The Best Cut-Out Cookie Dough Recipe

Dodging Sticky Situations and Floury Disasters

By Sara Yaniga, Macaroni KID Chicago December 24, 2023

Ever embarked on a cookie quest only to find yourself in a doughy dilemma, battling sticky situations that rival a glue factory or dealing with flour clouds that could rival a bakery explosion? Ah, the joys of the struggle in pursuit of the ideal cut-out cookie dough!

In this epic saga of culinary chaos, I've danced the doughy dance, wrestling with recipes that stuck to everything but the baking sheet and enough flour to rival a snowstorm. But fear not, fellow parents, for through the chaos and cookie calamities, I've unearthed the Holy Grail—the fail-safe, kid-approved cut-out cookie dough recipe. No more sticky fingers (well, at least from the dough), no more flour explosions—just cookie perfection that'll make your kids think you're the baking wizard of the neighborhood. 

A few Christmases ago, after endless choruses from the kids of "when are we making cookies"  I tried what I presumed to be another fail of a recipe, and boy was I wrong!  Save this recipe because it has erased all of the trials and tribulations I have encountered before.  You will need the following ingredients:

- 1 cup COLD butter, divided 

- 1 cup granulated sugar

- 2 large eggs

- 2 tsp vanilla extract or paste

- 3 to 4 cups of flour (I always use 4 cups and then add it slowly into the dough and "usually" have about 1/3 to 1/4 cup remaining)

1/2 cup of cornstarch

- 1/2 tsp of kosher salt

You will need a mixer and bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), a second mixing bowl & whisk for dry ingredients, measuring cups and spoons, baking sheets, parchment paper, a rolling pin, and cookie cutters. Depending on the size of your cookie cutters you should get at least 2 dozen cookies from this recipe.  I strongly suggest dividing the dough and working in small batches and if you can chill your rolling pin it is even easier to roll out the dough without a sticky mess or needing extra flour.

Also, just because you don't HAVE to chill this dough before working it doesn't mean you CAN'T chill it! One friend will wrap up her dough in 2-3 balls to chill for a few hours and another will cut out the shape and then chill those for a while before baking them. 

How to make the dough:

In a bowl with a mixer combine the first four ingredients in order.

In the second bowl combine the dry ingredients and use a whisk to mix them.  Then using a small measuring cup (1/4 or 1/3 cup) add the dry ingredients a scoop at a time while mixing at a medium speed. Once the dough transforms from crumbly to a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl you are done mixing.

Next, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.  

Place a piece of parchment paper on your workspace and roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness with a rolling pin. Use cookie cutters and then place the cut cookies on your prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cookies will not be brown, they remain a light color even when done.  Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes and then remove them to finish cooling. Repeat until you have used all of the dough.

Once all of the cookies have cooled you can store them as is, or decorate them with cookie icing and sprinkles.

Storing the Cookies

Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2-3 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough or unbaked cookie cutouts can be frozen for no longer than 2 months.

Our preference is to decorate the cookies with a royal icing and sprinkles.  Just mix the following ingredients:

- 3 cups of powdered sugar

- 3 (or 4) tablespoons of milk

- 2 tablespoons of corn syrup

- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

I suggest using a fork to "sift" the powdered sugar before adding the rest of the ingredients.  Then divide into smaller portions and use food coloring to create different colors if you like.  I will sometimes put the icing in a squeeze bottle if I want to create lines, but most of the time we just dip the top of the cookie in the icing or use a knife to apply.

Happy Baking!