A secret ingredient in this sugar cookies recipe makes these cookies the SOFTEST and most flavorful cookies of your life! And they even hold their shape after baking, so you get exactly what you want instead of sad blob cookies. (Frost them with this amazing buttercream frosting.)

Sugar Cookies Recipes

Originally posted March 15, 2017

I’m doing dishes in the kitchen when all the sudden I hear the saddest, most piercing cry come out of 4 month old Valentine. Slightly panicked, I ask Eric what happened, and he said, “I kissed her.” Oh the drawbacks of having a beard. This actually happens all the time. Poor baby faced Valentine!

Sugar Cookies

I went running last week for the first time in a very long time (like, pre-pregnancy…) I ran for 20 solid minutes and probably only went a mile and a half. (Picture a slug glorping along on the sidewalk and you pretty much have an idea of me running.)

Anyway, when I got home both of my big toes were killing me, and since then they have developed dark bruises underneath my nails. You know what this means, right. Get new shoes? Learn how to run the right way? No. Listen people, it’s a sign. The sign says DON’T EVER GO RUNNING AGAIN KAREN.

Soft Sugar Cookie

Instead, eat alllll the sugar cookies.

How to make sugar cookies

I’m super excited to share this recipe with you guys today! I’ve been working on this post for a while now. The recipe is adapted from my sister-in-law Sandi. I wrote it down in pencil in a notebook years ago and have been tweaking it ever since. They are good sugar cookies, for sure, but I was on the hunt for a secret ingredient that would make them next-level.

Best Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe

Recently Mel from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe posted these White Velvet Sugar Cookies, which has cream cheese in the dough. I was super excited to try cream cheese in my recipe, and it worked out beautifully. The cookies are tender and soft and have a delicious flavor with a tiny bit of a tang from the cream cheese. I tested this recipe a few times and didn’t make frosting every time, and I enjoyed the cookies all by themselves. They are sweet but not overwhelming. (The frosting takes care of that.) They have tons of flavor from the butter, and almond and vanilla extracts.

How to make sugar cookies

Sugar cookies for me MUST be super soft. No crunchy edges please. I want a THICK cookie with a THICK layer of frosting. And please, none of this royal icing business. Give me the goods. Go buttercream or go home. (Although I have many friends who create delicious works of art using royal icing, like my friend Glory at Glorious Treats. Just look at these! Or these!! So amazing.)

Sugar Cookies Recipe

Sticky dough.

The Best Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe

I researched a bunch of my favorite blog’s sugar cookie recipes for sugar cookie tips, because I’m actually kind of a newbie at this sugar cookie business. Kristyn from Lil’ Luna suggested on Instagram stories the other day (I’m a little obsessed with Instagram stories, anyone else??) that sugar cookies ought to be rolled out to about 3/8 inch so that they are nice and thick when they go in the oven. I’ve never rolled them that thick before and it made a huge difference!!

Sugar Cookie

This is 3/8 inch. Thiiiiick.

Soft Sugar Cookie

Don’t forget to put some flour on your cookie cutter. On the right: I use my finger to get the excess flour/dough off the outside of the cookie cutter. I used a knife to get it out of the corners of the shamrock.

best soft sugar cookie recipe

I like to use a pastry brush to get the flour off the tops of the shaped cookies. The one on the right is already baked. It still looks like a shamrock!

How to make sugar cookies

Here’s another example. Snowflakes, not snow blobs.

The SOFTEST Sugar Cookies of Your Life (That Hold Their Shape) from The Food Charlatan

On the left: this is half the dough rolled out. On the right: all the cookies from an entire batch. How many you get depends on what shape cookie cutters you use.

Sugar Cookies Recipe

Here’s the bottom of a baked cookie. It’s not browned at all and okay, okay, you may want to let it go a minute or two longer than this, especially if you plan to gift them to someone (as opposed to eating them over the kitchen sink, which was my plan for this cookie.) Also, do you see that dark spot in the center of the cookie? Perfectly under baked. Yum.

