Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
If you like soft and chewy sugar cookies, then this is the recipe for you! Just thick enough, with a buttery richness and plenty of vanilla flavor. These will be your new favorite!
*This soft and chewy sugar cookie recipe originally published on August 25, 2016. I thought it was about time it was updated. So, I’ve added some additional info and answers to a few frequently asked questions. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these sugar cookies as much as my family and I do!*
I’ve had soft and chewy sugar cookies on the brain for the last few weeks, I’ve tested and re-tested, and I’m finally ready to share this recipe!
And I really think the timing couldn’t be better. The temps are starting to cool, and soon the kiddos will be back to school.
I love to treat my kids to freshly baked cookies and milk as an after-school treat. It’s a nice tradition and such a great way to reconnect after they’ve been gone all day.
ABOUT THIS SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE
I have quite a few sugar cookie recipes on this site, but this one is definitely the easiest and most fuss-free to make. They are a simple drop cookie that is SOFT and CHEWY.
- The dough is really easy to make, with simple, basic ingredients you probably already have on hand.
- It’s a no-chill dough, so you don’t have to wait a long time to get your cookie fix.
- They’re easy to form (just drop them onto the baking sheet with a cookie scoop).
- They’re not too thick, not too thin. Just exactly how a cookie should be.
- The texture is soft and chewy, and they stay that way!
- The flavor is rich and buttery, with plenty of sweet vanilla flavor.
- They’re simple- but sometimes simple is best, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to sugar cookies!
If, however, you want:
- a sturdier cookie for decorating that has more of a tender-crisp, shortbread-like texture, go here: Sugar Cookies that Don’t Spread in the Oven.
- a cookie that is also soft but can be rolled with a rolling pin and cut into shapes, go here: Soft Cut-Out Sugar Cookies.
- something with a little more flavor than your standard sugar cookie, go here: Chocolate Sugar Cookies OR Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies.
- something a bit more eye-catching, go here: Red Velvet Sugar Cookies.
HOW TO MAKE SOFT & CHEWY SUGAR COOKIES
These cookies are simple and straightforward, but when you’re talking about a simple recipe with not a lot of ingredients, you know it’s all about the technique!
MAKING THE DOUGH
Start with soft butter, and beat it with the sugar until it’s REALLY pale and REALLY fluffy. You want to get a lot of air into it. This will help your cookies to be soft and tender, and it will also help them to spread properly. Give it at least 3 to 5 minutes with the mixer on medium-high speed.
Next, work in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. The extra yolk will provide even more moisture to these chewy sugar cookies.
Once those are well incorporated, it’s time for the dry ingredients. In addition to flour, add a little bit of cornstarch. This will add structure to the cookies without causing them to be tough. Make sure you’re using cornstarch, and not cornmeal. Cornstarch is a flavorless white powder, and cornmeal is gritty, yellow, and tastes like corn chips.
You are also going to add a little bit of baking soda for leavening. This will help your cookies to puff and spread as they bake. Measure this carefully, because too much or too little will impact the shape of your final cookie. For info on how to properly measure ingredients, click here: How to Measure Ingredients for Baking.
Once the dry ingredients go in, you want to mix until just barely combined. Overmixing the dough will cause things to become tight, and your cookies may not spread properly and could become tough and hard.
BAKING THE COOKIES
Now just drop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet with a 1.5-tablespoon scoop. Keep in mind that different kinds of baking sheets can yield different results (ie: light baking sheets vs. dark baking sheets, or thin baking sheets vs. insulated ones). Here is a link to the kind of baking sheet I like to use: Baker’s Half Sheet Pan.
These will bake in a preheated oven for around 10 minutes, but you want to keep an eye on them to know for sure when they’re done. You’re looking for edges that are just barely beginning to turn golden. The centers might still look a little bit undercooked, but that’s ok because they will continue to bake as they cool. This is what’s known as “carry-over cooking.”
