Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

This recipe has been my go to sugar cookie recipe for the past couple of years. It comes from one of my favorite cook books ever-Baking Illustrated. If you like big, soft and chewy sugar cookies, then this is the recipe for you. Rolling the dough in sugar before you bake them produces a wonderful sugar crust. These cookies are perfect with or without icing, which is hard to say for many other sugar cookie recipes that I have tried! This recipe is great for cut out cookies as well, just refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before rolling out.

Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies

Yield: 24 cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup granulated sugar, plus ½ cup for rolling dough
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract


Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat beater attached, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the egg and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Place the ½ cup sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl. Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Dip your hands in the water and shake off any excess (this will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and ensure that the sugar sticks to the dough). Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a 1½-inch ball between moistened palms, roll the ball in the sugar, and then place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, moistening your hands as necessary and spacing the balls about 2 inches apart (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Butter the bottom of a drinking glass and then dip the bottom of the glass in the remaining sugar. Flatten the dough balls with the bottom of the glass until they are about ¾ inch thick, dipping the glass in sugar as necessary to prevent sticking (after every 2 or 3 cookies).
Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and their center are just set and very lightly colored, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets about 3 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

49 Responses to “Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies”

  1. #
    May Ling WU — September 11, 2010 @ 8:58 am

    Texture looks wonderful!

    • Christina replied: — September 12th, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

      The sugar crust looks really neat when you bake it.

      • Ashley replied: — October 24th, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

        i just put my first batch in the oven, i hope mine turn out as well as yours. 🙂

        • Christina replied: — November 1st, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

          I hope they turned out for you! These are some of my favorite cookies. They are also the ones I use to make cutout cookies with. 🙂

  2. #
    gingerbreadcake — September 11, 2010 @ 9:30 am

    Those looks SO delicious. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe! Sugar cookies are one of my absolute favorites. I really need to make some soon, it’s been a long time since I’ve made some sugar cookies. I especially love them soft and chewy so this recipe is just perfect for me.

    • Christina replied: — September 12th, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

      Thank you! Sugar cookies are one of my favorites too, I love to make then into cutout cookies around the holidays. They are soft, chewy and perfect! Let me know if you try these out!

  3. #
    ezsrecipes — September 11, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

    Mmmm, there’s nothing like a good sugar cookie. I can just taste them just by looking at your pictures!

    • Christina replied: — September 12th, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

      I agree! Sugar cookies are the best! 🙂

  4. #
    4 — September 13, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

    This looks spectacular. I love soft, chewy cookies. The crackling top is amazing.

  5. #
    Shanna C — September 14, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    I’m definitely going to try these out tonight!

    • Christina replied: — September 14th, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

      Enjoy! Let me know how they turn out! 🙂

  6. #
    Fiona — October 24, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

    Hey, thanks so much. I tried these out and while I did not get the gorgeous crust you got, they are delicious. I’ve recently moved up to 4500 ft. above sea level, and all my existing cookie recipes (except Scots shortbread) are a disaster. So your recipe worked, and that’s the most important thing for me right now.


    • Christina replied: — October 24th, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

      I am glad that you enjoyed them! 🙂 It’s too bad to hear that many of your cookie recipe now turn out disastrous. I have never tried to cook at high elevations before, I hear it is tricky.

  7. #
    desiree — October 26, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    This recipe is really good. I have been searching for a chewy sugar cookie recipe for weeks. This is the first that didn’t goop when they baked.

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  11. #
    jeanette — December 22, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    Hi, yesterday I used this recipe to make cookies for my family, and for a small Christmas party at work. I didn’t have an electric beater, so I had to learn how to cream butter and sugar by hand. So instead of a light and fluffy texture, I had a somewhat of a thick cream texture. which I end up baking a cookies that were soft but no so chewy but not hard either.
    I was hoping my cookies would come out more soft and chewy.
    However in the end the cookies was a hit with everyone.
    Since I combined the butter, sugar and eggs by hand do you think it effected the
    end result of my cookies?
    Maybe I should mix the mixture more?

    • Christina replied: — December 24th, 2010 @ 11:05 am

      Hmmm… I have never tried to cream butter and sugar by hand. However, here is a good link explaining how to do it
      If the mixture is not beaten properly, the tiny pockets of air that form during creaming won’t and it will not give you the soft and chewy cookies. Good luck, let me know if they turn out! 🙂 Happy holidays!

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  13. #
    JKAT — March 2, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

    I made these last night, and they are completely dee-lish! Out of 24, my family of 3 has only 3 left! (Oops) Thanks for the easy, quick recipe.

    • Christina replied: — March 4th, 2011 @ 7:56 pm

      Aren’t these cookies great? My family loves them! I am so happy that yours did too! 🙂

  14. #
    Emily — April 18, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    I made these last night but the sides seemed to flatten out quickly and burn ): I’m not sure if it’s my oven (I’m a college student with not the best appliances), or if maybe I let the butter sit out too long? Any thoughts? Nothing is worse than a burnt cookie!

