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Best Sugar Cookies | Perfect cut-out cookies for all holidays and celebrations

Christmas Sugar Cookies

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This recipe for Christmas Sugar Cookies is perfect to use for making cut out sugar cookies for the holidays! They’re tender, delicious and keep their shape! When my friend, Kaye, shared her recipe for these Easy Sugar Cookies, I knew I had found a keeper.

I reserve this sugar cookie recipe for the holidays. My family goes nuts for the delicate, buttery homemade sugar cookies.

Christmas Sugar Cookies on a round white plate

Christmas Sugar Cookies

I’ve been using this classic sugar cookie dough for all my cut-out cookies since I first tried it. These sugar cookies keep their shape and taste wonderful.

How to Decorate Sugar Cookies

My decorating skills are a bit limited, but I like to tint the icing and spread it on with an off-set spatula. A few sprinkles make them extra festive. I remember icing dozens of round cookies orange and piping on black lines to make basketballs for Nick’s elementary school class. Now that was tedious! But they were well-loved.  And I’ve iced pink hearts for Valentine’s Day, too.

But lately, the versatile classic sugar cookie dough is whipped up for Christmas and Christmas alone. This is one easy sugar cookie recipe the whole family adores—and that doesn’t happen too often around here!

Easy Sugar Cookies with holiday frosting and sprinkles

Winner in the Battle for the Best Homemade Sugar Cookies

I invited friends over a couple of years ago to test out a few sugar cookie recipes. Interestingly, the dough that tasted the best didn’t make the winning cookies! Not that either dough was shabby in my humble opinion!

This sugar cookie recipe was the winner, and it’s the recipe I’ve been baking for over a decade. The icing is a riff on royal icing. It’s shiny, but doesn’t involve either egg whites or piping (which is far from my strong suit!).

If you don’t like to use corn syrup, go ahead and add a little more milk or even some heavy cream to thin the frosting. The results won’t be as glossy, but they’ll still be delicious!!

Homemade Sugar Cookies on a cooling rack

Tips for How to Make Sugar Cookies:

  • Use the best quality ingredients for the best tasting Christmas Sugar Cookies. Brand name butter or even European butter, Philadelphia cream cheese, and real vanilla extract are key. Watch for sales around the holidays and stock up. Note that generic and store-brand butter often have a higher percentage of water than the more expensive brands.
  • PRO-Tip: Have your butter, eggs and cream cheese at room temperature for easier incorporation.
  • Roll your cookies out with a minimal amount of flour so your cookies don’t get tough.
  • Alternatively, use powdered sugar to roll out your cookies to avoid adding extra gluten.
  • Use a large Silpat Roul’Pat to roll out your dough for easy clean up.
  • Roll cookies to a thickness of approximately 1/8 inch. You can make them thinner for a crisper cookie or thicker for a chewier cookie (you can also use a thicker cookie for a Christmas tree ornament. Just make a good-sized hole at the top of your cookie before baking and reopen as needed when they come out of the oven).
  • Baking for a little longer will give you a crispy cookie and underbaking will give you a softer cookie.
  • Bake your cookies on Parchment Paper Baking Sheets for easy clean up. You can reuse your parchment for a number of batches.
  • PRO-Tip: If your dough starts sticking to your cookie cutter, dip the cutter in a bit of flour before using it. Re-chilling the dough will also help.
  • PRO-Tip: Keep dough cold so your cookies keep their shape. Refrigerate any leftover dough before reusing. You may also put your Baking Sheet full of unbaked cookies in the fridge to rechill the dough for about 10 minutes if needed before baking.
  • Cool the sugar cookies copletely before frosting. Dust with sprinkles while the frosting is still wet so they adhere. Place on a rack to dry until the frosting hardens.
  • Place the newly frosted cookies on a cooling rack over a baking sheet, then garnish with sprinkles. The excess sprinkles will fall through the rack onto the baking sheet. Collect and reuse the leftover sprinkles if desired.

Best Sugar Cookies on a white plate on a Christmas napkin with holiday felt garland

Can You Freeze Sugar Cookies?

Yes, they freeze well. It’s best to freeze unfrosted sugar cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost, frost and decorate close to the holidays.

If you freeze frosted cookies, you risk the sprinkles bleeding when the cookies defrost. 

More Christmas Cookies You’ll Love:

Best Baking Tips | A wonderful reference for the holidays and all year long!

Best Sugar Cookies

The best iced sugar cookies! Perfect for the holidays. Recipe courtesy of my friend, Kaye.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 39 minutes
Yield 36


Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup (makes the frosting glossy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Food coloring of your choice


  1. Cream butter, cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder and stir till combined. Put dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Wrap well and chill for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375º.
  3. On floured surface, roll out half of dough to about ⅛ inch thickness. Keep other half refrigerated till needed. Using cookie cutters of your choice, cut and place on parchment lined cookie sheet at least an inch apart. Bake 7-9 minutes till cookies start to brown on edges and are firm. Cool for a couple minutes, then remove to cooling rack.
  4. To make the frosting , whisk together all ingredients. Add a bit more milk and/or corn syrup to thin if needed.


Total time does not include chilling time.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 94Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 37mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 1g


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50 comments on “Christmas Sugar Cookies”

  1. I’m always looking for great sugar cookie recipes! Does your icing dry so it’s not sticky? That seems to be a challenge too… Love the detail in your tree cutter:@)

  2. So colourful and festive, Liz. I must try your sugar cookie recipe soon.

  3. These are gorgeous, Liz! Honestly, your Christmas cookie photo shoots have been so gorgeous! They make me happy just looking!

