No-Spread Sugar Cookies

5 from 4 votes

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Soft and flavorful no-spread sugar cookies with crisp edges, ready in under an hour – no chilling required! The unique mixing method is the secret to our flat cookies. No more puffy cookies!!

One large star shaped sugar cookie standing against a stacked cookies.


 

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Why you’ll love these vanilla sugar cookies:

Does internet need yet another sugar cookie recipe? There’re SO many fabulous recipes are out there already. But I truly believe that I have something new to bring to the table!

  • Looks: No spread cookies with crisp sharp edges – guaranteed!
  • Method: It’s easy and straightforward to make these vanilla sugar cookies!
  • Total Time: The entire process takes less than an hour from start to finish! That’s right, no chilling time required!
  • Texture: These sugar cookies are soft and tender. If you roll it thin, you can get crisp and snappy cookies too.
  • Flavor: Rich and buttery with a sweet vanilla flavor! A good vanilla extract is essential.
Star shaped sugar cookies frosted with yellow royal icing and gold speckles.

Most sugar cookies made by creaming the butter and sugar before adding the flour. It’s also common to chill the cookie dough.

However, we’re breaking all of these rules here. The following factors ensure beautiful no spread sugar cookies every time:

  • We mix butter into the dry ingredients before adding the eggs using the reverse-creaming method, not the creaming method. This way we won’t incorporate too much air into the dough which could lead to puffy cookies.
  • Using cold butter and eggs keeps the dough cold and you don’t need to chill the dough. Yay!
  • Cornstarch and baking powder have no affect on spreading cookies. They make the cookies nice and tender.
  • Weighing all the ingredients is crucial!! Yes, even the egg. Using larger (ie, farm fresh) eggs can make my dough softer and stickier, potentially causing it to spread slightly. Skip the measuring cup for this recipe, and bring out kitchen scale!

Key Ingredients:

These cookies call for total of 9 ingredients, simple pantry staples!

  • Butter – I prefer unsalted butter. If using salted butter, omit salt called in the recipe. You can use cold butter. If it’s too hard, cut it into small pieces.
  • Flour – I’ve tested this recipe with all-purpose flour only. It’s crucial to measure the flour properly, or better yet weigh it!
  • Sugar – The combination of granulated sugar and brown sugar add rich flavor and nice texture. Both dark and light brown sugar works. But keep in mind that cookies with dark brown sugar come out slightly darker.
  • Cornstarch tenderizes the cookies for a softer bite.
  • Baking powder doesn’t spread the cookies, but it helps to make the cookies to be airy and light.
  • Vanilla extract – Don’t use imitation vanilla extract. Opt for pure vanilla extract. While vanilla extracts are a little spendy these day, DIY vanilla extract is quite cost-effective!
  • Almond extract – And a little bit of almond extract goes a long way. I promise you won’t taste prominent almond flavor, it enhances the overall flavor so beautifully!
Ingredients for vanilla sugar cookies laid out in individual bowls.

How to make this recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Instead of a traditional creaming method, we’re going to make the dough by mixing the dry ingredients with butter until the butter is evenly distributed before adding the egg. This method ensures tender cookies with no puffy, out of shape look.

  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl with paddle attachment.
  • Add butter into the flour mixture and mix it on low speed for 2 minutes. The mixture should resemble wet sand, and you shouldn’t see any chunks of butter.
  • Add the egg and mix the dough for another 2 minutes, gradually increasing the speed from low to medium high.
  • The final dough will look crumbly, and it’s exactly how it should be!!!
4 step by step photos of making cookie dough in a stand mixer with paddle attachment.

Test Your Cookie Dough: Take a small amount of dough and squeeze it in your hand. It should form into a cohesive ball.

This dough is quite easy to handle. It’s soft, but not sticky!

Crumbly cookie dough in a mixing bowl and some squeezed in hand.

Mixing technique for better texture!

