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Basic Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are a buttery classic that make a delicious anytime treat. Try this sugar cookie recipe and enjoy your sugar cookies plain, or decorate them with icing to make them festive.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield: Makes 32
Basic Sugar Cookies

Source: Everyday Food, December 2003


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Assorted candies, sprinkles, or colored sugars, for decorating (optional)


  1. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).

  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.

  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks. To ice cookies, spread with the back of a spoon. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes. Decorate as desired.

Cook's Note

Use flour on utensils to keep dough from sticking: Dip the cookie cutters, and dust the spatula before transferring uncooked dough to a sheet. Rolling dough between two sheets of floured parchment will keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.

Reviews (67)

  • everr 20 Feb, 2015


  • kelseyjb96 16 Feb, 2015

    Some reviews complained of hard, crumbly cookies. Here are 4 reviewer tips I used to make mine better:

    1. I weighed each cup of flour to make sure it was really a cup. Each cup should be 125-130 grams.
    2. I added two tablespoons more butter than the recipe called for.
    3. Instead of freezing the dough for 20 minutes, I refrigerated it.
    4. I only baked the cookies for about 11 minutes (they looked a bit raw at first, but turned out fine).

    Result: Soft, buttery, yummy cookies! (A big hit!)

  • kelseyjb96 16 Feb, 2015

    I also kneaded the dough a bit before separating it, and I refrigerated it for about 15 minutes (in my previous comment, I said 20, but it shouldn't matter too much).

  • qtcath143 27 Jan, 2015

    Agreed, too dry! Too much flour? Freezing was a bad idea as well, I think they would have rolled out just fine. Maybe a few minutes in the fridge would have done the job.....wishing I read the comments first :/

  • Zackery J Brezina 16 Jan, 2015

    I agree with ScottCU, this recipe is good but if you pack flour into a measuring cup you get two much, i always like to take flour out of the bag with my hand and lightly sift it into the measuring cup. you get closer to the correct amount. the recipe is tasty and everyone loved them. best with cheap Wilton icing in my choice. like the flavor . also instead of powdered sugar, try using granulated sugar.

  • ScottCU 29 Dec, 2014

    I like this recipe. Reading the reviews, I see that many people are complaining about a crumbly texture. Their problem is too much flour because they used a measuring cup. You would be surprised how much extra flour you get by dipping a measuring cup into the flour bag. It gets packed. Use a kitchen scale. One cup of flour weighs 125 - 130 grams. If you weigh a cup of flour you scooped out of the bag, you will likely have about 150-160 grams. The result is too much flour. Weigh it!

  • ScottCU 1 Jan, 2015

    One more thing. If you want a chewy cookie, don't bake them as long as the recipe says to. I use an average sized cookie cutter, but only bake them 10-11 minutes, turning them once half way through. They may look underdone when you take them out, but they will continue to cook some out of the oven. If you bake these cookies for 16-18 minutes, they will turn out hard and crunchy, which some people like.

  • Lchailland 26 Dec, 2014

    I followed the exact recipe and the dough was extremely crumbly. I then read the comments (which I should have done first).

    I melted 2 TBSPs of butter and added them to the dough and it came together well. I separated the dough and wrapped them but did not refrigerate it. It rolled well and I baked them at 325 for 11 minutes which was perfect for my oven. They taste great and aren't hard. They're decorated and are kept in a sealed container which softened them a bit.

  • Kbranham31 24 Dec, 2014

    I regret that I didn't read the comments first. This was awful. The current kids came out very hard and dry. It tasted like a wafer rather than a cookie. My mom didn't eat more than one bite. I regret that I wasted the time and ingredients. This was a big mess and resulted in no Christmas cookies.

  • Tammydenver 17 Dec, 2014

    Followed the instructions exactly (like I always do with Martha's recipes...'cause she's already figured it out) I'm on my fifth batch in two days...the cookies are PERFECT for use with royal icing...don't overcook them...and frost away my fine friends!

  • Lina_xo 14 Dec, 2014

    This recipe is great, but I fixed it up a little. It tends to come out a little dry, so I always add 2 or 3 extra tablespoons of butter. Once everything is fixed, make sure to kneed the cookie down a little with warm hands. I also don't put the dough in the freezer. I put it in the fridge (sometimes not at all) And they turn out great.. Also bake JUST until edges are slighly golden. They will look raw but once they cool they are perfect and soft :)

  • gertrudebertha 7 Dec, 2014

    Martha I must say that this recipe is quite horrid. you do fool people by saying basic recipe but you must set it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Bertha and I are very disappointed and we wasted our whole day making these cookies. and they don't even taste good. we wanted to make them for our sweet grandchildren but when we fed them to our grandchildren, they spit it out in disgust. we are so ashamed of you Martha. better luck next time
    - Gertrude and Bertha

  • Ahscott15 7 Dec, 2014

    I made this recipe to the T and the dough came out dry and sandy consistency. I thought maybe overnight it'd magically change it's texture... The disks were hard as a rock. I remixed with another stick of butter assuming whoever wrote out the recipe must have had the measurements wrong. It is now a much more normal consistence. I'm going to refrigerate for an hour and cross my fingers.

