Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

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These holiday cut-out butter cookies are a dream to make, and they’re as delicious as they are pretty!

Christmas cookies on wooden board.

Photo by Suzana Marinkovic

I usually think of cut-out sugar cookies as something to admire rather than eat, but this recipe from King Arthur Flour is different. The cookies are buttery and tender-crisp, and the frosting adds just the right amount of sweetness. They’re also a dream to make. The dough is super easy to roll out and cut—and the cookies won’t puff up or spread out in the oven, so go ahead and break out all those ornate cookie cutters!

If you’re looking for another delightful holiday baking project, be sure to check out the Christmas wreath cookies. They’re equally fun to make and add a charming touch to your holiday dessert spread.

“I just made these cookies for the first time and loved them!! The dough was easy to work with and the cookies taste so good!!!”


What You’ll Need To Make Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

cut out sugar cookies - ingredients
  • Confectioners’ Sugar: Sweetens the dough. Confectioners’ sugar is used instead of granulated sugar as it gives the cookies a wonderfully tender texture.
  • Butter: Adds moisture and helps create a flavorful cookie.
  • Egg Yolk: Contributes to the dough’s structure and adds richness.
  • Almond Extract: Adds a distinct, aromatic flavor to the cookies. If you don’t have almond extract, substitute with vanilla extract.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Provides the base for the cookies. To ensure you’re using the correct amount of flour, spoon it into the measuring cup and level it off.
  • Royal Icing, Easy Glaze Icing, or Store-Bought Icing: Used for decorating the cookies and adding a sweet, decorative finish. The recipe for easy glaze icing can be found below.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-By-Step Instructions

Begin by combining the confectioners’ sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

butter, sugar, egg yolk, extract and salt in mixing bowl

Beat until smooth.

beaten butter and sugar mixture

Add the flour.

adding the flour to the dough

Mix on low speed until well combined. The mixture will seem dry at first but don’t worry, it will come together.

cut-out sugar cookie dough in mixer

Scrape the dough onto a work surface (if it’s sticky, dust very lightly with flour).

cut-out sugar cookie dough on counter

Knead into a ball and then cut it in half.

Ball of dough cut in half.

Shape the dough into 2 discs, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

cut out sugar cookie dough discs in plastic wrap

When you’re ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it soften for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Work it with your hands for a minute or so, until it feels soft and pliable enough to roll. Be careful not to overwork it; it should still feel cool.

Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough and rolling pin as well. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll to between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick.

rolling out cut out sugar cookie dough

Use cookie cutters to cut shapes, then use a thin metal spatula to lift the dough off of the counter and onto parchment-lined baking sheets (they can be close together; they don’t spread). Re-roll and cut the dough scraps.

cutting out shapes in dough

Place the cut-out cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets.

cut out sugar cookies ready to bake

Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 to 14 minutes, until they’re set and barely browned around the edges. Note that the cook time will vary depending on the thickness and size of the cookies. Very small cookies might be done in 8 minutes.

baked cut out sugar cookies

Let cool, then ice the cookies with royal icing, glaze icing (recipe below), or store-bought icing.

cut-out sugar cookies
Photo by Suzana Marinkovic

You May Also Like

Holiday Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

These holiday cut-out butter cookies are a dream to make, and they’re as delicious as they are pretty!

Servings: About 5 dozen 2-inch cookies
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus 2 hours to chill the dough


  • 1¼ cups Confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • 2¾ cups all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with knife
  • Royal Icing, Easy Glaze Icing (see recipe below), or store-bought icing, for decorating


