Soft Sugar Cookies Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 30 min. Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling
Our soft sugar cookies are the ultimate fluffy, billowy treat. A simple smear of whipped buttercream frosting completes these adorable anytime cookies.

Updated: Dec. 13, 2023

What kind of cookie person are you? Are you the type that loves a crispy, dunk-worthy cookie with a tall glass of milk? Or do you prefer soft and chewy cookies? If you’re on Team Softie, you’ll love this soft sugar cookie recipe. These easy-to-bake cookies are tender and sweet, and a generous smear of frosting (sprinkles encouraged!) makes them all the better.

Ingredients for Soft Sugar Cookies

Soft Sugar Cookies ingredientsTMB Studio

  • Butter: You’ll use butter in both the cookie dough and the frosting in our soft sugar cookie recipe. Be sure to have at least three sticks already softened before you begin.
  • Cream of tartar: You don’t see this ingredient in many recipes outside meringues, but cream of tartar is the secret to making these cookies wonderfully soft. Cream of tartar helps the cookie dough stay aerated, exactly what you need for soft cookies. This leavening agent also prevents sugar from crystalizing so the cookies bake up tender rather than crisp.
  • Almond and vanilla extract: When combined, almond extract and vanilla extract give these cookies a major boost of flavor. Using both also gives these sweets a bit more complexity.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: Make sure you have plenty of confectioners’ sugar on hand before you begin our soft sugar cookie recipe. It’s the base for the fluffy frosting.


Step 1: Make the cookie dough

Making doughTMB Studio

Preheat the oven to 350°F. To start the dough, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, and the extracts. Beat another minute or so, being sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl at least once.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, beating until just combined.

Step 2: Portion and bake

Flatten cookies with bottom of glassTMB Studio

Drop tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving 3 inches between each cookie. You can use a regular spoon here, but the Test Kitchen recommends a cookie scoop. It makes the process quick and easy. It also ensures that all your cookies are identical in size.

Flatten each cookie slightly using the bottom of a glass. To keep the cookies from sticking, dip the bottom of the glass in a bit of sugar.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden brown. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet, and let them fully cool on a wire rack.

Step 3: Make the frosting

Making frostingTMB Studio

At last, it’s time to make the creamy frosting. Beat the softened butter, confectioners’ sugar, extract and enough water to reach the desired spreadable consistency. For best results, add the water a teaspoon or two at a time. Once you reach the desired consistency, tint with food coloring.

Spread the frosting over each cookie using a small offset spatula. Feel free to add colored sugar or sprinkles to decorate.

Add colored sugar or sprinklesTMB Studio

Soft Sugar Cookies Variations

This soft sugar cookie recipe is just right for experimenting. Try these easy tweaks to customize the cookies:

  • Sub in citrus extracts: Transform these cookies into citrusy delights by adding orange or lemon extract in lieu of the almond extract.
  • Make a cocoa cream: Want to transform the simple buttercream frosting into chocolate buttercream? Swap out 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar for cocoa powder.
  • Spice it up: This recipe calls for nutmeg, but you can use a pinch of whatever warming spices you like best. Cinnamon, ginger or even a little cardamom would taste great in this recipe.

How to Store Soft Sugar Cookies

To keep cookies fresh, stash them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to about three days. A specialty cookie container can extend the shelf life of your cookies by several days. To keep the frosting looking perfect, store the cookies in a single layer or with sheets of waxed paper separating layers.

If you find that your cookies have gone too crunchy despite your best efforts, you can soften cookies with a slice of bread! This is one of our favorite sugar cookie tips (and tips for cookies in general!).

Soft Sugar Cookies Tips

Soft Sugar Cookies decorated with coloured sugar and sprinklesTMB Studio

How do you make thick, soft sugar cookies?

We get it, those Lofthouse sugar cookies are so appealing! To get a similar thick-yet-soft texture, chill your cookie dough for about 15 minutes before baking. This will help control the spread of the cookies as they bake so the cookies turn out thick and very tender.

How can you decorate soft sugar cookies?

Unlike their crispy cutout cousins, these soft sugar cookies don’t require a lot of fussy decorations. To add panache to these sweet treats, simply swipe on the buttercream icing with a small offset spatula. You can add food coloring to tint the frosting any color you choose (gel colors will give you especially vibrant hues).

And don’t forget the sprinkles! Sprinkles of all kinds add personality. You can also crumble up your favorite cookies and candies as a decoration to add more flavor and style.

Soft Sugar Cookies

Prep Time 30 min
Cook Time 10 min
Yield about 2-1/2 dozen.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons hot water
  • Food coloring, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in extracts and eggs, one at a time. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and nutmeg; gradually beat into creamed mixture.
  2. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 3 in. apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets; flatten slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake until edges begin to brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire racks; cool completely.
  3. For frosting, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, extract and enough water to reach desired consistency. If desired, tint with food coloring. Spread over cookies.

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 174 calories, 8g fat (5g saturated fat), 33mg cholesterol, 107mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (17g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.

These soft cookies are always a hit, so I often stir up a big batch. I usually add food coloring to the frosting to coordinate with the current holiday. —Coleen Walter, Bancroft, Michigan