  • Anise1914 24 Sep, 2014

    Tried using this recipe to make some Flower pressed sugar cookies and they taste really good! At first i was a little concern because i was afraid it's going to be one of those very sweet cookies, mainly because 1 cup of sugar is alot. But nope! They came out really good, sweet but not crazy sweet. They hold their shape really well and was firm yet soft and slightly cakey after baking. Would totally use this recipe again for the the upcoming holidays!

  • kalieghsmom 19 Apr, 2014

    I have made these to the exact recipe and they come out perfect every time. I am making a batch today to decorate for Easter today. Making a double batch since there is never any leftovers!

  • Tijana Bagaric 19 Apr, 2014

    Hey Martha, cheer up! Don't look at the haterzz!1 Haters gonna hate! You keep doing whatchu doing, I love them and my siblings would not stop nodding when I made them eat them! These ppl don't know what they talking about! They re just too judgmental! I love them! Unlike SOME ppl I like my cookies hard, better than soft and falling apart! It strengthens your teeth! Much love! Very wow! so hard!

  • Shennen Eileen 31 Mar, 2014

    If u found this recipe hit the back button quick! Wasted ingredients time money! Followed precisely - it seemed odd that it only called for 1/2 cup sugar and so much sugar! Couldn't even stir it! It was like dry Sahara desert status - when baked they didn't budge! Little dry hockey pucks with no taste! Like a dog treat no lie! Barely sweet with a super flowery taste - never had such a bad baking disaster in my life! Whoever wrote this needs to fix it - add water oil whatever : (

  • Tempie Juliano 15 Mar, 2014

    Forgot to say I also triple the recipe!!

  • Tempie Juliano 15 Mar, 2014

    I've made these 2 time for Christmas and now for St Pat's Day. I use almond flavoring instead of vanilla and EVERYONE LOVES them. It such an easy recipe, I make them when I;m cleaning house! I've never enjoyed making cookies before but this makes it so easy.

  • Von Shadowsong 16 Feb, 2014

    I made these last night for a party I hosted. They were so easy to make, soft and sweet; they turned out perfectly and were a big hit with my party guests. I will definitely use this recipe again!

  • IzzyOwns 15 Feb, 2014

    WORST RECIPE EVERR!!!! I didn't even think to look at the rating & comments of other people I so truly regret it. I was wanting to bake some special valentine cookies and it had this recipe and boy the dough was hard, and crumbly I added milk and was softer but when I took the first bite ugh! Disgusting! I was baking this for some ppl and now I wasted ingredients on this recipe. Thanks! -_- second time it has happened with Martha Stewart recipes. Never again will I use her recipes. Disappointed

  • baturar 22 Dec, 2013

    I ended up throwing the entire batch out I made with this recipe. The cookies were tough, hard, chewy, too sugary, and tasted store bought. Would not recommend.

  • tormet 22 Dec, 2013

    Agree with Nelia-- the worst sugar cookie recipe ever-- dough is +++ dry and impossible to roll and when moisture was added and I did, after much mess and time, eventually bake a batch, they were hard as rock and tasted like nothing. Threw out the rest of the dough....Back to Betty Crocker old recipe for me!

  • Aimmerz 20 Dec, 2013

    This was a quick, easy recipe. There isn't a ton of flavor but that isn't uncommon for a basic sugar cookie. They rolled out fine, provided that you kept the dough cool and floured. This was a good recipe for my toddler and I to make together. Thanks!

  • Kzazzles 10 Dec, 2013

    A good starter recipe. I tried this and the Essential Recipe No. 2: Sugar Cookies ( This is a very dry recipe and can be frustrating when adding all the flour - I have a handheld mixer so it was particularly strenuous. However, this dough is much easier to roll out and works better with cutters than the other recipe. Has a shortbread-like consistency.

  • Nellia 7 Dec, 2013

    HORRIBLE! Dough was tough and dry, couldn't roll it thin enough. Added more liquid until I could. Then once baked they were so hard you could break a tooth on them. Even the taste wasn't that great. Threw them all in the trash - no hesitation.

