Vanilla-Butter Sugar Cookies

Total Time

Prep: 35 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling


about 7 dozen

Updated: Apr. 30, 2023
These butter sugar cookies are one of my favorite cookies to bake for Christmas. The dough recipe is versatile, so you can use it for other holidays, too. Children like to help with the cookie decorating. —Cynthia Ettel, Glencoe, Minnesota
Vanilla-Butter Sugar Cookies Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • Optional: Food coloring, sprinkles and colored sugar


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Gradually beat into creamed mixture. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-in. cookie cutters. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets; chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
  3. For frosting, beat confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to reach desired consistency. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring. Cut a small hole in the tip of a pastry bag or in a corner of a food-safe plastic bag; transfer frosting to bag. Pipe decorations. Sprinkle with colored sugar or decorate with sugar pearls.

Can you freeze butter sugar cookies?

Freeze undecorated cookies, layered between waxed paper, in freezer containers. To use, thaw and decorate as desired.

Butter Sugar Cookies Tips

What kind of butter should you use to make butter sugar cookies?

In general, if a cookie recipe calls for an unspecified type of butter and salt, it’s safe to assume you should opt for unsalted butter. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the difference between salted vs. unsalted butter.

Butter is the ideal fat for cookies because it adds the best flavor. However, stick margarine (with at least 80% fat content) and shortening will also yield good results. All three fats tenderize, add moisture, carry flavor and provide richness to cookies, so it all comes down to your recipe or personal preference.

Avoid whipped, tub, soft, liquid or reduced-fat butter products as they contain air and water and will produce flat, tough cookies.

How can you tell when butter sugar cookies are done baking?

Bake the cookies until set and just until the edges begin to brown. Be careful not to overbake as this will yield cookies that are hard and crispy instead of soft.

How do you store butter sugar cookies ?

These sugar cookies will taste best stored in a well-sealed container for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the cookies—just don't decorate them yet (see above). When you're ready to make the cookies, thaw, decorate and bake. For even more cookie tips, check our guide to baking cookies.

Amy Glander, Taste of Home Book Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 cookie: 80 calories, 4g fat (2g saturated fat), 14mg cholesterol, 74mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.