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This Christmas cut out cookies recipe makes soft sugar cookies that hold their shape well, and are perfect for frosting and decorating!

homemade christmas tree sugar cookie

These soft Christmas sugar cookies are the stuff my childhood holiday memories are made of. I adapted this recipe slightly from my Nana’s recipe for homemade Christmas cookie cutouts, and my mom made them every year as well.

I remember mom would make the dough and roll it out herself (she said my sister and I just slowed her down, lol!). Then she’d let us stamp out our favorite shapes (I was always partial to Christmas trees!). Of course, the most fun was decorating the cookies.

My dad always requested a couple cookies with extra frosting. (And when I say extra, I really mean extra extra! Think double the thickness of frosting as cookie, lol!) And he’d ask my sister to decorate his because while I always decorated neatly with just enough sprinkles for flair, she went sprinkle-crazy! Extra sprinkles mean extra sugar, and dad sure did have a sweet tooth.

handwritten christmas cutout cookies recipe with vintage recipe box and cookies
My Nana’s Christmas Cookie Cutouts recipe in my mom’s handwriting.

Now, as far as the adaptations go, first and foremost, I scaled Nana’s recipe way down. (Old-fashioned Christmas cookie recipes from back in the day always make a ton of cookies!) The second change I made was to use butter instead of Imperial Margarine, which is what her recipe called for by name. And the third change I made was to omit the water and bump up the vanilla extract.

If you’re looking for a really great recipe for cut out cookies, I highly recommend this one. These cookies are buttery, soft inside, and hold their shape well when baked.

I know I’m biased because it was my Nana’s recipe, but I think this is the absolute best sugar cookie recipe. It’s perfect for Christmas sugar cookies, but you can use different cookie cutter shapes year-round. Cheers to making old holiday traditions new again!

This post is dedicated with love to my Nana, 1939-2023.

overhead view of plate of decorated christmas sugar cookies

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • If you like super soft sugar cookies, this recipe is it. And if you want cut-out cookies that hold their shape well, this is it. With 2 cups of flour, these cookies are deliciously soft but expand a bit. However, if you bump up the flour to 2 1/4 cups, these cookies will hold their shape perfectly without spreading and still stay soft in the center. This is a big reason why I think this is the best Christmas cutout cookies recipe; you can decide which way you prefer!
  • It’s easy and doesn’t require special equipment. You really only need a bowl and a wooden spoon to make the cookie dough!
  • It’s economical. Making cookies is a lot more budget-friendly than buying them pre-made! And plus, you get to partake in the fun of decorating them.
  • Do it in stages if you don’t have time to make a day of it. You can bake the cookies up to 1 week before you frost and decorate them! (Store them at room temperature wrapped well or in an airtight container.)
  • Perfect for making memories. Start a new family tradition! Speaking from experience, I guarantee the whole family will love it and you’ll make memories that last a lifetime.
decorated christmas tree cutout cookie with vintage recipe box behind

Christmas Cut Out Cookies with Frosting Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

Cutout Sugar Cookies Ingredients

christmas sugar cookie ingredients
  • Unsalted butter – at room temperature or slightly softened (not melted)
  • Sugar – granulated white sugar
  • Egg – at room temperature
  • Vanilla extract – for flavor and aroma
  • Flour – use all-purpose flour here; 2 cups of flour for this recipe will yield soft cutout cookies that spread a bit while baking (this was always my mom’s preference for these cookies). If you increase the flour to 2 1/4 cups you will have cookies that hold their shape well and don’t expand much while baking (I like these cookies a bit better)
  • Baking powder and baking soda – the leavening agents that make our cookies rise
  • Salt – so our cookies aren’t bland

Homemade Cookie Icing Ingredients

You don’t have to make your own frosting for these cookies, but it’s quick and easy to do! I like this recipe a lot better than making royal icing, which is also popular for icing cutout cookies.

For this Christmas cookie frosting recipe we don’t need special ingredients (like egg whites or meringue powder!), and it’s very forgiving. Top frosted cookies with sprinkles, and you won’t even notice any imperfections in the frosting.

