Making cutout cookies doesn't have to be hard! We'll show you how to make cookies, frost and decorate them. Soon, these will be a part of your regular cookie rotation.
When it comes to classic treats that all home bakers should know, there are a few recipes that come to mind, like a basic homemade bread, a delicious apple pie and a chocolate cake that will please everyone. These are the types of recipes you can make over and over again for all kinds of occasions. I’d also put a great sugar cookie on this list. Learning how to make cookies—especially ones that can be easily customized to suit any holiday or celebration—is essential.
Because they require a few extra tools and steps, you might think that sugar cookies can be tedious, but they really are simple to make. Plus, having this recipe in your regular rotation means you’ll have a go-to treat for that next bake sale or picnic.
Then, add in your eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Follow this with the half-and-half.
In another bowl, quickly whisk together all your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add this to your creamed mixture and mix until combined.
Once your dough is put together, cover and chill for at least three hours. This will make your dough easy to handle and will prevent your cookies from spreading too much in the oven.
Step 2: Roll Out Your Cookie Dough
Taste of Home
Before rolling out your dough, dust your surface and rolling pin with flour. This will prevent the dough from sticking.
Then, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about an eighth of an inch thick. This will give you nice, crisp cookies that retain their shape. You can use any cookie cutter you like—here are some of our favorite silly ones. You can dip the edge of the cutters into flour to keep the dough from sticking to them as well.
Cookies like these can be rather fragile in this state, so use a thin spatula to move them from your workspace to the cookie sheet. Give the cookies about an inch of space—they won’t spread much, but breathing room is good.
If you like, you can reroll the scraps and get a few extra cookies. Just be sure the dough is chilled when you are rolling it out again.
Taste of Home
Step 3: Bake the Sugar Cookies
Thin cookies like these don’t take long to bake. Pop them into a 325ºF oven for six to eight minutes. If you have smaller cutout shapes or ones with fine detail, keep an eye on them after the first two minutes to make sure they don’t burn around the edges.
Once baked, allow them to cool for a minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
Step 4: Frost and Decorate the Cutout Cookies
Taste of Home
While the cookies are cooling, whip up a simple frosting. Just get your mixer out again and cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Then, slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar followed by a tablespoon of half-and-half. Add in more cream a tablespoon at a time until you get the right spreading consistency. (If you think your frosting is too runny, just add a bit more powdered sugar.) If you want to color your frosting, you can add a few drops of your favorite food color at the end.
When you have the right consistency and color, use a small offset spatula to frost your cookies. You’ll definitely want one of these tools instead of a butter knife or another spreader. They cost less than $6 and help you get beautiful results. The small shape and flat surface help you get into all the detailed edges of your cookies.
While the frosting is still tacky, decorate the cookies however you like with sprinkles, candy or colored sugar.
Try These Cutout Cookies Perfect for Any Time of Year
Talk about playing with your food! An edible color spray lets you create ombre and color blends unlike other decorating techniques. To create the ombre effect, hold a sheet of paper over already-painted sections as you add layers the color. —Shannon Norris, Taste of Home Senior Food Stylist
Go to Recipe
I make these citrusy cookies for parties and special occasions, and we always get to eat the ones that don't come out perfectly. Eventually I had to start making extra "mistakes" to keep my family happy! —Myrrh Wertz, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
We make and decorate these cutouts for different holidays and give lots of them as gifts. Last year, we baked a batch a week before Christmas to be sure we'd have plenty to give and plenty for ourselves, too. These rich cookies melt in your mouth. —Kim Hinkle, Wauseon, Ohio
Our neighbor made these for me when I was little, and now I make them for my kids, grandkids and for the children at school. Serve them with milk for the kids and tea for the grown-ups. —Nancy Lynch, Somerset, Pennsylvania
Everyone loves a classic shortbread cookie. Make each cookie magical with a quick dip into melted baking chips and rainbow-colored sprinkles. Your unicorns will love these rainbow bites. —Angela Lemoine, Howell, New Jersey
These peanut butter cinnamon cookies are perfect for bake sales, potlucks or holiday gift baskets. Use fun cookie cutters for any occasion you are celebrating. The cookie glaze dries shiny, so they look professional. —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Escondido, California
I used peanut butter in place of the butter in my take on a traditional cutout cookie, which turned out super nutty and soft. My children love to decorate the cookie with frosting, sprinkles and some creativity. —Cindi Bauer, Marshfield, Wisconsin
I collect cookie cutters (I have over 5,000!), so a good cutout recipe is a must. These cookies are crisp and buttery-tasting with just a hint of lemon, and the dough handles nicely. —Bonnie Price, Yelm, Washington
(Here's how to roll out cookie dough like a pro!)
