About Rolled Sugar Cookies
When it comes to any holiday or occasion, it’s hard to find a better one-dessert-fits-all than a sugar cookie. From the light taste to the fun designs, they can be made to fit any festive event.
And who doesn’t love that feeling of pride when you get to show off your uber decorating skills, amirite?!
However, underneath all those fun options, you still have to know what kind of cookie to make – and it’s not always easy. Sometimes it seems like there are just as many types of sugar cookies as there are ways to decorate them. The last thing you want is to bake a batch of cookies only to discover it didn’t turn out like you thought it would.
So, what type of cookie should you be baking?
Check out this list of the three “main types” of sugar cookies. It should help clear up some of the confusion!
Classic Rolled Sugar Cookies – These cookies are rolled, cut into shapes with cookie cutters, and decorated with royal frosting or sprinkles. The top of the cookie bakes smooth and they have a soft, crumbly texture. When someone mentions cutout cookies, this is usually the type of cookie they mean. These cookies can also be baked beyond the normal cook time (about 2-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookies) to create Christmas ornaments. The recipe on this page is for this type of cookie.
Crinkled Sugar Cookies – These cookies are made by taking small portions of dough (usually 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon), rolling them into a ball, and then baking the cookie balls. This creates a round cookie with a crinkled top. These cookies typically are not decorated, although they are sometimes rolled in granulated sugar or powdered sugar before baking.
Bakery Style Sugar Cookies – The trademark of these cookies is that they are ultra thick with a rich, buttery taste. These cookies can also be cut into shapes, but unlike rolled sugar cookies, they’re typically decorated with buttercream frosting.
If you’re still reading by this point, I’m going to assume you’re on board with making some rolled sugar cookies.
And, hey, high-five, my friend. I’m a big fan of these cookies, too.
But as you make your way to the recipe, I feel like I should let you know that these cookies have an ingredient that “may” not already be in your kitchen.
I know, I know, those are dreaded words no one wants to hear, but thankfully there’s an easy way to substitute the ingredient should you need to. However, I highly recommend you give it a try. And you don’t need to take my word for it; just ask my neighbor. She proclaimed these as some of the best homemade sugar cookies she’s ever had.
By now I’ll bet your screaming, “Okay, Chrisy, enough already! What is this elusive ingredient?!”
I’m so glad you asked!
It’s cake flour.
Why you should use cake flour (and how to make it if you have none!)
The big difference between cake flour and all-purpose flour is the protein content, and it’s a small one at that. Cake flour usually has 6-8% while all-purpose flour has anywhere from 10-11%. So it’s a minor difference we’re talking about here, but it plays a big part in baking.
To put it simply, the protein content has an impact on the density (or “airiness”) of the finished baked goods. And since sugar cookies are made with a high ratio of flour, having less density means you’ll end up with a lighter, more airy cookie.
So, is cake flour necessary for this recipe? No, I don’t think so.
But does it make this recipe taste better? I would definitely say yes. The improved consistency is so worth it.
If you don’t have cake flour, it’s easy to make your own:
- Using a one cup measuring cup, add two tablespoons cornstarch.
- Fill the remaining space in the measuring cup up with all-purpose flour.
- Whisk or sift ingredients together thoroughly.
And that’s all there is to it! Use the above ratio to create cake flour for any recipe.
If you don’t have any cornstarch on hand, you could use 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour instead. Just keep in mind the consistency of these cookies may be denser because of it.
Do you need to chill the dough?
This particular recipe calls for chilling the cookie dough for at least four hours.
I know it can be frustrating to put your baking on hold, but when it comes to cookies, chilling the dough is totally worth the impact it as on your baking.
The short explanation for chilling has to do with the butter. The firmer the butter is at the time of baking, the slower it will melt, which makes cookies less likely to spread while baking. So, as a general rule of thumb, chilling the dough will lead to more dense, fluffy cookies while not chilling will lead to flatter, cheweir cookies. This is not always the case, though. Whether you need to chill depends largely on the amount of butter used AND the composition of the other ingredients.