  • mommapaige 4 Dec, 2013

    I just put my dough in the freezer! I've made this recipe two or three times a year for the past four years. I find that I like a thicker roll, between 1/8" and 1/4". I love this recipe and it has always been a hit with family and friends.

  • Melissa_T 30 Oct, 2013

    I was looking for a simple sugar cookie recipe for cutouts that taste wonderful even without icing and I think I found it! This was perfect. The cookies are not difficult to make and they turned out terrific. My cookie cutters have details that get stamped into the top of the cookies and thankfully the design did not bake out with this recipe. I will keep this one in my file as my new standard for sugar cookie cutouts!

  • bright14u 9 Mar, 2013

    I’m not sold on this recipe at all with these cookies tasting quite bland. Try doubling the vanilla or maybe adding another teaspoon of almond extract and be very stingy using too much flour for dusting.

  • merrilee 66 23 Jan, 2013

    Recipe for basic sugar cookies!

  • Evangelina Gomez 24 Dec, 2012

    Just tried this recipe today for my family's christmas eve gathering and the icing as well!!! They were a hit. I used a cookie cutter baking pan (cookie mold baking pan??) and they were awesome. These cookies held the shape very well and was a huge hit. The icing was your typical sweet icing but everyone loved it especially the kiddos!!! This will be my go to sugar recipe for the future!! Thank you martha stewart

  • Lauren Kramer 14 Sep, 2012

    Thank you, Martha! My roommates and I loved these cookies! They were gone in a day. You're the best!

  • SillyMamma 15 Aug, 2012

    I use this recipe ALL THE TIME whenever I make sugar cookies, which, is alot. I make sugar cookies at Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, Halloween and for my daughter's school functions. I even make them just for fun between holidays. I use different cookie cutout shapes and I get told all the time that my cookies are great!

  • bassell 12 Feb, 2011

    I love this recipe, just made heart shaped ones for daughters Valentine's day party at school!

  • hannahlj 16 Jan, 2011

    This is my favourite sugar cookie recipe! I literally make it for every holiday. I normally refrigerate the dough in the fridge overnight so that is very chilled. Also after the cookies have been shaped, I place them on a cookie sheet and chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking them. It allows them to keep their shape when they are baked.

  • Apartmentchef 25 Dec, 2010

    these were so great! a versatile recipe ( i added green colour, didnt have paste -, used a lot of liquid food colour ( green ) and it worked so well for my Christmas Trees; added cocoa powder to make chocolate version- and i have to say "I AM GOOD!"- they were delicious and looked so professional. Merry Christmas!

  • carolinalois 16 Dec, 2010

    I have used this recipe for years successfully. Try this technique: Divide dough into two discs. Place each disc between two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll to desired thickness. Place each sheet of dough, in wrap, in freezer for 15 minutes. Remove, cut and follow cooking instructions. No flour needed for rolling!

  • musamoon 14 Dec, 2010

    This cookie was so dry and rock hard, I thought I was going to break a tooth. I made sure to follow the directions very carefully so I know its just not a good recipe.

  • happyfairy 13 Dec, 2010

    My post (below) was cut off? What I wanted to state was:

    After reading other comments regarding the texture as dry

  • happyfairy 13 Dec, 2010

    after reading other comments regarding the texture as dry

  • TBDZ 11 Dec, 2010

    Thank you so much for all the responses in NOT to make this sugar cookie recipe -- I just want a moist sugar cookie -- with awesome frosting!
    (Can not find my awesome recipe)

  • lurkie 30 Nov, 2010

    If the dough is too crumbly, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk. :D

  • steiermark 5 Nov, 2010

    martha, please adjust this recipe. the dough is too dry and impossible to roll out.

  • aed98033 18 Oct, 2010

    Recipe worked out fine for me. I even added a little extra flour to dough mix, so as to not have greasy cookies. I did not freeze my dough, though, I just refrigerated for 1/2 hour then rolled out. Tasted very good!

  • MartineLevy 19 Dec, 2009

    There is something wrong with this recipe. my husband and I tried it and the dough was dry. We couldn't roll it out properly. uhhhh well We tried to make 3 cookies and that worked lol

  • melwoo 21 Dec, 2008

    I just baked 4 batches of these cookies. I actually made the dough a month ago and froze it. They turned out beautifully! Almost like a shortbread cookie, not too sweet, which I appreciate. The only problem is I want to eat too many!

  • chh 20 Dec, 2008

    Do NOT use this recipe! The dough is extremely dry and crumbly, you cannot even roll it out for cookie cutouts or shape it for drop cookies. Very very dry, not a good recipe at all.

