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Frosted Sugar Cookies are a favorite for any holiday! This sugar cookie recipe is the perfect balance of chewy with golden brown, slightly crisp edges. Frosted with a sweet buttercream icing that hardens just enough to make them stackable.

If you really love Christmas cookies, try my Candy Cane Cookies and Pinwheel Christmas Cookies next!

Sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles.
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  • Perfectly Chewy – I love that these cookies are tender and chewy but still have that slight crisp edge.
  • Make Ahead Friendly – To save time, you can make the dough a couple of days in advance and store in the fridge.
  • Perfect for Cut-Outs – Make simple circle shapes by rolling the dough into balls or use the same dough to make festive cut-out sugar cookies.
  • Stackable – Using the included frosting recipe, you’ll be able to easily stack these cookies without smashing the frosting! It’s similar in taste to the icing lofthouse cookies, with a much more delicious cookie!

Ingredients for Cookies

  • Unsalted Butter – It’s important to soften it to room temperature. If you use salted butter, you can omit the salt.
  • Confectioners Sugar – also known as powdered sugar.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract – Resist the temptation to use imitation. Real vanilla really makes a difference here.
  • Egg – It’s best to bring the egg to room temperature when you take out the butter.
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Baking Soda
  • Cream of Tartar – This helps make the cookies chewy.
  • Salt – You can omit if you use salted butter, but a little salt helps balance the sugar in cookies.
  • Sprinkles – Optional for decorating!

Ingredients for Frosting

The frosting is optional, but it only uses 4 ingredients and is really easy to make.

  • Unsalted Butter – It will need to be softened to room temperature like you do for the cookies.
  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Milk – You can use whole milk, 2%, or skim.
  • Pure Vanilla Extract

How To Make Frosted Sugar Cookies

See recipe card below for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Light yellow butter mixture in a bowl with a hand mixer.

Cream Wet Ingredients – Start by creaming the softened butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer (hand mixer or stand mixer) until it is light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla, then mix until smooth and creamy.

Flour in a big bowl with a whisk.

Dry Ingredients – In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. 

Hand mixer and a big bowl with cookie dough.
Large ball of cookie dough in a white bowl.

Combine Ingredients – Slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the butter mixture until a smooth dough forms. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Prep for Baking – When ready to bake, get the oven preheating and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Rolled out dough with a star cookie cutter.

Shape Cookies – There are several ways you can shape the cookies: circular cookies, cut-out cookies, sprinkle cookies or slice and bake!

Cookies on a baking sheet.

Bake – Bake the cookies until the edges are just starting to turn golden brown then transfer to a rack to cool.

White frosting in a glass bowl with a hand mixer.
Stack of sugar cookies, white frosting piping out onto the top one.

For the Frosting – To make the frosting, beat together the softened butter with 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in the rest of the sugar, milk, and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy. Frost the cookies and enjoy!

Sugar Cookie Shapes

  • Circular Cookies – The simplest way to make sugar cookies! Use a cookie scoop to make balls then press them on the baking sheet lightly to flatten. Or make balls of dough and roll them in granulated sugar.
  • Cut-Out Cookies – Roll the dough to ¼ inch thick and cut into shapes. 
  • Sprinkle Top Cookies – Use a cookie scoop to make balls and flatten slightly then dip the top in sprinkles.
  • Sprinkle Edges – Shape dough into a log, then wrap with plastic wrap and chill. Roll the log in sprinkles and slice into rounds with a serrated knife.

Recipe FAQs

Why do you put cream of tartar in cookies?

Cream of tartar helps makes cookies chewy because it keeps the sugar from crystallizing (which makes cookies crisp).

How do you keep cookies from spreading?

The first important thing to keep cookies from spreading is to properly measure and use the right amount of flour. But another tip is to chill the cookie dough before baking the cookies – this is especially helpful for cut-out cookies that you want to keep their shape.

What is the best thickness for sugar cookies?

When making cut-out cookies, I like to roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. This gives the perfect balance of chewy with slightly crisp edges. If you roll your cookies thinner or thicker, you’ll need to adjust the bake time.

How long should I chill cookie dough?

You want to chill cookie dough for at least 30 minutes to help prevent spreading. But you can chill cookie dough for a couple of days, or even freeze it to use later.

Do you grease the baking sheet?

You typically don’t need to grease the baking sheet since cookies have butter in them. I do recommend using either parchment paper or a silicone baking mat for easier releasing after baking.


  • Storing Cookies: Allow cookies to cool completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Freezing Cookies: Again, cool the cookies completely before storing. Place in an airtight freezer container. If you frosted the cookies you can still freeze them but you may want to flash freeze on a baking sheet for an hour before stacking and storing. 
  • Storing the dough: If you don’t plan on baking the cookies right away, you can wrap the dough in a couple layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. If freezing, wrap in plastic then place into a freezer bag to protect from freezer burn. Making cookie dough in advance is one of my favorite holiday hacks!
Sugar cookies with frosting stacked.

Expert Tips

  • Cookie Dough Texture – The final cookie dough should be like playdough. Soft and moist enough to roll between palms, but it shouldn’t stick. If it sticks to your hands, add 1 tablespoon of flour until you can easily handle it. If the dough is crumbling and not sticking together, you can add 1 tablespoon of milk until the consistency is correct.
  • Cookie Bake Time – If you are baking rolled/pressed cookies at the same time as cut-outs, make sure the thickness is the same so they cook at the same time. Otherwise put different types of separate baking sheets.
  • Sprinkles on Cut-Out Cookies  – Because the cut out cookies have added flour, the sprinkles will not stick to the top like the rolled ones. I like to dip the edges in sprinkles and they will stick to the freshly cut edges.
  • Frosting Consistency – To make frosting thicker, you can add more confectioner sugar. To make frosting thinner, you can add more milk.
  • Colored Frosting – Add a few drops of food coloring to the white icing to match any theme.
  • Stacking – The best part about this frosting is that you can stack the cookies for easier storage. It’s very important to make sure that the frosting is dry before stacking.
  • Decorate – Sugar cookies are ideal for decorating to match any theme. Frost with the sugar cookie icing, then add sprinkles, finely chopped nuts or crushed peppermints.
Sugar cookies on a plate with white frosting and sprinkles.

Sugar Cookies and Frosting Recipe

5 from 3 votes
The best Sugar Cookies have the perfect balance of chewy with golden, slightly crisp edges. This is a perfect anytime sugar cookie recipe!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Servings 24 cookies



  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 room temperature egg
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Optional: Sprinkles


  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Cookie Directions:

  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla and egg, continuing to mix until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt until fully combined.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, until a smooth dough has formed. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

Shape Cookie Dough as Preferred:

  • For circular cookies: Use a 2 Tablespoon cookie scoop and form dough between palms. Place on the prepared baking sheet and press down lightly with palms.
  • For cut out cookies: Roll dough on a floured surface about ¼ inch thick and cut desired shape with a cookie cutter.
  • For sprinkle cookies: Prepare using a circular method, dipping the top of the flattened dough ball into a small bowl of sprinkles.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 7-8 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown and the top of the cookies are opaque.
  • Transfer to the cooling rack and cool completely.

Frosting Directions:

  • In a large bowl, use an electric mixture on low speed to beat together the butter with 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the milk, vanilla and remaining confectioners sugar until a smooth and creamy frosting has formed.
  • Transfer to a piping bag and frost cooled sugar cookies.
  • Allow frosting to dry and set completely before stacking.


Note: To make frosting thicker, add more confectioners sugar. To make frosting thinner, add milk.


Calories: 148kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 110mgPotassium: 40mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 246IUCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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