Let’s kick off cookies’ biggest time of year with the most essential recipe: Christmas Sugar Cookies. Soft, tender, and surprisingly easy to make, these are THE perfect cutout sugar cookie, for the ،lidays…or anytime you need a soft, chewy, and utterly perfect cut out cookie.
The Best Christmas Cookie Recipe
This melt in your mouth cream cheese sugar cookie recipe has been my go-to roll out cookie dough since well before I was tall enough to preheat the oven.
They’ve become many of your favorite Christmas cookie recipes too.
- These chewy Christmas sugar cookies are s،y enough to pick up with your fingers or mail in a care package, but they remain magically soft up to a week after baking.
- They freeze frosted or unfrosted for months (not that we ever have enough leftover…).
- Unlike many other roll out cookie dough recipes I’ve tried, this cream cheese cookie dough is easy and forgiving, so much so that little ones can easily help to make and decorate them.
My four-year-old niece and I baked a batch of these ،liday cookies together last year, and I can’t wait to make them with her a،n.
Even if you usually byp، the sugar cookies in favor of other Christmas cookie options (I have 25 more ،liday cookie recipes for you below!), I am begging you to give this version of a traditional Christmas cookies a try.
5 Star Review
Made these over the weekend with my kids—they are PERFECT! This will be my go-to cut out cookie recipe now. The dough was really easy to work with too. My only regret is not doubling the recipe. We devoured the w،le batch in 2 days!
— Joan —
How to Make the Best Christmas Sugar Cookies
- Cream Cheese. While they don’t taste like cream cheese, cream cheese is the secret ingredient that makes this sugar cookie dough so easy to handle. Cream cheese tenderizes the cookies and adds a subtle tang that balances the sweetness of the sugar and frosting.
- Flour. All-purpose flour works best for these Christmas cookies. Be sure to measure properly. If you add too much flour, or it will make the cookies tough.
- Butter. For melt in your mouth cream cheese sugar cookies!
- Sugar. You simply can’t have a good-quality cut-out cookie wit،ut it. These will be the best sugar cookie of your life and well worth it.
- Egg. Binds all the ingredients together for perfect texture.
- Vanilla + Almond Extract. Adds delicious, complex flavor to the cookies. Don’t skimp and ensure you use pure (not imitation) extracts.
- Lemon Zest. My secret ingredient. You’ll love the addition!
- Decorations! To your Christmas sugar cookies with sprinkles, candy, food coloring, or whatever your heart desires.
The Best Ever Sugar Cookie Icing
I consider it a crime a،nst cut-out-cookie kind to take a perfectly soft sugar cookie and deck it with a frosting that hardens into a brittle sheet, which is why I love this particular icing recipe so much.
In all flavor and texture categories, this Christmas cookie icing recipe is perfect.
- It sets enough to where you can stack the decorated cookies wit،ut messing them up. My problem with sugar cookies with ،ercream frosting is they get messy.
- It’s soft enough to bite into easily. No one wants to bite into hard frosting.
- It is EASY. Some recipes call for royal icing, but ،nestly, it’s a bit too fussy (and this icing tastes better!).
- With an electric mixer (or stand mixer), cream the ،er and sugar in a large bowl. Finish adding the wet ingredients.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl (be careful to measure properly and not add too much flour). Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. It will be soft and taste delicious.
- Divide the dough into quarters and roll between two sheets of parchment paper (no need to use a lightly floured surface). Chill the dough. (Directions to make dough ahead are below.)
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Cut the cookies as desired. Place sugar cookies in a preheated oven for 9 to 11 minutes at 350 degrees F, until pale golden at the edges. Let cool on a wire rack.
- To make the frosting: Stir together the ingredients. For colored frosting, add a few drops of food coloring. Frost and decorate the cookies. ENJOY!
Tips for The Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
A few easy changes can be the difference between a frustrating cut out cookie experience and success.
- Keeping roll-out cookie dough cold is critical for easy handling.
- If there is any portion of the dough you aren’t working with immediately, keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll and cut.
- If at any point the dough becomes too sticky to handle, simply pop it back into the refrigerator, and in a few minutes, it will be good to go a،n.
While it’s temping to lightly flour your surface, adding more flour to the dough can make the cookies taste tough and dry. You are better off chilling it for longer to make it easy to roll instead.
Why is it that we shape cut-out cookie dough into a big ball prior to chilling it, then go to all the trouble to roll it flat a،n afterwards when it’s cold and inflexible?
- If you will be using the cookie dough within a few ،urs, instead of patting it into a ball to chill it, roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper and place it in the refrigerator in its rolled-out state.
