Sugar cookies are not just for Christmas anymore. They are for birthday gifts, teacher appreciation gifts, wedding favors, baby announcements and much more. Sugar cookies have made a huge come back.
And while everyone loves a sugar cookie, not everyone love making sugar cookies. They can be a real pain to bake unless you know the right tips and tricks.
“I’m not making another sugar cookie again!” has come out of my mouth several times in the beginning of my sugar cookie adventures. I unfortunately had to learn these tricks the hard way by trial and error. Today I’m sharing them with you in hopes of saving you from the frustration I endured while trying to figure out how to get perfect cut out sugar cookies.
Choose your cookie recipe.
The three main types of cookies used for decorating are shortbread, butter, and sugar cookies.
Shortbread cookies are the thickest and most dense of the cookies. They are made with the most butter and least amount of sugar, which makes them a more crumbly and softer cookie.
Butter cookies still have a high amount of butter, but less sugar than shortbread cookies. This helps them hold their shape a little better than shortbread cookies.
Sugar cookies contain the most sugar of all the cookies, which of course makes them the sweetest cookie. They are also the sturdiest and crunchiest cookie of the three.
Soften your butter, but not too much.
When making any of the above cookies, you don’t want your butter to be too cold or too warm. If your butter is too soft it will cause the cookies to spread and loose their shape. You want the butter to give just a little to your touch. Let it sit out on the counter for about 30 minutes to an hour. Any longer and it will probably be too soft.
Mix your butter and sugar.
Add other wet ingredients and mix well.
Now is the time to mix well. Add all other wet ingredients as your recipe tells you and mix well.
Use your hands.
After adding your flour, mix your ingredients just until it begins to form a dough. When the dough begins to form, cut off your mixer and use your hands to finish kneading the dough. I do this every time I make sugar cookies. Whether I’m making one dozen or eight. There have been plenty of times in my beginning days of making sugar cookies where my cookies have spread and I ended up having to throw a lot of cookies away. I guess I now have a fear of over-mixing my dough!
Roll out immediately.
I do not chill my dough at this point even if the recipe tells me to. It is hard and frustrating to me to try to roll out hard as a rock chilled cookie dough. I roll my dough out when it is room temperature and then I chill it. I place my dough on waxed paper, cover with plastic wrap and then roll it out with my roller. Trust me, this step will save you time and frustration!
After I have rolled my dough, I place it on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Working with already rolled out, super cold cookie dough is so much easier to work with. Remove the plastic wrap from on top of the dough and you can begin cutting out your shapes. The cold dough will help give you crisp, clean, sharp edges.
After you have placed your sugar cookie cut outs on your lined cookie sheet, put them into the freezer for about another 10 minutes.
Bake frozen cookies.
This is the golden rule for preventing sugar cookies from spreading. Bake them frozen! You do not want them soft at all before baking. Trust me. Bake them frozen!
Don’t over- bake.
Your goal should not be to bake until golden brown. That is a lie! If your cookies are golden brown when you take them out of the oven they will most likely be too crispy. You want to bake your sugar cookies until right before they turn golden brown. You may have to experiment with this a little. Ovens can be different, which will make baking times different. Keep your eye on them and if you see them starting to turn a golden brown color take them out immediately.
Time to decorate!
If you’ve followed my steps above for baking sugar cookies you should end up with perfect cut out sugar cookies! I wish I would have known these tips and tricks before throwing out batches of cookies because they were spread all over the pan or over-cooked.
And after they have cooled, my favorite part comes. The decorating of course!
I hope these tips I’ve shared with you help you bake perfect cut out sugar cookies. If they have please leave a comment letting me know. If you still have questions leave them below too!
Happy baking and decorating!