Tired of lack-luster, pungently sweet sugar cookies? So is the rest of the world. Trade them in for the vanilla, buttery goodness of these full-flavored Soft Sugar Cookies! With just the right amount of salt and a thick and chewy texture, these buttery delights never disappoint. Top them off with a dollop of creamy buttercream frosting for an irresistible, easy cookie no man, woman, or child can resist!
No rolling pins, no cookie-cutters necessary; these easy sugar cookies are a make-ahead, slice-and-bake dream. Make the dough up to three days in advance and then bake when you’re ready! Less mess and make-ahead? Sounds too good to be true, but rest assured — these cookies are the real deal, folks.
They’re perfect for holiday baking and gift-giving, as they stay soft for days after they make their way out of the oven. The buttercream cookie icing hardens on top, making the cookies easy to stack, store, and give!
HOW TO MAKE SOFT SUGAR COOKIES
- Mix Dry Ingredients – In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cream Butter and Sugar – Add the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (if you do not have a stand mixer, you can use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer instead). Beat together on medium-high for about 3 minutes.
- Add Eggs and Vanilla – Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and mix well. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Mix in Dry Ingredients – To complete the dough, add the dry ingredients and mix on low until fully incorporated.
- Make Dough Logs – Divide the dough into four pieces and place each piece on its own sheet of parchment paper. Roll into a cylinder and twist the ends to seal (more on this below).
- Chill – Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Slice and Bake – Use a sharp knife to cut the cookies into generous 1/4″ slices.
- Bake – Then, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 ” apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool before icing.
HOW TO ROLL A COOKIE LOG
To easily roll this Soft Sugar Cookie dough into logs, you’ll first need to divide the cookie dough into four equal parts. Then, have ready 4 sheets of parchment paper and place each quarter of dough in the center of each sheet. You could also use wax paper in a pinch.
Form the dough into a log, about 2″ in diameter, and tightly roll it in the parchment paper, smoothing out any air bubbles or ridges (similar to how you would roll a poster). For perfectly round, smooth cookie dough logs, check out this bench scraper tip! Then, twist the ends to enclose.
Roll the log back-and-forth on a flat surface to create a smooth, cylindrical shape.
HOW TO MAKE SUGAR COOKIE FROSTING
The frosting for these Soft Sugar Cookies could not be easier to make! Simply add all of the frosting ingredients to a large bowl and begin mixing with a handheld mixer on low. You could also use a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Once the sugar is mostly mixed in, it’s safe to increase the speed to medium-high and blend until smooth and creamy. That’s it!
HOW TO DECORATE SOFT SUGAR COOKIES
First and foremost, wait until the cookies have cooled completely before icing!
Then, add a dollop of fluffy sugar cookie frosting to the top of each cookie and spread to the edges using either the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula. Sprinkle with your favorite sprinkle mix, if desired. This frosting hardens on the outside, but stays nice and creamy on the inside, making stacking and transporting a cinch!
You could also use this easy hardening sugar cookie icing or go more of the decorative route and pipe on some royal icing. If you’re going the royal icing route, be sure to check out these easy Painted Sugar Cookies for a little decor inspiration!
MORE FROSTED COOKIES TO TRY:
WHAT MAKES SUGAR COOKIES SOFT?
There really isn’t just one thing that makes a cookie soft. But, if we had to pick, the moisture content is number one on the list.
You get moisture from wet ingredients like butter and sugar. Using the wet-to-dry ratio (which these Soft Sugar have, by the way) matters a great deal, but another way to get sugar cookies to bake up extra soft and chewy — and stay that way — is by swapping out some of the granulated sugar for brown sugar.
Brown sugar is granulated sugar that has been processed with the addition of molasses. The addition of liquid molasses makes for a “wetter” sugar, which means brown sugar has a higher moisture content than granulated sugar. Therefore, by subbing in a bit of brown sugar (not too much though — they still need to taste like sugar cookies) you make for a moister, chewy, and softer cookie!
This is also worth a mention: If you want Soft Sugar Cookies, don’t overbake them. Pull your cookies from the oven as soon as those bottom edges are tinging golden brown!
HOW TO KEEP SUGAR COOKIES SOFT
Ironically, the best way to keep cookies soft is to freeze them. Sounds counter-productive, but freezing the cookies at peak freshness keeps the integrity of the texture intact longer! In our house, whatever cookies don’t get eaten that day, go directly into a ziptop bag and into the freezer. More on that below.
If you don’t want to freeze your cookies, the next best thing is to keep them stored in an airtight container, one without too much wiggle room. You can count on a solid three days of proper cookie eating before they start getting stale.
HOW TO FREEZE SUGAR COOKIES
Soft Sugar Cookies are extremely easy to freeze. You can freeze them before or after you ice them, although it will be less hassle and the icing will stay much prettier if you freeze them before frosting them.
Freeze the cookies either in an airtight, freezer-safe container or a freezer-safe zip-top bag for up to three months.
HOW TO FREEZE COOKIES WITH ICING
You can freeze frosted sugar cookies without messing up the frosting too much by placing the cookies in an airtight container in single layers, with a sheet of wax paper separating each layer.
HOW TO THAW COOKIES
Thawing the cookies is even easier: just leave them out on the counter at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
8 BAKING TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST SOFT SUGAR COOKIES
- Make sure your oven is preheated and set to bake at the right temperature.
- The butter must be at room temperature to properly cream with the sugars. This one little thing greatly affects the texture of cookies!
- Ensure the egg is fully incorporated and evenly mixed before adding the dry ingredients.
- As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop mixing! Overmixing can over-develop the gluten, which will, in turn, make for a tough cookie.
- Use parchment paper or silicone baking mats instead of greasing the pan.
- Don’t add cookie dough to a hot pan.
- Pull the cookies from the oven as soon as the edges begin to tinge with a deeper brown.
- Make sure they’re cool before you ice them. If you ice warm cookies, that icing is going to slide right off!
5 MORE COOKIE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Cinnamon Cookies
- Red Velvet Cookies
- Thumbprint Cookies
- Italian Wedding Cookies
- White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Full-flavored, vanilla, buttery Soft Sugar Cookies with just the right amount of salt and a thick and chewy texture.
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside until ready to use.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer. Add both sugars and beat on medium-high speed once again until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix briefly once again. Add the egg and mix on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix once more.
Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low after each addition. Do not over-mix.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready a cookie sheet lined with either parchment paper or a Silpat.
Divide the dough and form it into four logs and roll each log in parchment paper and twist the ends to seal. Refrigerate until chilled, no less than 1 hour.
Using a sharp knife, cut the cookies into generous 1/4" slices. Transfer the cookies to the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. Bake until the outer edges are just tinged with golden-brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and powdered sugar. If you do not have a stand mixer, use a large mixing bowl and a handheld mixer. Begin mixing on low speed, until most of the powdered sugar is mixed in, then increase the speed to medium-high. Mix until well-combined.
Add the salt and mix once more.
Once the cookies have completely cooled, frost the cookies, serve and enjoy!
Makes about 24 cookies and 1 1/2 cup of buttercream icing.