    • Christina replied: — April 24th, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

      Sounds like the butter was too warm. If the butter is not at the proper temperature the cookies will spread too much and burn. For these cookies, I would cut them into 1 inch pieces and let them sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes and then proceed with the recipe. I totally agree that there is noting worse then a burnt cookie! Ugh! If you give them a try again, let me know how they turn out for you! 🙂

  15. #
    Tessa Starr — April 26, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

    I decided to try these. They weren’t really soft and chewy like I hoped, but they weren’t hard. The edges got a little more brown than I wanted as well, after just 9-10 minutes, but they do taste great, regardless. (:

    • Christina replied: — April 27th, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

      I am sorry that these didn’t turn out well for you. There are so many reasons why a recipe didn’t quite work out….from the oven temperature, the butter being too soft or even the wrong baking sheets. I am glad that they still tasted great, let me know if you give them another try! 🙂

  16. #
    Sarah Jo — May 28, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

    Hey I’m trying these cookies for the first time. They looked yummy in the pictures 🙂 I rolled them in red white and blue sugar for memorial day and try look really nice. They are baking now, we’ll see how they turn out!!! Thanks for the recipe!!! 😉

    • Christina replied: — May 29th, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

      I love the idea of rolling them in colored sugar! I hope you enjoy them! Let me know how they turn out! 😀

  17. #
    Jade — June 13, 2011 @ 3:47 am

    I’m crazy about baking and these cookies are my favorite thing to eat (since i dont eat almost everything else i bake) i’m from Durban in south africa so i had to convert the measurements but they were still incredible! My friends and family devoured them so fast i had to make a second batch. My boyfriend likes crisp and i like chewy so i left one baking sheet in for an extra two minutes and they were just how he wanted. I let the other sheet bake for 12 minutes and they were a lovely chewy texture. 🙂 can this recipe be doubled or even tripled successfully?

  18. #
    Jeanne — July 3, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

    I made them for a party and everyone said they were some of the best sugar cookies they had tasted. I topped them with a lemon cream cheese frosting. They came out just like your pictures all nice and crackled on top. Two of my friends asked for the recipe and I gave them the link to your beautiful website. Thank you!

    • Christina replied: — July 13th, 2011 @ 10:02 am

      I am so glad you liked them!! A lemon cream cheese frosting on top sounds incredible. I will have to try adding the frosting next time I make them! 😀

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  21. #
    mmurray712 — November 19, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

    They are scrumptious. I am eating one now. 🙂 Mine definitely did not stay at the thickness yours did, they thinned out considerably.. but other than that, they are the bomb!!

  22. #
    Trish — December 9, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

    Man, are these good! I have the second batch in the oven as I’m typing, and I devoured one from my first batch while it was still warm. Wonderful shortbread flavor but with the slightly crisp edges and super soft and chewy center I love. I think the touch of brown sugar does it!

  23. #
    Joanne — December 13, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    Hi Christina – question for you – when you use these to make cut out cookies, do you still roll them in sugar first? I’m assuming you skip this step, but just want to make sure. Thanks!

  24. #
    Katheryn — January 29, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

    I just made these cookies with wheat flour (by request of the Mother In Law) They did in fact produce seriously tasty, cookies. Thanks for the recipe! REMEMBER to flatten them!!! or your cookies will be brownish mountains of tasty but not aesthetically pleasing cookies 🙂

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  27. #
    ahamby85 — August 27, 2012 @ 12:03 am

    I just made these and dropped the balls into a muffin tin instead of a cookie sheet, they turned into cookie muffins lol

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  29. #
    Melissa — February 5, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

    I made these with a gluten free flour and they were so good! I live in the mountains so my cooking time was only about 8min. Great recipe, especially for the impatient (I always hate refrigerating overnight….by the next day I’m over the baking thing!)

    • Christina replied: — February 19th, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

      Yay! I’m so happy to hear that you had success making these cookies gluten free! Thanks so much for letting me know how they turned out for you! 🙂

  30. #
    Jillian — March 24, 2013 @ 8:20 pm

    I love these! They came out fantastic! I added a little juice from a lemon and some rinds and people cannot keep their hands off of them! Thanks for sharing! Definitely use this recipe again! I love this font too by the way.

  31. #
    Geanine — October 22, 2013 @ 7:16 pm

    Really nice cookie! I mixed black, orange, and white sugars to roll them in for Halloween:). They turned out great!

  32. #
    Bobbi — October 30, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

    Made these last night! Delicious! No need to add icing! First time I baked for 15minutes and they looked beautiful but we’re too crispy. 13 minute bake time and left on sheet to cool. They were perfect! Soft and chewing. I baked one sheet at a time. I kept second prepared sheet in freezer while other batch was baking. With any cookie recipe, I found cold or chilled batter, keeps my cookies from turning into flat rocks!

  33. #
    JenRa — November 6, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    I like that the crust gives it a little crisp once you bite into it. They are definetley soft and chewy.. and they stayed like that for 4 days down til the last one. These are better than our local bakery’s sugar cookie that everyone raves about. Had some friends and family try it and they even thought this beats out the bakery’s sugar cookie!

  34. #
    Randi — November 27, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

    Wow I just made these and they are amazing!! Came out exactly the way your photo.. Thank you for sharing this recipe

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