  • JamiRuppe 3 Oct, 2008

    I did not like the results I got with this recipie .. it felt like it was missing some ingredient .. so I made it 3 times to the exact specifications of the recipie .. each time it was awful. Very difficult to work with and very very dry. I will not make these cookies again.

  • michellelee 21 Mar, 2008

    These did not turn out well. The dough was dry and crumbly and difficult to work with. The cookies were extremely dry as well. I won't be making these again.

  • gdenham 4 Jan, 2008

    I had 13 kids from ages 3-14 use the dough to make enough cookies for the 90 guests at my workplace's (retreat center) New Years Celebration. It worked fantastically and the kids loved the opportunity (think it was their highlight of youth programming). Only difficult part was the dough got a bit dry after being rolled out many times. The cookies are not too sweet, which was great! Perfect for kids! Highly recommend.

  • bobbob 1 Jan, 2008

    I loved these cookies. Very easy to make and rolling the dough was so easy. I forgot to flip the first batch midway and after I did it the second time, they tunred out even better. This was an excellent recepie to use with the kids.

  • Zentational 31 Dec, 2007

    These are the worst sugar cookies I have ever had, which is unexpected, because everything else that I've made from the Everyday FOOD magazine has turned out great. These are terrible.

  • amyck1 23 Dec, 2007

    A very similar recipe in is the Martha Stewart cookbook but with 2 T of brandy. I had no brandy so added 2 T orange juice and had NO problems with dryness. However, I think if you follow the recipe and add the dry ingredients slowly, you can just stop when you have a good consistency. Especially in the winter, I find I often need to reduce dry or add wet to baked goods.

  • willmulhearn 22 Dec, 2007

    These are HORRIBLE. Do not waste your time. Dry, curmbled, dough was difficult, wish it had sofented up. Made 6 batches because I could not believe how HORRIBLE these were. Tried in commercial and residential gas and electric, and yes, I followed the directions. I have worked in test kitchens for years, and this recipe should have only found its way into the trash! Keep looking ladies, this is not the recipe to try.

  • hawkelings 20 Dec, 2007

    I also had a bit of crumbling, But I looked at martha's other sugar cookie recipes and one said to add milk. So I added two tablespoons milk and it was perfect. Everyone said they we good enough to have been from a gourmet shoppe. plus my daughter had a blast.

  • marioncita 20 Dec, 2007

    Easy to do with kids but dry I think too much flour or maybe it needs 2 eggs or something

  • mochamelissa 18 Dec, 2007

    Once the dough reached an oatmeal texture, I mixed it together using my hands and ended up rolling and cutting the dough after just 5 minutes of refrigerating (it crumbled to bits when I refrigerated it longer). I then chilled the cookies again before baking. Following this technique, the cookies turned out great!

  • AvoWoman 16 Dec, 2007

    These were terrible for me too. They turned out crumbling and dry. I added an extra egg and 1/2 stick of butter just so they would stay together enough to be rolled.

    Don't waste your time or ingredients on this recipe.

  • bipolarbear 16 Dec, 2007

    These came out horrible, too dry and crumbly. Not enough butter or eggs, too much flour. Simply awful.

  • hmstas 12 Dec, 2007

    I could get these to turn out...very dry...would mix well. Any advice?

  • hmstas 12 Dec, 2007

    I could get these to turn out...very dry...would mix well. Any advice?

  • jamieslater 8 Dec, 2007

    I have made these cookies many times now; they are fabulous. They bake up very nicely and are a real treat during Christmastime.

  • sugarmania 29 Nov, 2007

    I love this cookies !!!!
    Baking is an act of love.

  • sugarmania 29 Nov, 2007

    I love this cookies !!!!
    Baking is an act of love.

  • hayleyglasson 22 Nov, 2007

    I love the sound of these basic Sugar Cookies. My kids and I are going to make a heap of these just before Christmas for our family for Christmas gifts, we are also giving Gifts in a Jar. I didn't want to spend heaps this year, but wanted to give something from the heart of our family.

  • carriegdesigns 19 Nov, 2007

    I love baking cookies with my nieces - it has been a tradition in our family for 4 generations now. We use all kind of shapes for our holiday cookies but our favorite is the Aunt Chick's Jolly Santa Cookie Cutter Mold. It wouldn't be Christmas without him and my nieces love to decorate him the "non traditional" way but he still is as cute as can be and that is the fun of it right!

  • JXDRAGON 12 Nov, 2007

    kids love basic cookies...I made them for had them before the last amen and the adults go t there. it was funny.I made them just for the kids.

    You can also use confectionary sugar on the rolling pin and to rool them out.

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