  1. Combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and almond extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed at first to incorporate the sugar, then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and mix on low speed until well combined. The mixture will seem dry and crumbly at first, but don't worry—it will come together into a cohesive dough.
  2. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Scrape the dough onto the work surface and knead into a smooth ball. Cut the ball in half and form 2 discs, then wrap each disc in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. When you're ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it soften on the countertop for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set two oven racks in the centermost positions.
  4. Begin with one disc of dough, kneading it with your hands for about a minute until it becomes soft and pliable, similar in consistency to play dough. Remember, the longer the dough has been refrigerated, the more kneading it may require. Aim for a dough that’s neither crumbly nor cracking at the edges, yet be cautious not to over-knead; it should retain a cool temperature. If it becomes too warm or soft at any point, feel free to pop it back in the fridge for a bit.
  5. Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough and the rolling pin with flour as well. Roll to between ⅛" and ¼" thick, sprinkling more flour over and under the dough as needed so that it doesn't stick. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Use a thin metal spatula to lift the cut dough off of the counter and onto the prepared baking sheets (they can be close together; they don't spread). Re-roll and cut the dough scraps, dusting more flour as necessary so the dough doesn't stick. Bake the cookies for 10 to 14 minutes, until they're set and barely browned around the edges. (Note that the cook time will vary depending on the thickness and size of the cookies. And mini cookies might be done in as little as 8 minutes.)
  6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
  7. Note: The cookies are best eaten within a day or two, when they are perfectly tender and crisp. They'll keep much longer stored in an airtight container, but they'll soften up.
  8. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cookie dough can be made up to 4 days ahead of time and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, wrap each dough disc securely in plastic wrap, and place in a sealable bag. When ready to bake, remove the disks from the freezer, thaw on the counter until pliable, and proceed with recipe. The cookies can also be frozen after baking. Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Before serving, remove the cookies from the container and let them come to room temperature.
  9. To Make Easy Glaze Icing: Combine 2¼ cups confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons milk. Stir with a spoon to make a thick but spreadable glaze. If the glaze is too thin, add additional confectioners’ sugar. If it's too thick, dribble in additional milk ½ teaspoon at a time. (You'll know the consistency is right when a ribbon of glaze dribbled from the spoon will sit atop the glaze in the bowl briefly, before settling and disappearing. Be careful not to make it too thin, or it will drip right off the cookies and make a sticky mess.) Using a small spoon, dollop the icing on the center of the cookies and use a spoon, knife, toothpick or your finger to spread it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other sugar decorations while the icing is still wet. Allow the glaze to harden before storing the cookies.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 cookie
  • Calories: 82
  • Fat: 4g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 12g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Cholesterol: 12mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • This is my go to cut out cookie. Never fail! I read a review about forgetting the 2 extra Tbsp of butter n the recipe. I did the same thing. Dang! I noticed the dough was a little more crumbly. I did bake them a little longer thinking maybe being a little crispier would help. A friend stopped by when the cookies were cooling and she thought they tasted great! I used a ring rolling pin that keeps the thickness of the dough evenly when rolling for the first time. Oh my goodness! It makes the rolling out process so much easier and the cookies look perfect!

    • — Judy on March 21, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen- This is by far the best cutout cookie recipe I have ever used. I am in need of a chocolate version and wondered if this recipe might be altered??? Thanks!

    • — d.eaton on January 19, 2024
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it! Making these chocolate would require too many tweaks that may impact your results so instead, I’d look for a recipe specifically for a chocolate version. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 19, 2024
      • Reply
  • I made these for a cookie decorating party for a bunch of children and they came out great!! They were easy to cut and shape and they tasted great – most of the adults ate them plain without icing. ❤️

    • — Caly Konschewitz on December 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m an avid cookie baker, but I made these cookies after being intimidated by roll-out recipes for many years! One question. Do you have a brand of food coloring you recommend for frosting/icings? I just tried Wilton Gel and it is good, but very messy to deal with. The foil doesn’t come off the little tub container nicely at all. Used a LOT of toothpicks, haha. I’m new to gel and wanted to try and save the consistency of the frosting, glad I layered paper towels everywhere, but got it all over my hands and cuticle. Probably due to the fact I don’t use it often and need more practice. The red seemed to have a bit of a bitter after-taste, too? Maybe you can advise what brand you like?