  4. Beautiful Liz!!! I’m printing this one for sure (always looking for that “best” sugar cookie recipe and this might be the one!).

  5. These cookies look gorgeous, you have a lovely decorating style! I shy away from these fussy cookies because by the time I’ve decorated about 10, I get bored and wish I had never started. The basketball cookies must have been lovely.

  6. What a lovely decoration!

  7. This post has really gotten me into the holiday spirit, and of all the cut out shapes for sugar cookies, trees are my faves!

  8. These sugar cookies are just gorgeous, a Christmas must!

  9. So beautiful and festive, Liz! I have to try this recipe!

  10. Beautiful and very pretty! I love everything about your post – this looks like a great new recipe for me to try with the kids and everything is so festive!

  11. Beautiful cookies! They remind me of the refrigerated ones I used to make with my grandparents before I started to bake. I’m sure these are way better, but that is a fond memory nonetheless.

  12. A good sugar cookie is a great thing to have, I have no doubt your is amazing and you decorated these beautifully! we are our worst critic.

  13. Love sugar cookies.. and these look fabulous. Can’t wait for Christmas! Xx

  14. These look beautifully festive – what a great gift idea too.

  15. Your decorating skills are NOT limited. They’re simple and tasteful and very well executed. GREG

  16. wow, you really did a nice job decorating these!

  17. These look fantastic, Liz! It’s so great when you feel you have a recipe totally perfected, and I can tell that’s what you’ve done here. Bravo!

  18. These look fabulous Liz. Sugar cookies are always a hit because they are just so darn pretty when decorated.

  19. Well I don’t think your decorating skill are bad at all Liz. These Christmas tree cookies are so cute and whimsical. Frankly, they look like they could have come straight from the bakery. Beautiful!

  20. Lizzy,
    I’ve been using a sugar cookie recipe for many years but I’ll have to try yours this year. My icing isn’t really royal icing either. I think your decorated cookies look adorable.

  21. Your sugar cookies look wonderful. I like the cream cheese in the recipe, I make a recipe that is similar. I love the cutout cookies for the holidays.

  22. These cookies are beautiful and festive, perfect for the season. I couldn’t have done a better job decorating myself. 🙂

  23. Such pretty cookies, Liz! A work of art!

  24. Your decorating skill is totally nice, they are so cute. I cannot come anywhere close to your icing skills. Love a good sugar cookie recipe. So so perfect for gifts.

  25. These cookies are gorgeous, Liz. So cute. I love how you decorated them. Your tree cutter is better than mine – it has better shape. I’m not surprised your family loves these at Christmas time – they’re very festive xx

  26. Lizzy these Christmas cookies look perfect and beautiful!! Love so much!!
    Hugs xoxox

  27. Can I freeze the dough and bake closer to Christmas? In the mood for some baking today especially after drooling over these great looking cookies!

  28. I hope these never go out of style!

  29. These look like Christmas cookie perfection to me!

  30. These are beautiful! It’s usually so hot and humid at Christmas that even sugar cookies feel like they’re melting. 🙂 I’ve started putting freshly decorated sugar cookies in the dehydrator for a few minutes and then quickly packing them away. I’m going to try your recipe – maybe I can skip that step. 🙂

  31. Can this cookie be frozen with the frosting on? I am baking to make 20 cookie trays so I need to be able to freeze most of them. Thanks

    • Hi, Karen, I’ve tried freezing them, but the frosting is not nearly as attractive after they’re defrosted. I’d recommend making and freezing the cookies ahead of time and then defrosting them and frosting a few days before you want to give them away.

  32. Your instructions say nothing about adding “cream cheese”. A little frustrated.

    • Hi, Randall,

      Sorry about that! Edited to include the cream cheese (which is added with the butter). FYI, typically recipe ingredients are listed in the order they’re used. Again, I apologize for the omission. Hope you enjoy!

  33. Can I just use sprinkles instead of icing? Running out of time!

  34. Ha ha. I tried that link to “adjust servings” that is near the recipe. Below is what came back. I’m pretty certain it’s not working properly. Have a happy new year!

    Cookie Dough
    30 cup butter, at room temperature
    180 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
    60 cup sugar
    60 egg
    30 teaspoon vanilla
    120 cups flour
    30 teaspoon baking powder

    60 cup powdered sugar
    60 tablespoon milk
    60 tablespoon corn syrup (makes the frosting glossy)
    15 teaspoon almond extract
    Food coloring of your choice

    • Oh, yeah, that’s crazy!!! I think that batch would make a TON of cookies!! I think it’s because I put “varies” in the number of servings since it all depends if you’re making big cut out cookies or little ones. Next time I bake these, I’ll count them up 🙂

  35. I just made these cookies for my son’s birthday and they were a huge hit! Thank you!

  36. So festive! I’m saving this for my holiday cookie swap.

  37. I love how easy these are, they make the Christmas cookie tray shine!

  38. These are looking so sweet and easy to prepare.

  39. These are so great! Soft but crisp on the edges.

  40. We love rolling them out a little thicker for a soft cookie – delicious!

  41. These were the best holiday cookies ever. Such a great recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  42. These are on my cookie list every year- perfect!

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