How to Make Sugar Cookies, a Cookie Jar Classic

Think sugar cookies are just for the holidays? Think again! Learn how to make sugar cookies from scratch that you can enjoy all year long.

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When it comes to simple joys, you can’t do much better than a classic sugar cookie. And learning how to make sugar cookies yourself so you can have this sweet treat anytime is essential for home bakers of any skill level.

And before you ask—nope, sugar cookies do not have to be the time-consuming cutout and decorated kind. You can make these as drop cookies, and nothing is simpler than a good drop cookie.

How to Make Sugar Cookies at Home

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You need a great recipe to make delicious sugar cookies. Our Test Kitchen recommends this top-rated recipe from reader Helen Wallis of Vancouver, Washington.


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Additional sugar

Go to Recipe

Test Kitchen-Recommended Tools

  • Stand mixer: A good stand mixer is a must for any baking recipes. This KitchenAid mixer with a cast-iron-style finish would look great in any baker’s kitchen.
  • Vanilla: Good vanilla extract is essential in baking. You can also use vanilla bean paste to pack a good amount of flavor. Use it in the same proportion as extract.
  • Cookie scoop: This tool helps you make identically-shaped cookies. It’s a must for drop cookies like chocolate chip, ginger and oatmeal cookies.


Step 1: Start the Cookie Dough

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Start making the sugar cookie dough by creaming together the butter, sugar and shortening until light and fluffy. You definitely want butter and shortening in this recipe; the butter adds flavor and the shortening makes the cookies super tender. If you want, you can amp up the flavor by using cultured butter.

Once well combined, add in the egg and vanilla paste and beat for about five minutes. Be sure to use a good quality vanilla extract or even a rich vanilla bean paste in this recipe. Since there are very few ingredients in this recipe, you want the flavors you add to be extra tasty.

Step 2: Add Dry Ingredients

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In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and baking soda. Then add the ingredients a bit at a time (you don’t want the flour to fly up in your face when you turn the mixer on!).

Mix until the flour is just combined—no need to mix and mix and mix. Overmixing cookie dough can cause the end result to be tough.

Step 3: Shape the Cookies

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With the dough completed, it’s time to portion and shape your cookies. The easiest way to do this is with a cookie scoop. Even occasional bakers will find this gadget super handy. It gives you identically-shaped cookies with every scoop. If you don’t have one on hand, use a spoon to scoop and roll the dough into one-inch balls.

Then roll each cookie dough ball in additional granulated sugar.

Step 4: Bake

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Place each cookie onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about two inches between each cookie. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten each cookie just slightly.

Bake at 350ºF for 10 to 12 minutes, until set and edges start to turn golden. Then remove from the cookie sheet and let the cookies cool on a wire rack.

How to Store Sugar Cookies

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After sampling a few sugar cookies fresh from the oven, you can store extra cookies in an airtight container or tight-sealing cookie jar. They’ll keep well for five to seven days. And if you find they get a little too crunchy for your liking, softening up cookies is simple with a slice of bread.

If you don’t think you can finish all these cookies within a few days, you can freeze the extras. Pop ’em in a zip-top bag and toss them in the freezer. They’ll keep for about six months.

Learn more about the different types of cookies!

Try More Classic Cookies
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Lisa Kaminski
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.