If you’d like a more indepth explanation of chilling dough (with examples!) then check out this article: To Chill or not to Chill.
Can you freeze rolled cookies?
If you’d like to always have a batch of these cookies on hand, the easiest way is to freeze them for later. There are two ways you can do this.
To freeze the raw dough:
- Mix all ingredients, then separate the dough into two portions. Wrap the dough in plastic and store it in a freezer bag or sealed containers.
- Place the dough in the freezer.
- Cookie dough can be stored for up to six months. When ready to bake, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then roll, cut, and bake cookies like normal.
To freeze the baked cookies:
- Bake and allow to cool completely.
- Store cookies in a single layer in a freezer bag or storage container. If you need to stack the cookies, separate each layer with a sheet of wax paper.
- Baked cookies and be stored for up to three months.
How do you decorate rolled sugar cookies?
When it comes to sugar cookies, the gold standard in decorating is royal icing. This type of icing goes on easy with a thick, watery texture and then dries hard. This has a lot of benefits, for me, I like that it makes the cookies easy to store and stack until ready to eat.
If you’re looking for cookie decorating tutorials with royal icing, I highly recommend checking out Sweet Ambs. Her decorations are amazing and she includes video tutorials for almost all of them.
Notes & tips for this rolled sugar cookie recipe
- If you’re doing a lot of holiday baking, I highly recommend having some silicone baking mats or silicone baking mats on hand. Baking cookies takes enough time without having to cut or measure parchment paper.
- Plus, some quality baking sheets are a must for a cookie baking extravaganza!
- For this recipe, I highly recommend using a stand mixer or a hand mixer. This recipe would be difficult to make by hand with a whisk.
More fun cookie recipes
How to make rolled cookies
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – In a medium bowl, mix the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Step 3 – Add in the egg and vanilla, then mix well.
Step 4 – Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until the dough has a soft, thick texture.
Step 5 – Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap.
Step 6 – Chill!
Step 7 – Flour a work area and roll out the chilled dough. Use cookie cutters of your choice to cut out fun shapes, then transfer them to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Step 8 – Bake!
Step 9 – Decorate and enjoy!
Rolled Sugar Cookies
These rolled sugar cookies have a perfectly light & airy texture with a delicate buttery taste. They're the best sugar cookie for decorating!
In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt, then set bowl aside.
Reduce speed to low and add egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.
Keeping speed on low, quickly add dry ingredients to mixer, scooping in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup at a time. Stop mixing once dough looks smooth and uniform. Be careful not to overmix.
Remove dough from bowl and divide in half. Place each half of dough on separate pieces of plastic wrap. Firmly wrap dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
To cut cookies, prepare your work surface by dusting it with flour. Also coat your hands, cookie cutters, and rolling pin with flour, and set a bowl of flour nearby in case the dough begins to stick. When ready to work dough, remove plastic wrap and place dough on your prepared work surface. Use the rolling pin to roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, then cut the dough with your floured cookie cutters. Arranged cut cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. When you have cut all the cookies you can from a roll of dough, collect the scraps, flour your surface and tools, and roll dough out again. If dough ever becomes too soft, wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and chill for another 20 minutes. Repeat this step until all the dough is used or cookie sheets are full.
Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes or until bottoms of cookies begin to turn a light golden color. If baking two cookie sheets at once, rotate baking sheets halfway through cooking time.
Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Once cooled, decorate cookies as desired. Cookies can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
* If you don't have any cake flour on hand, you can make your own: Using a 1 cup measuring cup, add 2 tbsp cornstarch. Fill the rest of the measuring cup with all-purpose flour. Use this ratio to create as much cake flour as you need. Sift the ingredients together and use as directed in the recipe. * If you don't have any cornstarch to make your own cake flour, you can completely substitute the cake flour for 2 1/4 all-purpose flour.
Recipe from Food Network.