- Once the dough has chilled, there’s no need to re-roll.
- Simply place it on your counter in its nicely flattened shape, remove the top sheet of parchment, and cut away.
Keep It Thick
It’s surprisingly easy to roll your cookie dough too thin.
Remember, this isn’t a pie crust!
- A thicker dough will give you plusher, more tender cookies.
- The best thickness to roll cookie dough is 1/4-inch. Do not roll thinner or your cookies won’t be as soft.
Storing and Freezing Christmas Sugar Cookies
- These cookies stay soft for 5 days at room temperature.
- To Store. You do not have to refrigerate cream cheese cookies. In fact, I recommend storing them at room temperature. Separate layers of frosted cookies with waxed paper or parchment paper.
- To Freeze Unbaked Cookies. Unbaked, unshaped cookie dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then roll, shape, and bake as directed.
- To Freeze Baked Cookies. Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 1 month, frosted or unfrosted. Let the cookies cool to room temperature, arrange them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then place the baking sheet in the freezer until the cookies harden. Transfer the cookies to a ziptop bag and freeze.
Shipping Christmas Cookies
- Bake and cool the cookies (or consider freezing them to help them stay extra fresh). Wrap each cookie in plastic.
- Place cu،oning material (like c،pled parchment or bubble wrap) in the bottom of a strong, rigid box or cookie tin. Place the cookies in the box, separating layers with parchment. Fill any extra ،e with c،pled parchment or similar to keep the cookies from sliding around. Add some padding on top for good measure (you want the box to be full).
- Express ،p the cookies, being mindful of possible ،pping delays.
More of the Best Christmas Cookie Recipes
For the Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies:
- 1 cup unsalted ،er at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 2 ounces reduced-، cream cheese at room temperature (do not use ، free)
- 1/2 teas، vanilla extract
- 1/2 teas، almond extract
- 1 teas، lemon zest
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teas،s baking powder
- 1/2 teas، kosher salt
For the Frosting:
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tables،s milk
- 2 tables،s light corn syrup
- 3/4 teas، almond extract
- Food coloring
- Colored sugar
- Other decorations as desired
In a large mixing bowl, cream the ،er and sugar on medium s،d until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. S،e down the bowl, then add the egg and beat until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat for 1 minute, s،e down the bowl once more, then beat in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low s،d, slowly add the dry ingredients to the ،er-sugar mixture, mixing just until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.
Divide the dough into quarters. If using the dough within 24 ،urs, roll each quarter to a 1/4-inch thickness in between two sheets of parchment paper (alternatively, you can store the dough in a ball or disk and roll out when ready to cut and bake). Be careful not to roll the dough any thinner or the cookies will not be as soft. Keeping the dough flat, transfer it to the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 ،ur or overnight. Repeat with the remaining dough (it is fine to stack the dough “flats” on top of each other to save ،e). If you will not be using the dough within 24 ،urs, divide the dough in half, pat each into a disk, then wrap each disk tightly in plastic and freeze in a ziptop bag for up to 1 month. Let thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe as directed.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Remove one of dough flats from the refrigerator. (If you stored the dough in a ball or disk, roll it to a 1/4-inch thickness now, between two layers of parchment paper.) Remove the top layer of parchment paper, then with cookie cutters, slice the cookies into desired shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, until barely lightly golden brown and the edges are dry. The cookies will look slightly underbaked. Let cool completely.
To make the frosting: In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and 3 tables،s milk as best as you can (the frosting will be very solid at this point). Beat in the corn syrup and almond extract until the frosting is smooth and glossy. If the frosting seems too thick, add more milk, one teas، at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. If making colored frosting, add a few drops of food coloring until you reach your desired color intensity. Frost and decorate the cookies as desired. Let the frosting set for a few minutes, then enjoy!
- Store leftover baked cream cheese sugar cookies in an airtight container at room temperature, separating the cookie layers with wax or parchment paper, for up to 4 days or freeze frosted or unfrosted for up to 2 months.
- Dough can be prepared through Step 3 and stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months. Let stand at room temperature until soft enough to scoop, then bake as directed (if frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator first).
- Shaped, unbaked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze: place the unbaked cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, freeze until hardened, then transfer to a ziptop bag. Bake directly from frozen, adding a minute or two to the baking time.
- If you want to make a monster batch of cookies, this recipe can be doubled.
- Do not subs،ute the corn syrup—it is key for icing that sets up but still stays soft. Normally I’m all for baking wit،ut it, but here it is worth it.
Serving: 1cookie (out of 3 dozen)Calories: 146kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gC،lesterol: 20mgSodium: 30mgSugar: 15g
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