This reverse-creaming method ensures the flour and butter are well combined and prevents any butter pockets in the dough, which could lead to uneven puffed cookies. I learned this technique in “The New Best Recipes” cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen.

2. Roll and shape the cookies

  • Divide the dough into two equal parts and knead each dough into a smooth ball. Place the dough ball between two sheets of parchment paper.
  • Then gently roll it out into 5/16-inch (8mm) thick disc. (This adjustable rolling pin is a game-changer!)
  • Cut out the cookies using your desired cookie cutter and transfer the cookies using an offset spatula to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Side by side images of rolled out cookie dough and cutout cookies.
  1. Place a silicone mat under the parchment paper with the dough, so it stays in place.
  2. This adjustable rolling pin is really nice for rolling out even cookies.

3. bake the cookies

  • Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes at 350°F, or until the edges start to turn light golden color.
  • Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Side by side images of unbaked and baked cut out cookies on a baking sheet.

4. Decorate

Now, the fun begins!! Call your little helpers, if you want, and start the cookie decorating party!

I love decorating my cookies with this simple powdered sugar icing and colored sugar! Both of these are extremely easy to make!!

A christmas tree shaped sugar cookie being glazed with white powdered sugar icing.
Bowls of colored sugars.

Or, make my foolproof royal icing recipe for a flawless finish!

Yellow iced star cookies on a wire rack.

How to store sugar cookies:

Sugar cookies are perfect make-ahead cookies.

  • Refrigerator: The raw cookie dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Freezer: Sugar cookie dough freezes well. Divide the dough into 2 parts, flatten into ½-inch thick discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and put it in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw, transfer frozen dough into the fridge and thaw overnight. Then bring it out to room temperature for 15-30 minutes before shaoing the cookies.

plain sugar cookies

  • Room temperature: Put cooled plain sugar cookies in an airtight container and store on the counter for up to a week.
  • Freezer: Plain cookies also freeze well. Place the cooled cookies in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw, bring it to room temperature.

Keep the cookies soft!

To keep the sugar cookies nice and soft, sprinkle some mini marshmallows on baking sheet. And then put a cooling wire rack on top and arrange the cookies on the wire rack. Cover the baking sheet with a lid and store on the counter until ready to decorate. This can also be done with decorated cookies.

Frosted sugar cookies

  • Room temperature: Decorated cookies store well at room temperature. Keep the iced sugar cookies in a single layer on a baking sheet until the icing is fully hardened, for up to 48 hours. The icing seals the moisture and won’t dry out the cookies.
    • Once the icing is fully set, place the cookies in an airtight container with parchment paper in between the layers. Store at room temperature for up to a week.
  • Freezer: Freeze fully-set decorated cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
  • To thaw: When you take them out, leave the container on the counter for 8-12 hours and DON’T open it. This will prevent any condensation and color run. 

Don’t refrigerated decorated cookies!

Never refrigerate decorated or plain cutout sugar cookies!! Cookies dry out in refrigerator. Also, condensation may ruin your design.

Sugar Cookies FAQs:

Why are my sugar cookies puffy?

The most common culprit for puffy sugar cookies are whipping too much air into butter mixture during creaming step. We basically eliminate these issues by mixing butter into dry ingredients.

Are sugar cookies supposed to be soft when they come out of the oven?

Yes, it’s totally normal for sugar cookies to be soft right out of the oven. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack. They’ll harden as they cool.

What’s the difference between sugar cookies, shortbread and butter cookies?

While they’re quite similar in terms of ingredients, there’re some nuanced differences between sugar cookies, shortbread and butter cookies.
Sugar cookies have the least amount of butter and higher sugar and flour amount compared to other two cookies. They’re sturdy, crisp and perfect for cut-outs.
Butter cookies are similar to sugar cookies, but has a higher ratio of butter to flour, making it richer and sturdier cookies.
Shortbread cookies are usually made of butter, flour, sugar, and some flavoring. They’re rich, crumbly and delicate cookies!