Plus, to be honest I’m of the mind that homemade cookies are made with love and not meant to look like factory-made cookies. Embrace the fact that each one is a little different! (And to avoid any frustrations, embrace the fact that if you’re decorating these cookies with kids – or kids-at-heart – there will likely be sprinkles everywhere and you’ll find them in random places for the next couple weeks! It’s just part of the process, lol.)

sugar cookie frosting ingredients
  • Unsalted butter – at room temperature
  • Vanilla extract – for flavor and aroma
  • Salt – to create a balanced flavor profile
  • Powdered sugar – along with butter, powdered sugar is the base of this easy American buttercream that’s perfect for frosting sugar cookies
  • Milk – to make the frosting smooth and creamy

For Decorating

  • Festive sprinkles – the sky is the limit when it comes to what sprinkles you can use to decorate holiday cut out cookies; I like a mix of sprinkles, including:

Instructions

Make the Sugar Cookie Dough for Cut Out Cookies

how to make homemade christmas cut out sugar cookie dough
  1. Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and stir well to combine (you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon or use a hand-held electric mixer). Stir or beat in the egg and vanilla.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Stir or beat to combine.
  4. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough to a disk, wrap it well, and refrigerate until fully chilled, about 1 hour.

Roll Out, Stamp, and Bake the Cut Out Cookies

how to roll out and bake christmas sugar cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to a thickness of about 1/4-inch.
  2. Use cookie stamps to stamp the dough into as many cookies as you can.
  3. Arrange the cookies about 1-inch apart on ungreased, unlined cookie trays. Gather up the dough scraps, form them into a ball, roll it out, stamp it into cookies, and arrange them on cookie trays. Repeat this process until all the dough is gone. (I get about 2 half-sheet pans of cookies from this recipe.)
  4. Bake the cookies until set, about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through. Pro Tip: Don’t bake these cookies until they’re golden or they’ll be overcooked.

Make the Christmas Cookie Frosting

how to make frosting for xmas sugar cookies
  1. Add the butter, vanilla, and salt to a large bowl. Use a hand-held electric beater to mix until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar.
  3. Beat the mixture until well-combined (it will be lumpy).
  4. Add the milk and continue beating until smooth and creamy.

Frost and Decorate the Cookies

spread of christmas sugar cookies being frosted and decorated on marble countertop

Frost the cookies once they’re cool, and add any sprinkles or decorations you like before the frosting sets.

Make Ahead

You can bake these cookies up to 1 week before you frost and decorate them! Store them wrapped well (or in an airtight container) at room temperature.

Or if you prefer, you can make them up to 2 months ahead of time and store them in the freezer.

Storage

After these cookies are frosted and decorated, once the frosting hardens you can store these cookies wrapped well (or in an airtight container) at room temperature for up to 1 week. If you have to stack them, you can do it between layers of wax paper or parchment paper to keep them neater.

snowflake stars and christmas tree cutout sugar cookies

Homemade Christmas Sugar Cookies FAQs

How Long Do You Have to Let Christmas Cut Out Cookies Cool Before Frosting and Decorating?

Sugar cookies should be cooled to room temperature before frosting or icing them. This so the icing doesn’t melt and run off!

I usually let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the trays, and then use a metal spatula to transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, which takes about 15 minutes more.

So in about 20 minutes total, you’ll be ready to frost and decorate your beautiful cookies. Don’t rush the process; the end result will be worth the wait!

sugar xmas cookies with and without frosting and sprinkles

How Long Can You Freeze Sugar Cookies?

You can either freeze this cookie dough it’s baked, or freeze the cookies once after they’re baked and cooled.

To freeze cutout sugar cookie dough, make the recipe through Instruction 2 in the section “For the Cutout Cookies” of the recipe card. Wrap the dough disks in plastic wrap as directed, and then in freezer paper. Put the wrapped dough disks into freezer-safe zip-top bags. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the night before you want to bake the cookies, and then continue with the rest of the recipe as written.

To freeze cut out cookies after they’re baked, once the cookies are cool, arrange them in an airtight container between pieces of parchment paper. Freeze for up to 2 months.

hand holding snowman cutout cookie

Do I Need to Use a Stand Mixer to Make Cut Out Sugar Cookie Dough?

Nope! Not for this recipe, friends.

