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Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

A cut-out sugar cookie that holds it shape while baking, decorated in easy decorate with royal icing!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Chilling Time1 hr
Total Time25 mins
Servings: 40 cookies
Author: Heather Perine

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 1 cup (226 grams) butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup (114 grams) powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar
  • 1 large egg room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 ½ cups (285 grams) sifted flour

For the royal icing

  • 2 pounds {one bag} confectioner's sugar {907 grams}
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder {approximately 53 grams}
  • 2-3 teaspoons oil-free extract or emulsion
  • 1/2-3/4 cups warm water

Instructions

To Make The Cookies:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375oC/190oC. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper (I use two cookie sheets and just bake one batch at a time, that way I am not placing cookies onto a hot cookie sheet).
  • In a stand mixer fitted with your paddle attachment, Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm (about 60 minutes). Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies.

To Make The Royal icing

  • For the royal icing, begin by stirring the flavoring into half the water. Using a paddle attachment, gently mix the sugar and meringue powder. It's not necessary to sift the sugar beforehand, but you can if you like. With the mixer on it's lowest setting slowly add the water/flavoring mix to the dry ingredients. As the water is added, the icing will become thick and lumpy. Continue to add the remaining water {this may or may not be the entire amount} until the mixture reaches a thick, honey like consistency. At this point, turn the mixer to medium speed and whip 2-4 minutes until this icing is thick and fluffy. Mixing time can vary greatly so watch carefully and stop mixing when the icing is this enough to form a soft peak. To thin for 20-second icing, sprinkle or even better, use a spray bottle and add enough water to thin the icing so that when a spatula is run through it, the gap left behind disappears in 20 seconds.

Notes

  • You want to make sure to properly measure your flour accurately by scooping and levelling with a flat edge. For best accuracy I recommend using a kitchen scale. For a complete how and why you should measure your flour accurately you can read this post
  • Make sure your egg is at room temperature before adding to your dough so it combines accurately. I place the egg in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes before using it. 
  • You need to make sure to use room temperature butter. If the butter is too cold, the sugar cannot probably cream together with the butter and aerate the mixture. Here are 3 easy ways to bring butter to room temperature quickly. For more information on what butter does in cookies, read this post
  • Make sure to not handle the dough too much when rolling it out which can warm up the dough and cause the cookies to spread.
  • Chilling is a must. When you are rolling out and cutting out your cookies. You can always pop the whole cookie sheet back in the fridge for a few minutes before popping them in the oven.
  • Be careful not to let these cookies brown. Ten minutes worked like magic for me, but hey your oven is not mine. Start with 8 minutes and go from there. I like to have my cookie slightly browned on the bottom and then just a hint on the sides. Watch it carefully. Sugar cookies can go quickly from perfect to overbaked before you know it.
  • If you are using the same cookie sheet again and again, make sure it is completely cooled before placing more cookies on for them to bake.
  • I like rotate the cookie sheets halfway through baking. Ovens hot spots which can cause uneven baking.
  • Don't feel like making all these cookies at once? Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for later. I wrapped mine in plastic wrap and then put in a large Ziploc bag. When I was ready to make more, I simply pulled it out the freezer and let it defrost on the counter for a few hours.
Adapted from Annie's Eats