These rolled sugar cookies have a perfectly light & airy texture with a delicate buttery taste. They’re the best cookie cutter sugar cookies for decorating!

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Baked rolled and cut sugar cookies on a wire cooling rack decorated in Christmas colors with royal icing.

About Rolled Sugar Cookies

When it comes to any holiday or occasion, it’s hard to find a better one-dessert-fits-all than the classic sugar cookie. From the light taste to cutting out fun shapes to the delicate royal icing decorations, these rolled cookies can be made to fit any festive event.

And who doesn’t love that feeling of pride when you get to show off your superb (or even not-so superb) decorating skills, amirite?!

What type of sugar cookies are these?

Sugar cookies come in a variety of styles, so before you get baking, you need to make sure you’re whipping up the right type. 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 the below list of the three “main types” of sugar cookies. It should help clear up some of the confusion:

  • Classic Rolled Sugar CookiesThis is the type of cookie recipe that’s on this page. These are the cookies where the dough is 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, rolling and cutting cookies, or simply cutting out shapes, 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.
  • Crinkled Sugar Cookies – These cookies are made by taking small portions of dough (usually one tablespoon), rolling it into a ball, and then baking. The dough will fan out while baking to create a round cookie with a crinkled surface. 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 thick and have a rich, buttery taste. These cookies can also be cut into shapes, but unlike rolled sugar cookies, they’re typically decorated with buttercream frosting. And as the name implies, they’re the type of cookie you commonly see at bakeries.
Undecorated rolled sugar cookies stacked on a plate.

Do you have to use cake flour?

This recipe calls for cake flour, and there are reasons why it makes these cookies great – and ways you can make these cookies if you don’t have (or don’t want to buy) any cake flour.

First off, 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% protein 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 and texture is noticable and 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 omit the cake flour issue entirely and substitute it for 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. Just keep in mind the consistency of these cookies may be denser because of the substitution.

Close up of a rolled sugar cookie in the shame of a star.

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 chilling the dough is totally worth the impact it has on your baking when it comes to cookies.

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, chewier 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.

How long are cookie cutter sugar cookies good for?

Once prepared, cooled, and decorated, these rolled and cut sugar cookies can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five days.

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.
Holding up a baked cookie cutter sugar cookie in the shape of a Christmas tree.

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. The royal icing is what makes these cookies so 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 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 2 – Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), whip together the butter and the sugar until they’re nice and fluffy.

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!

Recipe Details

Baked rolled and cut sugar cookies on a wire cooling rack decorated in Christmas colors with royal icing.
4.29 from 14 votes

Rolled Sugar Cookies

30 mins prep + 13 mins cook + 4 hrs Chilling Time
143 kcal
Yields: 24 cookies
These rolled sugar cookies have a perfectly light & airy texture with a delicate buttery taste. They're the best cookie cutter sugar cookies for decorating!

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt, then set bowl aside.
    2 1/2 cups cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), cream together butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, about 5-7 minutes.
    1 cup unsalted butter, 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Drop mixer speed to low and add egg and vanilla, mixing thoroughly until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. 
    1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 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.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then set aside.
  • 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.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

* If you don’t have any cake flour on hand, you can make your own:. Using a 1 cup measuring cup, add 2 tablespoon 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 143kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 35mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 248IU | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating




3 comments

    • Cindy
    • 3 stars

    They seem dry bit have a good flavor.

    • Dana DeVolk
    • 5 stars

    I’ve always been so nervous to try these kinds of cookies! I need to get over it because these are so cute!

    • Madi
    • 5 stars

    I love making cut out cookies! I can’t wait to give these a try!