When it’s time to start the cookie-baking season, this recipe always kicks off the festivities. My mother-in-law first shared it with me, but it’s too good to keep to myself! You can tint the buttery gingerbread cookie icing a cheery pink or green and pipe it on with a decorating tip. —Ann Scherzer, Anacortes, Washington
Christmas cutouts signal the holiday season. For variety, sprinkle half of the cookies with colored sugar before baking and frost the remaining ones after they're cooled.—Dawn Fagerstrom, Warren, Minnesota
Whenever I visit friends in Lutsen, Minnesota, I make sure to buy maple syrup there because I think it's even better than in Quebec. These delicious cookies can be decorated with sprinkles but they're just fine as is.—Lorraine Caland, Shuniah, Ontario
I was so excited to bake these with my mom after coming home from studying abroad in Germany. They remind me of the Swabian Alps I could see from my room there. Be careful not to overheat the white chocolate; it’ll lose that attractive shine. —Stephanie Bouley, North Smithfield, Rhode Island
Ruby red jam and coarse sugar add a festive look to these crisp sandwich cookies that are the perfect gift for loved ones. My husband likes coconut, so I make these for his birthday. —Jo Ellen Helmlinger, Columbus, Ohio
Every year my mom and I collect cookie recipes we want to try and then get together in early December for an afternoon of baking. These no-fail lemon cookies have become an annual tradition. They're a wonderful homemade holiday gift. —Kristen Stecklein, Glendale, Wisconsin
These old-fashioned Christmas cookies have been a holiday tradition in my family for many years. It was a joy to make these cookies for my children, and now my little granddaughter will soon be enjoying them, too. —Carolyn Moseley, Dayton, Ohio
These tender cutout cookies have a slight lemon flavor that makes them stand out from the rest. They're very easy to roll out compared to other sugar cookies I've worked with. I know you'll enjoy them as much as we do. —Judy McCreight, Springfield, Illinois
Of all the cookies I've made over the years, shortbread is the one that won't last 24 hours in our house. My 11-year-old daughter is wild for dark chocolate and the cayenne pepper is hardly noticeable, but adds a sophisticated kick.—Holly Campbell, Palouse, Washington
What makes these cookies the best ever? A delicious cream cheese dough flavored with vanilla, almond and a hint of nutmeg that's wonderfully easy to work with. The adorable decorations don't hurt, either! —Christy Hinrichs, Parkville, Missouri
These wonderful cookies require a bit of extra effort to make and assemble, but the delight on the faces of family and friends when I serve them makes it all worthwhile. —Schelby Thompson, Camden Wyoming, Delaware
A: Generally, most cookies call for the same creaming method. First, you combine your butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Finish with your dry ingredients. Be sure to read your recipe carefully, though, for any modifications to this method.
A: Cookies spread when the dough is kept a bit too warm, especially in the case of sugar cookies. What looked like perfect shapes going into the oven can come out looking misshapen. To avoid this spread, chill your sugar cookie dough before you roll it out. And if you can’t fit all the cutouts in the oven at once, chill the unbaked ones in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to pop them in.
You can also use this trick when making any other type of cookie as well. Chilled dough spreads less.
Q: Why did my cookies not flatten?
A: You shouldn’t run into this issue with sugar cookies, though you may find that some drop cookies like chocolate chippers and oatmeal raisin cookies don’t flatten or spread out as much as you’d like. In this case, make sure you thaw the dough if you’re working from frozen. Also, when portioning cookies with a cookie scoop, you can press them down a bit (but don’t totally smoosh them) with your hand.
Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa is also dedicated to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.