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decorated sugar cookies on a grey countertop
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4.41 from 5 votes

Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

These soft cut-out sugar cookies are light and buttery with gentle vanilla flavor. There is no need to chill the dough. Roll out the room-temperature dough, cut it into shapes, freeze for a few minutes, and then bake. The cookies will not spread out and are great for decorating.
This includes 4 cups of royal icing. If you prefer to use a different type of frosting for the cookies, just skip the royal icing and use your favorite.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time1 hr 8 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cookies, Holiday recipe, spring, sugar cookies
Servings: 35 cookies
Calories: 155kcal
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $4.00

Equipment

  • Stand or Handheld Mixer
  • Rolling Pin
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Half Sheet Pans
  • Cooling Rack

Ingredients

Sugar Cookies:

  • 4 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting (4 cups = 500g)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 ⅓ cup Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature (1 ⅓ cup = 21 Tbsp)
  • 1 ½ cup White Sugar (1 ½ cups = 300g)
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • teaspoons Almond Extract (optional)

Royal Icing:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 6 Tablespoon Meringue Powder
  • 1 (32 ounce) bag Powdered Sugar (see note)
  • Gel Food Coloring, if desired (be sure to use a gel-based food coloring; water-based food coloring can change the consistency of the icing)

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add vanilla extract and almond extract and beat until evenly combined.
  • Add dry ingredients in three increments, mixing on low between each addition. Continue mixing on low until no dry spots remain (do not over mix).
  • Lightly dust a work surface with flour.
  • Working with about ⅓ of the dough at a time, roll it out to about ¼-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into shapes and transfer them to a lightly greased sheet pan (you can also line it with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat), leaving space between each cookie.
  • Transfer the sheet pan(s) with cookies to the freezer for 15 minutes. (This will minimize spreading as the cookies bake.)
  • While the cookies chill, preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C.
  • When the oven is heated and the cookies are done chilling, transfer sheet pans with cookies directly to the oven and bake until the cookies are just set and show a hint of golden brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes (if cookies are frozen solid, they may take 3 to 5 minutes longer).
  • Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before decorating.
  • Make Icing: Pour water in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large mixer (if using a hand mixer). Gently swirl the water around to coat the sides of the bowl (this will help to prevent the dried ingredients from sticking).
  • Add meringue powder and powdered sugar all at once.
  • Start mixing on low, scraping down the bowl as needed, until everything is evenly combined.
  • Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute.
  • Continue mixing on medium-high in 30 second intervals, stopping to check the consistency after each interval. To check the consistency, use a spatula or spoon to scoop and drizzle some icing over the surface. Watch the design you drew as you count to 10. The icing is done when it takes 10 seconds for the surface of the icing to turn completely smooth.
  • Divide icing between bowls and stir in food coloring as desired. Transfer to piping bags. Icing can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
  • Make sure that cookies have cooled completely before using the frosting to decorate. Let decorated cookies sit at room temperature until the icing is fully set (this can take 1 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature and humidity of the room).
  • Store cookies in a well-sealed container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Notes

Cookie recipe adapted from Red, White and Blue Pinwheel Cookies.
Royal Icing - This recipe makes 4 cups of Royal Icing. I highly recommend making the icing recipe as written using a 32-oz bag of powdered sugar. Measuring the powdered sugar by weight will take all the guess-work out and give you perfect Royal Icing every time. This may make a larger quantity of icing than you need for this batch of cookies, but having a larger amount means you can make as many different colors as you'd like without worrying about running out of one color. 
Storing Royal Icing - Royal Icing can be refrigerated for up to 2 days frozen for up to 2 months. Let it come to room temperature before using. 
Baking cookies from frozen - Bake frozen cookies directly from the freezer at 375°F / 190°C for 11 to 15 minutes.
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
soft cut out sugar cookies freezer label

Nutrition

Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 52mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 232IU | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg