Vanilla Sugar Cookies

vanilla sugar cookies
The Spruce / Diana Rattray
Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Chilling Time: 15 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 36 servings
Yield: 36 cookies
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
108 Calories
5g Fat
14g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 36
Amount per serving
Calories 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 19mg 6%
Sodium 38mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 15mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Whether decorated or left plain, vanilla sugar cookies are always a hit. The thick, soft center and crisp edges, along with a generous amount of pure vanilla extract, make them irresistible. The cookies are sure to disappear quickly, so you might want to make a double batch!

If you want to really emphasize the vanilla flavor, make them with vanilla sugar or replace the vanilla extract with an equal amount of vanilla bean paste. Or add about 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract, which can highlight that wonderful vanilla flavor.

The cookies are rolled and cut out into rounds, squares, or shapes, but there are other ways to shape the dough. If you would prefer to skip the rolling and cutting, shape the cookie dough into small balls, place them on the baking sheet, and press them with the bottom of a sugar-coated glass.

"The perfect, no-fail sugar cookie recipe that's easy to work with and delivers a fluffy cookie every time. I love adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of almond extract to bump up the vanilla flavor profile." —Lauryn Bodden

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 cup (198 grams) sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for vanilla sugar cookies
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.

    dry ingredients for vanilla sugar cookies

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  3. In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until well blended.

    cream the butter and sugar
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix at low speed until combined. If you find the dough to be too soft to work with, refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

    vanilla sugar cookie dough
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 F.

    Place half of the dough on a silicone mat, parchment paper, or lightly floured work surface. Roll it out to a thickness of 1/4-inch. Use cookie cutters to cut it into rounds or shapes. 

    cutting out sugar cookies
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Arrange the cut-out cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place the unbaked cookies in the fridge or freezer for at least 10 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch—chilling will help the cookies hold their shape. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or just until lightly browned around the edges.

    vanilla sugar cookies on a baking sheet
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Enjoy the cookies plain or decorate them with sugar cookie frosting and sprinkles.

    vanilla sugar cookies
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray


  • Make sure you are using pure vanilla extract—imitation vanilla extract loses flavor when baked.
  • Freezing the cut-out cookies before baking is absolutely necessary for the cookie to hold its shape, so don't skip this step!

Recipe Variations

  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to the cookie dough for light spice flavor.
  • A bit of almond extract can play up the flavor of the vanilla. Add about 1/4 teaspoon along with the vanilla extract.
  • Decorate the cookies with a simple cookie icing or a royal icing made with meringue powder or even a lemon glaze icing. You could even opt for a creamy buttercream frosting, or cream cheese frosting. Finish them with seasonal decorations, if desired.
  • Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips with 2 teaspoons of shortening; stir to blend. Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate and place on wax paper until the chocolate is firm. If desired, top with crushed peppermint sticks, sprinkles, or finely chopped nuts before the chocolate is set.

How to Store and Freeze

  • These cookies will last for up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • You may freeze vanilla sugar cookies for longer storage. Place the undecorated cookies in a zip-lock freezer bag and freeze them for up to 4 months.
  • For best quality, it is best to freeze sugar cookies before frosting them. If you must freeze frosted cookies, arrange them on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer until they are frozen solid. Arrange the frozen cookies in an airtight container with layers separated by sheets of wax paper.
  • Cookie dough freezes beautifully, too. Shape the cookie dough disks and wrap in cling wrap. Transfer the wrapped cookie dough disks to a zip-close freezer bag. Label the cookie dough with the name and date and freeze for up to 3 months.

Why are my sugar cookies hard?

Over-beating the cookie dough after adding the dry ingredients can produce hard, tough cookies. When you add the dry ingredients, mix them in just until they are blended into the wet mixture.