The Perfect Roll-Out Sugar Cookies That Hold Their Shape
I have been making sugar cookies a LONG time. I can remember baking and decorating them as thank you gifts to give to my buyers when I sold pigs in 4-H. Now, I don’t want to go far enough back in time to do that math, haha! Let’s just say as an adult, I have been baking them consistently for about 11 years now. After all of those years, no sugar cookie has baked up so perfectly and deliciously as these. I promise, if you follow all of the steps, they will not dissapoint!
My Idea of the Perfect Sugar Cookie
In the past, my recipes have come from books or have been found online, but while I would go through periods of having a “favorite recipe”, none of them checked all of the boxes. Some were easy to make but the cookies would lose their shape tremendously. Other’s tended to hold their shape better, but even with chilling, they still didn’t hold their shape the way I wished they would. Had I just been planning to cover them with egg wash or sprinkled sugar (which there is NOTHING wrong with) I suppose these would have sufficed, but wanting to decorate my cookies with great detail pushed me to figure out a solution.
Now, while shape holding is a priority for me, I feel just as strongly about producing a cookie that tastes delicious. I want it to stand out amongst any other sugar cookies you have ever eaten when you take a bite out of it. I put so much thought and care into making my cookies because I want the person who receives them to feel special. A yummy cookie is a good way to convey that. Plus, my kids are easier to bribe with cookies when they taste amazing! (Please, don’t judge me.)
With taste and structure in mind, I set out to come up with my own perfect recipe and through lots of trial and error… it happened!
These sugar cookies literally melt in your mouth. I credit that one to the addition of cornstarch. It sure does something magical to the consistency of the baked cookie. Trust me, you have to try this one out and you will totally see what I mean. The taste is not the only thing I solved, though. The shape holds up exactly! I mean NO SPREAD at all. Seeing is believing so I shot this little video to show you. While I can’t let you taste the cookie through your screen, I can show the shape holding perfection of these babies.
I combatted the dreaded spread out cookie issue a couple of ways. I stuck with a small amount of sugar. Don’t worry, there is still enough sugar to allow the cookie to taste good, but too much sugar can cause your dough to spread while it bakes. However, I do prefer these cookies topped with some icing or sprinkled sugar to enhance the flavor. I also chill the dough. I am always in a rush and was turned off by dough that needed chilling. The thing is, this dough only needs about two hours, so it’s not the end of the world. Plus, once I saw how great these baked up, I felt it was totally worth it.
Let’s Bake Some Cookies
You are going to want to start out by letting your butter sit out until it reaches room temperature.
Once it’s softened, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Next, add the egg and flavoring. I use vanilla, but almond would be good too. Mix everything in your mixer until all is fully combined… make sure you scrape the side of the bowl to get everything incorporated.
Finally, add your flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt to the bowl. I want to make sure I point out to you that the dough may seem dry while you mix. Don’t quit on it! Trust me, if you follow my measurements it will come together. You will know your dough is ready when it looks like your typical cookie dough and is pulling away from the sides of your bowl. Because of the time and effort it takes for the dough to come together I strongly suggest using a stand mixer.
When I am ready to chill my dough, I like to break it up into two or three sealed bags patted down into nice little flat disks of dough. This way I can keep the dough I’m not rolling out yet in the fridge until I am ready for it. The dough will give you the best results if it’s nice and cold when you put it into the oven. Word of warning, though… If you leave the dough in the fridge for too long, you will have a very hard time rolling it out! Try to stick with just an hour or two of chill time. If you must leave it in longer than that, let it sit out for a little bit before you attempt to roll the dough.
When that chill time has passed, take out one of the bags of dough and prepare your surface. I always roll out my dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Since posting this, I have purchased a Joesph Joesph rolling pin and never looked back! Total game changer. I highly recommend it for evenly rolled dough! I roll this dough out to 1/4″ using the red disk on the rolling pin. You can certainly roll the dough thicker if you prefer, just adjust yout baking time.
I like to cut out the cookies far enough apart so that I don’t have to move them. Just remove the scraps around the cut-out cookie and slide the parchment paper onto your cookie sheet. You really are going to have great success with holding the shape of your cookie if you don’t have to move it. This method does take longer, though, because you can’t squeeze as many cookies into each “roll out”… is that a term? Hehe. So, feel free to just cram as many cookies into your rolled out dough and transfer them onto a lined cookie sheet. They will still hold up just fine. Be sure to place them a few inches apart on the sheet.
I let the baked cookies cool on the sheet for only about a minute or two. Then, I transfer them over to cooling racks where they stay for a long time. I’d leave them out for a couple of hours if you can.
Here’s the important part… If you are going to decorate these cookies, let them rest! I store them in a sealed container or bag until the next day. Longer would be fine too. By doing this you are letting the cookie set. If you decorate the sugar cookie too soon you could end up with grease spots in your royal icing called butter bleed.
Here are some of this items used to make these cookies.
These sugar cookies melt in your mouth, and completely keep their shape while baking!
- 1 cup butter unsalted
- 1 cup sugar granulated
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
Cream the room temperature butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla. Occasionally scrape down the sides while mixing. Mix until fully incorporated.
Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt until the dough comes together. (Don't over mix.)
Break the dough up into 2-3 sections and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375.
Roll out dough to about 1/4" on a lightly floured surface (I use parchment paper), and cut out cookies.
Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 9-11 minutes depending on the size of the cookies and your oven.
Allow the cookies to cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to wire rack for a couple of hours to completely cool.
If you are going to decorate your cookies with royal icing, place them in a sealed container or bag and let them set until the next day.