5 Pro Tips for Your Best Sugar Cookies Ever

Bake up a notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month she will help us take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the necessary tips and techniques and showing us all the mistakes we might make along the way.


Baking and decorating sugar cookies is often associated with the winter holidays, but in my family it’s a springtime tradition. My mom usually baked pastel-colored cookies and frosting as a fun way to welcome bright colors into our kitchen as the seasons changed outdoors. The truth is, baking sugar cookies is a wonderful baking project any time of the year: perfect for solo weekend meditation or a group activity where you can enlist the help of your family. and your friends.

In the latest episode of “Bake it Up a Notch,” I share my go-to Roll-Out Sugar Cookies recipe. And here I include a whole bunch of ways to tailor it to your specs. The basic recipe is wonderfully flexible, whether you want a thin, crispy cookie – or a thicker, softer cookie. Whether you like it plain or frozen. The possibilities are limitless! Whatever your cookie baking plans, try my tips for making your best sugar cookies yet.

1. There’s more than one right way to roll (and bake!)

My sugar cookie recipe is kind of unique: it’s really delicious prepared in different ways. You can customize your cookies to your exact preferences, controlling the thickness before baking or adjusting the total baking time.

  • For soft cookies, roll out the dough slightly thicker than 1/4 inch thick. Bake the cookies until barely golden on the outside edge – usually 2-3 minutes less than the recipe calls for.
  • For crispy cookies, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Bake cookies until evenly browned all over.

2. Consider a moment of relaxation

It’s not always necessary to cool your cut cookies before baking, but it can be helpful! While a simple round shape can go straight into the oven, more intricate shapes will look neater if you put them in the cold oven. In short: the more elaborate the shape, the more it will benefit from cooling before going into the oven. In most cases, 15 to 30 minutes is more than enough to do the trick. If your dough is sticky or soft near the end of the job, refrigerate it for as long as needed to make sure it’s firm.

3. Know your visual cues

My sugar cookie recipe can come in two flavours: vanilla or chocolate. As is often the case with chocolate baked goods, it can be difficult to determine doneness when the cookie is brown to begin with. The best visual cue for baking is to look for the biscuit to be matte and dry on the surface. When the dough first reaches the oven, the heat will cause it to appear shiny and shiny almost immediately. But as the cookie continues to bake, the surface dries out and becomes evenly matte. A cookie that still has some shine is underbaked!

4. Avoid last-minute disasters

One of the most common cookie mistakes is a cookie that spreads a little too much or sticks to a nearby cookie on the baking sheet. The good news is that these cookies are very malleable even at the end of cooking, as long as they are still lukewarm! You can use the tip of a paring knife to gently separate the cookies wherever they touch, almost always leaving no trace behind!

For perfectly round cookies, use my friend Erin Clarkson’s trick: the cookie scoot. She uses a large round cookie cutter (or the rim of a jar or glass), places it around the cookie immediately after baking, and swirls it around. The cookie cutter/cup rim gently rounds the edges evenly for perfectly round cookies.

5. Add some shine (or some crunch!)

One of my easiest sugar cookie tips is to brush the surface of the cookie with a little egg wash. Using an egg bath made with whole egg will brown the surface slightly while cooking, resulting in a slightly more sandy texture. Using an egg bath made with only egg whites will give the surface a bit of shine, without browning. (1 large whole egg or egg white + 1 tbsp water is my standard egg wash.) And, if you want to add some effortless texture and decor to your cookies, egg wash is a great way to stick toppings like finely chopped nuts. , grated coconut, sanding sugar or nuggets!