These are the best soft, no spread sugar cookies! They are perfect for cut outs (cookie cutters) and hold their shape perfectly. And best of all, they stay soft for days!
Why Make This Recipe
These no spread sugar cookies, sometimes called cut out sugar cookies or roll out sugar cookies is the best sugar cookie recipe! Not only do they hold their shape when cut out with cookie cutters, but they stay soft for days, even if left uncovered.
These cookies are perfect for any holiday—we always love making them at Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We love decorating these cookies with buttercream frosting, but they are beautiful with royal icing too!
- Butter. This recipe calls for room temperature butter. Butter adds flavor and tenderness to these cookies. It is important that the butter is room temperature so it can blend well with the other ingredients and have air whipped into it, creating a good texture
- Cream Cheese. The cream cheese is our secret ingredient that keeps the cookies soft and dense. The cream cheese should be room temperature, like the butter, so it blends with the butter smoothly without curdling.
- Sugar. What would sugar cookies be without the sugar? White, granulated sugar is used for the classic sugar cookie taste.
- Vanilla & Almond Extract. We add in vanilla and almond extract to the cookie dough for an extra flavor boost.
How to Make this Recipe
- Start with room temperature cream cheese and butter. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer to mix the two together until smooth.
- Add in the sugar, egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Cream together for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. When room temperature butter and sugar are creamed together, it whips air into the mixture making it light and fluffy in texture. The tiny air bubbles that are created lift the cookie and create the perfect texture in these cookies.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the salt and flour. Stir in until the dry ingredients are just barely combined. Do not over mix.
- Pull out a large piece of plastic wrap and spray with cooking spray. Tip the dough onto the plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.
- After dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly flour the counter top and place the unwrapped dough on top. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and roll out the dough to ⅜-inch thick. You can also place the dough between two sheets of wax or parchment paper to prevent the sugar cookie dough from sticking to your counter or rolling pin.
- Lightly dust your cookie cutters with flour and cut out the cookies. Place the cut out cookie dough onto a lined and greased baking sheet. Leave about 1-inch of space between the cookies. Freeze the cookie dough for 10 minutes.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Sugar cookies, and other cookies, typically spread for a couple reasons—1) leavening agents and 2) too much sugar or too much butter.
Leavening Agents, like baking soda or baking powder, make cookies rise, puff up, and spread. Normally, this is what we want in a cookie recipe. However, with these sugar cookies we want them to hold their shape and not spread. You will notice that this recipe does not contain any leavening agents in it.
Butter and sugar liquify when they are heated, which also makes cookies spread. In this recipe, we make sure there isn’t too much of either ingredients, but also we chill the dough. By chilling the dough before we roll it out and then freezing it again after they are cut out we return the butter back to a solid state, encouraging the dough to hold its shape and not spread.
Yes, absolutely. Sugar cookies freeze super well after being baked. This is a great way to save yourself some time in the future by baking and freezing the cookies for a later date. When stored properly, sugar cookies will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. See our storage tips section below for more tips on freezing cookies and cookie dough.
There are so many ways to decorate sugar cookies! You can use buttercream frosting, royal icing, fondant, chocolate glaze, and a traditional sugar cookie glaze.
My favorite way to decorate sugar cookies is with a buttercream frosting. I’ve included my favorite buttercream recipe in the recipe below, it’s thick and pipes beautifully on to sugar cookies. Feel free to use your own if you have a favorite recipe.
- Rolling out the sugar cookie dough. When you are rolling out your dough, be sure not to roll it out too thin! The ideal width is ⅜” thick. This will give your cookies some stability so they don’t break as easy, and keep them soft because of their thickness! If you find your dough is sticking to your rolling pin, dust the sugar cookie dough with a little bit of flour, or your can place your dough between two piece of parchment paper and use the rolling pin on top of the parchment paper!
- Don’t handle the dough too much. When you are rolling out the dough and pushing your cookie dough scraps back together to created a new layer to cut out, it is easy to overhandle the sugar cookie dough. As you handle the dough you’re doing too things—warming up the dough and helping it develop gluten—both of which we don’t want. Too warm of dough and the cookies won’t hold their shape as well. Too much gluten and the cookies will be tough and lose their tender texture.
- Bake similar sized cookies together. Different sized cookies have different bake times. So try to bake similar sized cookies together so you don’t accidentally over bake any smaller cookies on the baking sheet.
- Don’t over bake the cookies. Be careful not to over bake these cookies. Remember that the cookies will continue to cook and set up as they cool. Over baking can affect the soft and tender texture of these no spread sugar cookies.
- How to make your cookies extra flat. If you plan on decorating your cookies with royal icing you may want the tops of your cookies to be extra flat. If this is the case, let your cookies cool for 3-4 minutes. Then, carefully flip the cookies so the top side is down and let them cool that way. This will help flatten them out.
Storage Tips: Freezing and Storing the Cookies and Cookie Dough
Cookie Dough. The cookie dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Make sure the cookie dough is at least double wrapped in plastic wrap before freezing to help maintain freshness and avoid freezer burn. Once frozen, thaw the cookie dough in the fridge overnight before you try to roll it out.
Baked Cookies. These cookies stay soft for days on the counter, even if left uncovered. But to ensure freshness, it’s best to store them covered at room temperature. They are best eaten with in 3-4 days. The unfrosted cookies can be frozen for up to three months. Store them either in an airtight gallon-sized freezer bag or in a Tupperware container. Thaw the cookies completely before eating or frosting.
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Soft, No Spread Sugar Cookies
- ¾ cup butter room temperature
- 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) cream cheese room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups of flour measured correctly
- 1-2 lb bag about 7 ½ cups of powdered sugar
- ⅔ cup butter room temperature.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon butter extract
- ¾ teaspoon almond extract
- food coloring optional
- Sprinkles optional
- Using either a stand mixer or hand mixer cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in sugar, egg, and extracts, and cream together for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl; add in salt and flour (make sure your flour is stir in until just barely combined.
- Pull out a large piece of plastic wrap and spray it with cooking spray. Tip dough onto plastic wrap and tightly wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Lightly flour your counter top or work surface and place unwrapped dough on top. Lightly flour the top of the dough and use a rolling pin to roll cookies out to be ⅜” thick. You can also place your dough between 2 sheets of wax paper or parchment paper and then roll the dough out if you are worried about your dough sticking to your rolling pin. You might be tempted to roll the dough out thinner so you can make more cookies, but trust me, ⅜” is the perfect width, you won’t want them thinner.
- Lightly dust your cookie cutters with flour and begin cutting out your different shapes. Place cut out shapes onto a greased and lined baking sheet, leave about 1” between your cookies and bake for 8-10 minutes.
- I like to stick any of my dough that has already been cut out, but is not baked yet into the freezer or fridge while it waits for its turn to go in the oven. This will make sure that your dough does not get too warm. Chilled dough is what helps these cookies to not spread and to hold their shape.
- Leave cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- Using a hand mixer whip butter until light and fluffy, about 1 minutes. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk, beating in between.
- Add in extracts, salt, and food coloring (if desired), and beat until frosting is smooth and equally colored throughout the batch.
- Make sure cookies are completely cool before frosting. I used a piping bag, but you can also use a knife to spread frosting on. Top with sprinkles (if desired).
originally posted 2/11/19