GLUTEN-FREE SUGAR COOKIES
These cookies can be made gluten-free just be swapping out the flour for a gluten-free blend. Look for one that subs 1:1 for regular flour. Here are a few good options:
HOW TO DECORATE SUGAR COOKIES
I’ve kept things pretty simple for the pics you see here, but there are lots of ways you can jazz these babies up!
Before the cookies go into the oven, hit them with a pinch of colorful sprinkles or sanding sugar. I really like this white sanding sugar, it’s so sparkly!
Royal icing is made with just 3 ingredients and it’s traditional for sugar cookies, especially if you like to create fancy artwork on your cookies. It’s got a consistency almost like a glaze, and it dries hard. You can find the recipe here: Royal Icing.
I absolutely ADORE a thick layer of fluffy buttercream frosting on my sugar cookies! Here are a few of my favorites:
HOW TO STORE SOFT & CHEWY SUGAR COOKIES
Once these cookies are fully cooled, just slip them into an airtight container or zip-top bag. They will keep at room temperature for a week or two, or in the refrigerator for up to a month.
CAN THE DOUGH BE MADE AHEAD?
You can definitely make this dough ahead, but if you do, it’s a good idea to use a little bit less flour. As it sits, it tends to become drier, so this will compensate for that.
Form it into a log shape, and wrap it tightly with parchment paper, and it will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
One of my favorite things is to make and scoop the dough into balls, then freeze it on a baking sheet. Once it’s frozen solid, transfer it to a zip-top bag and stash it in the freezer. It will keep for around 2 months, and every time you want freshly baked cookies you can just take out what you need. I love having warm cookies, fresh from the oven, whenever the craving strikes!
If you are having difficulty getting the result you’re after, here are some tips to help you get the most perfect sugar cookies possible!
IF YOUR SUGAR COOKIES DIDN’T SPREAD
This is a common problem and I get asked about it often. Here are a few of my best tips for cookies that spread properly:
- Make sure the butter is softened. It should be room temperature, slightly cool but not cold.
- Really whip the butter and sugar together until very pale and fluffy. It should look nearly white. This takes a minimum of 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Seven minutes is even better!
- Measure the ingredients carefully and accurately. You don’t want to pack flour into the measuring cup, and you don’t want to be stingy with the baking soda. Here’s a guide for how to measure ingredients properly: How to Measure Ingredients for Baking.
- Once the flour’s gone in, be careful not to overwork the dough. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined, then turn the mixer off. Overmixing will develop glutens that may cause the cookies to tighten up and not spread.
- Scoop the balls of dough to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Any larger than that, and they may spread too much. Any smaller, they may not spread at all.
- Bake the cookies off right away. Don’t chill the dough and don’t let it sit too long, or it will dry out, tighten up, and the cookies won’t spread.
- If all else fails, try upping the baking soda by 1/8 teaspoon.
IF YOUR SUGAR COOKIE DOUGH WAS TOO CRUMBLY
This is usually the result of letting the dough sit around too long before scooping and baking. If you know you won’t be able to finish making them right away, use a little less flour. Or you can moisten the dough back up my mixing in a few tablespoons of cream.
IF YOUR SUGAR COOKIES ARE HARD
While overmixing the dough after the flour’s gone in will definitely contribute to a tougher cookie, most times hard cookies are a result of overbaking. Pull your cookies from the oven a minute or two sooner next time, remembering that they will continue to bake and set up as they cool down.
If you really want to learn how to bake the BEST cookies, think about signing up for my free email series “5 Secrets for Baking Impossibly Soft Cookies.” There’s tons of great info here!
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Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies
- Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy (about 3 to 5 minutes).
- Add the egg, and beat on medium-high speed until incorporated.
- Stir in the egg yolk and vanilla extract until combined.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir together until incorporated.
- Use a 1.5-tablespoon cookie scoop to drop balls of cookie dough on the prepared baking sheets, allowing two inches in between for spreading.
- Flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand.
- Bake the cookies (one sheet at a time) in the center rack of the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are set and just barely beginning to turn golden. (Take care not to over-bake, or the cookies will not be as soft.)
- Cool on the baking sheet and transfer to an airtight container for storage.