I’ll actually do you one better; you can make the dough for this recipe entirely by hand with just a bowl and wooden spoon! How’s that for old fashioned cookies?!

But I have to say, look at how many pretty colors Kitchenaid stand mixers come in now! I have the “milkshake” color and it’s gorgeous in person.

More Christmas Cookie Recipes to Try

easy christmas sugar cookies recipe with frosting

Let’s Connect

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Christmas Cookie Cutouts Recipe with Homemade Frosting

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Other Time2 hours 20 minutes
Yields: 28 servings
This Christmas cut out cookies recipe makes soft sugar cookies that hold their shape well, and are perfect for frosting and decorating!

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Equipment

Ingredients
 

Cutout Cookies:

Cutout Cookie Frosting:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 34 tablespoons powdered sugar (34 tablespoons = 2 cups + 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 teaspoons milk

For Decorating:

  • Festive sprinkles

Instructions
 

For the Cutout Cookies:

  • Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and stir well to combine (you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon or use a hand-held electric mixer). Stir or beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and stir or beat to combine.
  • Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough to a disk, wrap it well, and refrigerate until fully chilled, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Use cookie stamps to stamp the dough into as many cookies as you can. Arrange the cookies about 1-inch apart on ungreased, unlined cookie trays.
  • Gather up the dough scraps, form them into a ball, roll it out, stamp it into cookies, and arrange them on cookie trays. Repeat this process until all the dough is gone. (I get about 2 half-sheet pans of cookies from this recipe.)
  • Bake the cookies until set, about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the trays once halfway through (don’t bake them until they’re golden or they’ll be overcooked).
  • Cool 5 minutes on the trays, and then use a metal spatula to transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

For the Frosting:

  • Add the butter, vanilla, and salt to a large bowl. Use a hand-held electric beater to mix until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar (it will be lumpy). Add the milk and continue beating until smooth and creamy.

To Decorate:

  • Frost the cookies and add any sprinkles or decorations you like before the frosting sets.

Notes

  • Flour Amount: 2 cups of flour for this recipe will yield soft cutout cookies that spread a bit while baking (this was always my mom’s preference for these cookies). If you increase the flour to 2 1/4 cups you will have cookies that hold their shape well and don’t expand much while baking (I like these cookies a bit better). Either way, make sure you refrigerate the dough until fully chilled!
  • Dough Stickiness: This dough will be sticky whether you use 2 cups or 2 1/4 cups of flour. That’s why it’s important to chill it, and roll it out on a well-floured surface.
  • Storage: Once the frosting hardens, you can store these cookies wrapped well (or in an airtight container) at room temperature for up to 1 week. If you have to stack them, you can do it between layers of wax paper or parchment paper to keep them neater.
  • Make Ahead: You can bake these cookies up to 1 week before you frost and decorate them! Store them wrapped well (or in an airtight container) at room temperature.
  • Recipe Yield: I get about 28 medium-sized cookies out of this recipe (not the small stars and not the massive gingerbread men; think along the lines of Christmas trees, snowflakes, and snowmen). It’s usually enough cookies to fill 2 half-sheet pans, which are 18 by 13-inches. Of course depending on the size of your cookie stamps you will get more or less cookies out of this recipe. If you’re making them for a big crowd, use a small cookie stamp (such as a star) to get a lot more cookies!
  • Nutrition Information: The nutritional information for this recipe was calculated without the festive sprinkles.

Freezing Instructions

You can either freeze this cookie dough it’s baked, or freeze the cookies once after they’re baked and cooled.
To freeze cutout sugar cookie dough, make the recipe through Instruction 2 in the section “For the Cutout Cookies” of the recipe card. Wrap the dough disks in plastic wrap as directed, and then in freezer paper. Put the wrapped dough disks into freezer-safe zip-top bags. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the night before you want to bake the cookies, and then continue with the rest of the recipe as written.
To freeze cut out cookies after they’re baked, once the cookies are cool, arrange them in an airtight container between pieces of parchment paper. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 86mg | Potassium: 23mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 237IU | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Christmas Cookie Frosting, Christmas Cookie Icing, Christmas Cut Out Cookies, Christmas Cutout Cookies, Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipe, Christmas Sugar Cookies, Holiday Sugar Cookies, Sugar Xmas Cookies

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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