How to make sugar cookies

Tips for making the best sugar cookie

I read over on my friend Kayley’s blog (The Kitchen McCabe) that if you put the sugar cookies into a tupperware right after they have cooled a few minutes on the pan, they will stay softer longer. Genius! (I also learned this frosting technique from Kayley, (below) I’ll show you how to do it on Friday when I publish the buttercream recipe that goes with these cookies. (<<UPDATED, here’s the recipe!) Kayley did an ombre Easter egg, it’s so gorgeous! I’m not a great froster, Kayley’s the one with the skillz.)

Sugar Cookies Recipe

I’ve figured out my absolute favorite buttercream frosting to top these cookies with and will be sharing the recipe on Friday, so stay tuned! UPDATED, here’s the buttercream recipe!)

Are you an expert with sugar cookies? Do you have any other tips for amazing sugar cookies? SPILL!

Sugar Cookies for every holiday

Did I mention I decided to tackle all the holidays at once? Scroll past the recipe to see Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, 4th of July…

Best Sugar Cookie

Sugar Cookies Recipe - Fourth of July

Sugar Cookie - Halloween

Best Soft Sugar Cookie - St. Patrick's Day

If you make any of my recipes, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it! I love that.

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The SOFTEST Sugar Cookies of Your Life (That Hold Their Shape)

Serves Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on the shape     adjust servings


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour, spooned and leveled

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the softened cream cheese and continue to beat for 1 minute, until well incorporated.
  3. Add the sugar and beat well, 1-2 minutes, until fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula. This is my spatula that I love and use for every baking project.
  5. Add salt and flour and beat until just barely combined, scraping the sides and bottom again. Do not stir too much or you will make your dough tough. The dough is pretty sticky!
  6. Scrape the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap (or into a ziplock or tupperware). Cover or wrap tightly and put it in the fridge for 2 hours (or overnight) or in the freezer for 1-2 hours. (If I am in a hurry I will split the dough in half and wrap separately so that it will chill faster.)
  7. When the dough is completely chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Line 2-3 baking sheets with silpat baking mats or parchment paper.
  9. Prepare a work surface with a light dusting of flour.*
  10. If you have not already split the dough in half, do so now. Put any dough that you are not working with in the fridge.
  11. Use floured hands to flatten out the dough a bit, then use a rolling pin to roll it and smooth it out a little bit. Don't go too crazy here, remember we want the cookies to be THICK, about 3/8 inch. I actually busted out the measuring tape for this step. No crisp cookies, please.
  12. Lightly dust your chosen cookie cutters with flour. Press firmly into the dough, utilizing your space wisely. Use your finger or a knife (depending on the shape) to wipe away the excess flour/dough on the outer edge of the cookie cutter before pushing them out onto the pan. This helps you get clean lines.
  13. Place the shaped dough on the prepared baking sheet. If you are using multiple cookie cutter shapes, bake all of the same shape on the same pan. Otherwise your smaller cookies will get over baked. Leave at least 1 inch in between each cookie.
  14. If you've taken long enough that your shaped cookies are no longer chilled, place the baking sheet in the fridge or freezer for a couple minutes.
  15. Scrape together the excess dough and knead it together once or twice (as little as possible), then roll it out again to 3/8. Don't overwork the dough! (It will get tough.) Continue until the dough is gone. Refrigerate the dough as necessary. They should go into the oven cool.
  16. Bake the shaped cookies at 350 for about 9 minutes for smaller cookies, and about 10-11 minutes for larger cookies. Do NOT over bake. You do not want the edges or tops to brown at all. The cookies should be barely browned on the bottom. See photos.
  17. Leave the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes, then immediately transfer to a large tupperware and cover until they are completely cooled and you are ready to frost.
  18. Frost cookies with buttercream. Recipe coming Thursday!

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If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it!

More frosted cookies you will love!

The Softest Chocolate Sugar Cookies  << a chocolate version of this recipe

Coconut Frosted Sugar Cookies with Strawberry Hearts << if you are desperate to make today’s recipe before I post the buttercream frosting on Friday, use this frosting. It’s amazing.

Coconut-Frosted Sugar Cookies with Strawberry Hearts

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies << these are one of the top recipes on my site!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Food Charlatan

More sugar cookie recipes for you to check out!

White Velvet Sugar Cookies from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
Super Soft Sugar Cookies from The Kitchen McCabe (frosting technique)
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies from Shugary Sweets
Sugar Cookies from The Girl Who Ate Everything

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