These Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies are sweet and tender and perfect for any holiday! This simple recipe comes together quickly and you can customize them for whatever occasion you're baking for using different cookie cutters. These would also be a great base for decorating with sprinkles and icing.
The cookies have crisp, lightly browned edges with soft centers - the perfect combination in my opinion. With lemon and nutmeg scented dough, this is really the best cut out cookie recipe you will find! I've adapted this recipe from my grandma's tried and true sugar cookie recipe, which is the best ever!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- You'll only need 10 ingredients that you likely already have on hand.
- The texture of these cut out sugar cookies is soft and tender but still holds the shape of your cookie cutter.
- It teaches you how to make soft sugar cookies in 4 easy steps.
- These shaped sugar cookies are extra special thanks to both lemon and nutmeg flavor.
- I always recommend using unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt going into your baked goods - and these soft Christmas cookies are no exception!
- The unique flavor of these cookies comes partially from both lemon and vanilla extract. You can find lemon extract in the baking aisle next to the vanilla, and a little goes a long way. My favorite brand to use is Watkins!
- Nutmeg is the other distinct flavor in this recipe. I recommend buying whole nutmeg and using a microplane to grate it into your recipes. This helps ensure it's freshness and will make the flavor stronger in your desserts.
See recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
Substitutions & Variations
- For a classic sugar cookie variation, swap in one teaspoon almond extract for the lemon extract and omit the nutmeg. Or, try my Soft Almond Sugar Cookies recipe!
- To jazz up these cookies, top them with sprinkles and press down lightly before baking.
- If you're wanting to learn how to make soft sugar cookies and want more of a project, you can make sugar cookie icing and decorate the sugar cookies after they have cooled.
- Make this recipe into chocolate sugar cookies by omitting the lemon extract and nutmeg and adding ¼ cup cocoa powder with the dry ingredients.
- Instead of cut out cookies, make these into round, thick sugar cookies by rolling the cookie dough into balls.
This recipe has not been tested with other substitutions or variations. If you replace or add any ingredients, please let us know how it turned out in the comments below!
How to Make Sugar Cut Out Cookies
Step 1: Cream the room temperature butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy (a few minutes on medium speed). Add the egg and vanilla and lemon extracts and mix to combine.
Step 2: Stir the dry ingredients - all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt - into the wet ingredients until the dough comes together and no streaks of flour remain. Wrap the cookie dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Step 3: When you're ready to bake your cookies, let the dough soften slightly at room temperature, then roll it out on a floured surface with a rolling pin (¼ inch thick). Cut out shapes using cookie cutters, and arrange 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
Step 4: Bake at 350°F until edges begin to tan, about 7-10 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Brush excess flour off of leftover dough, pat it into a smooth ball, and then roll out more dough to cut out until all dough is used up.
Expert Baking Tips
Tip #1: Having all of your ingredients at room temperature for Steps 1 and 2 will make it easier to form the dough without over-mixing.
Tip #2: If you don't have a rolling pin, try using a glass bottle!
Tip #3: Sometimes your cookie dough may stick inside of the cookie cutter, especially cookie cutters with small details. Before each cut, dip your cookie cutter in flour which will help the dough release without sticking.
Tip #4: Keep your rolling surface floured at all times to prevent the dough from sticking. Carefully lift corners of the dough and pat flour underneath as you roll. Using a silicone baking mat and cotton rolling pin cover also help!
You can use any size and shape cookie cutter you like! Just make sure to keep an eye on the cookies as they bake because smaller cookies will take less time to bake and vice versa for larger cookies. These are so customizable and why I think this is the best cookie cutter recipe!
No - another reason this is the best sugar cookie recipe for cutouts is that it doesn't require chilling twice. The cookies will hold their shape once you cut them out. If you do find that it is taking you a long time to cut out your cookies and the dough is getting really soft, you can pop them in the fridge or freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking.
Whatever icing you like! My favorite is what my grandma uses - powdered sugar mixed with a little unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and milk! Royal icing is also a great option.
Store sugar cookies in an airtight container on the counter for up to 1 week.
Store completely cooled cookies in a freezer bag or airtight container for up to 3 months.
To make these cut out cookies ahead of time, make and freeze the dough up to 1 month in advance. Let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then soften a bit at room temperature before cutting and baking.
Soft Cut Out Sugar Cookies
- Baking sheet
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring spoons
- Cookie cutters
- Rolling Pin
- Wire cooling rack
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour weighed in grams or spooned and leveled
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes on medium speed). Mix in the egg, lemon extract, and vanilla extract.
- Stir the flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt into the wet ingredients just until combined. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Take your dough out of the refrigerator and flour a clean surface. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Roll the dough onto the floured surface using a rolling pin. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and carefully transfer them to a baking sheet. Bake 1 tray at a time until the edges just begin to tan (7-10 minutes).
- While the tray bakes, brush excess flour off of the remaining dough and pack it into a smooth ball. Re-flour the surface, roll out the dough, and cut it out. Bake and repeat.
- When the baked cookies are firm enough, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost and decorate as you like!