    • — Gina on December 23, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Gina, I usually use Wilton gel, but I know what you mean about the foil! For the red, are you using the “no-taste” red color?

      • — Jenn on December 26, 2023
      • Reply
      • I will look for the no-taste! I was using a set of 8 and only the regular red was included. Thank you for the reply!

        • — Gina Hasner on December 31, 2023
        • Reply
  • I just made these cookies for the first time and loved them!! The dough was easy to work with and the cookies taste so good!!! I especially love how they don’t spread while baking. 5 stars!!

    • — Michelle on December 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe smelled wonderful when I was mixing it up. Followed the directions exactly, but the dough was like gravel. no worries it will tighten when I knead it. No such luck… finally got it in a two balls, and wrapped and put in fridge thinking that once the glutens in the flour would do their thing all would be good. Pulled it out after twelve hours, let it rest unwrapped the dough and had a total pile of gravel. It was a waste of my time, effort and the cost of the ingredients. On to find a sugar cookie recipe that works.

    • — Robin Wall on December 13, 2023
    • Reply
  • Thank you once again, Jenn! I made a batch of these cookies today with my six year old grandson. We had a blast! The dough was easy to work with and the cookies were absolutely delicious. I used the recipe for the easy glaze icing and that turned out to be so much fun to work with. The cookies look so pretty, and they taste great too! This will definitely be an annual holiday tradition for us!!

    • — Joan Melroy on December 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • I just mixed this cookie dough and realized I did not put in the extra 2 TBS of butter. Should I take it out of the frig and try to mix it in, throw away this batch, or bake them? What are your thoughts?
    Thank you, Paula

    • — Paula ONeal on November 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Paula, I hate when I do that kind of stuff! I’d leave the dough as is — it shouldn’t impact the cookies too significantly.

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Perfection!

    I read all the comments and so happy that I didn’t adjust the recipe at all. I have been making sugar cookies with my boys for 20 years and tried several recipes. This is by far THE BEST!! Mine came together perfectly with no dryness, they cut so easily and cooked beautifully!

    Thank you again for a great recipe!

    • — Mary on December 24, 2022
    • Reply
  • I am a fan of UOAC which is why I am so disappointed in this recipe. This was a huge waste of time and, sadly, ingredients. I followed the recipe exactly. I rested the dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours. I set out the disks for ~20 minutes then tried kneading. It was still cold. Terrible! The dough crumbled into chunks. I gathered it all together and rolled it out and it again crumbled into chunks. I struggled to roll out 1 cookie at a time and made 15. They baked as the recipe instructs. The taste is good, but the rolling and cutting is a failure. I made a double batch of dough and threw out most all of it.

    • — DolceSanDiego on December 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • I’m sorry you had a problem with these cookies! I have always had good luck with this dough, but some people seem to have issues with it. After re-testing it several times, I think the issue is not kneading the dough enough after resting it in the refrigerator. I have updated the instructions to be more specific about the consistency of the dough before rolling. So sorry for the frustration!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2022
      • Reply
    • Hi Dolce –
      I know what you are talking about. I made the dough Thursday and then rolled them out yesterday with similar experience in the firmness and desire to crumble. It isn’t pie dough.
      I pushed on the dough disk on and off for an hour and then on and off pushed with the rolling pin. Eventually, it rolled out to the thickness I wanted (1/4) though some of the edges of the dough sheet were slightly cracked. Did wave one of cut outs no problems. Gathered up the leftover edges and rolled them again and it was much easier. Did wave two of cut outs – mine were larger than two inches, and then rolled the left over bits out once more and it was even easier- finally ‘play dough’ texture. I noticed when I made the dough and dumped it on the counter to knead and make discs that it was already ‘playdough’. Next time, I am going to roll the disc out right then and refrigerator the dough sheet and come back later. A ‘youtube’ Cooks Illustrated Test Kitchen Christmas Cookie video recommended this approach saying it is a bit to hard to roll it out after refrigeration. So, you were 90% of the way there!! To OUC, great dough, great cut outs. Thank you……….time to decorate these guys….

