mixture.

Tip: Room-temperature eggs can distribute more evenly through the dough, making for extra-soft cookies.
mixing eggs and vanilla extract
Tip: Room-temperature eggs can distribute more evenly through the dough, making for extra-soft cookies.

Step 4:

With your electric mixer on low, gradually add flour, baking powder and salt. Continue to mix until combined.

Mixing flour, baking powder, and salt

Step 5:

Divide dough in half, then place 1 half of the dough on parchment paper.

Tip: Placing bamboo skewers on each side of the dough helps ensure the same thickness throughout the dough as it’s being rolled.
Tip: Placing bamboo skewers on each side of the dough helps ensure the same thickness throughout the dough as it’s being rolled.

Step 6:

Roll each dough half between parchment paper to about ¼” thickness. Place on baking sheets and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Rolling dough between parchment paper

Step 7:

After dough has been refrigerated, remove parchment paper from the dough.

Step 8:

Gather your favorite festive cookie cutters and cut out your cookies. Place cookie cutouts on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. If dough gets soft, chill about 10 minutes until cold.

Cut your cookies into your favorite shapes

Step 9:

Now let’s really get in the holiday spirit and make our own frosting. Simply sift powdered sugar into a small bowl, then whisk in milk. Divide into bowls, then tint with desired food coloring.

Prepare the frosting

Step 10:

Decorate as desired.

Decorate you cookies

Pro Cookie Tip:

Want to feel healthier about your holiday sweet treats? You can try using crushed candies, like peppermints or chopped nuts, in place of sprinkles and decorating sugars

Final Step:

And serve.

Step 1:

The first step to making holiday sugar cookies is choosing the right ingredients.


Starting from Scratch

The perfect homemade dough comes together with just a handful of ingredients, so it’s best to use quality ingredients when making sugar cookie dough. It’s OK to splurge on pure vanilla extract and high-quality butter, and you’ll definitely want fresh eggs.

We’ve put together a helpful guide on how to make sugar cookies that are sure to please a crowd.

The “Doughs” and the “Dough-nots”

Though the basics of making a sugar cookie dough are simple to master, here are a few tips we recommend to make sure you get crave-worthy cookies every time.

  • Do Chill the Dough: This allows the fats to cool, giving a better texture and shape to your cookie once it’s time to bake.
  • Don’t Overmix the Dough: Stop mixing as soon as you see that the ingredients are combined to avoid a tough cookie.
  • Do Remove Before Golden: To get that perfectly soft sugar cookie, remove the cookies before you notice any color on them.
  • Don’t Use Butter That’s Too Warm: Make sure your butter is a cool room temperature. You should be able to press a divot in the stick of butter with your finger. If your finger sinks into the butter, it’s too warm.
  • Do Use Parchment Paper: Not only does this make cleanup easier, but it also helps prevent the dough from spreading.
  • Don’t Be Scared to Experiment: Sugar cookies provide a neutral base that you can top with anything you’d like. Dip them in chocolate, cover them in sprinkles or even use food-safe paint to create a sugar cookie masterpiece.

Variations on a Classic

Sugar cookie dough is wonderfully versatile. Once you have the basics down, you can start to experiment with building flavor profiles, creating different textures and decorating in a variety of ways.


If you want to switch up your holiday traditions, try using peppermint extract, coconut extract, maple extract or almond extract in place of vanilla extract.


For perfect shapes, roll your dough to about ¼” thick before using a cookie cutter. Press down firmly and evenly before lifting the cookie cutter away. Place the cookies onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. For best results, pop them back into the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to chill before baking.

Frosting and Decoration

Sugar cookies are a great base for having some fun with decoration. You can opt for a homemade buttercream frosting, or create a glaze with milk and powdered sugar. Once iced, you can add sprinkles, crushed candy, edible flowers or a coarse sugar for a glitter effect.

Gooey Centers

The best way to get a soft, gooey center is to make sure you don’t overbake the cookies. Watch them closely while they’re in the oven and make sure to note when the centers are still just a little wet. You’ll want to remove them as soon as that wet look goes away, or even just a bit before. Remember, the cookies will continue to cook even after they’re removed from the oven, and you can always put them back in if they don’t appear to be done enough after cooling.

Crispy Edges

For every person who loves a soft, melt-in-your-mouth cookie, there’s another who prefers a thin, crisp option. To create a crisp cookie, roll your dough flat. The thinner your dough, the crispier the cookie. Then, make sure that you top your thinly rolled dough with an egg wash before baking for extra gloss and crispness.

Toasted Sugar

No matter how you slice it, sugar cookies always have a rich, sugary vanilla flavor. To intensify some of these flavors, you can play with some of the ingredients. Play up the deep, buttery flavor by browning butter ahead of time. If your recipe calls for room temperature butter, give the brown butter time to solidify again before using. If you want a warm, toasted sugar flavor, then set your oven to 325°F and spread your sugar into the base of a glass or ceramic baking dish. The longer you toast the sugar, the more complex the flavor will become. Just remember to stir it every 30 minutes or so to avoid burning or melting.

Sugar Cookie Recipes

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Want More Holiday Classics?

Need more homemade cookies to make sure your season is merry and bright? Check out our collection of Christmas cookie recipes or visit our holiday baking shop for everything you need to bake up a batch of your family’s favorites.