One large star shaped sugar cookie standing against a stacked cookies.
5 from 4 votes

No Spread Sugar Cookies

Soft and flavorful no-spread sugar cookies with crisp edges, ready in under an hour – no chilling required! The unique mixing method is the secret to our flat cookies. No more puffy cookies!!
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 3 dozen medium cookies
Yields: About 750g of cookie dough

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour measured properly
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 g) light brown sugar Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon (8 g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (170 g) unsalted butter Note 2
  • 1 (53 g) large egg cold
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract optional, but highly recommended Note 3

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment papers, or silicone mats.

To prepare the dough:

  • In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, mix flour, sugars, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is evenly moistened, 2 minutes. The mixture should resemble wet sand.
  • Add egg, vanilla, and almond extracts and mix until just combined, about 2 minutes, gradually increasing the speed from low to medium high. The dough will be crumbly, but it should stick together when you squeeze it in your hand.

To shape and bake cookies:

  • Divide the dough into two equal parts and knead each dough into a smooth ball. (At this point, you can wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and put it in a freezer bag. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)
  • Place the dough ball between two sheets of parchment paper. Then gently roll it out into 5/16-inch (8mm) thick disc. (This adjustable rolling pin is a game-changer!) (TIP: Place a silicone mat under the parchment paper with the dough, so it stays in place.)
  • Cut out the cookies using your desired cookie cutter and transfer the cookies using an offset spatula to the prepared baking sheets.
  • Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and arrange them on the prepared baking sheets.
  • Gather the scraps of dough, roll and cut out more cookies. Repeat until all the dough is used. (TIP: If the dough is too soft, you may refrigerate the rolled out dough for 5 minutes to firm it up. This will ensure nice crisp edges on your cookies.)
  • Bake the cookies for 10-13 minutes, or until the edges start to turn light golden color.
  • Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

To decorate:

Tips & Notes

Note 1: I love how brown sugar adds subtle flavor and softness to the cookies. I’ve made with both light and dark brown sugars. Dark brown sugar yields darker cookies, so I prefer light brown sugar.
Note 2: Use cold butter. Just bring it out on the counter 10-15 minutes. If it’s too hard, simply slice into 1 tablespoon chunks. I prefer unsalted butter. If using salted butter, omit salt called in the recipe.
Note 3: It’s hard to pinpoint the almond extract flavor in the final cookies, but it rounds up the flavor perfectly, making these sugar cookies irresistible!
Sugar Cookie Sizes:  This recipe yields about 3 dozen medium cookies and about 2 dozen large cookies. I consider 3-inch cookies are medium cookies, and 4.5-inch cookies are large.
Storing Tips:
– The cookie dough freezes well. Divide the dough into 2 parts, flatten into 1/2-inch thick discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer frozen dough into the fridge and thaw overnight. Then bring it out to room temperature for 15-30 minutes before rolling and shaping the cookie dough.
– Plain sugar cookies also freeze well. Place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, bring it to room temperature.
– Glazed cookies also store well. Once the glaze is fully set, place in an airtight container with parchment paper in between the layers and store at room temperature for up to a week. Freeze fully-set decorated cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 month. To thaw: When you take them out, leave the container on the counter for 8-12 hours and DON’T open it. This will prevent any condensation and color run.
– Don’t refrigerate plain or decorated cookies!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie, Calories: 93kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 18mg, Sodium: 25mg, Potassium: 13mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 164IU, Calcium: 7mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

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3 Comments

  1. I don’t have a stand mixer. Should I use my hand mixer or try to do by hand? Thanks. Also, do you know if there are any alterations I should make for high altitude?

    1. Hi, Terese. You can definitely use a hand mixer. I don’t have much experience in high altitude baking to give a proper advice. Let us know how they turn out, if you give this recipe a try. Thanks!