If you are looking for the perfect sugar cookie, these Vanilla Sugar Cookies are simple, chewy sugar cookies with double the vanilla of the classic sugar cookie for the best vanilla flavor.
They are so easy to make they can be an everyday treat or they can be dressed up in sparkling and shimmer sugars for holidays and celebrations.
If you crave yummy homemade sugar cookies this vanilla cookie recipe is for you! These cookies have a sugary crinkled top and bake up soft and chewy.
You can make them plain or roll them in some lovely sparkling sugar. And for me, a pinch or two of nutmeg makes the best cookies for the holidays.
Why This Recipe Works
Some people will say a vanilla cookie is a perfect blank canvas for favorite nuts, candies, or sprinkles, while others are happiest with a plain, unadorned, chewy sugar cookie. Whichever camp you are in, you will love these vanilla sugar cookies.
This easy-to-make vanilla sugar cookie dough is made quickly using the creaming method. After chilling, the dough is shaped into small balls, rolled in sparkling white sugar, and baked to be perfectly set. Best of all, because these soft vanilla cookies are shaped cookies and not cut-out cookies, you don't need a rolling pin or cookie cutters.
These soft sugar cookies have the perfect chew and sweetness to be anything you would like them to be by topping them with colorful sprinkles or rolling them into finely chopped nuts. But I think they are at their best just being a delightfully sweet vanilla cookie.
Seriously, this is one of my all-time favorite recipes and the best and only sugar cookie recipe you need.
So, let's bake!
Here's What You Need to Make Vanilla Sugar Cookies:
- Salted Butter - I prefer salted butter since I generally have it in my fridge. If you choose to use unsalted butter, increase the salt in this recipe from ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon. Keep in mind that one stick of butter is only ½ cup, so you will need two sticks for this recipe.
- White Granulated Sugar - Perfect for this cookie, white granulated sugar will provide the right sweetness without too much moisture.
- Eggs - This recipe requires large eggs. Do not substitute extra-large as they will change the ingredient ratios.
- Vanilla Extract - I prefer to use real vanilla extract and my favorite is Madagascar vanilla. But you can use any you have on hand and can afford to buy. Even clear imitation vanilla extract is delicious.
- All-Purpose Flour - Simple all-purpose flour is the best to use for this bake.
- Baking Powder - Baking powder will give a lift to the cough as it bakes which makes the cookie less dense.
- Baking Soda - Baking soda will assist in getting the right spread and texture to this cookie when used with the baking powder.
- Freshly Ground Nutmeg - Optional - Freshly ground nutmeg is amazing. It has a flowery aroma underlying that famous nutmeg scent.
- Salt - Just a small amount of salt brings out the sweetness in everything.
You will need additional white granulated sugar or sparkling white sugar. My favorite is Wilton's Sparkling White Sugar.
Please see the recipe card for the exact quantities.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Vanilla Sugar Cookies
Using the large bowl of a stand mixer and a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until they are light in color and fluffy in texture.
Add the eggs and the vanilla and continue to beat for 4 minutes.
While the mixture creams, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground nutmeg onto a piece of parchment paper or into a medium bowl.
Reduce speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients and mix well.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F/204°C. Take teaspoons of the dough and roll it into balls about 1-¼” in diameter (20 grams each). Dip the balls into sparkling white sugar or roll them in white granulated sugar. Place them sugar side up and 2 ½” apart on an ungreased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just barely beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool for 1 minute on the sheet, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
My Top Tips
♡ Rolling the entire ball of cookie dough in white granulated sugar will make the cookie sweeter and the top of the cookie will have a more crackled look.
♡ When using colored sprinkles and sugars dip and roll only the top and sides of the balls of dough to get good coverage of color on only the top of the cookie. Colored decorative sugar is more expensive so this will save you money.
♡ A scale is very helpful in portioning out the dough. I found that 20 grams of dough will make a 3" cookie.
♡ You can reduce the chill time to 1 hour by putting the wrapped dough in the freezer.
Substitutions & Variations
- Substitute Shortening. You can use shortening for part of the butter.
- Omit the Nutmeg. Ground nutmeg is optional and can be omitted to save money.
- Use Colored Decorative Sugars and Jimmies. Make these sugar cookies festive with bright-colored sugars or jimmies to match a holiday or celebration. You can use red for Christmas and Valentine's Day, green for St. Patrick's, and celebrate your favorite team with their colors.
This recipe mixes very easily with the help of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. However, if you don't have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer.
If you use a hand mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the creamed ingredients by adding ¼ of the dry ingredients at a time until the mixer slows. Then mix in the remaining dry ingredients by hand using a wooden spoon.
If you do not have any type of mixer you can alternate between the "mix by hand" method and using a wooden spoon to make the cookie dough.
Make-Ahead & Storage
You can make the dough in advance, roll it into balls for individual cookies and freeze the balls on a parchment line baking sheet. Once frozen, the cookie dough balls can be transferred to a sealed freezer container or plastic freezer storage bag.
The frozen cookie dough balls will keep for one month and a few cookies can be baked as needed. Thaw the frozen cookie dough balls, roll them in sugar, place them on a parchment line baking sheet, and then bake.
Baked cookies will stay chewy when stored in a sealed airtight container:
- at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, or
- frozen for one month
More Delicious Treat Recipes
Vanilla Sugar Cookies
- Stand Mixer
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Large Sifter
- Silicone Spatula
- Parchment Paper
For the Cookie Dough:
- 1 Cup Salted Butter
- 1 ½ Cups White Granulated Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 2 ¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg, Optional
- ¼ Cup Sparkling White Sugar or White Granulated Sugar
- Using the large bowl of a stand mixer and a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until they are light in color and fluffy in texture.1 Cup Salted Butter, 1 ½ Cups White Granulated Sugar
- Add the eggs and the vanilla and continue to beat for 4 minutes.2 Large Eggs, 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- While the mixture creams, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground nutmeg onto a piece of parchment paper or into a medium bowl.2 ¾ Cups All-Purpose Flour, 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder, 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda, ⅛ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg, ½ Teaspoon Salt
- Reduce speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients and mix well.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for at least two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/204°C. Take teaspoons of the dough and roll it into balls about 1-¼” in diameter (20 grams each). Dip the balls into sparkling white sugar or roll them in white granulated sugar. Place them sugar side up and 2 ½” apart on an ungreased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.¼ Cup Sparkling White Sugar or White Granulated Sugar
- Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges are just barely beginning to brown. Remove from oven and let them cool for 1 minute on the sheet, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Encharted Cook Notes
Per 1 serving. All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.