These cookies have earned their title as Perfect Vanilla Cut-out Cookies. They are easy, fuss-free, and retain their shape nicely after baking. It’s a buttery, chewy, tasty cut-out cookie that can be decorated to your heart’s content.
How to make Perfect Cut-Out Cookies
While I was making last minute cookie plans this year, the ever-important question of whether or not to do cut-out cookies came up. I hold these crucial debates within myself from time to time.
That internal deliberation lasted approximately 11 seconds. These soft, buttery cut-out cookies are known to be so good, they doesn’t even need frosting or sprinkles or…. dare I say it…chocolate. In fact, you only need 7 ingredients and some fun cookie cutters in order to make a cookie party happen.
Let’s talk about how to make cut-out cookies so good, you’ll want to eat them straight out of the oven.
Vanilla Cut-Out Cookies are packed with flavor
Aside from your usual cookies for that cookie exchange or dessert tray, amp up the flavors with these vanilla cut-out cookies this year. These little treats are perfectly shape-able with your selection of cookie cutters.
The secret: almond extract. It’s a non-negotiable ingredient that provides absolutely amazing flavor that sets these sugar cookies apart from all others.
Make these cut-out cookies big or small. Of course, bake times will vary for bigs vs. smalls, so it’s best to place similar sized cookies together on the same tray.
KEys to Successful cut-out cookies
These cookies are super easy as far as cut-out cookies go. They keep their shape really well after baking, as long as they go straight from a mini freeze session straight to the hot oven.
- Don’t skip the 10-minute freeze time prior to baking, as that helps cookies to bake without puffing/spreading away their shape.
- Be sure to measure flour accurately, using scoop/level method, described here. Your cookie dough should end up with a texture similar to play dough; not sticky nor crumbly, but soft and malleable.
- Take care not to over bake these cookies. They won’t brown much at all, and should appear slightly under-baked when you take them out of the oven. Your adorable cookies will set upon cooling.
- Because every oven and every cookie-cutter size is different, it will be important to watch your first batch carefully so you know how long your specific cookie shapes should bake for. A good way to test this is to bake a small batch first to determine your best bake time.
Decorating Your Cut-Out Cookies
These cookies are tender, buttery, and lightly sweet with a delicious infusion of vanilla and almond – though they don’t contain actual almonds, the bit of extract goes a long way in providing that aromatic almond flavor.
These cut-out cookies are genuinely so good on their own, we don’t often do much besides sprinkle some coarse sugar on top for a bit of texture.
That said, feel free to decorate your cookies to your heart’s content, because you can. Some super easy and fun ideas include:
- Colorful sprinkles added into your cookie dough; red/pink/white for Valentines, green/red/white for Christmas, or choose a funfetti style. Get creative and have fun!
- Melt white chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, transfer to a baggie, cut a tiny hole in the corner, and drizzle onto cooled cookies.
- Of course, your favorite frosting or icing can be used on cool cookies – you may want bigger shapes for this.
These Buttery Jam Thumpbrint Cookies are an all-time favorite:
These Cut-out Cookies are easy, keep their shape well after baking, and are tender and buttery. They are light in color even after baking, which makes them a great canvas for your decorating whims.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cold & cut into chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- Preheat oven to 350, with rack on lower middle position. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. It’s important to measure flour accurately; use scoop/level method to ensure proper measurement. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes; use rubber spatula to scrape down sides as needed. Be sure to mix the full amount of time or longer. Add the egg and extracts and mix to fully incorporate.
- Switch to low speed. Gradually add the flour mixture gently mixing just until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed. Do not over-mix.
- Use hands to work cookie dough into a smooth ball for rolling; if flour was measured accurately, texture will be similar to soft play-dough. It should not be sticky nor crumbly, but soft and pliable.
- Roll dough out on a floured surface to about 1/4″ thick and cut into shapes. Place cookie shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze entire cookie sheet for 10 minutes, which helps retain shape when baking. (If you live in a cold region, you may even be able to place it outside. Otherwise, you can place in freezer in smaller batches if needed.)
- Transfer sheet of semi-frozen cookies straight into the preheated oven (only bake 1 sheet at a time.) Bake larger/thicker shapes (3.5 to 4 inch diameter) for 9-11 minutes and smaller shapes 7-8 minutes. *It’s important to watch your first batch closely so you know how much time to bake your particular sized/shaped cookies. If they’re baked a bit long, they’ll be more likely to lose their shape. Cookies should be removed from oven when they seem slightly under-baked. They will set upon cooling.
- Let cool a few minutes on baking sheet and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cookies cool completely before decorating.
Worth repeating: these cookies won’t brown much, so be sure to take them out even when they look slightly under-baked and pale. As cookie shapes/sizes vary greatly depending on cookie cutters, watch your first batch of cookies carefully to become familiar with how long to bake your cookies without them losing their shape.
Yield amount states 48 cookies, but actual amount of cookies will vary depending on size of cookies/shapes.
Keywords: cut out cookies, vanilla cookies, sugar cookies
Tried-and-True holiday cookies for you:
- Soft, Chewy, Ginger Cookies. These always turn out awesome. They’re chewy and soft, but we’ve certainly modified them for cut-out style cookies too!
- Gingerbread Biscotti. These are coffee dunkin’ great! I love making these yummy crispy treats for Christmas gifts, because they keep SUPER well and taste outstanding.
- Thick and Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies. Nobody will be able to turn these down. Dense, thick, chewy, and chocolate lovers’ dream.
- Bakery Style Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are one of my top cookies ever. They’re like the ones you’d pay $2 each for at the mall.