      • — Laura on December 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • These came out perfect, they even taste yummy plain. Thanks!!

    • — Misty on December 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn…We’re going to make these cookies this weekend but I want to freeze them afterwards for a couple of weeks. Will that work? Is it okay to roll out the dough and then refrigerate them overnight before I cut the shapes?

    • — Wendy on December 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi, Wendy, you can definitely freeze the cookies after baking them. If you’d like to refrigerate the dough overnight, I’d recommend keeping it in one large piece so it doesn’t dry out. When you’re ready to make the cookies, you can take it out of the fridge and roll it out. See the bottom of the recipe for more detailed make-ahead/freezer-friendly instructions. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    If you use the Easy Glaze Icing, do you have to refrigerate the iced cookies, since they contain a little milk? Thanks

    • — Leigh on December 7, 2022
    • Reply
    • No, you don’t need to refrigerate the cookies. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 8, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I would like to make these cookies. What roller pin do you recommend to get the same thickness? Also, what cookie cutters do you like to use? Thank you!

    • — Elizabeth Woody on December 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, any rolling pin will do – it doesn’t matter what brand it is. And regarding the cookie cutters, I have so many I’ve collected over the years and I honestly have no idea what brand they are — I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on December 6, 2022
      • Reply
  • Very good cookies for Christmas!!!

    • — Eva on December 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Followed the recipe as it’s written. Cookies were absolutely wonderful!

    • — LeAnn on December 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • Dawn, which brand of flour did you use? Bleached or unbleached? Did you reduce the flour in any of your attempts or use 360g each time?

    • — Irene on November 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • I just made a batch of these delicious cookies. Crispy edges, soft middle and very tasty. Thank you Jennifer for another great recipe.

    • — Diane P. on September 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’ve used this recipe for years and have always had wonderful results. She changed the name from holiday cut-out butter cookies to holiday cut-out sugar cookies…I’m not sure why, but it’s still the same delicious butter cookie recipe. My tip for people struggling with the dough coming together would be to WEIGH your ingredients. Digital kitchen scales are inexpensive and help give you consistent results in all your baking. As a self admitted perfectionist, I’ll never go back to unreliable “scoop and level”measurements.

  • This is a very good recipe. These Cookies were amazing🥰.

  • Excellent! Don’t add all the flour to the recipe. just add 90-95% and check the consistency ( in the case that your flour is taking more liquid as my does) and then adjust accordingly. I would like to dip them in Chocolate. Will they remain crunchy?

    • Hi Eugenia, Glad you enjoyed the cookies! I do think it would work to dip them in chocolate.

  • I’ve just trashed a lot of products with this recipe. The dough is not a good consistency for cut-out. It results in a one jumbo cookie in the oven.

    • So sorry you had trouble, Ann. These cookies should not spread or rise – did you by chance use self-rising flour?

  • Amazing cookies! It’s important to really read the instructions carefully, but they are SO worth the effort 😊

  • Such a disaster…..was hoping to have fun with my grand-daughter decorating Christmas cookies but this dough was so dry and crumbly I threw most of it out. Managed to get two cookie sheets of cookies but bakers beware – this is a difficult dough and I wish I had read the comments which indicate exactly the same issue that I had. Lots of ingredients wasted, too. First disaster from Once upon a chef for me.

  • I was intimidated by some of the negative reviews. But I trust Jenn and figured this was my best chance to attempt to master cut-out cookies decorated with royal icing. Once again, Jenn did not disappoint. In fact, she not only provided me with two tasty and easy recipes — she created a wonderful memory for me today because I got to make these cookies with my two teenage girls. Thank you, Jenn!

  • This was my first time baking cutout cookies and followed the recipe to the tee … it was a dry crumbly mess once the flour was mixed in. Almost threw it out but then decided to knead the crumbs together with my hand right there in the mixing bowl and it eventually looked just like the finished dough in your photo.

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